Sunday, May 22, 2011


I think I can speak on behalf of all music journalists and bloggers and say we love to pinpoint and categorize every music act around in a specific group. For a band like Jonquil, you simply cannot put them in any category, in fact they span multiple. At some points in their music it is free form jazz, psychedelic, prog, straight rock, electronic and even find ways to toss in hip-hop break beats in their songs. Jonquil are taking their love of all music and are making it all their own. The Oxford, UK band have been turning heads in the underground scene for a few years and are really breaking out now. In an interview with bassist and trumpeter Sam Scott, we discussed the band's style (or styles), Oxford and influence. Take a look.

Did you guys meet at Oxford or did you know each other before hand?

When you say 'at Oxford' I presume you mean the University, in which case, no we didn't, none of us work hard enough to get in. We're Oxford residents but the Uni isn't all that's here, most of what goes on there actually keeps itself fairly well hidden from the rest of the city. We did meet in Oxford, through playing in different bands on the local scene and drinking in the same places.

Hailing from Oxford with the legacy from that town and the band’s that have come from there – Radiohead, Coldplay, Foals, do you feel any pressure to uphold what it means to come from Oxford?

We don't feel any pressure to succeed because of the incredible achievements of Radiohead, they're a band in a league of there own; and we're good pals with Foals, they help us out whenever they can. We are certainly proud to be from a city that we love though.

Its a very exciting time in Oxford at the moment; a lot of our best friends have started making some amazing new music in bands like Pet Moon, Rhosyn and Trophy Wife. We've formed a sort of collective/community and try to support each other as much as possible, its called Blessing Force and is made up of a bunch of artists and musicians and you can find news and documentation here:

Coldplay aren't anything to do with Oxford.

You shared the same recording house as Foals as they recorded, Total Life Forever, what was that experience like? How are those guys?

I love Total Life Forever and I count myself lucky to have heard the songs from the very birth of the idea to the polished product. We occasionally had to turf them out of the basement where we both wrote and rehearsed when they over ran but it meant we all used much better gear than we do now.

As for personally, they're our best friends, when we're all in town together we can't get enough of each other.

You both record and play a style called “math rock,” what exactly is this?

Neither of our bands would describe our music as anything close to math rock anymore. Maybe about 6 years ago you'd hear us throwing the term around but no more. It was a Chicago scene that birthed it actually. Bands like Slint, Sweep the Leg Johnny and Don Caballero are math rock to me. Its rock music with funny time signatures.

There is what people are calling – “The Blessing Force Collective”– what exactly is this and how are you apart of it?

I suppose on Blessing Force I can add that Hugo and I both have solo projects that are part of the force: Hugo's is called Chad Valley and mine, Solid Gold Dragons.

With your unique style and sound, who are your influences?

We like to listen to artists that write brave and interesting pop songs so the major players are Talking Heads and Fleetwood Mac.

It has been said you have given yourself the self proclamation of “Paul Simon meets The Smiths” as far as your sound goes. Don’t you think that is a bit bold?

That was actually taken from a review and we thought it a huge compliment. Perhaps its still bold to proclaim regardless but I think to someone who has never heard our music it sells the sound pretty well.

There are a slew of magazines in the UK that are praising you and really putting you on the map, how do you feel about this? Do you feel any pressure to live up to what they have said about you?

In the UK, the press is very much geared towards promoting new bands and as we've been around for over 4 years it was a worry that our new songs, which we're very proud of, wouldn't get any attention. We do seem to be getting some interest though and its always nice to know people like our music. As for pressure, we've been touring these songs for around a year and the current set feels very natural so every time we play a show, its a joy.

How did you decide the name Jonquil?

Hugo was looking through a book of flowers at his parents's house, and the word Jonquil stuck out. It’s a type of daffodil.

You released an EP in the States, One Hundred Suns, will we be seeing a full length?

Yes, indeed, we've just started writing songs for a full length.

You have toured Europe relentlessly, where is your favorite place to play?

Berlin is always a great show, the city is so full of culture and the people seem to love seeing live music. We've also had a wonderful time playing in Poland, bands don't visit as often as countries like Holland and Germany so it becomes a real event when a UK band makes it that far east and it shows in the audience's reaction.

How do you feel about coming to the US? Is it a big deal for you to break here?

It is a huge deal, almost all of the music we listen to comes from America and it just seems to be the thing to aim for as a band from the UK. I can't wait to see the cities that I've read so much about.