Jess and the Bandits
FOLLOWING their acclaimed album, Here We Go Again, Jess and the Bandits…
proved they were a force to be reckoned with. The band found themselves much-demanded by BBC radio and T.V. – Jess became the first-ever Country star to be named an ambassador for a U.K. retail chain (Jess is from Texas). Jess, after a whirlwind romance, is engaged to Chris Peavey. I ask her and the band about that; what new song, Kings of Summer, is all about and how they have developed over the last year – and what sort of tour dates are afoot. In fact, their touring schedule is pretty full and impressive – make sure you catch them if you can!
I learn about the creative process and some of the albums/artists that make the guys hum; the reason behind re-releasing Here We Go Again; what Smoke and Mirrors, their latest album, contains and how the guys all got together in the beginning.
Hi, guys. How are you? How have your weeks been?
So far, so good. Busy but great!
Kings of Summer is your new track. What can you tell us about it? How did the song come together?
Well, when creating a new album it’s important to not only write your own songs but to utilize some of the best writers in the world (in Nashville). We are very fortunate to work with the best who even pitch us songs they’ve written. Kings of Summer was one of those.
The minute we heard it we knew we had to make this the first new song people could hear from the new album. It’s fun, carefree and perfect for summer. In a world full of chaos; sometimes you need a song like this that (just) makes you smile!
How does your music general form? Do you write lyrics and music separately or at the same time?
It typically comes around the same time.
I write ideas and some basic lyrics so I know what I want to talk about - but it’s not until I sit in the writing-room with the other writers that it actually comes together.
You re-released of your album, Here We Go Again, as a Deluxe package. What was the decision behind releasing that back into the market?
We knew we had a while before we would be releasing album two - so this gave us an opportunity to give our fans some new music while continuing to promote the first album to new fans.
Smoke and Mirrors is your upcoming album. We will receive it in September. What kind of songs and themes will be on the record?
This album is full of strength.
From songs like the new single, I’m Not Going Home, to The Bullet and Sister - the reoccurring theme throughout this album is how strong we can be as individuals.
Whether that be in relationships, breakups; jobs or anything life tends to throw at us. There is a very soulful County-Gospel feel to this album - which we are so excited about.
Was it a lot easier to record than Here We Go Again or did it formulate quicker? What kind of changes and differences have you noticed between the two albums?
I think every album has its own share of difficulties. They equally took just as long because I would never put out an album that wasn’t thoroughly thought through and formulated carefully.
The first album very much as a fun, Country-Rock feel. This new album, I feel, is deeper lyrically - still very fun but in a different way.
It also touches on Country-Rock but has much more of a Gospel influence this time.
Is there a particular song from the new album that sticks in the mind?
It’s hard to choose just one but Sister holds a special place in my heart.
Will you be touring to support the album? Where can we see you play?
We are hitting the road in September and all of the dates are at our website: www.jessandthebandits.com
It is almost summer. Are you partaking in festivals? What are your plans for the summer months?
We sure are.
We are doing a few of the Country festivals and I have gone to a few myself just as a spectator - which is always nice!
This summer will consist of lots of trips between Houston and London - as well as promotion for the new album and upcoming tour.
It’s going to be busy!
Jess, you are recently engaged. Has that changed your creative dynamic and affected your music in any way?
I think, slightly.
Rather than talking about ‘What-if’ kind of love; I can actually speak from experience.
Sometimes, when writing, you have to use other people’s stories and it’s nice to use more of my own now in regards to the mushy-love-stuff.
How did you get musicians together for Smoke & Mirrors? Is it mostly American musicians or British ones in the fold?
We have a great mix on this album!
We recorded it in Nashville and London with Americans and Brits! We have our pick of some incredible talent on both sides of the pond!
Tell me how Jess and the Bandits all got together? Are you all friends from way back or did you meet one another gradually?
The band was formed after working together on a tour back in 2014.
Then, additional players have been added in - as we’ve all met around the music scene in the U.K. - especially the U.K. Country scene.
There is so much talent out there!
PHOTO CREDIT: Jess with Oak Sessions
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Oh my, there are tonnes!
Jo Smith is worth a listen.
If you each had to select the one album that means the most to you; which would they be and why?
Jess: Stand By Your Man by Tammy Wynette
I remember listening to my grandfather playing old Country music on the radio - and this is one of the ones I remember hearing.
Anytime I hear this song - or any of the others on this album - it takes me back.
Ricci: Thriller by Michael Jackson
It was the very first record I had on C.D. I could remember listing to this as a young boy, falling asleep to it.
The songs just really resonated with me and one thing I am partial to is the production. Quincy Jones is one of the finest producers of our generation.
Dave: Michael Jackson’s Bad
It’s been with me most of my life: the best songs, musicians and artist.
Louis: The Cream of Eric Clapton
I must have listened to this a million times as a kid growing up. My mum has this record and as I started to play the guitar - this was the benchmark.
There are some amazing songs on it as well.
Steve: Night Owl by Joey Rafferty
He is a much-misunderstood and sadly-underrated singer-songwriter - and I’d even go as far to say he is my favorite singer-songwriter - which is quite a controversial thing to say because I realize there are so many good ones.
My dad also raised us listening to Rafferty.
What advice would you give to any new artists starting out right now?
Don’t give up… it’s such a tough industry but the only ones who actually make it are the ones that don’t stop!
Finally, and for being good sports, you can each name any song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
How about the ones mentioned above…
Michael Jackson - Thriller
Michael Jackson - Bad
Joey Rafferty - Night Owl
Tammy Wynette - Stand By Your Man
Derek and the Dominoes - Layla
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