Sitting in a musky dressing room, Blaine Harrison is playfully tapping with drumsticks whilst sporting his enviably effortless new wave haircut.
Although you can only see one of his eyes through his mop, it is bright and piercing. And its true – he looks just like his dad.
Although no longer a part of the performance, Henry Harrison works with production, and during sound check he’s stood in the middle of Academy Two with Student Direct, watching the band’s every move. It’s hard to tell whether he was watching for kicks or through habit, but either way, he smiled. Performances certainly look different without him, but it can be hard to register what exactly has changed. “They do feel different,” Blaine says. “I want to say that in a way, performances are more ramshackle, but they’re not. They’re tighter. When you take an instrument away, you’re making the sounds sparser, and I think we’ve become better players and a tighter unit on stage.” A necessary skill to possess when you’ve got to support The Kooks in Europe. “10,000 people a night – it’s scary,” he says, but he looks more excited than nervous.
The Mystery Jets are booked on a worldwide whistle-stop tour right through to January. Blaine has not
requested any luxury on the rider apart from “an ironing board…and an iron.” He says later that he did actually ask for Sailor Jerry (whisky) but he “didn’t even get it”. You just can’t get the staff these days. But can you get the groupies? “Do we have any groupies?” He sounds shocked. “No we do not. We do have a PA though, called Jo, from Stoke. She’s only 16.” Jo is in the room and has been for the entire interview. She finally speaks: “I’m not 16!” Blaine quickly re-mystifies her and says, “Every now and again, she has to put her SIM card in my phone to check how many times her mum’s called her.”
“We’re close to establishing what kind of fan base we have. Our fans are quite open to what we throw at them.” Just to clarify, the band doesn’t throw stuff at their fans. They used to throw birthday bashes for them on Eel Pie Island for years before 2006 debut album Making Dens started to make serious column inches across the music press. “Eel Pie is somewhere that we called home for a long time. Everything we did there is very much associated with our first record. It served us very well as a launch out into the wider world. We got signed because of the parties we had on the island. They started off as birthday parties, but then it became something different.” Was it time to go across the footbridge towards the smug mainland and make some proper money? The classic ‘You Can’t Fool Me Dennis’ had already been track listed on NME’s Cool List compilation in 2005.
“Not anything bad, just different.”
For those of you not knowledgeable about Eel Pie, firstly, do you know where London is? Secondly, and less bitchily, Eel Pie Island is a real, car-free residential island on the River Thames. In the ‘60s and ‘70s it was almost the UK’s unofficial rock star boot camp, having given the world, among other legends The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Who and Rod Stewart ‘s first band (although most elderly locals will tell you that Stewart was awful to begin with, so much so that they would beg him to get off the stage). Charles Dickens wrote Little Dorrit whilst living on the Twickenham isle and Led Zep played a gig there. The second album Twenty One released in March this year achieved such critical acclaim that it seems Mystery Jets might just be Eel Pie’s new torch bearers. // published in Student Direct