Into Music Interview: Jetstream Pony

Jetstream Pony, the Brighton/Croydon based post-punk, indie pop band have had a busy year, releasing their self-titled debut album as well as recent single If Not Now, When? Played regularly on the likes of BBC Radio 6 Music and our own George Paterson’s Cumbernauld FM show, the band are creating quite a following and have more to come before we see the back of 2020. John Welsh caught up with Shaun Charman from the band for this exclusive interview with Into Creative.

John: Can you tell Into Creative about the history of Jetstream Pony, who is in the band, how you started, what are your influences and the story behind the band name? 

Shaun: Beth and I met when we played a couple of gigs together with The Luxembourg Signal and The Fireworks as we were label mates on Shelflife. Shortly afterwards, Beth actually joined The Fireworks after our original singer Emma left. I was the drummer, but had written a couple of songs on the side, using Beth’s lyrics, which we recorded on GarageBand. The band liked them but felt it should be a side project. Things weren’t the most stable, and after one more single The Fireworks went on hiatus anyway.

I contacted my old friend Kerry about playing the bass and Jetstream Pony became a band. My original influences are post-punk, The Fall, G04, Fire Engines etc. I do really like bands like Chorusgirl and The Luxembourg Signal too.

Jetstream Pony is the former racing name of my partner’s rescue greyhound. We always thought it sounded like a band, Carol even made me a T-shirt for Christmas before we properly existed! Beth said it always made her think of power-pop, it was agreed straight away.

In terms of song-writing and music, what’s the process the band go through, from rough outline to the finished article of a song?

I tend to get the music together, apart from the bass. Beth gives me what we call “fag packets”, lyrics and prose. I flick through them for best fit for the song, Beth doesn’t mind me editing them. The lyrics are generally a mix between us in the end, passed back and forth.

It’s great for me as I’ve always struggled with lyrics, Beth provides the outline and the main parts. Kerry also sings sometimes, using her own lyrics, with Beth playing bass. It’s nice to vary things!

Your self-titled debut album was released during lockdown/Covid. Strange times but still exciting to get your record out there. Did you consider delaying the release given the inability to tour and promote it at this time? Once things settle down, can we expect Jetstream Pony to get back out on the road to tour, including Scotland?

Some people did think we should delay, but the record labels had their schedules, and we didn’t mind. Who knows when we’ll back out there. It’s been a strange year, with the album and two singles, yet we’ve only met once since February when we did the video for the single. It would be great to come to Scotland, I’ve always been a big admirer of Scottish music back to Postcard Records and we do have friends in Glasgow.

During lockdown you still though managed to play live via the At The Edge Of The Sofa Festival – how was that experience (I think you were all in different locations)?

To let you into a secret, those videos are not live (nooo!!!). They are new demo recordings with us filmed either as we record them or filmed afterwards. They’re then edited together. I think most lockdown videos are actually done that way, as truly live videos wouldn’t sound so good…

You’ve recently released a new single “If Not Now, When”? I see this track wasn’t on your debut album which preceded it – was this a deliberate ploy or was the song written/recorded after the album? 

It was written after the album recording. It was actually written for a garage-punk compilation album for Arthur Andrew Jarrett of Raving Pop Blast, but we had a misunderstanding about the deadline. I had an old riff, thought it would suit the compilation, but in the end I am pleased about the misunderstanding as it gave us the single. I just have to find something else garage-punk before the next compilation!

The video for the single was done in collaboration with Inner Strings, the Lewes based video/visual artist. How did that come about, where was the video recorded and do you get involved much in terms of what you want for the end result/video? 

We know Chris Innerstrings, he’s a friend and also did the videos for I Close My Eyes and It’s Fine. We filmed it on Hove beach, getting in the sea wasn’t as cold as it looked! We weren’t really involved in the look of the video. Chris has a very recognisable style and it was nice to work with him directly using specially filmed footage. We really love the video, very happy with it.

Talking about new music, you’ve got a new single scheduled for release in December. “Grief Of A (Frozen) Sailor” that’s part of the Snowflakes Xmas Singles Club – can you tell us what that is broadly and how you got involved.

Robert from Snowflakes just sent us an e-mail. A few years ago I’d written a song with my then 8-year old daughter Nina one afternoon. It was about the weather to keep the lyrics age appropriate(!). We’d played it a few times at practices, and when Robert got in touch, it was easy to see how it could be a good one to use, replacing the original word “storm” with “snow”.

Covid has further highlighted wider issues in relation to mental health and I see you are supporting CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) through a compilation album being released of James Bond songs. What song have you covered for it and do you enjoy interpreting another artist’s song as a cover? 

I always enjoy doing cover versions, they’re fun to do. Beth has had some great ideas, including Charms Around Your Wrist by The Softies, 20/20’s Yellow Pills and Hit the Snow by The Aislers Set on the Christmas single. It is great to support Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) and we really appreciated David (Gedge) from The Wedding Present asking, though with some reservations about the sexism of James Bond films.

The music is absolutely iconic though, Kerry’s always been a big fan. Originally we were going to just do the On Her Majesty’s Secret Service theme, but David was keen that we do a vocal one, especially given Beth’s voice. In the end he asked Beth personally, though it did mean there weren’t many songs left, and we got Man with the Golden Gun, one of the songs with the dodgiest lyrics of all! It’s a good cause though, it was great that David asked and fun to do.

For more information on Jetstream Pony, follow the links below and to purchase their self-titled album and more, head over to their Bandcamp page.

For information on CALM which is leading a movement against suicide, visit their website here or call them on 0800 58 58 58.

John Welsh
@welshjb

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