We catch up with Rob Steele and Jack Jones
Joe Rowles spoke with Rob Steele and Jack Jones
Trampolene are a Welsh alternative rock band from Swansea and have made the move to London to further their career. In 2017 they released their debut album ‘Swansea to Hornsey’ and are currently on the rise. I caught up with them to discuss the band and current plans.
For people who are unaware of Trampolene, how would you describe yourselves and your music?
Rob – “Three Welsh lads from the humble surroundings of Swansea (and Llanelli). We’ve got a painter and a poet in our band. Our music is Rock & Roll, acoustic dreaminess and thought-provoking spoken word.”
Jack – “It’s the sound of your mental health slowly and painfully deteriorating over a period of a three-and-a-half-minute pop song.”
What is the backstory of the band and how did you get to your current line-up?
Rob – “Jack and Wayne met playing football. They both played for Wales as kids and Wayne could have been a premier league player. I knew Jack as he used to live on my parent’s road when I moved there as an 8-year-old. We played football, Subbuteo and cricket together. I played in different bands around Swansea when the boys used to play. When their old drummer left, I was their first call.”
Jack – “Yes Steelo is correct there - I would argue that I was a better footballer than Wayne...but I would probably be wrong...I would also add that my sister bought a hamster from pets at home that was eaten by his cat.”
Can you give us a taste of what growing up in South Wales was like for you guys, has Swansea culture influenced your style of music?
Rob – “Swansea is a wonderful place. We’re all working class lads who shared the same dream, so London seemed the obvious place to be in order to get our music out to as many people as we could. Growing up in Swansea has definitely influenced us musically and lyrically. Our first album is all about that.”
Jack – “I suppose you are always influenced by whatever is around you...so yes of course...some good some bad...the good would be the poetry and music and people...the bad would be the constant binge drinking and always losing your bank card.”
Your catalogue of music changes so much from track to track, loud to quiet to spoken word, is there a conscious reason to why your sound changes so much dynamically?
Rob – “Not a conscious reason. We just write what feels natural and real. Saying that, we love messing around with different sounds and dynamics in the rehearsal room.”
Jack – “I just express myself in different ways...I’m still waiting to turn my feet to ice skating...but it’s quite expensive...so maybe I’ll just stick to poems and songs.”
You create such a large sound from just the three of you, what equipment do you use on your effects board when playing live?
Rob – “All our amps and pedals are made from scratch by our Captain. Gary Hodgkiss. He’s also our tech and bus driver. The guy is our hero. I remember when he was making Wayne’s bass amp, he had to keep adding more speakers to it to make it louder and dirtier. Jacks amp wasn’t quite right so he ended up making him another one. He now plays with two twins together.”
As you have played with some enormous bands, has there been a stand out gig, either supporting or headlining, that you’ll never forget?
Rob – “There’s been a few. The whole tour with LG was insane. Playing at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff has been on my bucket list since I first went there aged 12 so that was huge. The sheer size of Manchester Arena took my breath away too. As far as our own gigs go, our headline show at Scala in London was mega, as well as our first show Paris. We didn’t expect anyone to turn up, but it was sold out and the crowd sung every word back to us. Special times.”
Jack – “Yeah I loved supporting the Libertines as well...and doing the True Era Cafe Gig’s for Russell Brand will always be close to my heart.”
Jack, you have exceptional stage presence, has it come naturally, or have you been influenced by anyone?
“I don’t know...it’s something that’s grown over the years...I never used to look at the crowd or talk to anyone...and now I’m completely the opposite...but I’m always in the moment of the gig and at every show, something different happens.”
How are the songs born and what is the recording process of Trampolene?
Rob – “The songs are usually born from lyrics of Jacks or a riff/melodic idea. Then we’ll get together in our rehearsal room and Work it all out. The last two singles were recorded in two days and we were still finishing off certain parts whilst recording. That was a new experience for us but one that kept us on our toes.”
Jack – “God / The devil blessed / cursed me with the obsession of creative songwriting and I’m still sat here scratching my head trying to get it right...lifelong commitment.”
Your music is especially powerful lyrically, there seems to be a motive behind every track, is there an especially interesting or poignant story behind any particular songs you would like to tell us about?
Jack - “Already older than I Dreamed I would be” ...is probably my favourite song...I heard it in a dream and woke up with it fully formed...
The poems add a very unusual and personal aspect of the album. What persuaded you to include them in the album? Were they always intended on being spoken rather than put to music?
Jack – “Yeah I just liked the idea of having spoken word and rock and roll...I wanted to be bold.”
Regarding the cover artwork for the singles One Who Loves You and Hard Times for Dreamers, I hear Wayne paints, is this your own work and what’s the story behind the images?
Rob – “Yes they are Wayne’s painting, but he is a man of few words and doesn’t like to elaborate on what they are.”
What do you like to get up to in your downtime?
Rob – “We all read a lot, listen to a lot of various music (from pop to ambient Indian music), me and Wayne work as well as the band so there’s always that to juggle around.”
Jack – “Read, read some more and practice.”
What could you see yourself doing if you weren’t in a band?
Rob – “Couldn’t see us doing anything else.”
Jack – “This is all I can do, I really hate to think what I would do without the band…frightening.”
What are your plans for the future? Where are you most excited about playing on your ‘Alive’ tour? And do you have any plans music-wise for after?
Rob – “Who knows what the future holds. What I do know is we’re already halfway through the writing of the next album. The alive tour will be crazy, Cardiff is always a good night for us and it’s up first! We’ll have some time off over Xmas and new year then get back to it. Mustn’t stop, never stop.”
Jack – “I’m most excited about playing Cardiff, Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester, Hastings, Brighton, London, Leeds, Glasgow, Newcastle and Swansea ;) “
Finally, do you have any words of wisdom or is there anything you’d like to say to your fans?
Rob - Just a massive thank you for being with us on this mad journey so far. There’s plenty more to come from us so stick with us. Looking forward to the tour. See you on the road. Here we go again.