We Were Promised Jetpacks know their music is not for everyone but they don't care
Adam Thompson from We Were Promised Jetpacks tells Edwin Gilson why he is not worried about bad reviews and how the group went back to basics for their new album.
Ever wondered how you would deal with negative reviews if you were a musician? Well Adam Thompson, frontman of Glasgow five-piece, We Were Promised Jetpacks, reckons you simply must be reasonable. He's showing no discernible nerves ahead of the release of his band's third album, Unravelling, out in October, and for him getting hurt by critical reaction is a thing of the past.
“With the first two records we'd always read the reviews,” he says, “and we'd usually be pretty gutted about them. We quickly realised that our music's not for everybody though, and now it doesn't really bother me whether people like our music or not.”
Thompson, who brings his band to Belfast next Friday for a gig at The Limelight 2, is a laid-back presence off stage, but on it he's a passionate performer, capable of that kind of throaty, heartfelt vocal delivery seemingly unique to Scottish singers.
WWPJ share such qualities with fellow indie-rock Scots like The Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit, both of whom they've toured with. These three groups are very popular in America, claims Thompson, although he's “a little unsure as to why that is”.
“I think Americans like the idea of Scottish people generally, which is a good start! Obviously our accent comes through quite strongly which probably helps with that too.”
Thompson moved from Edinburgh to Glasgow for university in 2005, and has since stayed there.
WWPJ recorded Unravelling in an industrial estate just outside Glasgow. Having made their second album at Sigur Ros's studio in rural Iceland, of all places, Thompson felt it would be beneficial to get back to basics. Not that Iceland was all that glamorous.
“We were staying in a small village, and it was dark and cold all the time,” remembers the singer. “The most excitement we had was choosing who was going to go to the supermarket every day.”
Travelling back and forth from Glasgow to the industrial estate for Unravelling felt like “having a proper job” to Thompson. “There was a little soup van and everything. It was good to have that slight sense of detachment and proportion, to come and go from the place, rather than holing ourselves up 24/7 and going slightly mad like we usually do.”
If the recording process this time round sounds relaxed, it's not quite as simple as that: Thompson's been channelling his inner anguish (or at least potential anguish) for the lyrical theme of the album. “I don't think the word unravelling is ever mentioned on the album, but I felt it summed everything up pretty well; the paranoia, that finely-balanced way of things, the feeling that your life is basically alright but that one small thing could change that completely.”
When embarking on a mammoth tour (WWPJ have over 40 dates throughout Britain and America this autumn) it must be soothing to travel in a happy camp. Thompson claims the band “never argue. It never gets weird on the road. The worst it gets is that somebody will be tired and won't be in the mood for laughing that day.” There is one thing that could threaten the singer's equilibrium though; invasive audiences.
“We played a gig in London the other day, and there were these drunk guys at the front that kept pushing my mic stand, hitting the monitors and trying to steal my booze. It wasn't enjoyable. I like a lively but respectful crowd.” Belfast, be good.
- We Were Promised Jetpacks play The Limelight 2 in Belfast on September 12