45°: We meet…. JELA!

It’s no secret that over the last 50 years, Manchester has been a hot bed for musical talent. Whether it be your Stone Roses, or Chemical Brothers, your Dutch Uncles or Joy Divisions – it’s fair to say rock and roll and all its associated sex and drugs have rushed through every aspect of the city to stimulate a heart beat so loud that it’s anarchic pulse can be felt far and wide. Well, certainly as far as France and even the Philippines it would seem.

Meet JELA – a trio brought together from those very distant lands to chase and embrace the fabled Rock’n’Roll mystique that emanates from the Capital of the North for their own.

With a bass player with the spidery frisson of John Entwistle (Jude Coupe), a guitarist (Lucas Aimeka Bernard) who evidently likes his riffs to sound like your most punishing hangover should feel and a drummer (Arthur Aimeka Marechal) seemingly fighting a losing battle to keep his feral drum-kit from going walkies, this band have breathed in the Mancunion air and gobbed out a gloriously spitting, hissing, venom-laden elixir of its very rock’n’roll essence.

However, if you needed any proof that you don’t have to be a local to play like the locals, brace yourselves and catch them live. Having stumbled across these guys playing in someone’s living room as they roared out a Stooges-style jump-out-of-your-skin din like a harrier jump-jet in constant nose-dive before you, we can vouch that JELA are hair, skin and flesh-raisingly exciting to watch.

So excited were 45 Magazine by their raucous guerilla set that we asked them for an interview right there and then….

 

Right then, first off with the basics – for everyone at home, who are we speaking to and who plays what?

Hiya there! You’re talking to JELA made of Jude Coupe a fine-looking island bassist (Philippines) and two froggies, Lucas Bernard (lead vocals/guitar) and Arthur Marechal (drums).

From your tenacious live performances, it’s clear to any body who gets to see you that you guys play with a real telepathic bond. At what point did you first realise there was something special between you?
Nice to hear! Arthur and I (Lucas) have played together for 4 years now, it’s always been really natural between us and Jude dived into that feeling straight away. It was clear we should carry on together after the first jam.Were there any acts in particular that you all had a shared love for? Did they inspire you to deliver the sound that you do? 

Let’s say the Who is the band we’ve got the most in common. I reckon we admire those crazy and strong individuals putting their skills and differences together to build something together. I’d say our strength comes from the diversity of musical tastes. While Jude is really jazz/funk influenced, Arthur grew up in his father’s blues/rock discography. Personally, folk/americana music made me pick up a guitar. Which makes us quite complementary.

You guys moved to Manchester from locations as far flung as France to the Philippines? What drew you to the ‘rainy city’?

Jude never asked to suffer from that horrible city aha! Our case is a bit more special, we always wanted to carry on playing music together after college and except from the sunshine and the lovely ladies, South of France hasn’t got much to offer musically, well nothing compares to the dirty old town though. Manchester was our own “American dream”, made possible by Dave Roberts, a Royton-born 65-year-old friend we used to visit when he was living in France. Dave is now our lyricist and massively helped us to get to the situation we’re at now. His passion for music pushed him to go back to Manchester with two kids like us and their big expectations.
Jude: I am at least fortunate, even proud, to have settled in Manchester, especially for its highly respected music culture; the city has certainly moulded me into the musician that I am today.How have the city and venues like The Mansion influenced your sound? 

Getting involved at Antwerp Mansion has been our biggest step forward in Manchester. It was like entering Ali Baba’s cave: everybody there is either a musician, an artist, a music passionate or a sound engineer! Everybody was weird and cool somehow, which is what you’re looking for when you’re young, a musician and thirsty for experience and inspiration. Without mentioning the amount of bands we came across who subconsciously influenced our sound. More generally, Manchester has so much to offer and is definitely the world capital of indie music. A lot of exciting stuff for two country boys.

Are there plans for an album on the way soon and what are you going to aim to say with it – or is it too early days yet? 

We’re releasing our single really soon now (Single launch on the 10th of May @ Kraak Gallery, Manchester). It was recorded and produced by Nuno Carvalho in Spirit Studio (SSR Manchester). At the meantime, we have some recording sessions planned in April/May that might take us to release an EP.
 
You’re pretty early on in your career but has rock’n’roll already taught you anything already – good or bad?
Jude: There’s definitely a difference between being a musician and a rockstar.
Arthur: I would say I have learned being good is not enough. If you want to make a living out of it, you have to take it as a profession which means doing what you do and do it daily.

Lucas: It’s all about being wild and wise at the same time. A learning process to balance between letting go, being who you really are and find the right attitude to make it contagious.

Guitar-based music in recent years has taken a bit of a battering by critics with only Arctic Monkeys really seeming to excite the mainstream with rock’n’roll. What’s it been missing?

Arthur: us? 
Jude: A sense of rebellion. There’s a lack of integrity maybe. Passion, conviction, soul; too much of “Rock ‘n Roll” seems manufactured, which only reinforces this sense of mediocrity, something I believe that Rock n’ Roll rebels against. I suppose, in mentioning those things, Rock n’ Roll seems to have lost its purpose, and people can say that they want to “reclaim Rock n’ Roll”, but that just seems too cliché these days. I’d personally much rather just ignore it entirely, and be able to share my passion for music with everybody, because that, for me, is more important than raising something that’s arguably dead.
Lucas: A lack of madness and self-confidence I would say. People sounds scared of dreaming big and believe in it. It’s unfortunately a vicious circle, the less examples you find in the music business the less musicians are going for it. It is frustrating to see that many good musicians who don’t believe enough in what they do. We came across so many Arctic Monkeys rip off, even though I consider them as an influence. I agree with Jude about this lack of integrity. Also we’ve got to admit the “times they are a-changin'” and the last Daft Punk’s Grammy proves electronic music is the new rock n’ roll. But hey! “rock n’ roll will never die!” and I’m confident about its future.
If you could support any band on tour who would it be and why?
Jude: G.G. Allin (ahah)
Arthur: Blondie, I’m in love with Debbie Harry.
Jude: Manchester’s got some really good local bands we played with, like Luna Marada, the Denial Twist (well from Preston), De ‘Nova and it’d be a pleasure to work with them again.
Lucas: True. The Magic Room are another one of them. These bands are one reason I was saying I felt confident about rock n’ roll future.
As we wait for that dream support slot to come true, when can we expect some more live dates or a UK jaunt? 

Lucas: We were supposed to go on tour in Europe with the Fourth Circle. Plans have changed for pragmatic reasons. We’re not ready for that. We haven’t dried out Manchester’s opportunities yet (ahah).

And finally, the Glastonbury Line Up is out, but there’s a tantalising Saturday night Headline slot yet to be announced. If it could be up to you and be any artist, collaboration or project (be it sublime or ridiculous) – who would you pick? 

Jude: Ely Buendia
Arthur: can I take Joe Strummer back from hell for a Clash reformation?

Lucas: Bruce Springsteen without a doubt!

You may have to wait until the 10th of May for their next official headline show at Kraak Gallery (Manchester), but no doubt if you keep your eyes and ears peeled on the Manchester house party circuit, you may not have to wait so long…