With his debut single, ‘Rock n Roll Band’, set to be released on July 7 and his first album on the horizon, Jimi Raine is certainly beginning to build some momentum, but his eyes are certainly fixed on one prize, making it big.
But not just making it big, but to smash it!
I caught up with Jimi after his excellent live set at the well renowned Dublin Castle pub in Camden, here’s what he had to say:
Sam Lightle (SL): Great set, man…
Jimi Raine (JR): So you enjoyed it then?
SL: Yeah it was rocking. Let’s start at the beginning, where did it all start for you?
JR: When my dad took me to see Bruce Springsteen when I was ten
JR: (Laughs) Yeah, yeah I went to Wembley Arena and I just thought that’s a great job and ever since then I’ve just wanted to do something like that really. Me and my mates started a band after school and we did all that for a bit – it was called Light Sunday and lasted for about four years. We had a management deal, we got to go to New York and all that kind of stuff, but it just didn’t work out in the end because we had management problems and had to get out of the deal and then the guys in the band started to quit and I was like, “that’s cool, man, but I’m not ready to do that because I’m still fucking young enough” so I started to do a solo project. I played round here (Camden) last year a few times and that’s how my producer spotted me – Andy Wright. He’s quite well known, you know, worked with some big people and he said to me, “you know what, let’s do an album”. So yeah, started writing it; we’ve recorded the album now and the first single’s out in a couple of weeks. It’s looking good. We’ve got a really killer band – well they’re actually live session guys but I call them my band!
SL: That’s really cool, man! You mention Andy Wright, what was it like being spotted by him? I mean his bio speaks for itself after working with the likes of Simply Red…
JR: Simple Minds…
SL: Yeah yeah, even Pavarotti…
JR: (Laughs) Yeah it’s great. I mean going to work with someone like that makes it so easy because he is very good at letting me and the band get on with things. He won’t get involved in the initial song writing, I take all my songs to him and he’ll say, “yeah that one’s good but that one’s shit” and then we’ll put that to one side. In the studio he works alongside a bloke called Gavin Goldberg who, again, is fucking awesome and it’s just a good vibe in there. Everyone’s having fun. At the end of the day its rock ‘n’ roll music so you’ve got to be having fun and they get the best out of everyone. We’ve used two studios – Assault And Battery is just fucking awesome and Fear studios in Battersea, that’s where they’ve got their own studio. They’ve just got amps there from like the 1950s and microphones which make it perfect for my kind of music.
SL: Interesting you should mention the 1950s because listening to your music to me it screams Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis. The use of the saxophone gives it an edge and there is a real sort of American vibe, a lot of English bands in that period like the Stones did the same. Is that what you are trying to do as well?
JR: Yeah, a lot of people say you should take this to America and, of course, that would be a dream but we’ve got to try and crack Britain first. But you know, I like all those guys. The saxophone for me is something that I always wanted in the band, unfortunately I never found anyone and then the producer said, “What, you want a saxophone player?” Next thing I know he’s made the call and Jim turned up and it’s brilliant because obviously I told him I like Bruce Springsteen, and he had a guy called Clarence Clemons who unfortunately died, but was a fucking legend. I mean, it gives something different and you go and watch bands around the place but the saxophonist gives it a real edge. A lot of people say it sounds really “old school” but it’s not old school because I’m doing it now. This is me doing this now; we’ve recorded all these tunes and we are playing them live now. Of course, there are parts which sound a little like that but that’s because I’m influenced by that era and maybe I don’t like some of the newer acts.
SL: The sax really completes it in my opinion and I think that will appeal to a lot of people with the hardcore rock ‘n’ roll music you guys are producing. And I think that’s key because you aren’t an indie band you are a rock ‘n’ roll band and it would appear to me that there’s no one out there producing heavy rock ‘n’ roll tunes…
JR: Absolutely. Totally, and that’s why we’ve got a chance. A lot of people are crying out for an act like this, well I hope they are (laughs). Me and my mates used to go and watch Oasis and all that kind of stuff, you know Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian etc. but they’re all the same, so where’s the next thing coming from you know?
SL: Definitely. The set you just played was quite an intense guitar performance; on the album will there be any lighter, maybe acoustic tracks?
JR: Yeah we’ve got a couple of ballads on there. We’ve got a pretty dark acoustic track on their called ‘Demons’ which I think will surprise a few people because it’s a little different, but that’s cool because you need to have a bit of variety on the album. We’ve also got a couple of piano led tracks so it’s not all rock ‘n’ roll heavy tunes – but obviously live that’s what you want to do. At some stage I’ll get a pianist, you know just keep adding to the band (laughs) but I’m going to send you the album anyway so you can hear it…
SL: Nice one, I really appreciate that!
JR: No problem, but actually the producer, Andy, is a really good pianist, so on the album he played the piano and he played the hand organ – the sound of it is beautiful. At one stage I want to get that in a live situation but sadly you can’t do it in venues this size.
SL: I love the array of instruments you are using, but where do you find yourself most creative?
JR: You can write a song anytime, anywhere. There’s not a set formula to it, that’s what I find anyway. Sometimes if you’re having a fucking shit day and you just end up writing stuff walking down the road or in the car, lyrics anyway. And that all comes from life – you could be having a good night out write about that in the morning, you could be having a shit night out and get in trouble (laughs) and also relationships. There’s a couple of tracks on the album about past experiences what I had last year with a girl, splitting up, it was a bad time so as a songwriter you should be able to write about that.
SL: Cool man and just finally what’s the plan for the rest of this year?
JR: Well we’ve got the first single out in a couple of weeks, ‘Rock n Roll Band’, and then we’re going to release another single, probably ‘Dove Tails’ straight after and then another single called ‘Stranger’ which we played tonight. The album will follow all that later this year, hopefully around October time, and we want to be touring that so that’s the plan – to conquer the world (laughs).
SL: (Laughs) Cheers man for your time. Been great chatting and I’m looking to see you live again soon. Keep in touch.
JR: Really appreciate this, thanks a lot.