The Guitar Never Died:
Reviving Rock N Roll with Samuel Shea of Warbly Jets
Interview by Audra Tracy
Take a little New York City grit, add some sheen from the LA scene, and you get Warbly Jets, a band that took the best of both coasts to create a sound that, quite simply, oozes cool. Leading up to the anticipated release of their self-titled debut album (out October 20th), the four-piece is building a buzz via a string of addicting singles like “Alive”, “The Lowdown”, and “4th Coming Bomb.”
While these days the airwaves seem saturated with an endless array of synthetic ‘laptop music’, Warbly Jets are here to assure us that, in fact, “the guitar never died”. Vocalist/guitarist Samuel Shea took some time to weigh in on the band’s new album, the state of the music industry, and why rock n roll is alive and well in 2017…
We’re really digging the new tunes! Tell us about your upcoming debut album…what excites you most about the new material? Is there a theme or message you wish to convey through your music?
SS: Awesome! Thank you for your support. This record has been a long time coming. The songs were written over a period of about 2 and 1/2 years. Many of the songs on the record talk about that experience, and the ups and downs that come with being a struggling artist. Overall the record has a theme of: Togetherness, bucking the system, higher power, trial, and overcoming those trials.
Your song ‘The Lowdown’ is about the evils of the music industry. How would you do things differently to improve the situation for aspiring artists?
SS: First I want to be clear that we don’t think the music industry as a whole is evil. There are many labels, publishing companies, PR firms etc. that take great care of their artists and conduct business with the artists’ best interest in mind.
In the age of the internet the way that music is being consumed has completely changed. Kids don’t wait in line to buy their favorite band’s CD at Best Buy anymore. Major Labels are offering lower advances to sign rock bands and taking larger cuts of record sales, streaming royalties, live shows, and merch sales to make up for the problem at hand, which is most people don’t really “buy” music anymore.
As we started noticing this problem, we devised this plan to release our first record ourselves in conjunction with our manager’s company, Rebel Union. The hope is that this will continue to grow to the point that we can offer other bands similar deals to what we’re building for ourselves. I don’t know exactly with that looks like yet, but I’ve been stuck on the idea of a band owning their own masters like we do. This allows for bands that work hard for themselves to make real amounts of money when a song or songs hit. My advice to other artists is to hold on to all the rights of your music as long as possible. We’re also a band of producers and engineers, and have access to many great studios. This is a very practical way that we can help bands that we dig, and if anyone is interested in working with us, give us a shout!
When you first moved to LA, you spent some time couch surfing. If you had to do it all over again, whose couch – dead, alive, or fictional – would you most like to crash on, and why?
SS: Phil Spector’s couch. I’ve been getting into a lot of the stuff he did at Gold Star and would have loved to learn from him and watch his militant studio tactics in that era.
Do you miss anything about living in NYC? You at least miss good pizza, right?
SS: Of course the pizza is very missed, as well as the bagels. I do miss the energy of the city. There is something magical about that morning commute to the city on the JMZ across the bridge. I miss being surrounded by so many people every day. I’ve always thought Manhattan is like a big human ant hill. At any moment there could be a thousand people above you or a thousand people above you. It’s pretty crazy to stop and think about!
How do you picture your fans enjoying your album once it is released? What’s the ideal listening environment?
SS: I think that people are going to be very pleasantly surprised with some of the elements we used on the record. As for a listening environment I would say pre-order the record on vinyl and on October 20th, lay on the floor in a pitch black room with your speakers as loud as possible without being uncomfortable. I’ll be somewhere doing the same and we will be together in spirit.
Both your sound and aesthetic seem calculated and intentional – do you have a secret plan to incite a rock n roll revolution?
SS: It’s rock n roll’s time. The guitar never died, and radio listeners need to remember that. I want every 12 year old in the world going to their local music store to buy a guitar to learn how to play our songs.
TheWaster.com | Alive