was Nitas fault! She told me CJ loved to talk about his dogs.
As soon as that four-letter word was uttered by myself, CJ almost blew
my head off with his chattering - like a parrot on Readybrek, he was
off, answering my questions before I could even get two words in edgeways
to ask them in the first place! CJ is actually an interviewers
dream because you can literally sit there and just let him talk without
having to say a word. Perhaps it was down to the fact that CJ had a
cold and had "taken a lot of cold tablets". I dunno. Lets
it wasnt because of my dogs there wouldnt have been The
Jellys. I named The Jellys after my smallest dog Squirts love
of Jelly Babies and jelly type sweets. If she liked Fruit Salads wed
have probably have been called The Fruit Salads!" he jests. Actually
hes probably deadly serious.
Black Jacks. But she likes Jelly Babies. And the whole idea of The Jellys
is to crucify Jelly Babies as well. A lot of my songs are about my dogs
as well. Ive got three dogs - theres Squirt, theres
Chiwie and theres Jacob. And they come in different sizes. Squirts
the smallest, then Chiwies a medium sized Cross - theyre
both Crosses, and then theres Jacob, my German Shepherd. And Im
getting a Chihuahua next month. And theyve all got songs about
them. Ive got a Chinchilla called Roxanne as well! And a budgie
that last ones got an imaginative name!
all been used in songs. Ive sampled their woofs and Roxanne, my
Chinchilla, makes an amazing sound. Shes on a song called Roxanne,
The Punk Chinchilla. And my budgie is actually singing on the
end of one song and Squirt is barking in the distance."
only now use animals on your records?
The Jellys is a band I formed and because I write everything. I can
write about anything I want basically and most of The Jellys songs
are about things I really love. I love my dogs and Ive written
a song about ice-cream because I love ice-cream. I love chocolate ice-cream
but it didnt rhyme so I called it Strawberry Ice-Cream
after my girlfriends favourite flavour.
songs are about all sorts of stupid things. Some of its serious
as well but I wanted a band that made people smile and once they heard
the music, it kind of makes them want to get up on their seat and dance.
Weve got quite a strong image as well. We wear quite a lot of
eye shadow and eye liner and sometimes we wear grease paint and paint
ourselves up like Jelly Babies! We all wear kipper ties and weve
all got skinheads so its sort of a transvestite Buddhist Neo-Nazi
look! Its quite strange. Its kind of an anti-image; its
strong and no-one looks like us. I just wanted a band that was a bit
unique. Its all kind of punk rock, the whole thing, as well. Its
sort of a punk effort with pop melodies going over the top. Its
a combination of a number of things but things I really love."
The Jellys videos are going to be really bizarre when they get
around to doing them!
thing I love about music is that you can look so different to your everyday
person on the street, or someone whos got a day job. And I think
its a crime not to exploit it. Its almost like a gift. You
can do things that are really wild. Getting Stidi and Jeff in the band,
they can both play really well, but theyre also a couple of people
who wouldnt mind me experimenting with them. So when it comes
to making videos I want it to be as colourful and outrageous, but not
crude... just madness! Really over the top. Its the same with
pictures. Every photo session we do, we have a different image and the
key thing is the kipper ties! No-one knows what were going to
look like. I dont know myself - Ill see what I dream tonight!"
says he normally dreams the images of the band. He thinks his dreams
are quite crazy and hes into the surreal edge. Hes captivated
by anything unexplained like the occult and supernatural.
Barkers my favourite novelist" he says. "His books are
so wild. His imagination is so crazy and I like everything like that.
I like things which are a bit off centre."
CJ doesnt take inspiration from what he reads. "If I did,
all my stuff would be about horror stuff and fantasy stuff. Its
more whats around me and whats happening to me right now.
Theres one song which is about a summertime five years ago but
most of the songs are about whats relevant in my life right now."
actually written a song about the other guys in the band. Its
called Its Up To We and each verse is dedicated to
each member of the band. Its me describing them in a funny way.
It pissed them off a bit when they heard each of their relevant verses
but... its about whats happening now. Im not going
to write a song about the sixties or the fifties. I wrote a song about
the weekend just gone, its called Pissed Off But We Dont
Care and I wrote that yesterday and its all about the In
The City week which we were at."
The City week took place in Glasgow with 60 bands taking part in a Battle
Of The Band competition. This happens every year with bands from all
over the UK travelling to the city. Past winners have included Kula
Shaker and Placebo. Its a competition for unsigned bands. The
winner this year was a band going by the name of Tam.
was shocking for me to see 60 of the so-called best unsigned bands.
I didnt see them all but I heard them all on listening posts.
Theres a CD which has 18 of the bands on there; 18 demos basically.
I was shocked at the standard of a lot of the bands. I can put my hand
on my heart and say Ive seen local bands down here or bands opening
up for us that pissed over the majority of the bands playing at that
weekend. And they wouldnt have a chance of getting in there purely
because local bands havent got the management and the connections.
There was a band that opened up for us in Bristol called Buster Friendly,
who were totally amazing, and they would have wiped the floor with all
those bands. Lets hope theyll be there next year. It was
shocking for me to see how poor a lot of the bands were. There were
second-hand Beck type bands! Beck without the humour and with real musicians
playing it, and it doesnt work. Becks real tongue-in-cheek.
And once you lose that American accent as well, to me its like
Chas n Dave. And then, heavy metal bands trying to be punk bands"
not bitter at all, is he?! There was one band he liked though...
was one band that had a song about peas and gravy and I cant remember
their name but they were amazing. But anyone who can sing about peas
and gravy is alright by me!"
about Tam, the winners? Did you hear them?
yeah, I did. They were like an English version of Beck. Need I say more!?
I love good musicians but I also love sparkle, something that makes
a band a bit unique and a bit original. It doesnt have to just
be the music, but also the way a band looks, the way a band performs,
to give it an edge of uniqueness. And having seen a bunch of bands,
maybe Im being biased because a lot of the music I just dont
understand and I wouldnt care to like, so it puts me off them
straightaway, but if I hear a good song, it doesnt matter whether
its funk, house, drum and bass, classical, jazz, it doesnt
matter, a good songs a good song. I just didnt hear that
many good songs up there. I heard great grooves, really good grooves,
but not many songs and it kind of made me realise, maybe people are
just looking for grooves at the moment and something that they can dance
to rather than listen to. Thats the vibe I got up there. Not many
really good songs but some great rhythms and beats and bops.
did our gig and as much as we like hanging around bands, there were
so many record company people there and it was always business. I kind
of feel a bit alienated when I am around people just talking about business
all the time. It does my head in a bit. Because The Jellys are quite
close, were quite insular sometimes, we tend to enjoy each others
company rather than socialise so we kept a low profile."
surprisingly doesnt think there should be more competitions and
openings for unsigned bands like this. He thinks that if a band is going
to get unsigned, they dont need to take part in a competition
to be noticed because theyll be noticed anyway.
been in major bands that have had record deals and this is the first
time Ive taken part in In The City or any band competition in
take part in it then?
thing with The Jellys is that we havent approached any record
companies. Weve got an EP coming out next month which weve
done off our own back, and I wanted the band to start from scratch and
I didnt want to use bands Ive been in in the past and their
past successes to enable The Jellys to get a deal. I wanted to get a
deal purely through having done a s**tload of gigs and maybe released
something on our own and built a following. Just pure hard work."
going out on tour at the end of this month and we just wanted a tiny
bit of exposure before we went off on tour. We dont want to send
out tons of demos and stuff like that so we got asked to do In The City
and they said theyd stick us on the CD. Its good exposure
and thats why we did it. If we can have 10 or 20 people talking
about the band its good for us. But I didnt know it was
going to be so record company heavy. I thought it would be more attended
by the public. Its kind of a weird one. I think any band would
feel strange in that circumstance because it isnt like a true
gig. It is a competition and the whole things organised by record
companies. Its like a meat market.
after a deal but Id like record companies to come and see us in
a dingy packed out club, watch a club going apes**t and sweating rather
than the controlled environment of a competition."
EP will consist of four songs including Over You, One
Way Or Another and Fat Cat "which is about my
mates cat" according to CJ. "A friend of mine, Jase,
who used to be the guitar player in Wolfsbane, has a studio in his house
where we did our demos. Hes got the fattest cat in the world!
The first time I met this cat and it came waddling up to me and Id
never seen a cat so big in my life. I thought Ive got to write
a song about this cat! The songs only about a minute long and
its just about the biggest cat. Its funny and weve
got some cats meowing on there as well.
whole album is dedicated to the love of my pets and all the animals
Ive known over the years. Im thanking all my friends
pets as well and hopefully if we can sign a big enough deal, we can
have one of those booklets and each page can have a page with a picture
of my dog and Ill tell a story or something like that. The whole
albums dedicated to wildlife in general."
you into animal rights?
am. My ultimate ambition is to run an animal sanctuary. Thats
what I hope to do after The Jellys. Set up an animal sanctuary and knock
bands on the head. To look after animals and help animals that have
been abused, and stuff like that. My oldest dog, Jake, was abused and
I get a lot more pleasure from looking after animals than I ever have
from music. When you do have an abused animal, the rewards you get at
the end mean a lot more.
just so respectful because youve helped them. Its that respect
that you get back because you know, Ive helped a lot of humans
out and theyve done me over, but with animals you just dont
get it. Its a loyalty and theyre really grateful and theyre
the best friend youll ever have, and thats what kind of
gets me up in the mornings."
on, I inform CJ that I met him when he was in Honeycrack, when they
appeared at the Wolvestock festival in Wolverhampton a year ago. He
remembers that gig:
came up from Japan to play it. It was on a Sunday and we were actually
playing in Tokyo on the Thursday and it was such a great night and our
tour manager got married on the Saturday. He had a stag night in Tokyo
and then we came back, played at his wedding on the Saturday and had
no time to get over our jetlag and by the time we came to Wolverhampton
we were really exhausted. It wasnt long after then that we left
Epic. I remember last year really well because of the Honeycrack thing
and because its when I first started thinking about The Jellys
what went wrong with Honeycrack?
went wrong. We walked off Epic because we were in a unique position
where we could walk off and wipe our debt off and be completely free
of a record company which doesnt often happen unless youre
completely dropped. We faxed back the contracts to them and said No
thank you and walked off because of a loophole and in that time
we decided wed do at least one more single and one more tour so
we got a deal to release it anyway. We did the one more tour and we
took some time off and we all went off and did different things. We
had another Honeycrack tour booked and another possible deal but none
of us wanted to get back and do the Honeycrack thing. We were all too
happy doing our own thing. We kind of just drifted apart. Were
all still really good friends but in hindsight its the best thing
thats happened to me. Just to be in The Jellys and to do stuff
the way I want to do it."
says there are no comparisons between The Jellys and Honeycrack. He
says "Its a completely different band. Every band Ive
been in has been different to the last. Honeycrack was five songwriters,
we all wanted to be frontmen and we were all influenced by different
bands. It was kind of like pulling against each other and as much as
I like the Honeycrack album, there are so many different styles on there
and for me its quite a hard album to listen to because half I
love and the other half I dont. Its purely styles of music
I didnt want to play but we all loved being in the band and we
all liked each other and we all made massive compromises. Whereas with
The Jellys its the three of us and were all influenced by
the same type of music and we all want to play the same type of music.
Im the frontman, Stiddys the drummer and Jeffs the
bass player. We all know our individual roles and were not all
fighting for the spotlight and we get on great. It is a different type
of band. You need direction and you need someone, when theres
a decision to be made, to go Right, this is the decision
and he has to have the confidence to know the other two will stand by
CJ is now the full time vocalist. I wondered if he had had any vocal
training or if it was just a progression from being a backing vocalist
in his former bands.
vocal training was purely singing back up vocals in The Wildhearts and
stepping up a gear or two in Honeycrack. Willie did teach me a lot about
harmonies and how to reach certain notes. Ive got to say that
I learnt more in the two years working with Willie than I every did
in any of the other bands. He was without a doubt the best musician
Ive ever worked with. Hes so amazingly talented in all aspects
of music and I did learn a lot off him.
I was in The Wildhearts and in any band Ive ever been in, Ive
always looked at myself as a frontman and it has caused a lot of problems.
Being in The Jellys it feels no different except that I get to talk
a lot more! The spotlights a bit more on me. But Im a guitar
player first and a singer second."
must be said that CJ doesnt have a promising record when it comes
to staying in bands and keeping them going. There must be people out
there who are cynical and believe that this time next year The Jellys
will be no more and CJ will be forming another new band.
dunno. For me, The Jellys will go on for another five years. Im
working on the second album now and Id like this to be my last
band. I think Ive put so much energy into The Jellys that I wouldnt
have the energy to put another band together and start from scratch
again. Im getting too old I think as well! Im 29 now and
I can only play punk rock and I just couldnt do it in my mid-30s,
with conviction and passion. It just wouldnt work. But I can still
go on stage and get angry and mean it because I see enough in the world
to get angry about and I can still go on stage and take the piss and
still have a good time and mean it. It isnt about money, I just
love playing gigs. In five years time, maybe Ill be a different
person, I dont know."
band embarked on their first little tour of the UK in August and September,
headlining small clubs such as Birminghams Xposure Rock Café
and Londons Camden Barfly as well as supporting other name bands.
How were the gigs then, CJ?
wasnt so much a tour, just a handful of dates. All the dates weve
done weve enjoyed. We love playing live. Because were only
a three-piece, every stage is really big. Weve got a tour coming
up, our first proper tour. About 20 dates at the end of this month.
We cant wait to get out there and play. We did play with The Descendants,
who are my favourite band. They asked us to support them so I must be
in the right band! Thats never happened before.
got to come out and see us. Youve got to see Stidi cause
hes so fast. When he was in The Wildhearts with me, people were
saying hes not a great drummer but hes one of the only drummers
whos stuck in my mind, who Ive ever worked with. And I knew
he was the only drummer, English drummer, that I could find who I needed
to do what I wanted to do. Once you see him live youll understand
what I mean, And he can sing too. There arent many drummers who
can play like him and sing."
his fans, CJ says he recognises a lot of them. "Ive seen
the same faces for the last eight years. I think Ive been lucky
because Ive got some people who are just really loyal. In The
Wildhearts and in Honeycrack I didnt make a lot of enemies and
I think a lot of people stood by me. Im not talking about hundreds
and thousands of people but it means a lot to me whether its just
one or a hundred people. Theyve followed everything Ive
done and regardless of what band Im in I know theyll always
be there and I think its kind of cool."
think its kind of cool too. But whether you are an old, loyal
CJ fan, or someone whos not really taken interest before now,
I recommend you go and see The Jellys when they play again in your area,
and definitely buy that EP and album! Ive heard six of the new
Jellys songs and sure enough, these Jellys taste really good! Feels
Like Sunshine and Strawberry Ice-Cream are fluffy,
beaming bags of delight, while Fat Cat is the cutest, funniest,
maddest song Ive heard in ages.