Can't get enough of The Mocking Jays? Check out my interview with the Nottingham, UK indie funksters whom you may remember from my post the other day highlighting their brand new single "Edge of Your Knife". The lovely lads have a smoldering sex appeal, with undeniable talent that will definitely arouse some interest within yourself that you can't contain. The lovely lads sit down to talk about their beginnings, how the band formed, their early musical interests, their creative process, the recording behind "Edge of Your Knife", what the band are like away from the studio, and how much they've become like family in the process. So without further delay, here is my interview with The Mocking Jays:
Give us your names and roles in the band?
Jacob Smith - Lead Vocals
Lewis Hammond - Lead Guitar and Vocals
George Ramplin - Rhythm Guitar and Vocals
Alex Hather - Bass and Vocals
Sam Dorrington - Drums/Percussion and Vocals
Take us behind the formation of The Mocking Jays and how you all met?
Jacob, Alex and Sam all went to the same Primary and Secondary school together. Alex, Sam & Jacob were mates for years, didn’t get on too well in their younger years. There were a lot of bands in school and the three of them decided to start playing and writing music together whilst at college in 2013.
Jacob then met Lewis at his first part time job at the local Coop. The two bonded over their mutual interest in music whilst stacking the shelves together. Lewis then joined the band in 2014; he offered a different approach allowing us to explore our sound.
Having played on the Nottingham/Derby circuit with George for years, we asked him to join the band in 2017. It was Jacobs idea actually, at the time he was playing guitar whilst singing and the material we were writing at the time was quite rhythmically complicated (for us). George entering the band as an extra guitarist and backing vocals meant that Jacob was able to concentrate on vocals and really explore being a front man and the ring leader of the band. We were also able to experiment with the guitar section and really find what we feel is a new, exciting and unique sound.
What bands inspired you growing up in the U.K. and how do they continue to influence you today?
It’s funny because we’re all inspired by a variety of different styles and genres, there’s some crossover but not an awful lot! We disagree on music taste quite very often, however we’ve found by bringing a bunch of styles to the table it’s helped create and define what we feel is our sound.
We’d have to say bands like the Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, The 1975, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Paolo Nutini, Enter Shakiri and Led Zeppelin are amongst our biggest influences that we can all somewhat agree on…haha!
Talk about growing up in Nottingham, U.K. and what the music scene is like there and how you were influenced by the culture?
The Nottingham music scene is crazy. It’s so vast and offers so much diversity that you can help but feel inspired by it all. We have everything from Indie to Black Metal to Afro Cuban Jazz which is great to see and listen too. It’s a very exciting scene to be a part of. We probably say we were heavily inspired by the sounds and culture it had to offer way back in 2013 and 2014. We spent the majority of our time on the open mic scene, honing in our sound and getting tight as a band. During that time, we met a lot of really cool musicians that inspired us to get experimental with our style and genre. In a way, it would be so cool to go back and relive it all as it’s seem to have died in recent years which is a huge shame.
Let's go behind the recording of your latest single "Edge of Your Knife", what the song is about and what the whole recording process was like?
With Edge, there’s no real hidden meaning behind the track! Because the song came to us in the moment, everything including the lyrics is pretty spontaneous! We suppose it’s just about being rowdy to us but to others it mean something completely different! That’s the beauty of music; it speaks to us in different ways!
In regards to recording, it was a really cool experience, recording always is! We spent three really cold days down at our manager’s gaff in London called The Animal Farm. Over the three days, we recorded Edge and two other tracks, one that’s planned to be released later on in the year and another early next year. It’s a very cool experience hearing your track layered up and come to life on tape for the first time. We are heavily involved in the production of the record too and always like to be spontaneous and open to ideas in that environment. It’s funny because you often forget the individual talents of the band until you hear the parts soloed from the rest. It makes you realise how integral everyone is to the band’s sound.
How does a typical writing session occur with you guys, is it all collaborative?
Difficult question because it can change quite a lot! Sometimes it’s completely spontaneous and comes to us in the moment…everything literally falls into place without any communication, which at times just feels crazy! But the most typical song writing approach for us would be this:
Someone will normally have a progression or melody in their head which they’ll present at a rehearsal. Depending on the feel of that progression or melody, Sam and Alex will lay down a the Rhythm, George or Lewis will lay down some chords and guitar melodies and then Jacob will normally vocalise a melody line on top of that until he’s free stylised some lyrics he’s happy with. Sometimes it just falls into place and none of us have to vocalise our thoughts. If we don’t have that idea down within an hour, it normally gets thrown out the window or put on the fridge for a later date. We usually connect with something with an alternative rhythm that we and our audience can dance to.
We’ll rehearse the track a few times and then we’ll debut the track live to see how it goes down, our version of market research! Once we see or feel the results from that initially debut performance, we’ll go away and either polish the song or rework it depending on how it was received.
How has the response been to your music thus far, have you noticed people are paying more attention?
The reactions and initial feedback has been really positive. In this day and age; so many things have already been done that it’s hard to create something that’s perceived as new and unique. But the reaction from our friends, fans and critics say that we’ve achieved with Edge of Your Knife, which is great. It’s a song that doesn’t knock on the door, before entering the room and that’s why chose for Edge of Your Knife to the song that would lay down our new musical direction, we’re not here to mess about!
Dean Jackson of BBC Introducing recently said that we always surprise him, which for us is exactly what we want to achieve. We would hate to be that band that is pigeonholed into a certain category and you know what you’re getting!
What do you fellas like to do for fun when not making music together?
Very interesting question…unfortunately we can’t be too explicit as there are some things that need to stay behind closed doors haha! But genuinely, we do spend a lot of time just chilling each other when we’re not gigging or making music. We spend a lot our time quoting obscure TV and Film quotes, re-enacting Star Wars battles, playing video games and of course Risk! If you’ve not played Risk before, play it! We’ve recently started going on lovely and romantic walks around the Peak District in the East Midlands!
What's coming up next for you guys this year, planning to release a full length album?
There are no plans for an album as of yet. We’d rather wait until we’re more established and doing this on a full time basis. However, we have some very exciting adventures planned that’ll involve plenty of big shows, possible tours and single releases. We may even put out an EP too…but who knows! There are lots of things happening behind the scenes and we can’t wait to unleash it onto you all. Just keep checking our social media to find out, sorry we can’t say too much…
Lastly, how has being in this band brought you guys closer together?
We’ve literally spent the last few years of our lives living in each other’s pockets. Because of this, we’ve learnt to love and function with each other like a big family. Everyone is integral and has their individual roles and talent that they bring to the table.
Sam is the band Mum, George is the band Dad, Lewis, Jacob and Alex are the band children. We also have two of our best friends working alongside the band. We have Uncle Tyler who is our Road and Merch Manager; we also have Auntie Joe who is our incredible photographer and videographer. We have our ups and downs, like all families do, but at the end of it we all love each other unconditionally. Although you see 5 of us, there are actually 7. And without all 7 of us, The Mocking Jays would never work.
Thanks once again to Jacob, Lewis, George, Alex, and Sam for being so kind in doing this interview! They definitely have the ability to turn on the charm at any moment, and make any person they come in contact with fall in love with them instantaneously. It's that magnetic attraction to their good looks and charisma that will make them desirable to people from all over. For more on The Mocking Jays, please 'Like' them on Facebook over here, and follow them on Twitter right here.