INTERVIEW: Warbly Jets talk the last few months of tour, their next record and their approach to music
This summer has been wild for music in Boston which was never really a thing in the past and we’ve been all over it. We found ourselves seeing super groups like Mini Mansions and Sons of an Illustrious Father to pop rock crooners like The Maine and We the Kings to mainstream rockers like Papa Roach. But the band that has defined maybe the most classic rock and roll vibes in my eyes were the LA via NYC dudes in Warbly Jets who were non stop over the last few months. Be it traipsing around Europe to opening up for The Joy Formidable to their gig in Cambridge when I caught up with Samuel Shea and Julien O’Neill of the band to chat about their past few months, the “Propaganda” EP that was released in January and how the band’s work on their second full length is developing.
Both O’Neill and Shea work as producers/engineers so it’s clear how much that assists them in perfecting the music they release, which could be part of the reason why the second album is being finetuned by them and taking them on a journey. Find our chat below with the band and we hope to see you at the show the next time this band comes around. Their sound screams the classic rock that was seen with bands like The Strokes and so many more and we are definitely here for it!
Just from talking to Hembree as well, I know this is the second to last date of this tour, but you were in Boston really recently at Great Scott I believe. So maybe on this tour itself, I know Bloxx (UK) played their last show on it yesterday. How did this tour go for you guys as a band? There’s no set headliner, you all switch it up every night.
Samuel Shea: Yeah, this leg of it has been good. We’ve been on tour for a little over two and a half months.
Yeah, you did Europe as well.
SS: Yeah, we started it off in Egypt then we were in China for nine shows. Played one show in Taipei and Taiwan. Then we went through the UK, did four shows, did a string through Europe into the Netherlands and up into Scandinavia. Back down through Europe. Flew into the states, had one day off in LA then started this little run. The format of this leg has been interesting. We’ve never done anything like this where it’s this kind of rotating cast. Just being paired up with bands that we’re not super familiar of before this. It’s been really cool to get to know everybody. We’ve been having a really good time with these boys, and Bloxx too.
Then you’re closing out the set tonight. When you’re in the headlining position for the night, does it change your set-list from how you approach it when you’re opening the show?
SS: Sometimes it’s similar. We put a lot of thought into the one we’ve locked down recently and we’ve been sticking to it. Sort of the benefit of almost having a variety show of bands. There’re no true headliners. Everyone can kind of bring their A game and not about what band they’re slotted.
There’s no headliner, there’s no rock stars of the show.
Julien O’Neill: Exactly.
SS: Yeah, it’s just like who’s playing first or last. There’s no headliner.
Then the new EP, “Propaganda”, only came out in January. Just from reading about what you’ve said about it in the past, I know it’s a big departure for you guys as a band. When did you really start following the direction of it? When did you really start working on the songs?
JO: It probably started around August of last year.
SS: Yeah, August of last year. We sort of wanted to shake it up and move things in a different direction from what our first record was. To bridge a period of time between the first record and the second record. The second record hasn’t come out yet. We’re still working it but, we wanted to just sort of develop something a little bit more ours’. Your first record definitely is, in it’s truest sense, but the first record is that, it’s your first record. It’s the baby of the group so it develops over time.
It always will be and obviously you’re going to change from that first album, which always takes so long to write.
SS: Yeah, the first one always takes such a long time. And the second one has as well, but not quite as long. The first one is always so difficult. You’re defining your sound at the same time that maybe you’re forming a live group. You’re cutting out ideas that don’t work. You’re trying out so many different things. You’re defining how the collage of material that actually works together as a creative project and it’s very difficult to achieve that.
JO: It’s kind of creating the fuel in a way.
Maybe being the three of you, how do you feel the songwriting has maybe changed recently? Maybe something really new you tried, do you all bring your own ideas, do you bring fully formed songs to the table?
SS: It’s a combination of collaboration in different forms. With some of the songs, they come in more fully formed and we massage them in from there. With other ideas, they’re kind of more across the place. But there’s always some sort of nugget that came from one of us or two of us sitting in a room together. But it’s a normally process of somebody bringing something to the table and just going from there and working on it more until it feels right.
But a lot of the time it will be like two of you.
SS: Yeah, that’s how we’ve done the bulk of the legwork for sure. Dan (Gerbang) is very instrumental in his input as well. But it really depends, a lot of things are pre-conceptualized by the individual and brought to the table for the band to sort of review and salt. It’s yielded different results which is the writing process because we’re sort of working in a format that we’re trying to get used to. So, to me, it’s an interesting thing for sure. There are still things we’re trying to figure out and deciding what’s best.
Then I’m sure you can’t say much but you’re coming up on the end of this tour. I think all that’s left after tonight is Philly.
SS: So, yeah, Philly is the last show of the Alt tour. Then we sort of hoof our way back to Los Angeles, we do Toronto, we do Detroit.
So, playing some dates on your way back? You’re continuing to tour, it’s just not the Alt tour.
SS: Yeah, we do Toronto, we do Cincinnati, Dallas, Austin. Then we have two days off in LA, we have four shows in the Pacific Northwest. Sacramento, Spokane, Portland, Seattle. We’re doing some shows supporting The Joy Formidable.
JO: Then we’re doing two shows supporting Night Beats.
Then from what you said, this is just a leg of the tons of touring you’ve been doing. You have a lot of shows coming up. I’m sure you can’t talk about that second album much but maybe some focuses or goals for these next few months for Warbly Jets? For example, focuses for the band, focuses for the album.
SS: I think the focus for the band right now is the album. Once we’re done with this, we’re going to get back in the studio and sort through quite a lot of songs that we have already recorded in more of a demo-ed fashion. Because of the way that we make records, we are producers and engineers, so a lot of what we do in pre-production ends up being a large part of the actual recordings. So, we’ve been kind of digging through the sessions and seeing what we can do better then some of the demo-ed versions. I don’t really have too much more to say about the record itself. We want it to be kind of more of a surprise but it’s definitely taking the direction of the “Propaganda” EP. Kind of pushing us harder in that way but a little more drastic. It’s an interesting collage of different kinds of sounds from the first record for sure.