INTERVIEW

“KATE JACKSON – SASS-POT LEADER of the all but defunct Long Blondes – said of being 19, “Once And Never Again.” But then commissions to write runway scores for Dior Homme didn’t dominate Ms Jackson’s pre-20s. Nor had her late teens seen the Arctic Monkeys’ record label buy out another to ensure her band’s signature […]

“KATE JACKSON – SASS-POT LEADER of the all but defunct Long Blondes – said of being 19, “Once And Never Again.” But then commissions to write runway scores for Dior Homme didn’t dominate Ms Jackson’s pre-20s. Nor had her late teens seen the Arctic Monkeys’ record label buy out another to ensure her band’s signature on a contract. She’d not designed and modelled for the biggest fashion house in the world – despite no doubt having the credentials to do so – and her musically created work to date had not staple gunned a tag of ‘Adolescent Genius’ to her name.

For These New Puritans, then, the final 12 months of their ‘wonder years’ have been very different to that of Kate Jackson, The Long Blondes and seemingly every other underachiever on the planet.

Last month it was Crystal Castles punching the emergency stop button on the rumour mill, now it’s These New Puritans, as Jack takes a swipe at guessing what we’ve heard. “Is it that I’ve got two degrees?” asks the introverted, shy singer, forcing a half smile. “That’s wildly off the mark. You can say that though.”

Errr, no, we wanted to ask about whether it’s true that Domino Records bought Angular Records because they were so keen to sign you?

“That’s true to a degree,” confirms bassist Thomas Hein. “But we didn’t say no to Domino‚””

“It was kind of implied,” interrupts Jack. “but Domino didn’t actually buy Angular, they’re just both working with us. We’ve got the best of both worlds. With Angular we’ve got the ideology and they know us and everything and then Domino are nice as well, but they’ve got money.”

Sure, record labels teaming up these days is no rare thing, but it’s still quite the gesture of how much a successful label like Domino believe in these individuals, and one that makes Jack visibly uncomfortable in his seat. Thinking about such a compliment to his abilities as a songwriter is “too daunting”; revelling in the attention couldn’t be further from this musician’s mindset.

After we meet Jack and Thomas in East London, the singer will jump on the train back out of town to Southend-On-Sea, where he still lives. Other than The Horrors and this very magazine, little comes out of this dishevelled and dated environment without lowered suspension and a sub-woofer embedded in its back. But Jack sees his place of birth as having a positive influence on his work: a place where he can be left to create, alone, in his bedroom studio, with judgment only from himself.

“Our way of thinking is to ignore everything that’s going on anyway. So [forming a band in Southend] didn’t make much difference to us. There are no rules there because there’s nothing there. If anything it gave us an advantage because in London people are spoilt for choice.”

So no sticking the boot in where an easy target like Southend is concerned then. Surprising? No! If nothing else, These New Puritans have never been predictable. They’re the band who released limited EP, ‘Now Pluvial’ on vinyl only, then for 24 hours as a free download before deleting the whole thing to be lost forever – “We’d finished it and I don’t want to think about it anymore,” says Jack – and January’s debut album ‘Beat Pyramid’ will prove to keep most guessing once more.

More mystical than a Klaxons/David Blaine face-off, it’s a record shrouded in dark, abstract themes, mirrored songs – “It is a Beat Pyramid, it’s not just called that,” says Jack of the most ambient sibling offerings, ‘Costume’ and ‘Doppelganger’ – and influences far removed from the obvious we’ve seen attached to this band.

“[When I was making the album] I was listening to Ivorian hip-hop from the Ivory Coast. I heard it on the radio at five in the morning so maybe I imagined it, but it’s really good. We’re asking for [all those Fall comparisons] with having a name like These New Puritans but I think this album disproves all of that.”

Indeed it does. Unlike former Dior head brain, Hedi Slimane, who personally asked Jack to write him a runway score last year (while also recruiting drummer George as a model/designer), we confess to being new TNP fans, because ‘Beat Pyramid’ is already the most unique and forward-thinking album of next year.

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