I’d rather Jack
He is a bag of nerves over the release of his debut album but Camilla Pia reckons Jack Peñate needn’t have worried as Matinee is truly something special
With a toe-tapping, top-ten hit under his belt, two incendiary sold-out UK tours and a highly anticipated debut album on the way, Jack Peñate really shouldn’t have a care in the world. However, when we catch up with the London-born lad in a Covent Garden café to talk about Matinee and his whirlwind year since signing to XL in 2006 and the subsequent success, he is far from relaxed.
‘Part of me is really excited about getting the album out,’ the devilishly handsome singer-songwriter explains over a cappuccino, ‘because it’s been written since last December and I just want to let it do its thing . . . but then I am also really nervous because I don’t know how I’ll cope with the reactions to it. Obviously I’ll have to deal with some negative reviews of songs I have put my entire life into and which I have been thinking about making since I was 15. It’s crunch time and that is really scary,’ he says, running his fingers anxiously through his hair.
He needn’t be worried. Peñate’s debut is a glorious guitar pop masterpiece from the rockabilly stomp of ‘Spit at Stars’ and ‘Second Minute or Hour’ to the soulful groove of ‘Learning Lines’, sunny sing-a-long ‘Got My Favourite’ and pretty heartfelt ditties ‘We Will Be Here’ and ‘My Yvonne’. Recorded in LA, London and Philadelphia with Arctic Monkeys and Editors producer Jim Abiss, and featuring collaborations with Adele and RJD2, it was born from a wide-ranging set of influences including Prince, Todd Rundgren, Jeff Buckley, JJ Cale, Al Green, Nick Drake, Sam Cooke and Hall & Oates and is a hugely personal work for its creator.
‘A bad review of the album is really a bad review of me as a person because of the way I write,’ Peñate says. ‘I wanted this album to be as close to me and truthful as possible so I haven’t hidden behind lyrics or a cool electronic beat. It’s completely out there and as honest as I can be. Most of the songs either come from ideas that have affected me emotionally or from my own emotions and experiences,’ he adds. ‘I am quite sentimental, which I always thought was bad when I was growing up but now I don’t really mind. Recently I started re-listening to The Beatles and in particular The White Album and I realised just how raw and sentimental that album is. So I thought if they can do it, then so can I,’ he chuckles.
With the rest of the year taken up with touring and planning the next record – Peñate doesn’t expect to have a day off until Christmas – he is looking forward in particular to this forthcoming set of live dates as he is planning something special.
‘In the past, we’ve just done short sets of explosive upbeat songs in small venues, he explains, ‘whereas the album is so much more than that. So we’ll be doing lots of stuff we haven’t played live before on this tour and making it a really full-on performance and very visually exciting. I am the biggest worrier ever as you have probably realised,’ he laughs, ‘and I think this year I just want to prove to people that although I write pop songs, there can be complete intelligence in something simple . . . and if it is done well, it can be beautiful.’
The Garage, Glasgow, Fri 28 Sep.