Interview: Jamie Webster

Jamie Webster

Words and Photos by Gary Lambert

Jamie Webster 2One of the best things about the face to face interviews we do at Popped Music is that you get to see close up the passion that people have for music.  Not just the music they have created in the studio, but the music that inspires them, that soundtracks their formative years, and even the music that they hate.  This passion for music meant that the interview with Jamie Webster, a Scouse singer-songwriter, flew by in the blink of an eye rather than the forty minutes we spent in Jimmy’s.  In all honesty, it was probably the easiest interview I have ever done as Jamie did not stop talking from the moment I pressed record.

With only one single behind him, albeit one that reached number eight in the iTunes charts, I would say that you might not have heard of him yet, but if everything goes to plan you will have heard of him soon enough.

An obvious first point of call was Jamie’s new single (due out 12 February) which had him brimming with excitement every time it was hinted at as we walked around Liverpool taking photographs.  It isn’t just the music he’s put down on record that is exciting to Jamie though.  This is a lad who is buzzing for music and every step of the process.

“Yeah, I’ve got my second single coming out on 12 February.  It’s called Living For Yesterday.  I recorded it in Parr Street in Liverpool with Rich Turvey.  If I can say anything about working with Rich is that it’s unbelievable experience every day.  I worked with him on my first single, Weekend in Paradise, and through the recording of that we realised that we had quite a few really close mutual friends.  But you feel lucky getting to work with him as he’s in such high demand.  He’s done number one albums, written songs with all kinds of artists, and generally just smashing it; so for him to make time to make a record with me is amazing.  As well as being a producer he’s also a teacher though.  In such a short time he’s altered the way I think about writing songs, and how I play music to be honest.  Everything in my game has completely changed because of him.

“Each single has taken two days to record.  It’s boss.  We use Rich’s little room upstairs.  There’s no disturbances.  I’m quite rough and ready, and through the nature of the gigs I’ve played it’s always been quite raw.  It’s been me, my guitar, and whoever has been watching me.  Seeing songs go from me playing them in my bedroom to a full on process in the recording studio full of trial and error as we add things to the tracks is huge.  But you don’t think of it as being a process until you look back on it afterwards because I have such a laugh with Rich.  The studio time feels like it goes in seconds.”

You can tell from talking to Jamie that rather than being a fish out of water with the growth of his tracks, he is chomping at the bit to get going with more of it.  And even if the body language doesn’t give it away, his words make sure you know that he is excited about it.

Weekend in Paradise was the raw and ready lad with an acoustic guitar and his fists (for rhythm not violence – GL).  But the songs that I’ve been writing since then have been a lot more suited to a full complement of band members which I was unsure about as I’ve not been playing with other musicians.  I was in bands from being 15-16, but I was just the singer as I didn’t like playing the electric guitar so I’ve not been part of that musical unit.  Rich and Alfie Skelly have guided me and opened me up to styles and sounds that work with the songs I’m writing.  To watch my songs develop is out of this world.  At first, it’s true, you are like a mother with her kid seeing that he can do no wrong, but once I heard what it could sound like with all these other ideas in…. It’s like “WOW!  Fucking hell!!”.  You go from wanting it to be untouched to feeling like it needs to be this way.  When you listen back to just the acoustic sound then you feel like it’s missing it even though previously yoJamie Webster 1u thought it was your perfect child.”

“It’s not just about the record though.  I can’t want to nail it with the live band and get out playing the songs.  The musicians I’ve got working with me are great.  It’s going to make it easy for me having them alongside me on stage and I’m just looking forward to it so much.  Listening to the live demos in my car makes me realise I can now give it so much more energy when I’m doing a gig because I’ll have them backing me up.  There’ll be a tight drum beat, a groovy bassline, and some sweet guitar playing – and that’s always a winner.  It won’t be me with my stomp box to give it some rhythm to get people dancing.  I’m going to be freed up by not having to stand in one place too.  I’ll have free use of the stage, and I’ll make use of it.  I want to be able to entertain as well as singing songs that have meaning and stories behind.  When people come to one of my gigs I want them dancing and singing along, and it’s like having a party, you’ve got to be the first one to get dancing if you want everybody to join in.

One thing obvious from talking with Jamie is that the power of personality is going to get doors opened for him or he’ll open the door himself and make you think it was opened for him.  It’s an impressive start to have support slots with Liverpool luminaries like Red Rum Club, The Tea Street Band and Cast.  They might share friends and colleagues, but they’re all professional outfits who look to put on a show every night.  “When I had my single launch, my first headline show, I was stepping into the unknown and I was nervous about it.  Afterwards you get everybody congratulating you, but I knew it hadn’t gone as I wanted.  Everybody had heard the single, but there were nine other songs that they hadn’t heard and I was unsure about how people would take to them.  By the time the Tea Street Band gig came around, I felt so much more in control.  My boss Dave was at both of those gigs and when I came off stage at the Tea Street gig he just said “miles better” and I knew he was right.”

“Red Rum Club was my first solo gig and it was a free hit for me really.  It was in Sheffield so there was nobody who knew me in the audience.  I told myself it was a no pressure gig and I’d never see any of these people again unless they liked my music.  I even played an Arctic Monkeys cover, A Certain Romance, to try to give them something they know to get them on side.  The crowd were great; and the lads from Red Rum Club were fucking boss with me.  With the lads from The Tea Street Band, I’ve looked up to them since they were in The Maybes?.  With all being north end lads like myself, and Timmo’s a good mate of mine and an absolute legend.  They are absolutely great musicians, and it blows my mind thinking that I was up on their stage.”

Jamie Webster 3“It was probably the most enjoyable gig that I’ve done that Tea Street Band one.  Their fans are all lovely people who went out of their way to be great to me, the band on before me The Sway were spot on, a cracking young Scouse band.  And then the lads from Tea Street…. I even got a compliment from Alfie my manager.  And he doesn’t say them often so you know he meant it”.

It’s important that young artists are able to take on criticism too.  You don’t improve by listening to everybody tell you that you’re the best because unless you’re The Beatles, Foo Fighters, Beyonce, Taylor Swift and that ilk, you’re not the best.  But by being critical of your own work and allowing others to be critical of you (although still fight your corner if you disagree), you give yourself the best chance of getting there.

“Ever since I was a kid and realised that I am not good enough to be a professional footballer, my dream has been to make music, to sell records to people, and travel around the world playing and hearing people sing my songs.  I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but I’m going to give it my best shot”.

Living For Yesterday is out 12 February, on Modern Sky.  Pre-save here

Find Jamie Webster on Facebook

LIVE

21 February Arts Club, Liverpool *sold out*

22 February The Grand Social, Dublin *sold out*

23 February Colours, Hoxton *sold out*

26 February Invisible Wind Factory, Liverpool, supporting The Sherlocks

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