One of the aims of the Youth Anthems gigs (as well as having tons of fun and eating loads of cake) is to show young people that they can get involved in their music scene too, that it doesn’t have to be about ‘adults’ and them having to only be the audience. I think No Ditching were a great example of that and I think Jacobean Ruff (and certainly The Keatings too) are going to add to this dimension; Real local talent still in their teens. Make sure you have a listen to their new EP before the gig (or certainly pick it up at their gig) to hear their unique tilt on modern folk music – adding elements of post-rock, prog and indie to create a wholly new sound. Here’s bassist Aaron…
How did the band begin?
The band began in late 2011, formed from the remnants of a previous band formed by our old music teacher.
Aaron was the only member present in the original lineup. Gradually, the personnel, style and ethos of the band changed into what it is today. That only happened about a year ago though, when Iggy, drummer and percussionist, joined just before the release of our first EP. His entry into the band helped usher in our newest phase of songwriting and in truth, the band only really began when he arrived on the scene.
Jacobean Ruff was not complete until he became part of the band, so in reality we’re only a year or so old!
We have a lot of younger people coming to our gigs, what would be your advice to them about starting a band?
The biggest thing I can think of is simply never limit yourself. Don’t decide on a genre and stick to it, let your songwriting go wherever the hell it wants to. Don’t feel embarrassed or anxious about using instruments you might not always find in a young band, if that’s what the song demands then just go with it.
Beyond that, never let yourself feel too comfortable. The first idea you have for a song might be a good one, but it’s probably not the best. Push yourself and draw on all your influences all the time.
Your sound is quite unique, reminding me of everything from Pete Seeger to Fugazi at times! What bands do you all listen to?
Thank you! We pride ourselves on listening to a wide array of music. We listen to, and draw upon, Tom Waits, Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Fleet Foxes, the Beatles, Jeff Buckley, Anais Mitchell, Gorillaz, Marvin Gaye, Old Crow Medicine Show, David Bowie, Eva Cassidy, Bon Iver, Led Zeppelin, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes etc. They’re the main ones I suppose.
The thing is, anything you listen to will end up in your music, deliberately or not. So it doesn’t hurt to listen to as great a variety of genres as possible.
Can you tell us a bit more about your new EP? What was the writing and recording process like?
Work on the new EP was long, slow and just fantastic.
It’s obviously a massive departure from our previous work, but that wasn’t entirely deliberate. There was a point I think where we made the unspoken decision to not stick to a genre we felt wasn’t working for us.
The first EP has good stuff on it, but I don’t feel it’s truly our voice present. When we began writing new songs, it was immediately obvious that they were heading in a new direction and we decided to simply go with it. ‘Sunlight’ is eclectic and weird, but throughout it’s definitely us. It took around 9 months to complete, the writing process taking up most of the time. We had to play them live a few times to ascertain what worked and what didn’t.
The recording was great, I love the studio. We were more creative this time with that side of things; my favourite memory of the recording was the session when myself (Aaron), Jed and Sophie crowded into Jed’s room to get down some strange choral parts that went onto some of the tracks. Jed and Sophie also did the vocal part for ‘Lullaby’ in that session, which was lovely to watch. Jed produced the EP, and he put a hell of a lot of work into it. I think he found it a frustrating and long process, but I think he did a fantastic job of bringing a cohesive sound to the EP.
What’s been the highlight of being in Jacobean Ruff so far?
The best moment of Jacobean Ruff so far was definitely hearing the new EP in its entirety. I think it’s the first time we heard ourselves properly represented on a recording. Great gigs are the best part of being in a band though.
How have you found getting gigs and have you ventured far out of Leeds?
Leeds is definitely our home and its certainly had its fill of us over the last few years!
We’ve been meaning to stretch out into other cities but haven’t really made any headway yet. Manchester is in our sights! We once played a festival in Leicestershire I think, we venture out to York often, festivals take us all over the place. But Glossop is our home away from home; we’ve played two gigs there and they were great!