R13 had a jolly pleasant chat with Mystery Jets Blaine Harrison (BH) on comfy sofas in the press tent at Leeds Festival, all that was missing was tea!

R13: What's it been like playing Leeds Festival?
BH: It's been wicked, I think I actually preferred it to Reading. I'm not just saying that because I'm here but Reading's got quite a ferocious feel to it, especially late at night and that scared me quite a lot.
R13: What do you mean?
BH: Well I saw some kids push over an ice cream van and beat up the guy inside and that's quite horrible to see. I've never been to either before but I found that quite scary really.
R13: Quite disturbing I should imagine?
BH: Yeah, I'm used to going to Glastonbury where people may be climbing on top of it and making love to it you know?!

R13: What sort of crowd did you get?
BH: Yeah not too bad, we played the Carling tent, which was a really really nice place to play, you can still see the outdoors through it which is really nice but you still get a good bouncing sound. It's really hard to say how big it is, I reckon it's probably 1,000 people? Probably our biggest gig ever actually, but it was really good.
R13: Were you pleased with the turn out?
BH: Yeah really pleased, there was a good hardcore down the front who've seen us a few times, no moshers yet but a few hands in the air clapping, which is really nice.

R13: Your music has been described as a cross between the Coral, Can and Dexy's Midnight Runners! Fair comparison?
BH: That's pretty fair to be honest, our manager just joked, saying we were like the Arcade Monkeys, a cross between the Arcade Fire and Arctic Monkeys, which I think is quite funny. I love both those bands. King Crimson are a big influence on us.
R13: I was going to ask you about your influences
BH: Well King Crimson, we grew up on them, YES, although we don't try and emulate them in any way. I love the Stones as well but I don't think we sound anything like them, it's hard to say, you listen to one thing but the other four band members probably don't like that at all.
R13: So each one of you brings a different influence?
BH: Yeah we all bring a different thing and that's why it works because we're not all certain fans of any particular band at the same time.

R13: You're getting quite a reputation for exciting live performances, is the live environment the best arena for the band?
BH: I think people are going to be surprised by us because people have described us live as this sort of Latin singing, religious, prog-rock experience but the records are nothing like that. Either people are going to be made sad or happy, they're two very different things. I think different songs work live and on record, we've used four track demo's that we've used as b-sides in the past and I love doing that. I don't know, what was the question again?!
R13: Basically if people were going to hear you for the first time would it be better on record or live?
BH:Well of the recordings I'm happy with we've probably only done three or four so I'd say come and see us live, that's us, there's no marketing or packaging to come between you, this is what we are, like it or hate it it's up to you. You make your own decision, don't let any posters or CD covers come in your way, so I'd say live.

R13: Your bass player (Kai) said that theatre is a big part of what you do, in what way?
BH: He definitely puts the theatre in Mystery Jets in that he's quite a theatrical player, he's an actor as well and I think that quite strongly relates to a song we used to play called (can't make out song name on tape!) which was 13 minutes, it had a bit in it where we froze and did a theatre of the absurd and then went back into it, that was quite theatrical. I wouldn't say any element of the music is theatrical but the performance is, we like to mess about with that kind of stuff.

R13: You've done some dates with bigger names such as Bloc Party, what was it like playing with those guys and how did you go down on those shows?
BH: I guess supporting big bands is all about nicking their fan base! Lots of those fans when we first played hadn't got a clue who we were and we pretty much got signed on the back of having done the Bloc Party tour. We did it all out of our own pockets. In terms of fans, these days I think it's less that you're a fan of one band, maybe it's always been like that but what I'm seeing is that people these days are a fan of ten bands and can be die hard about everyone of those.
R13: So people just appreciate good music regardless of what genre it is?
BH: Yeah exactly, I think we'll appeal to people who like music. They were good and we got on very well with all the bands, particularly the Futureheads, they were really lovely, there's just something about them, something about their accents that's very soft and warm! Bloc Party we probably had more in common with because of the scene we both came from, they were always about a year ahead of us in terms of gigs they played and stuff. Both bands were absolutely lovely to us.

R13: You have a new single out in September, your third, give it a plug! Why should people buy it?
BH: I've no idea!
R13: That's not the right answer!
BH: No it's not, erm I think people should buy it because it is about a part of the English heritage that people don't really know about and don't really think about.
R13: That's interesting, in what way?
BH: Well it's about this chap called Dennis, who was based on my Dad's old accountant and he was pretty much the most straight backed Englishman you could get and all through his life he refused to get into the changing world. He never used the internet, he always wrote letters with a quill and ink, he was literally the archetypal English gentleman and we based this character on him. In the end he died but even in his last few days when my dad visited him he was just as straight as ever if not more, he wasn't breaking down or letting the side down, he was straight until the end and that's what 'Dennis' is about. The video's quite funny, it kind of explores the idea of someone who's pretty much fighting until the last day but in their own way. The music is somewhere between the Smiths and maybe Dexy's or something like that but it has an indie punch to it which a few of our other tunes don't have. The artwork's quite nice as well!

R13: You do get a sense of the whole sort of Englishness about the band, do you know what I mean by that?
BH: Yeah I do, in fact none of us are actually properly English, which is the funniest thing. There's something very fascinating about the English culture, something very traditional, I think these days it's changed a lot and stuff like religion isn't as important as it used to be but again I'm drifting from the question! I think we are a very English band, that's not necessarily an overt part of our personality but I find it interesting to play with.

R13: You're also recording your first album, finished or still recording?
BH: We've brought eleven songs to near completion and the album's gonna very much be a start to end album rather than a track by track album. Much more in the vein of OK Computer although I don't think we could match that in terms of depth!
R13: Something to be listened to as a whole though?
BH: Yeah and where there's a cohesive string through the songs and it's not even necessarily a lyrical thing it's an overall album identity rather than here's all our best songs on a CD. That's not what it is, buy singles if you want that.
R13: Got a title for it yet?
BH: I think I'd like to keep a lid on it but it's going to be possibly 'Making Dens' or 'On a Trundling Day' or maybe neither!

R13: Have you checked anyone else out today?
BH: I saw The Cribs, they were really good, very tight and bursting with energy. Saw Arcade Fire last night, which was amazing! They just had me by the neck and I was a bit star struck, I met them later on and nothing came out other than 'mumble mumble you're amazing'!

The Mystery Jets are out on tour throughout September in support of the new single 'You Can't Fool Me Dennis'.