Following closely in the footsteps of The Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit, We Were Promised Jetpacks are yet another hugely talented young Scottish band added to the FatCat roster. The 4-piece came to our attention when listening to some of the friends on the Frightened Rabbit Myspace page. Though recent months has seen the band tour the UK with their aforementioned friends, the four preceding years have consisted of local gigs in and around Glasgow and Edinburgh, allowing WWPJ to find their sound and hone their live performance.
Assembled in Edinburgh as high school friends in 2003, their first ever gig saw them winning their school’s battle of the bands competition. Proceeding shows were after school performances around the city of Edinburgh which were well attended and fuelled the band with a hunger and ambition. If the nascent WWPJ aural template embraced light-footed compositions – few effects pedals, traditional song structures, clear-cut guitars - succeeding years have seen WWPJ soar aural heights and mine emotional depths in every sense: the band you will encounter now are a cacophonous tour de force: louder, wilder, avidly literate; fiercely melodic, yet eagerly restrained. Lyrics and vocal melodies come courtesy of Adam Thompson, everything else arises from the full group; Adam Thompson (Guitar/Vocals), Michael Palmer (Guitar), Sean Smith (Bass) and Darren Lackie (Drums).
Before even releasing a single, WWPJ have laid claim to some recent successes which bode well for the future of the band. A well recorded three-track demo was circulated and managed to pick up a KEXP track of the day over the pond, and plays on national stations in the UK were popping up on XFM, BBC and Q radio. Before the announcement of WWPJ signing to FatCat Records, a strong hint was sitting on the shelves across the UK in the form of inclusion on a recent FatCat sampler, mounted onto Plan B magazine.
A tour through September 2008 as main support for Frightened Rabbit garnered some great reviews for WWPJ. This being their first jaunt into England, healthy crowds arrived early on each evening due to the huge buzz in Scotland now filtering down south of the border. You could loosely pin some reference points onto WWPJ; the vocals reminiscent of Morrissey or Paul Banks (Interpol), clever guitar interplay similar to something you’d hear on a Billy Mahonie track, dynamically you could compare them to Mogwai, and generally Futureheads/Hot Club De Paris/Postcard/Fire Engine are all good markers.
2009 proved to be a busy one for We Were Promised Jetpacks, having received amazing critical support for ‘These Four Walls’ and two already-released singles from the album (‘Quiet Little Voices’ and ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves’), as well as some high profile festival sets and an ecstatically-received main support set at Frightened Rabbit’s Scala show in London in April.
The band signed off their debut album ‘These Four Walls’ campaign with ‘The Last Place You’ll Look EP’ in April 2010 folllowed by a spectacular North American tour with Jimmy Eat World. We Were Promised Jetpacks then decamped to Sigur Ros’ studio retreat in the frozen wilds of Iceland to record the new record. “We had been touring the debut album extensively for over 2 years” says singer Adam, “So we were very excited to get back in the studio and record the follow-up, which we hope demonstrates how much we have progressed as a band.”
The approach to recording was markedly different this time around, “We recorded the debut album in 8 days with one short tour under our belts - this time around we spent a full three weeks in the studio recording with [live sound engineer] Andrew Bush and made an album that both captured the sound of our live show and that is strong start to finish.” Peter Katis (Frightened Rabbit, The National) was also on hand for mixing and additional production duties.
Armed with the confidence built from their time on the road and firm ideas as to how the new record should sound, ‘In The Pit Of The Stomach’ is emphatically a sustained piece of work full of fiery, muscular and hugely atmospheric epics like (lead single) ‘Medicine’, ‘Picture Of Heath’ and ‘Human Error’ - and an album that impresses with the sheer scale of it’s ambition.
With thunderous live performances matching the power of fellow Scot’s Mogwai and a pop sensibility comparable to that of Foals or Bloc Party, and as ‘In The Pit Of The Stomach’ proves, WWPJ have stealthily become a fully-fledged rock band - louder, wilder, avidly literate, fiercely melodic, powerfully restrained.
The band have kicked off 2012 with a tour around Europe.