Turning up to Takedown Festival with an air of style and elegance was the most sharply dressed man you will see at any festival this year, as we had the pleasure of talking to the legend that is Jamie Lenman. After storming his way back into music at the end of last year with his fantastic debut album Muscle Memory, the former Reuben frontman chatted to us before his set on the Jagermeister Stage. We talked about his debut album, his comeback into the festival scene and how he juggles his music with his design work!
HTF: I am very excited to say this, but I am joined by Jamie Lenman, how are you?
Jamie: Yeah, I’m great yeah!
HTF: How does it feel to be back playing festivals again?
Jamie: A little intimidating you know I always find playing live intense even when its just my own gig, so to be thrown in here with 50 other bands, is a bit of a whirlwind, but I’m coping.
HTF: Have you managed to see any bands today at all?
Jamie: I just caught maybe 5 minutes of Black Futures, which is really great because they are my good friends, but I think I’m going to be spending most of my day speaking to fine people like yourself, which is fine by me, just mainly interviews.
HTF: Your comeback headline shows were a huge hit back in December, what did it feel like coming back to such a positive reaction?
Jamie: It feels great, I wasn’t really sure what reaction to expect, I had no preconceptions as you say, so to get such a lovely reaction felt very warm you know, grateful is the main word, yeah grateful.
HTF: Your debut album, Muscle Memory, is filled with your classic guitar playing style, but there is also this folk side to the album, was that a genre you always wanted to tap into?
Jamie: I think I’ve always wanted to do it, I think when you are a kid and you are starting a band at like 14/15 folk music and even Jazz is the furthest thing from your mind, it certainly was the furthest thing from my mind but as you go along you just hoover up all kinds of music and you start to look. I think Folk there is a large element of tradition in it and Jazz even though its still alive, it formulated in the early 20th century and as you start looking back and I have a big interest in history anyway, that’s when you start to find that type of music, so as I’ve got older those interest have been kindled in me, but at the start No, if you had told me that I would realise a Jazz/Folk album I would have told you to get fucked.
HTF: When writing Muscle Memory, did you always intend it to be a double album or was it a case of you just kept writing enough material to warrant it?
Jamie: I was sort of finishing off songs that had been in my head for a while and thought I had enough for an album, I realised that if I was going to release another album after 4 or 5 years, I didn’t want it to be so similar to my previous records, like the last one I did with Reuben. So I thought I would come back with something that was a little bit different, something that had an edge. So I thought if I split everything down the middle and I’d been toying with that idea for a while, so I thought right let’s do that now, so I split the songs up into two sections and from that point I wrote songs distinctly for either side and I managed to get two discs worth.
HTF: You are touring in April with a 7-piece band, which sounds quite exciting, how have you been preparing for that?
Jamie: Well I work very closely with a guy, a great saxophone player called Pete Fraser, who was in a great couple of bands I love and he is a great musical arranger, you know he is a real Jazz player but he understands Heavy Metal, he’s been very useful to tie the two together. If you are going to put a horn section into a double bass drum and drop beats and slam beats or whatever its good to have someone who understands both worlds, so he’s worked with me in creating the right arrangements and then we are going to have a big rehearsal with the whole team, I think its going to work out really well, it’s quite exciting.
HTF: On top of your music, you are a designer and illustrator, how do you balance everything at once?
Jamie: It’s not easy, up until recently I had a 9-5 up in London working for a design agency, so I would just do the music in the evenings and the weekends. One reason it took so long for this record to come out, so it’s not easy, it just takes a long time is the answer to that.
HTF: What have you got planned for the rest of the year?
Jamie: Just loads of festivals, doing all the festivals, I’m doing 3 or 4 of them at the moment that I know of, but I’m sure more will come along. The festival season gets longer and more packed every year, smaller festivals like this pop, it’s really great and some great acts you know and the festival season is over in September, so I will wind down then and plan my next move.
HTF: Looking at the festival today, are there any bands on the bill that you think could be the next big thing?
Jamie: I don’t know about the next big thing, I’ve never been a taste maker, the bands I’m looking forward to seeing are Feed The Rhino, I’m not sure about the next big thing but they are good, they are fantastic. Baby Godzilla I’ve heard so many great things about but haven’t seen them yet. The Hell, I’m not sure they want to be the next big thing, I think they prefer it if people left them alone, which is good for a rock n roll band!
HTF: Thank you so much for your time, I can not wait for your set later!
Jamie: Sweet man, cheers!