29 July 2012 - 0 Comments
Four piece Auckland-based band Jackal have been together for six years and are about to release their third album in August. But the band, who have always bypassed record labels and managers by releasing their material independently, are moving forward by releasing this next album totally free for everyone.
Jackal was formed in late 2006 when brothers Will (drums) and Theo McGrath (guitar) joined up with Theo’s classmate, bass player Alec Cummins, and began playing gigs around Auckland. In 2009 they released their first album, ‘Sleeping Life’, a distorted guitar driven caterwaul that took equal influence from Dinosaur Jr and Black Sabbath. “One of the things that really defined us then,” recalls Alec, “is that we never really sat down and came up with a game plan for what Jackal was supposed to sound like. We were happy to play the stoner rock stuff like ‘Machine’ but also dug the wimpy jangly stuff like ‘Getting Late’ and ‘Sword.’” Though ‘wimpy jangly stuff’ is a pretty subjective interpretation of the album, mostly due Theo’s naďve insistence on keeping his Big Muff distortion pedal turned on, meaning that even the so-called ‘quiet’ sections roared like a jet engine. “I guess I knew that because we were recording it quickly and cheaply, the guitar sound was never gonna be crystal clear,” says Theo. “I just figured I’d take it in the other direction and turn my distortion up way more than I would at shows, then at least people would sit up and take notice at how wild it all sounded.”
Shortly after the release of ‘Sleeping Life’, Will switched to guitar and a succession of drummers were brought in. Their second album ‘Furnace Creek’ followed in 2011, displaying a marked shift in the maturity and complexity of their material. Of the writing process that led to such a drastic change in sound, Alec says: “Will coming onto guitar from drums really changed things. He was just technically light years ahead of Theo and me, so we really had to step up our game to do the stuff he was writing justice.” Will says: “there were still no boundaries for what was and wasn’t allowed, nothing was too heavy or too slow or anything like that. If it sounded like it was going to be a good song, we’d write it.” This approach of refusing to limit their inspiration led to ‘Furnace Creek‘ having a diverse and eclectic sound, but the band managed to save themselves from creating a hodgepodge of unrelated songs. “When it comes time to record, we have always been focused on creating whole albums, not just an un-unified bunch of tracks,” says Theo. “it’s always the three of us- Alec, Will and me- writing the material together so it always ends up existing in this common ground. We also intentionally recorded ‘Furnace Creek’ quickly with a single engineer, Dan Speight, because we knew that would help tie the whole thing together with a single sound, despite having stuff that was really heavy and really soft.” Shortly after the release of ‘Furnace Creek’, the band recruited a full time drummer, Hayden Keach, and began to increase the amount of live performances they played, all while building up material for a third album which is now set to be released this August.
Reflecting on how far the band has come since ‘Sleeping Life’, Alec says: “we never would have written the songs on the new album like ‘Rivet Head’ or ‘The Woken’ two years ago, but these songs still came out of the same approach we’ve always had, which is to consistently push ourselves to do something different. Not just different from popular music, but also different from what we have done before.” Will adds: “if any of our albums sounded like a rehash of other bands or ourselves, we wouldn’t want to release it; it wouldn’t be worth the commitment of our fans to just serve them up the same old thing.”
Keeping their fans in mind, Jackal has decided that this next album is going to be totally free. On the album’s release date, August 27th, the album will become available for free download for anyone, anywhere. Jackal is able to have such control over the distribution of their own music because throughout the band’s life its members have chosen to remain a totally independent act- they are not on any label and do not answer to any management staff. Theo explained the band’s decision to remain independent and release their music for free by saying that “making people find the album in stores or paying for it online is just prohibitive to the actual purpose of the music, which is to be heard. If we cared about being on a label and making money we would have given up a long time ago.”
Jackal’s third album will be available for download on their website http://www.jackalband.com/ (where their previous two albums are already online for free download) on August 27th. Also, search for the Jackal album release event on Facebook and hit attending- when the album comes out, the band will send you a direct link to download the album.
Thanks to Jodie Starsky for this article.
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