Jungle talk influences - from Bowie to Grand Theft Auto and beyond
Jungle talk a good game, know all about playing smoke and mirrors – and have the album of the season to prove it. We're ‘an escape from those ideals of what people think bands should be all about’ says Josh Lloyd-Watson
Josh Lloyd-Watson: ‘I don’t want to look at my own album sleeve and see my own face’
There will always a place at the table for bands who can talk a good game. On the phone from Seattle on a day off on a recent US tour, Josh Lloyd-Watson strikes you as a man who knows his way around a good quote or two.
That’s a relief, because the signs from the past few months weren’t great about his band. Jungle seemed to be just another act in thrall to the current fad of groups spending too much time and effort ensuring that the public doesn’t know who they are. Most people don’t seem to care, so putting an emphasis on intrigue and subterfuge by not appearing in photos or videos is more annoying than anything else.
When the smoke cleared, it turned out that Lloyd-Watson and his Jungle partner, Tom McFarland, were formerly with Mercury-signed Britpop revivalists Born Blonde. They’re now better known for their Jungle connections; so much for the disguise.
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However, as Lloyd-Watson points out, they were never going to stay hidden. “It was never about remaining anonymous because we were always going to play the live shows. We didn’t want to get a reputation for hiding or being mysterious; we wanted to create something other than us to look at in the live shows and the videos. I don’t want to look at my own album sleeve and see my own face – just as I didn’t want the usual band shots where the band are standing against a wall.
“Look at Damon Albarn with Gorillaz, for example. Think of David Bowie; that’s not even his name, it’s a creation of another world for the music to live in. You try to create something visually which is more interesting than two guys’ faces.”
Lucky for them, Jungle have the musical chops to back up those audacious comparisons. Their self-titled debut album is a beaut, all superfried funk, disco and soul fuelling a slew of feel-good, serotonin-rich pop grooves. Jungle is for blasting through open windows on sunny days and summer nights.
According to Lloyd-Watson, the album was informed more by visual than audio prompts.
“Something like Grand Theft Auto was a huge influence, but more as a concept. So many people just escape into those games, and it’s another world. You can come home from your job and escape into this world where you can roam around Los Angeles. Every track on the record is a film in itself, and they’ve all got locations. For example, The Heat is the beach, which is a metaphor for happiness, and that allows you to write in a certain way.”
The problem with bringing records into the studio, he says, is that you end up copying them. “We had listened to records in the studio before and you’d go, ‘I want to sound like this’. Two hours later you’d have a track which sounded exactly like what you’d just been listening to. It didn’t seem very honest.
“There was a time when I loved the Tame Impala record and I just wrote songs exactly like that. You listen to them and go ‘it sounds cool’, but it’s a copy. It felt much more beautiful and natural when we didn’t do that.
No walls or barriers “The best way we thought was to just go in with no preconditions and make something that sounded great. If it sounds good, you can filter out all the different opinions about good or bad. You have to trust yourself and not go in with walls or barriers. If you don’t think about it all that much, you’ll enter an instinctive creative process rather than something which is very thought out.”