Words with Static Jacks
We recently got the opportunity to chat with indie rock band Static Jacks about their new album, In Blue (not to mention, we got an exclusive premiere of b-side “Teenage Shakes”). While the New Jersey rockers have been holding it down since 2009 when their EP, Laces, first dropped, their sophomore album marks the first record they’ve released since 2011. In Blue is also the band’s first full-length album to be produced by Andrew Maury, most known for his work with Ra Ra Riot, Tegan and Sara, and RAC. With all of this and more in mind, we discussed the new album, New Jersey, and much more (I couldn’t think of a third phrase that started with the word ‘new’).
What do you feel like the biggest difference is between this album and your previous album, If You’re Young?
I feel like the setting and the approach to both records were vastly different. For one, when we made If You’re Young, we were high after freshly signing to a record label, and we went for the whole rock and roll thing – spend a number of weeks in an enormous and beautiful New York City studio with a Grammy Award winning producer, Chris Shaw. I wouldn’t take that time back for anything, but it’s become definitely clear that we were out of our comfort zone there. So for In Blue, we brought back our main man, Andrew Maury who we had worked with previously on EPs to produce, mix and engineer at Retro Media Studios in Red Bank, New Jersey.
Can you talk a little bit about your relationship with Producer Andrew Maury?
Andrew Maury is our guide. I really trust him and have always believed that his vision of what Static Jacks should be, matches, if not exceeds our own. Sometimes I think back on everything we’ve done so far and feel like, “Man! If we just listened to Andrew a litttttle bit more.”
How do you feel like he’s affected not only this album but you as a band and your music overall?
We definitely all respect and look to him for answers. He saw something in us from the start and wanted to be a part of it and help us out when we were really nobody. He knows what we’re trying to showcase and what we’re not really in favor of. Plus, he’s just damn good at what he does.
What was your favorite part of the recording process?
My favorite part of recording is figuring out the added instrumentation that make a song or an album round out. You know, sound a little bit fuller. Sometimes when focusing in the studio on guitar, which is my main instrument, I get too caught up about playing these parts really perfectly, you know, like really shredding. But when you’re messing around with something you barely know, something you just picked up, like an omnichord for example, which we used on this album, there’s really no way around it. So you’re figuring it out as you go. You can’t worry about playing it perfectly, because you’re not. That’s a really enjoyable feeling.
My least favorite part is the set up. It’s like you’re heading into the studio and you’re so amped up, so ready to go, and then immediately, it’s like, “OK! Let’s get these mice in place. Let’s get these boards warmed up. We’ll be ready to go in no time!” Three days later…
Do you have a favorite song on the album?
My favorite song is probably We’re Alright. I say that because I was furthered removed for the crafting of that song. So when I hear it, it always sounds fresh to me, because I’m not thinking about the hours and days I’ve spent in my room trying to figure out how the hell to finish it haha. Also, it sounds like a Guided By Voices recording to me, which I love.
Did you film during your recording sessions with the idea that you wanted to make the “In Blue” short film about this album and the recording process?
Totally. I’ve always been interested in filming everything we’ve ever done, stockpiling all of this footage, then making cool videos out of it all. We’ve done a number of tours, and I’ve always made these like 5 minute montage videos that we put up on youtube from each tour, with some sappy old jazz song playing, which is really just like a TV show moment for us. I want images we can all look back on at 80-years-old, no matter where we are and say, “Wow, we’ve really done some things.” So yeah, when we were getting ready to make the album, I was really interested in exploring something a little bit more developed than narrative-less montages about how great friends we all are and how much fun we always have together. Haha, I wanted to tell the story. Also, I wanted to make the other guys cry.
You talked a lot in the short film about how tough some of your writing sessions got. What was the writing process like for this album?
It was strained at the beginning for sure. But just because we weren’t sure right away where we were going to go next. We wrote a lot, both together and individually. Like we address in the film, Nick was definitely the most stressed about it, because he felt like his voice wasn’t being heard as much as the rest of us. I wasn’t as worried about that though. I knew we were going to make another album, and we were going to figure out what it was going to be about.
So many great musicians and bands have come from New Jersey. From Springsteen to Sinatra to Whitney Houston and Bon Jovi just to name a few. Do you feel like New Jersey inspired this record at all?
Definitely. I remember when Whitney Houston died we were overseas in Germany at the time. A few days later we were in London, listening to the radio and we hear “Whitney Houston, to be buried in Westfield, New Jersey next weekend.” Westfield, is our hometown. I don’t know why I’m explaining this. But yeah, you could say In Blue could have easily been called For Whitney.
Who are some of your musical influences, New Jersey or no New Jersey heritage?
NJ-wise, the Misfits for sure. Springsteen is definitely there, whether you go for it or not. But then like outside of the Garden State, Smashing Pumpkins, Arctic Monkeys, The Shivvers. Maybe like first album Goo Goo Dolls, when they were trying to be the Replacements haha. In Blue was all about the Goo Goo Goth.
Do you guys have any plans to get back on the road and tour soon?
Nothing at the moment. We’re trying to figure out what to do next. In Blue only came out a few months ago, but it already seems like we have to figure out what to follow it with next. We will see! Only time will tell!