Exposure: The Hazey Janes
- Thomas Meek
- 20 February 2009
The Hazey Janes: New York
Like football, it seems like the west coast has always reigned supreme when it comes to Scots making music. Times are changing though. Celtic and Rangers may still dominate over the diddy Edinburgh sides, but with Broken Records and The View packing out venues all over the country, east-coast music is getting healthier by the day. Add to that list The Hazey Janes. From Dundee, they may share the same hometown as the boys from The View, but their sound offers a more delicate approach to pop, taking in influences from Nick Drake to Teenage Fanclub. Andrew Mitchell and Matthew Marra from the band have their thoughts exposed for The List.
How did The Hazey Janes come to be?
Andrew: Mutual appreciation of the bunsen burner brought Matthew and I together at school. A Peavey Bandit and a Fairport Convention cover later, there was Alice and Liam. Things snowball.
Matthew: Yeah, a long time ago Andrew asked if I'd be interested in being in a band. I think he thought I was cool because I had a girlfriend and liked the Beatles. Alice and Liam had played in bands together, we met Liam at the local Soul night, and somehow we all ended up together.
Scotland is renowned for brilliant sunshine pop such as yours with Teenage Fanclub, Belle and Sebastian and Camera Obscura to name a few. What makes such a grey, wet country produce bands like that?
A: I'd wearily speculate on how much our dreich climate directly contributes to the music of the aforementioned groups. Personal palate is probably a bigger factor. These kind of bands have great taste and, no doubt, great record collections to match. Either way, there's much that can be said of a pop song with melancholic undertones; certainly, it's something we appreciate.
M: There does seem to be a great tradition for guitar pop in Scotland. I think it may be due to the fact that there was no industry or media spotlight on what was going on for a long time, so bands just got on with playing music they liked, rather than thinking about image. Obviously things are different now, but the tradition carries on.
Your music seems designed to please anyone. How do you want people to feel when they hear a Hazey Janes record?
A: As if they want to punch the air with a clenched fist? To be honest, we lack a formula, we're still making it up as we go along.
M: I suppose a lot of the time we're trying to convey a particular feeling, rather than a direct message. Probably, 'I want to get drunk and...cry'. I'd like people to feel how I feel when I listen to my favourite records!
What's the best thing about Dundee?
A: People, the music scene, friends, the usual things, I guess. Actually, the sunlight here is more generous than most other Scottish cities...
M: It's a good size, there's a great music and art scene, lots of creative people.
What does 2009 hold for The Hazey Janes?
A: Readying our new record for release, booking some shows, and, no doubt, continuing work on the next album.
M: Yeah, we always just try to keep working on new music. Everything else just happens as a result of that.
What's the nicest thing anyone's ever said about you?
A: Difficult to say really. At the end of the last day of recording our new record John Agnello (producer) did say 'Yeah, not bad... for a bunch of punk kids!'
M: The first time we played in New York, these guys told us they'd driven all the way from Philly to see us. They had every single one of our records for us to sign. We weren't expecting that.
The Hazey Janes play Hootenanny, Inverness on 22 Feb; SECC, Glasgow with Snow Patrol on 25 Feb and Town Hall, Falkirk on 4 Mar.