Handpicked by the xx as tour buddies and hailed for their baggy, Madchester sound, Jagwar Ma are riding a fierce wave of critical buzz.

Jagwar Ma
The boys of Jagwar Ma may have missed out on the 60s and the 90s (by their estimate, they were about ten when the latter decade happened – ah, youth) but that just means they’re taking the sounds of those eras and putting their own spin on it. Imagine Brian Wilson taking pills at Stone Roses gig and you’re somewhere near – and best of all, they don’t even come from California or Manchester. Nope, they’re from Australia. Life can still surprise you, eh? We speak to Gab and Jack ahead of the band’s XOYO show tonight.

So, how did you meet?

Gab: We used to play in different bands, Jonno and I are the founding members and we recorded most of the album, just the two of us but then we wanted a bass player for the live shows and that’s when we met Jack. And then Jonno has been a little bit sick so Gus has been standing in for him.

What’s happened?

Gab: He got some illness.

Why do you think this band has worked better than previous efforts?

Gab: I don’t know, I still wonder what’s going to happen in the future. The only reason that I can think of is that there are less members and it’s just easier.

Where you like Polyphonic Spree before?

Gab: Haha, I suppose we are getting more experience under our belts. We are still friends with the people we played with before.

Jack: We just swapped roles.

And how did you pick this name?

Gab: It started with Jonno, he put out a remix with Gus under the name Jaguar Paw (meow!), that worked for a bit and then we put out ‘Come Save Me’ on youtube and then we played around with the name. We liked the look of the w, it sounded a bit totemic.

How had you come to this sound?

Gus: A naked picture of me!

Gab: Haha, Bladerunner style cityscapes and Northen Soul, Phil Spector. We also took alot of inspiration from Australian bands like the Avalanches, Frontier Psychiatrist was such a rich tapestry – we were taking thing from the past.

Jack: We like to sample.

Gab: I really like the old Disney stuff but you’ll never get the licensing for that, also 8bit computer games. I remember reading an interview with the girl from Chairlift and she was saying that her inspiration was more from modern technology rather than the 80s.

Where did you record this album?

Gab: Some of it in Sydney and then we flew to France, a friend of ours has a farm and a make shift studio, it wasn’t much bigger than this room with a pretty similar level of equipment. Jonno bought two channels from a desk, a Neve counsel and we ran everything through that. We brought an 808, a laptop and a mic.

How long did the process take?

Gab: We sort of write as we produce, I play a lot, I do the physical, the playing of the piano, the vocals and some of the bass while Jonno will produce the beats. So he has two caps – one minute he’s the band and the next he’s producing the band. So we don’t have demos and masters, it has annihilated demoitis, which is good as often the demos are better than the final thing.

Jack: You capture what’s happening then and there, the energy. And if you don’t have the right producers, they take away all the warmth and it isn’t the same, you lose the primal instinct.

Career highlights?

Gab: Today we got a call from Adidas and they wanted to give us a bunch of shit. On top of that, Noel Gallagher was talking about us earlier, I was sort of kicking myself.

Jagwar Ma play XOYO tonight. Their debut album, Howlin’, is out now. jagwarma.tumblr.com

Words: Kim Wilson


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