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Mystery Jets - Latitude Interview

10 July 2006

Drum-thumping Mystery Jets singer, Blaine Harrison, has had a mixed bag at festivals - from having his crutches nicked at Truck to playing Hyde Park's main stage. Maybe that's why he's playing two sets at Latitude this weekend...

Click here for more info on Latitude, which takes place at Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk, this weekend (14-16 July). 

Virtual Festivals: You’re playing loads of festivals this year. Which one are you looking forward to most?
Blaine Harrison: "I think obviously Reading and Leeds are always going to be good because they get the best lineups. Although a lot more festivals have popped up over the past five years or so, offering more diversity and in prettier locations, ones like Secret Garden, Electric Picnic and Latitude festival. We Played at Wireless festival on the main stage a week or so back, which should have been the gig of our career, but unfortuntley they couldn't pump the PA very loud due to decibel restrictions which kind of muted the possibilities for serious sonic penetration." 

VF: What’s been your most amusing festival experience?
BH: "It wasn't really amusing for me but my crutches were stolen from outside my tent at Truck festival some years ago, which must have been hilarious for someone in the campsite but kind of ruined my day as you could imagine. Everyone's obviously heard the legend of 'pop-up pirate' at Glastonbury, whereby someone, who's bottle of liquid acid had crushed in his pocket, spent the duration of the festival swimming around beneath the porta-loos and popping up every so often on unsuspecting punters barking out the 80's board game catchphrase."

VF: What a legend indeed. Would you ever be tempted to stage a festival on Eel Pie Island?
BH: "Several efforts have been made over the past couple of years to organise a summer event, but putting on that kind of thing in the face of opposing residents is a bit of an up hill battle. In an ideal world we'd like to sail golden-ticket holders across the Thames in a Nosferatu-style, six-sailed black gallion. There would be no alchohol sponsorship and instead guests would be served black label by scantily clad sirens wearing diamonds around their eyes. Cajun Dance Party would have to open and following them would be Good Shoes, Larrikin Love, and Jamie T. Robert Wyatt would play at sunset, along with maybe Patrick Wolf and Animal Collective. I think we'd have to reach pretty deep into our pockets to get plane tickets to fly Deerhoof and Beirut and Man Man over, but they'd go down a storm in the boathouse, maybe followed by Gogol Bordello."

VF: Who’s the best band around at the moment?
BH: "I think the world of cutting records and putting on a spectacle are kind of complete opposites. But I haven't taken the Band Of Horses album out of my stereo for about three weeks. It's like what would happen if Rick Davies went back in time and invented post rock instead of Supertramp. And live? I think The Noisettes are still the most original and underated band in London. I'm not even going to patronise them by tring to describe what they do. Just go and see them!"

VF: If you could time travel back to any musical era which would it be?
BH: "King Crimson opened for the Stones at Hyde Park in 1969, two days after the death of Bryan Jones. The start of their set was marked with the sounding of a wartime air-raid shelter alarm from beneath the wooden stage. If I could be anyone at any one time in musical history, I'd be that guy, with my ears stuffed full of cotton wool and a big demonic grin on my face."

VF: Do you get bored of all the attention on the father and son relationship in the band (Blaine's father Henry plays guitar)?
BH: "Yes, i think as a band we do. Our relationship is kind of incidental, it exists. But the music lives its own life outside of that relationship. We work closely on lyrics and with Everett who does our artwork. But we're in a band together because we share ideas on how we want to go about creating noises, not because we share genes."

VF: Does Henry still always get the first round in because he’s your dad?
BH: "Yeah, but he's floored after the second round so he often loses out."

VF: So who would win in a drinking competition between you all?
BH: "Kapil, our drummer. He's a die-hard vegetarian so has a hightened resistance to barley, which is used in the fermentation process. You learn something everyday."

VF: What’s the best pub fact you can reel off to impress your mates?
BH: "Gang of Four are still good but alas The Who are not."

VF: You sing about a guy called Dennis. Who is the world’s greatest Dennis?
BH: "Dennis the Hopper. He's the Easy Riders star crossed with the menace. He wears a striped jumper so he can be camouflaged when using a red telephone box and was arrested for supplying Jack Nicholson with so many chemicals he spent the night perched on the branches of an oversised cactus in the middle of the Arizona Desert."

VF: Being the greatest, would he be able to 'fool you'?
BH: "Of course, he'd just need to exemplify the telephone box. All he'd need to do is paint digits on his face and train at swallowing 20 pence pieces and he's be the greatest spy the world has ever known."

VF: What’s next for Mystery Jets?
BH: "We've got loads of festivals as you've already mentioned, starting with Latitude this weekend. Then the last single from our debut LP 'Making Dens' is out in August. It's called 'Diamonds In The Dark'. Following that are plans to release an acoustic EP and tour the country performing unplugged matinee performances in coffee houses and youth clubs. Maybe a full electric tour in October and a stand alone single. We're damp behind the collar to say the least..."

Mystery Jets play Arena 2 at Latitude Festival this Sunday, 16 July. The band are also set to play a rare acoustic show in the Music and Film Tent on the same day.

- Click here to discuss this on the Festival Forums!
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Article by: Ross Purdie

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