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Jake Bugg

May 2012

HE rolled up to the TV studios at around nine in the morning with his band. And 14 hours later he’d finished his debut appearance on Later with Jools Holland, the UK’s flagship live music show.
The final hour of that long day was a live broadcast on BBC2, with 18-year-old Jake Bugg performing his latest single, Lightning Bolt.
But earlier in the day he and the rest of the guests, including Jimmy Cliff , Paloma Faith and The Hives, had recorded a second show, which is to be broadcast on BBC2 tonight.
“It was cool, man,” says the Clifton-born musician.
“It was bang on. To watch it on TV and then actually be there on it was crazy.
“Jimmy Cliff came over after and shook my hand. Paloma Faith looked after me because I was a bit nervous.”
Nervous? You’ve been on BBC TV before, on BBC 2’s The Review Show, which admittedly hasn’t the prestige of Later.
“Well, I was the new boy,” he says.
“And we had a couple of technical faults on the pre-record. There was feedback on the first song so we had to do it again. It made us look a bit silly, because we had to follow Jimmy Cliff. And then the mic stopped working on the second one.
“I was more relaxed about the live show than the pre-record.”
For that he performed his first two singles for Mercury Records: Trouble Town and Country Song.
“It was crazy because Jimmy Cliff was watching as I was performing. That was a strange experience. But he and Paloma Faith came over after and said they thought it was good, which was great.”
He admits not really knowing who the reggae music legend was until recently.
“I’m not going to lie, I only found out about two weeks ago,” he says.
“I asked a couple of people and when they mentioned his song (The Harder They Come) I was like ‘oh yeah...’
“I knew who Paloma Faith was. And she was incredibly nice.
“And I got to touch that dress.”
Aside from his performance resulting in the name Jake Bugg trending on Twitter, the social networking site was aflutter with comments about the singer’s bizarre outfit, one that resembled a kitsch toilet roll cover.
It was such a long day -- this was Tuesday - that Bugg needed a bit of shut-eye late afternoon.
“I was doing promo in the afternoon; photo shoots and interviews for The Observer and the NME. Because of the heat I had to have a couple of power naps before the show.”
Napping at your age? You’re only a young lad.
“Well it’s a long day for a young lad.”
He adds: “It was an incredible experience.”
As was his recent tour of Europe supporting soul singer Michael Kiwanuka.
“That was my first time out of the UK,” says Bugg.
“I got to go to Milan and Sweden... all over really. I think the biggest crowd on the tour was 1,500 people in Amsterdam. In Stockholm there were only 650 people but they were all completely silent, listening to me. And that’s pretty incredible for a support act.”
He did a bit of sight-seeing, mostly in Paris and Milan.
“It was weird to experience all the different cultures, although they’re not too different to us.”
It’s all a bit like Clifton then?
“No it’s not all a bit like Clifton,” he laughs.
“Well, some bits are.”
He still lives with his mum back in Clifton in the house where he first picked up a guitar to write songs.
Mum works in IT, while dad, who lives around the corner, works in a nursing home.
Music wasn’t Bugg’s first love. That was to play football, which he did for Nottingham City Boys, the cream of schoolboy football talent.
By 14 he’d lost interest and turned to music.
“Before I was 12 I didn’t have any interest in music at all,” he says.
“It was all about football. I was playing for four teams at one point. But when I picked up a guitar I lost interest for some reason. I’d sit in my bedroom and play the guitar for hours.”
He was inspired, not by the hip-hop his mates were listening to, but Donovan and Don McLean.
At 16 he was filmed for EG’s online music show, This Is Live, where local musician Jay Hart spotted him. Jay is now his manager.
Within a year -- and after a brief spell washing up at Clifton Fish Bar - he’d been signed to Mercury Records, the home of Rihanna and Kanye West.
His Dylan-inspired debut single, Trouble Town, was released in March and playlisted on Radio 1.
He says: “People have been comparing me to Bob Dylan and he is amazing, don’t get me wrong, but maybe a lot of people say that because they don’t really know Donovan. My mum always played Catch The Wind. Some of the songs he wrote are just phenomenal.”
His second single, the markedly different Country Song, can currently be heard on the TV ad for Greene King IPA.
Latest single, Lightning Bolt, errs more towards Jack White. Or, as suggested by a few tweeters, George Formby.
Bugg continues to work on his debut album, scheduled for release in October with songwriter and producer Iain Archer, ex-Snow Patrol.
Prior to that he has a summer of festivals lined up, including Dot to Dot in Nottingham next month and July’s Splendour.
“I think I’m having a little holiday in Ibiza,” he says.
“I’ve got a gig at Ibiza Rocks over there but there are a few days off before and after so it’s like a holiday but with a gig in between.”

Jake Bugg will be playing Rock City as part of the Dot to Dot festival on Sunday June 3 at 6pm. He’ll be on the main stage at Splendour in Wollaton Park on Saturday July 21. For more about him go to

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