Troubadour Jake Bugg has kept people eager for new material ever since his debut album. Having fast-made a name for himself with touching ballads, the second record ‘Shangri-La’ progressed into more electric driven territory. We shared a quick phone-call to get an idea of what to expect from the third.
So tell us a bit about the new record, is it born out of any particular emotions?
It’s a reflection of the last few years really. It’s the personal experiences of myself and what I’ve seen other people go through as well. There’s elements of loneliness, that’s definitely a theme throughout the album.
‘Love Hope And Misery’ has a really laid-back and heartfelt feel to it…
I try and make every song different from the next. There’s not really another song like that on the record. There’s a couple of ballads that are in the same vein as it. There’s also a Hip-hop influence on this album. It’s just where I started with the beats of that. People have said I’m almost rapping on some tracks, I just like to mess around with different styles.
The sound evolves with each release, do you feel there’s an expectation to do this?
I don’t really want any record to sound the same. I think every album should be different. I don’t think there’s any expectation as long as I deliver the songs. It’s just something that I have to do to keep it interesting for myself.
It’s been described as ‘make or break’, why do you feel in this position?
Every record is make or break these days. If you do a bad one then you might not get the chance to do another. I think the industry is a bit more cutting these days, it’s money isn’t it?
Every record is make or break these days.
Coming from your roots in Nottingham to where you are today, has that altered your lyrical approach?
Yeah I mean, a lot has changed since I first started out. I used to be more self-descriptive about myself, my experiences and going off from where I came from. I haven’t had those experiences since, although I still go back home and see things like that but my position has changed. It all depends though, the first song I’ve written for this record is quite a dark and sad song – but overall it’s less about me personally this time.
Do you still feel attached to the songs you wrote on the debut?
I mean sometimes I feel like that with the actual record. When it comes to the live environment I’m happy to play the songs that people want to hear. Although with songs like ‘Two Fingers’ I’m not the seventeen year old that wrote that anymore you know? It’s hard to feel the same way about those things because of that.
Three albums in, would you say your outlook on the industry has changed?
I’d say I’m way more cynical of the industry. There’s a lot of compromising and politics involved. I’ve never felt dwarfed because I try to make a stand. Just recently I wanted to do a video and they wanted something else, so I had to make my stand in that respect. I understand that they want it to have commercial value but I think they sometimes forget that I do to in a sense.
Are you looking forward to sharing the new tracks on the road this summer?
Yeah I’m looking forward to getting out there. It’s been quite a while now since we did a proper tour so it’s going to be fun. It will be weird playing in the venues that we played a few years ago but it will be cool.
How have you adapted to playing some of the biggest stages in the world?
I’ve never really had a confidence issue when it comes to playing live. I love playing the songs and writing the music, that’s what I enjoy doing and that’s what it’s about. The entertainment part should be the music and not anything else really. I think me and the band have grown with experience though. We can change the set if the crowd want something a bit different. We’re better at reading it now.
You said you didn’t like festival season a little while back, warmed to it yet?
I’ve always enjoyed playing festivals, it’s just going to them that I don’t like. You know there’s loads of smelly bands going around that all look the same. Ultimately though, it’s about playing for the crowd, it’s not about me.
Early material like ’Slumville Sunrise’ had an instant appeal to it, do you try to utilise this at festival season?
I think there’s songs on this record that might take some time for the audience to adapt to. It’s because it’s different, ‘Slumville’ is in the same vein as stuff on the first record in that respect. When people come to the shows, I think it’s about how we place the new material. If we put a new track in-between two of their favourites then they usually have time to react to it.
You’ve been cited in the past to be into classic folk musicians, is your music taste still developing?
Yeah I think I’ve still got so much to discover in terms of new music. During this record I was listening to way more soul music and stuff like that. I don’t know whether I’m conscious of it at the time when I’m writing, but it’s good to draw from as many genres as you can. It was nice to be back in the studio. As I was on my own for a lot of it, I was given the chance to really experiment and try new things.
Until the new record, remember this feel-good ballad right here: