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Jake Bugg

May 2013

AFTER months on the road in the US, Europe, Scandinavia and Japan, Jake Bugg was back in Britain earlier this week – for just 24 hours.
“I’m pretty tired,” says the 19-year-old, who woke up on Tuesday morning to join Nick Grimshaw on his Radio 1 breakfast show, where he was sounding pretty chipper.
“Well, you get so tired you...”
Go a bit mental?
“Yeah,” he admits.
“But I enjoyed it. It was a nice thing to wake up to.”
What Grimshaw failed to ask him about was his second album, which he is halfway through recording with Rick Rubin, the bearded rock producer who revived Johnny Cash’s career with his series of American Recordings albums.
“I knew about those albums but I didn’t know he was as renowned a producer as he is,” Jake admits.
“And I had Chad Smith from the Chili Peppers on drums; I didn’t know who he was; which was good because I took them at face value and just got on with it, making my tunes.
“I really enjoyed it. It was a cool vibe.”

Jake spent weeks at Rubin’s Shangri-La recording studio in Malibu, California, where Bob Dylan and The Band recorded much of their material (and Dylan used to live).
As well as Smith, there was Matt Sweeney, who played guitar on many of the American Recordings sessions.
Jake goes back at the end of August to finish the album, the follow-up to his self-titled debut, which topped the UK chart in October and has since sold 500,000 copies worldwide.
“I’m looking forward to it,” says Jake, who has a summer of festival appearances ahead of him, including Glastonbury and Splendour in Wollaton Park.
“It reminds you that’s what it’s about. I just hope it goes all right. But I’m happy with it so far.”
Is it like the debut? Or is there a new Jake Bugg sound, like disco or jazz-funk?
“There’s a bit of dubstep on there.”
He’s joking.
“It still sounds like me but it feels like a step forward. As if the first one was just a taste of what’s to come. You can kind of tell what I’ve been influenced by recently.”
He doesn’t mean musically as much as lyrically.
There’ll be none of the tales of growing up in Clifton that dominated his debut.
“I obviously can’t talk about smoking and drinking in the streets and stabbings in a car park when I’m enjoying the sunshine in LA,” he says.
The Cash connection continued while he was in the US as he dropped in on Sun Studios in Memphis, which gave birth to rock’n’roll in the mid-50s with the first recordings by Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. The careers of Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich, BB King and Howlin’ Wolf also started there.

Says Jake: “Sun Studios was cool, man. It was nice to play there and use the mics that Johnny Cash and all them guys had used; to be stood in the same spot, doing the same thing in the same room.
“I did a few demos in there for the album.”
He nipped up the road to Elvis’ home Graceland but says: “I didn’t actually enjoy it that much. I felt like I was intruding. I wouldn’t like a load of people walking around my house when I was dead.”
Jake tried demo-ing material in Nashville but the home of country music let him down.
“I went there to work with some of the biggest songwriters in the world and nothing came of it, funnily enough,” he says.
“The vibe was dead. It’s like they’d got complacent, like it was another day at the office for them.
“They’d get a track that was more or less finished and I was like ‘ no mate, let’s just pick up some guitars and see what happens’.”
And another thing... the video for Two Fingers, that featured Vicky McClure, was remade for the US release of the single. It doesn’t even feature Jake.
He swears a bit when asked about that. Then a bit more. He’s not happy about it.
The debut album was released in the US last month and it made it in to the Top 100, quite an achievement for a new British artist.
“I heard that it was going to fall out (of the chart) pretty quickly. That’s normal, apparently. You have to keep chipping away at it but you have to be there; they have to feel your presence, annoyingly.”
“Annoyingly” because he has other commitments elsewhere. He’s been in and out of Europe and Scandinavia for the past few months. When we spoke he’d just flown in from Japan.
“I didn’t have any sushi,” he says. “I had a lot of chicken and it was very good. And the people were really lovely.”

He told Radio 1 listeners how fans would be hanging around hotels and venues to see him.
“Yeah, they knew where you were staying. I’d come out of the hotel, my hair’s not even dry and there’d be some guy wanting an album signing.”
He adds: “It’s strange because there were a lot of people in Japan wherever we went but somehow it had a very peaceful vibe.”
We spoke as he headed for the airport again, this time to travel to Switzerland to play with his band, who he hadn’t seen for two months.
He auditioned drummer Jack Atherton and bassist Tom (“Robbo”) Robertson in Nottingham, where they are both based.
“They’re lovely,” he says. “We’ve spent a lot time together and we’re really close.”
Then adds mischievously: “But no matter how close we get if they start playing s**t then I’ll have to get rid of them.”


DAVID Bugg, 39, from Clifton on keeping in touch with his famous son:
“JAKE and I have been texting whilst he’s been away. He has been extremely busy with promotional work, writing and recording, so we don’t always have time for long chats over the phone but we last spoke a couple of weeks ago.
“Last time I saw him was in February when he played Rock City.
“Things seem to have gone well for him in Japan. He has a lot of fans there and I’ve had a few messages of support from them on Facebook and Twitter.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing him headlining Splendour in July. I can’t wait to see him playing again after such a long time, especially on the main stage – it’s an amazing achievement.”

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