Interview Exclusive: Trampolene

Trampolene

Words: Leander Hobbs

Talking poems, politics and Pete Doherty with Trampolene frontman Jack Jones

They must put something in the water in Wales. How else do you explain the sheer breadth of musical talent that has rolled gently out of the valleys in the last 50 years?  Huge stars born and made by a steadfast cultural heritage and tradition.  It is from the same melting pot that forged legends like Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones that an unassuming lad from Swansea beat the odds of his education to become poet, singer/song writer and rising star of alternative rock band, Trampolene. One of the bands booked by Popped Music to open up at the forthcoming Hope & Glory Festival on their main stage too no less.

Jack Jones (no relation) now lives in London. Together with best mates Wayne Thomas (bass, vocals) and Rob Steele (drums, vocals) he packed up his life in Wales to move his ideas and dreams to the capital. A risky move for three fledgling adults with no money or backing from the industry.

“I had put my life into Trampolene. We made a record, we moved to London it seemed impossible but somehow, we knew we had to make it. I remember calling round record labels when we had already made our record. You could say we were pretty late to the party and so no record labels wanted us.  But we put our vision and our world into that first record and when you put that much of yourself in it just works. We believed something and manifested it in real life, don’t know how it happened but it is very real now. We sit around listening to those first songs and cry because we can’t believe we have got this far.”

Far indeed; in just a few short years Jack and Trampolene have gone from three unknown broke guys clinging to a dream to living it, releasing six EPs, touring with the Libertines and Puta Madres and more recently a sold out Trampolene European tour.  With their full-length debut album due out in September 2017, we caught up with front man Jones outside of Specsavers to find out how he bought his vision to life.

“I have been having the maddest time of my life, I am just so busy. Just finished my time with Peter (Doherty) and Puta Madres and now straight in with Trampolene performances for festivals. I am literally living the dream!”  

It’s a strange picture to puzzle but Jones’ association with Peter Doherty started with poetry.

“When I started learning the guitar, music was everything. I would practice over and over again in my bedroom, playing songs for my teenage crush who never loved me, just to try and impress her.  I didn’t have a good time at school.  I couldn’t read or write so I played up, I guess you could say I was bored and frustrated that I wasn’t being taught the way I needed to learn. 

“It all changed when I was about 20 and I read my first proper book and realised I needed to understand more and get involved. I was always thinking about Dylan Thomas; I guess I was jealous of him and he made me angry. I would read his stuff and try and write words as good as him and that’s where the mad obsession started.”

What started as a vehicle for song writing soon began to crystalize as poetry that no longer required a melody to sing.  In 2015 Jones performed his poetry at The Great Escape Festival, Brighton and Bring the Ruckus, London gaining national recognition in the Guardian and NME as well as industry support from the likes of Dr John Cooper Clarke.  Jones’ approach to song writing and the written word was changing and this in turn, influenced the direction of Trampolene as the spoken word and rock and roll came together to create the articulate sound found on EPs such as the recently released Beautiful Pain.

“I began to live and die for language. Now I must have a book on the go. At the moment, I am reading a book called Jack by A.A Holmes. It really strikes me, there is something true about it, I have found I always find the most truth in fiction.”

This feels like a far cry from the school boy that couldn’t read or write.

“My teachers wouldn’t believe me if they knew how much I have written now. I remember once handing in an assignment and it was just a copy of a song by Eminem. I couldn’t express myself in any other way. I had a good relationship with my teachers, they understood that I was someone who was trying to find their way truthfully.”

Trampolene’s mix of visual art, poetry and music on their first EPs is what drew the attention of Doherty’s manager. Jones explains:

“We were playing a show, in fact it was our first sold out show. We came off stage really buzzing and I thought that was as good as it gets. I woke up late the next day and then Peter’s manager rang me to ask if I wanted to work with the Libertines and then as it turned out later with his band Puta Madres. Fucking right I do was all I could reply.  Good he said because I have booked you on a flight to Buenos Aires so pack your pants and socks and get on your bike.  I had to learn 23 songs on the plane as well as calm my nerves and excitement.”

The result of this lifetime opportunity was Jones becoming The Libertines official tour poet and playing guitar with Puta Madres. He has fond memories of the experience.

“Peter is extremely intelligent and real. He is living his life and he lives it for the music; writing better songs and striving constantly to be a better writer. His attitude is refreshing and probably the polar-opposite to the industry and indeed most walks of life.  The experience was amazing for me. Peter is a great front man and one of my best friends. We are like two lost souls and fate bought us together, if you believe in that sort of thing, which I don’t know if I do or not. I am a very lucky man.”

Playing backup to a character like Doherty might have proven too much for some frontman egos but not Jones.

“When I learnt guitar, I wanted to play music and write songs. I didn’t want to be a frontman and didn’t idolize singers. I wanted to work with the best singers in the world and when I couldn’t find anyone that worked with Trampolene’s vision I kind of fell into the job.  At one point, I only wanted a frontman if he was the best in the world and now they are stuck with me!”

This humble enthusiasm for music, language and life itself is infectious but even Jones admits that success isn’t always guaranteed for even the most talented artists.

“Perhaps I am a bit cynical about the music industry and I wish I could say something different but it is pure nepotism. From what I have seen it is all who you know and backhanders. When I came to London I had a naivety, which I guess worked as a weapon along with our unwavering work ethic. But it really is all about contacts and that’s difficult to break into as three guys from Wales.

“There is a scene underneath all the money thrown at pop, a scene for guitar music and bands like Trampolene and I guess if you make a big enough noise in that underground scene you become unavoidable in the mainstream.

“That said it is all about the money and your networks. Say Coldplay put out Beautiful Pain last week it would be number one around the world because they are Coldplay. The Internet tricks artists into thinking success is immediate and overnight but you have to graft and like maybe 10 years later you are an overnight success.  Young promoters can help the grass roots level and there are lucky breaks but that isn’t always the best thing as there is no context, you are just in a shit loads of debt.”

Trampolene are one of those bands that have made it. With a growing fan base and those all-important growing networks, it might be easy to be complacent about those early days of grafting. Jones however keeps his feet firmly on the ground dreams of a more just future for young people making their way in this crazy new world.

“Unfairness makes me really angry and everything just seems unfair now.  I think we need to take better care of our children. If I was running the country I would guarantee one hour a week therapy for every child so that they grew up into less fucked up adults.  My first policy would also be to make Jeremy Corbyn leader as he seems the only leader right now that has anything like genuine concern, or is willing to actually listen to people and not just hear them. I would also ban Cardiff City fans (can I say that?)”

So aside from inciting riots back in his home country, what else is in the pipeline for Jack Jones and Trampolene?

“I never know what is next. We have an album out in the next few months and from there I don’t know, anything could happen. All I hope for is a lot of joy for however long this music thing lasts, that’s all I really want to find and what’s life is really all about.”

I leave Jack heading back to his bedroom, a padded cell covered in pictures of Dylan Thomas.

“They are there to remind me of my competition.  Watch out Thomas, I’m coming for you”

Listen to Beautiful Pain by Trampolene here:

 

Watch the video for Saving My Life in A&E here:

LIVE

 

AUGUST
6th Liverpool – Hope & Glory Festival (The Great Exhibition Stage – opening in association with Popped Music )
19th Co Durham – Hardwick Live
25-27th  Reading / Leeds – Festival
SEPTEMBER
21st London – 229
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