John Borack writes (Goldmine Magazine) about Cracked Up: Each of the dozen tunes here is a exhilaratingly perfect example of what power pop should be – these are all short (12 songs in 33 minutes), snappy songs with melodies that draw you in on the first listen, plenty of guitars, assured lead vocals with just the right amount of attitude, some nicely placed vocal harmonies, and the secret ingredient that is too often missing in current power pop – power.
What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?
It was great to be making music again with the guys I started out with. We’d all kept in touch over the years (3 of us had later ended up in a band called The Pencils in the 80’s) but making the new album was finally the catalyst to bring all five of us back together again. The funniest thing was that we very quickly all reverted back to being 19 again. Like being back in the Jetz enabled us to pretend the last 35 years never happened! We coincided the release of the Cracked Up album with a show in Berlin last year, which then became the excuse to consume far too much alcohol on the day off before the show. The level of immaturity and irresponsibility that ensued would put most men of a certain age to shame.
If we want to know you, which song do we have to listen to? And why?
There’s a song on the new album called “Keith Doesn’t Do Different”. I think there’s a little bit of Keith in myself and most of my friends now over 50. The battle to accept change, remain open to new ideas and embrace new music as we get older. ‘Keith’ is happy to indulge himself in the same things he’s always enjoyed. He listens to the same music, goes to the same place for his holidays each year and has an aversion to new technology! I try and fight it but I know I’m increasingly in danger of losing the battle. I’m now at an age where most of my contemporaries have no interest whatsoever in listening to anything current. Someone I know – who shall remain nameless – is quite proud of the fact that his last two concert experiences were Kenny G and Celine Dion.
What’s the story behind the band name?
Hard to recall which of us suggested The Jetz, but we must have all thought it was ok. It was 1977 and the Punk/New Wave era was upon us. We figured ‘The Jetz’ kind of sounded right and we also thought spelling it with a ‘Z’ gave it more ‘edge’ and make it more in keeping with the times. Of course, we would often arrive for a show to see ourselves billed as “The Jets”, which would irritate us. Later, I remember a phone call with an agent who had booked the band. I was telling him “Remember now, it’s Jetz with a ‘Z’? Don’t forget to tell them, ok?? Two weeks later we arrived at the gig to find a poster which read: “Tonight – The Zets!”
The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not? An awful lot has changed between the first album and the new one, I guess.
Well yes, an awful lot has changed in the 40 years since our first record Catch Me in 1977, and the music business as it is today. It’s almost unrecognisable to me. The digital age has seemingly sounded the death knell for the business as we knew it – it’s become so very easy to download music for free. That’s a real shame, but the upshot for a band like ourselves is that through the internet, people can now discover and be introduced to music they otherwise would never have heard. The record business itself buried us almost as soon as it launched us – but the internet has given us a new lease of life and introduced our music to a new audience.
Who is the best musician in the world nobody has heard of yet?
I’d have to say Jamie Cook, the guitarist in my current band The Overtures. He’s been playing since the age of 5 and there’s really nothing he can’t play. Makes anything look easy – which is why there are actually some people who assume everything he plays really is that easy!
She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mix tape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?
I’d showcase 5 songs that represented qualities I figure she’d ideally seek in a partner, thus she would naturally assume that being I appreciated those particular qualities in songs I cherished, then by definition those same qualities must obviously be a reflection of me… or something like that. The lucky lady would also need to know that I’m pretty serious about my music so I’d select nothing that could be described as a ‘chart topper’ or anything too obvious. I’d also close the tape with something a little more contemporary – just so she couldn’tpossibly mistake me for an old bore who believes all the best tunes are in the distant past!
1) Kinks – Picture Book (sharp sense of humour)
2) Simon and Garfunkel – The Only Living Boy In New York (sensitive soul)
3) Rods – Do Anything You Wanna Do (rebellious of spirit)
4) Bob Dylan – Love Minus Zero (romantic and poetic)
5) Fleet Foxes – He Doesn’t Know Why (contemporary)
You can plainly see I’ve thought this through carefully (although “conniving” is perhaps not the ‘quality’ I was hoping she’d most see in me).
I deliberately put Dylan in there, who is often the ‘dealbreaker’ with ladies I have known. Consequently, should Love Minus Zero fail to melt her heart , then perhaps we really should just go our separate ways and as far as I’m concerned she can go back to her old flame Nigel who works at the bank and – for all I care – can take her along next time he goes to see Kenny G and Celine Dion.
What’s up for the next couple of months?
I’m pretty busy with The Overtures (www.theovertures.com) and I’ve also begun mixing a live recording of The Jetz show in Berlin last year. It shall be the 40th anniversary in 2017 of the recording of Catch Me so it’ll be fitting to mark the event with the release of the live album.