Just Jack: Backstage @ Leeds 2003

The 27 year old Camden geezer who is Just Jack went down a storm at last week's V festival. Ignore comparisons to The Streets. Instead, imagine a white Roots Manuva with shades of early Massive Attack

Virtual Festivals: At last weekend’s V Festival Stafford, you got a great reception. Was that expected?

Oh yeah. Stafford we were loving! Backstage was amazing. They had masseurs, flowers, fruits and stuff. We’d had a wicked laugh, bonding in the hotel the night before. We don’t get a lot of chance to spend much time together ‘cos two of the band are from Manchester so we were just loving it. I think partly because there were only about thirty people when we actually got in there, so it felt like a bit of a rehearsal and then it just went mad! It was the best ever response we’ve had. To be honest, and I really shouldn’t say this but we’ve preferred it being up north rather than down south so far. I don’t know why that is but they seem a bit more receptive to what we’re doing.

The audience certainly recognised your single, ‘Snowflakes’.

You probably saw the shock on my face. I wasn’t expecting recognition at all. There were people singing along in the front row. It’s excellent. It’s what we want.

Things were a bit more muted today and there were some technical difficulties initially. What was the problem?

We couldn’t get the keyboards working. It wasn’t our fault. I don’t want to say anything bad about anyone but it seemed like a bit of a shambles. That kind of threw us but it in a funny way I was even more relaxed because of that. It was weird. I think we dropped a couple of songs……that we didn’t rehearse! It’s cool. It’s always difficult at festivals and it’s only our sixth gig so we’re doing quite well.

Before Glastonbury you’d never even been to a festival before. Why not?

I had a group of friends who were kinda like hippied out and they were the people who went to all the festivals. For some reason I never got round to it. I was always into clubbing so went to loads of things in big tops. But obviously we were so off our heads that you didn’t notice anything. I knew roughly about it but Glastonbury was so big, it took a day and a half to even get my head round it. On the second day I woke up and I felt alright about it but it was a big, big thing. Maybe we did a few things we shouldn’t have done. Say no more!

So, what did you make of today’s gig?

We’re coming to these festivals quite cold in that people don’t really know who we are and obviously we’ve managed to get in there because people liked what we’ve done in our two early gigs. But it’s quite hard ‘cos we don’t get a reception, we don’t say the name of a song and everybody’s like, “Oh yes!” They just go, “Impress me.” So it’s quite hard like that but we love it.

What’s inspired you as a performer?

I grew up listening to a lot of old hip-hop like Eric B and Rakim, all those kind of people. My parents had a really good record collection. My dad had a really good jazz collection that was stolen by a friend of his and my mum was really into Fleetwood Mac and stuff like that. They were into quality singer/songwriters like Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell. So when the two collide, it’s murder!

How did you first get a record deal?

It was a really round about way. Basically, my dad’s first secretary when he started his first business was the guy who runs RGR Records mother-in-law. She came to our house at Christmas and said that somebody was starting a label. I was like, “Yeah. Sure they are. How many times have I heard that?” I heard there was a job going, went down there not knowing who he was or anything and I played him the demo. He burnt a copy of the CD and went to the pub, got me drunk and we had a chat about stuff. He was talking a lot of talk, as he does, but he backed it up. Two weeks later he phoned me up. It was the day after I got robbed at the bottom of my street. It was very unpleasant and I took a day off work. I was sitting at home thinking, “Oh shit. My address had been in my bag. They’re gonna come round and find me.” At the bottom of your own street! At least you should feel safe in your own neighbourhood. It was Sunday night, it was raining, I’d had a bad day at work, it was like, “Nice one lads.” The next day he phoned me up. I was just sitting on the sofa at home and he said, “I’ve got some good news for you. Forget all that shit, you’ve just been signed.”

So what’s planned for the future?

We’re hopefully gonna be doing a tour in October. We’re hoping to have LSK, the rapper from Leeds with us who we’re really loving at the moment – caning his album and he likes us. I DJ’ed at one of his gigs the other day so I’ve met him. We’re also trying to find another act to go between us. The idea, really, is that neither of us can get anything played on Radio 1 for love nor money so we’re trying to find some other in-roads into success rather than radio. It’s a big undertaking but we think we can do it.

Debut album ‘The Outer Marker’ is out now.