Interview Project #23: Jogging

Jogging have just released their debut album, Minutes, on Richter Collective. Some verbs you could use to describe it are: blistering, gutsy, energetic. The band consists of Ronan Jackson (who answered the questions) playing bass, Darren Craig on guitar and Peter Lee on drums. If Minutes isn’t the best Irish album released this year, then it’s definitely in the top three. There’s something going on in terms of a revival or reinterpretation of straight-up, Dischord-type 90s music right now. About time.

Jogging – Threadbare
Jogging – Bruises Like Bow Ties

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Q 0.5 How are you?

Pretty good, thanks. Pretty buzzed that the album is out. It was always our intention to get one out quickly so am delighted that we did.

Q1 Nowadays, when everybody has a decent computer and gear is more available, it’s much easier for anyone to make music and have it heard quickly – does the bedroom music explosion devalue music at all by making it so easy to do?

Not at all. I wish everyone made music. So interesting to hear that side of someone’s personality. Having to pay for studio time can be so prohibitive. For a band like us to achieve a particular ‘genre’ drum-sound it was necessary to go to some expense and mic a kit a certain way in a certain room. It just suits Peter’s style, I think it would do him a disservice to record his drums shabbily. But some of my favourite records have biscuit tin drum sounds, it just depends on the type of music.

Q2 Is downloading a good thing? Does the fact that it’s possible to get so much music so easily and for free make it more disposable at all?

Yeah, it has helped Jogging i think. Personally iIm pretty old-fashioned, I’ve never downloaded an album. It’s just been the biggest thrill for me for years (since i was about six) to save for an album and buy it and savour it so i guess I’ve just just fetishized it to some degree. It’s something i need to keep special and sacred in my life. I totally understand why others download though. Richter decided to put our album streaming on bandcamp pre-release and it was heard by thousands of people in a matter of days. OK, so they mightn’t have been emotionally invested in it (there was certainly no financial investment), but our goal as musicians now is just to get our music heard. I’m not trying to force it down people’s throats, they can decide after that whether they appreciate it musically or not. Any other release I’ve been involved him has been limited to a few hundred physical copies so at least this new album has a larger wingspan.

Q3 Is there anything that makes your music quintessentially Irish? Is it intentional?

Seeing as we do admittedly draw from quite a specific American-influenced palette when it comes to the sounds and textures, I would hope the ‘Irishness’ comes across in our voices and personalities. Listening back i was surprised at bits where our accents jumped out. I was definitely happy about that, especially noticeable in words like ‘heart’ and ‘fate’ and certain soft T sounds. But there was other points where we intentionally went back to do another take to ‘unAmericanize’ a word, where we’d done elongated broad vowel sounds. We tried to get rid of as many of these as we could! I would think that some of our viewpoints are inherently Irish too. I hope Jogging’s music can serve as a funnel through which to vent all these years of bitterness and begrudgery! There are definitely some elements of that in the lyrics

Q4 Do you find it difficult to self-edit, or to take a step back from your music and look at it objectively?

Our drummer Peter is incredibly good in these situations. He’s our harshest critic. When we’re writing or fleshing things out he’ll literally stop playing mid-song to edit things. Sometimes I have a tendency to get too jumpy and try to include too many different parts in a song. Repetition wouldn’t be one of our strong points, I just don’t think we have the attention spans! It is something I envy in other bands, just their discipline to build a song around a repetitive motif. We were determined to keep all the album songs around the 3 or 4 minute mark, we didn’t really want any flab on it so in that sense we were good editors but compositionally speaking I definitely do need to be roped in a little bit by the other 2 members.

Q5 Is there a Dublin scene, or even smaller genre-based scenes? Are you a part of one?

I suppose the most obvious answer is the label we are on, The Richter Collective, and the scene that has kind of built around that. We do tend to play a lot of gigs with our labelmates but there is still a lot of diversity, I don’t think any 2 of the bands sound particularly alike. Outside of that, the Out On A Limb bands would be sort of like the Care Bear Cousins. There is other amazing bands who kind of hold themselves separate to any scene, bands like Wounds or Twinkranes. I do like the fraternal nature of it though, it definitely helps keep the spirits up. I have a lot of admiration for Skinny Wolves, the Box Social crew, Munitions Family, Neck Deep and Popical Island too. All their hearts and minds are in the right place. It’s encouraging.

Q6 Name a non-musical influence on your music.

Eh, I would probably have to say alcohol. Not in the classic debauched rock ‘n’ roll partying type way, but in a more intense solitary way. I’m quite an inhibited person so it definitely helps me with late-night lyric writing and opening up in that way. Anything I’ve written dry has been much more tame and reserved. Drinking definitely lets me get my teeth and nails in to things more. Also from a performance aspect, it really helps me to ignore all else and just zone in on the songs. Otherwise I just find I’m constantly second-guessing audience reactions and letting outside influences enter my mind. It doesn’t affect my playing but it does make me more mouthy, so maybe i should keep the between-song banter to a minimum. All my efforts to be nice just go out the window. (I was reticent to answer ‘alcohol’ because it sounds like an immature answer, I was going to put ‘film’ instead but it wouldn’t be as honest).

Q7 Take one of your songs and explain the process of writing it from the beginning to the finished article.

The song ‘Bruises Like Bow-Ties’ was built up from its opening riff, which kinda reminded me of ‘In An Expression Of The Inexpressible’-era Blonde Redhead. After the riff establishes itself, it kinda deconstructs itself at different parts of the song, a lot of it is variations on a theme but we’d try change the playing dynamic and tempos behind it. There is other parts that are built around inversions of the same riff. Originally the song played itself out instrumentally with a new outro part, but we decided to revert to a heavier reprise of the refrain part, it felt more satisfying and gave the song closure. Seeing as it was one of the earliest Jogging songs I only added the vocals well after the full song form was established.

Q8 Has music criticism ever influenced your music, or at least made you think about it differently? I mean proper reviews, but also blogs or even just hearing someone you don’t know talk about you.

I don’t think so. I’m pretty ignorant about blogs. I think because I’m at the tail-end of my 20s my formative years listening to music were internetless so I’m still fairly old-fashioned when it comes to finding out about music. I’ve always been more influenced by record labels than publications or blogs. I do remember a review of one of our gigs that complained that we had no choruses, which I don’t dispute at all because it is probably a valid criticism, but it didn’t make me want to go write choruses. There’s plenty of other music that has choruses, I don’t think we need to add to it, we’re better at chorusless rock I think! We try to exist in our own sort of vacuum, I think that works best for us.

Q9 Have you ever felt guilty for trying to get other people to take an interest in your music, if you aren’t making the effort with new music yourself?

No, probably the opposite! I go to a ridiculous amount of gigs. It’s pretty much how I find out about any new bands. And at this stage I’ve given up trying to get people to take an interest in us. Our music is out there if people want it. It’s very draining asking people to go to your gigs, it shouldn’t be the case that you’re asking a favour of people by going/listening. I just try to put the information out there and let people make their minds up.

Q10 Would you call yourself a traditionalist with regard to music, either as a listener or in how you go about writing/recording/performing?

I think I probably am a traditionalist, yes. We set ourselves the limitations of working with just 3 instruments for Jogging because I think that’s how our particular dynamic works best. We’ve developed our own playing styles and amp sounds but they’re not groundbreakingly new, there is definite reference points. I think if we try push ourselves in any way it’s in terms of the song structures/songwriting and not the sounds used. There wouldn’t be too many experimental aspects to the way we record either, we are trying to get across something very direct so we try not to clog it up unnecessarily.

Q10.5 What’s something you’re listening to right now?

I’m listening to a lot of stuff but the things that i have found to be truly inspirational recently have been Xiu Xiu (Dear God I Hate Myself), Mi Ami (Steal Your Face), Krallice (Dimensional Bleedthrough) and Ted Leo & The Pharmacists (The Brutalist Bricks).

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