SQ Magazine

The UK's Leading Independent Youth Culture Publication

INTERVIEW: The James Cleaver Quintet

Posted on Friday, 13 July by

Their loud, raucous and maniacal circus punk sound might not be to the taste of some, but The James Cleaver Quintet, Eastbourne’s latest hometown heroes, are going from strength to strength nonetheless. With a rise to semi-stardom, a series of epic support slots and festival gigs, and a successful album all to their name in the past year the band are looking set to become local legends. Only time will tell what the future holds, be it good, bad or ugly, but we know where our money is. We had a chat with one of them.

Since the Lucozade advert the rise of The JCQ has been pretty steady, but some people say that you sold out by doing it. What do you say to them?

I’d say that they need to get a grip and realise what selling out actually means. In this day and age it’s almost unheard of for a band to make it anywhere without taking a hand-out from one of a large number of sponsors that help bands like us keep doing what we love doing. Unfortunately people expect bands and musicians to go through their careers making them music that they love to listen to without buying the band’s cd’s or merch or going to their shows. So when they inevitably have to turn to other ways of funding their careers, they don’t like it and they get on their bullshit holier-than-thou high-horse. Henry Rollins said “Selling out is when you make the record you’re told to make instead of the one you want to make”. Something we never have and never will do. And if Henry Rollins says that, then everyone else can pretty much get fucked.

For those of our readers that missed it what did the advert involve, and how was it to make?
It involved us playing our guitars and skateboarding down the steepest hill in Brighton. To make it was stupid amounts of fun, and definitely an experience that we can tell our grandkids in a few decades time. A lot of it went over our heads but we just had fun and enjoyed the whole thing. We all love skating and we love playing music so to combine them and get paid was pretty ridiculous for us.

You seem on your way to becoming Eastbourne’s most famous sons. Do you think The JCQ will get the town to finally say goodbye to Toploader?

I didn’t realise people still listened to Toploader. But if you’re asking if we think we’ll surpass their success then it’s not gonna happen. We don’t make music for success or money or to get in the charts or whatever, we make music that we want to listen to, and the general population has other tastes.

You smashed it at Download. How was it?

Yes we did. Download was amazing, we saw some awesome bands and hung out with friends we never get to see. It wasn’t muddy where we were camping either so we had a great time. It’s always worrying when you play big things like that and you wonder if people care enough to turn up, but our tent was rammed so that was cool.

You’ve had some really great support slots of late, like Enter Shikari and Limp Bizkit. How was it supporting them? Who else do you have lined up? Who would you love to support?

Supporting Enter Shikari was great, they took us around Europe and we’d never been before so it was a real eye-opener. We’d also never seen the level of production that they bring so it was cool to get an insiders view. Also they’re all really genuine nice blokes. Very un-assuming and they said we were welcome to hang out in their dressing room whenever we wanted. Chris, Rob and Rory like to party too so that was fun and we got on really well. Limp Bizkit was another level, playing to 5000 people at Brixton was something we’d never dreamt of and supporting one of our favourite childhood bands was crazy. Again they were really top blokes and invited us into their dressing room for drinks and stuff. It was cool. We’ve got a few things in the pipeline but nothing we can announce yet. As far as dream support slots go, I guess Slayer or Pantera original line-up would be the one. Otherwise we’re all huge Refused and Mars Volta fans so either of them would be a life-maker.

You’ve had some nice jaunts around Europe. What’s your favourite venue been?

We played in this huge converted church in Frankfurt called St. Peters which was cool. It had massive stained-glass windows in the dressing-rooms and stuff.

We gave your album a decent review, but more importantly Rocksound gave it 9 out of 10 and Kerrang called it number 9 in the top 101 albums of 2011. Did all of that recognition make a difference? Did the album sell well?

I guess it made a difference to sales, we don’t really keep track of those kind of things, we just leave it for our label to deal with but as far as making a difference to us, although it’s really nice to hear those things, and it’s even nicer that they come from respected magazines, at the end of the day, we’re all human, so a reviewer in Kerrang or Rocksound has just as valid an opinion as Joe Public walking down the street. It’s all relative.

What’s next? When are you heading into the studio again?

We’ve got a pretty quiet summer with a few festivals to do, but other than that we’re just writing as much as possible and demo-ing as much as we can. We’re hoping to be in the studio by winter and have the album out early next year.

You once classified yourselves as “circus punk” and had a reputation to accompany that. Has success matured the band, or are you the same guys you always were?

The success we might have achieved hasn’t matured anyone. Age, on the other hand, might have matured us a little seeing as we started doing this like 5 years ago. But we never have and still never do take ourselves seriously. How can any band take themselves seriously? You start looking like a fucking real-life Spinal Tap or something.

So, finally, what do the next couple of months hold for The JCQ?

Writing the next album, 2000 Trees fesitval, Hevy festival, more writing and then, watch this space…

‘Like’ The James Cleaver Quintet on their Facebook page.

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