He looks a surly type with his Jagger lips, ciggie slipped in between nicotine-stained fingers, 19-year-old insouciance/insolence and sunglasses perched just-so, but if you’re prepared to sift through the obvious you’ll soon discover that Jake Bugg (real name Jacob Edward Kennedy) is something very, very close to the real deal.
What’s all this, then? Music in a church? Coffee and cream backing singers, dressed in whiter shades of pale? A band made up of twanging guitarists and a banging drummer? And in the midst of it all, a middle-aged man, looking ever so slightly the worse for wear and tear, singing words we have now forgotten over a music bed of blessed, blissed-out melodies and lacerating guitar solos.
Contrary to some warped sense of popular opinion, you’re not some freaky avant-garde outsider, are you? “My most recent record, Theatre is Evil [credited to Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra] is practically a pop album. I also feel like it’s one of my most liberated records so far because it’s exactly the kind of album I wanted to make.
It isn’t often that a teenage band, fresh of face, wide-eyed with enthusiasm and naiveté, bunking off school, makes Irish chart history, but that’s exactly what Co Dublin quartet 21 Demands did almost five years ago, when their song Give Me A Minute reached the top spot in the Irish charts from sales of downloads alone.
“What these moments led me to consider, between the bastardisation of the manifestation of a day dream of the brain of an architect, and the simple bliss of hearing the scratch and turn of the long antiquated yet once more desirable record, it occurred to me that mediums change, and are often too long dictated and stunted by their history.” Laura Marling is thinking, talking out loud about how things change, how the formats of recorded music mutate and, sometimes, return to the point of origin.
There are survivors and there are survivors. Travelling along the same time path and flightplan as U2, electro-pop pioneers Depeche Mode have come through the actual ravages of 35 years as a group reasonably intact. A little history might be useful: skipping out of Basildon, Essex, in the late 70s as a quartet of working class, cherub-faced teenagers – their songcraft sculpted by synthesizers rather than guitars, influenced by pop rather than post-punk – their first hits were bright synth-pop tunes, penned by original member Vince Clarke.
Now there’s a question: what would 15-year-old drug dealer, face smasher, cheeky little council estate skanger Ben Drew think of 28-year-old singer, songwriter, screenwriter, actor, director Plan B? Tired eyes squint in my direction. There is little hesitation: “He’d think he was the bomb.” Myself and Benjamin Paul Ballance-Drew are relaxing backstage.