Mystery Jets Interview - boatyard to big stage
EMMA LEE The line-up includes their singer’s dad, four-fifths of them hail from the bohemian stronghold of Eel Pie Island and their music has been described as an oddball treat’. Up-and-coming band Mystery Jets play Norwich Waterfront, on Monday. Emma Lee speaks to drummer Kapil Trevedi.
“I don't know what the future holds,” muses Mystery Jets drummer Kapil Trevedi. “More touring, probably!”
If there's any band which has paid its dues on the live circuit then it's the five-piece from Eel Pie Island.
In the first few months of the year the hard-working band has completed its own sell-out tour of the UK, taken the NME Awards tour by storm and gone on a whirlwind tour of Europe supporting Arctic Monkeys.
It has also done a sell-out debut tour of America and released a debut album, Making Dens.
And this month Mystery Jets hit the road again, including a date at the Waterfront in Norwich on Monday.
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As well as Kapil, the line-up features Will Rees, 20, on guitar and vocals, Kai Fish, 21, on bass and vocals, Blaine Harrison, 20, on keyboard and vocals, and his father Henry Harrison, “slightly older” on guitars and vocals.
Hang on a minute, Blaine's dad?
“It's cool,” says Kapil. “He's always been there since the beginning [of the band]. Everyone looks after each other.”
Will and Blaine met at nursery school when they were four and Kai's parents lived with Blaine's parents in a commune in the '70s.
When Will went to boarding school and Blaine moved to France with his mother, the pair used to communicate via postcards which Blaine says were the early stages of the band. Henry was always in the different line-ups.
The band's original name was The Misery Jets, which was taken from an Evening Standard headline - Eel Pie Island is under the Heathrow flightpath - a plane used to go over every 50 seconds. It changed to Mystery Jets when Blaine accidentally misspelled the name while painting it on a drum skin.
Kai joined the band when he was 12 after suggesting that they needed a bassist - he played the cello.
The band practised in the boatshed built by Henry on land he bought after a hippy commune on the island burned down.
And embracing the more experimental side of rock they've carved a niche for themselves, by celebrating English eccentricity.
The singles Zoo Time, You Can't Fool Me Dennis, On My Feet and Alas Agnes had critics raving.
Kapil - a virtuoso drummer and champion breakdancer from Wembley - was last to join.
“Kai's a lot better breakdancer than me. I just do bodypopping, but Kai can do the windmill,” he says with a hint of admiration.
“They were looking for a drummer and asked my drum teacher - I replied and got the gig. I started playing the drums when I was 12 - I'm 21 now.
“I played a lot of instruments and I just progressed into the drums.
“When I auditioned, Blaine and I played together - we were only supposed to jam for a couple of minutes and we didn't stop - it went on for about an hour. We went through every single drum riff.”
Their most formative influence, however, was Henry's record collection. Admirers of Syd Barrett, they have a portrait of him hanging in their rehearsal studio framed by a lifebelt.
For Henry, being in the band is a second chance to chase a dream.
In an earlier interview he said: “I was in a band when I was at school. The other guys in the band were brilliant but I went off to study architecture. My regret at doing that is why I've pursued this with such relentless force. As for what people think about me being in the band, I can only go on what happens live which is generally incredibly positive.
“I'm just another member. I'm one of five. I love it. That whole authority thing served a purpose and when it was done I was glad to relinquish it, because it got in the way of us working properly together. Now if they disagree with me they just swear profusely.”
The debut album, Making Dens, was recorded on Eel Pie Island, which is in the Thames at Twickenham.
Their live performances have already caused a stir - a noise abatement order no longer allows them to play gigs in the Eel Pie Island boatyard unless they fancy a £20,000 fine.
And then there was the tour with band of the moment Arctic Monkeys. What was that like?
“It was wicked - it was great to be there at that time and share everything with them. They're just so humble and a really nice bunch of guys,” Kapil enthuses.
And, last question, do you feel like a rock star? “No, not really. You have to keep wanting more. The moment you're satisfied you should stop doing it,” he says sagely.
t Mystery Jets play the Waterfront, Norwich, on Monday May 8. Tickets cost £9. Box office: 01603 508050 or visit www.ueaticketbookings.co.uk. The debut album, Making Dens, is out now. The new single, You Can't Fool Me Dennis, is released through 679 Recordings on May 15.