Age of Jets
words: Jason Karlson
pics: Phillip Rhodes
May - June 2004
Jason Karlson meets Age of Jets, a band who are flying high.
The Rhythm Room is setting itself up as one of the latest places to be for live music with Red Brick promotions bringing Age of Jets onto the stage.
There are jeans and t-shirts bands armed only with guitar and masses of long hair. There are Goth bands clad in black with smudged eyeliner freshly raided from their mother's drawers. Then there are electrical wizardry bands, the kind of kids who used to hoard any piece of computer equipment they came into contact with and were fed on a huge diet of bad sci-fi. The kind that arrive on stage with complex boxes of switches and dials, oodles of cables and nothing that looks as if it could actually be used to make music.
Ages of Jets aren't a Goth band, and there's not a pair of Levis in sight. They formed from the remains of a previously dispersed band that the current line-up of Age of Jets are reluctant to even name, let alone discuss. "Some of the line-up comes from a previous band, but we don't really want to promote that one." Age of Jets refuse to spend there time wallowing in the past, setting there sights firmly on the future. The cabin crew for the band comprises of Reg Jet, Jonee Jet, Mark Jet and Chris Jet.
The band describes themselves as retro-futuristic. Ages of Jets do have an edge of the futuristic about them, all standing uniformed in regimental red shirt and black tie, appearing as if they've just escaped from the confines of the cover of Kraftwerk's "The Man Machine" album. "We're not really a jeans and t-shirt kind of band," says Jonee Jet adamantly, "our clothes were designed by Jeff Banks after bumping into him at one of our gigs. We've been flying the flag for C&A in the UK since the demise of its stores." Despite the comparison, they maintain that none of them has even ever heard a Kraftwerk album as Mark Jet lists their musical influences. "We've really been influenced by stuff like Wire, Polysics, Kajagoogoo, Captain Sensible, Captain Beefheart and Captain Birdseye," he adds. "Those mini fish cakes are an inspirational source of brain food."
Boxes and keyboards are strewn across the stage in place of a drummer and the Jet guys further there futuristic sound with the use of a Theremin, a strange looking black box with a slender silver stick protruding from it that screeches and wails when Reg Jet moves his hand near it or, more often than not, looks as if he's about to attack it Tiger crane style. They insist that once again this instrument fits in perfectly with the Jets theme.
"They were used by the RAF in the second world war to detect enemy aircraft below a height of 100m along the lines of longitude and altitude."
Reg Jet distorts his voice with the aid of a vocoder to wonderful effect conjuring up images of robots and computerised alien voices from some long forgotten sci-fi series.
"We experiment with different instruments and see if we like the sound they make, like an old guitar or amp that gives a distinctive sound. We experimented with a lot of stuff we bought from e-bay"
There's an air about the band that makes them appear as if they're totally in control of every aspect of the music they make, the sense that they know their instruments inside out and that nothing is left to chance. Age of Jets produce a wonderfully polished sounding set that at the same time is both full of life and spontaneous sounding; loud and boisterous guitars with a pulsating electronic backdrop and an ultramodern scientific vibe.
Despite hailing from in and around the Hull area, most of their gigs have been further a field, such as their recent trips to venues down south, although they are quick to sing the praises of performing on your own doorstep, so to speak.
"When you gig locally you also don't have the worry of your gear being stolen, we recently went down to London to do an acoustic session for Tom Robinson on Radio 6 and the van got broken into. They stole a lot of stuff. On top of that we got charged a £60 congestion fee!" Despite the good publicity that resulted from these acoustic sessions, when Steve Lamacq wrote about their single "RPM" in his Guardian column, it was still a huge set back for a local band considering how very little a band gains from gigs. The Jets are the first to admit to being in the dark about other Hull bands.
When asked about it they chose to mysteriously reply, "We don't venture out too often as we need to stay home and study our flight manuals. However, we do like that song which goes, 'Johnny won't you come on home,' by the Fine Young Cannibals." They have made up for this by undergoing the Hull local band right of passage, which all new comers must endure, that is Radio Humberside's ‘Raw Talent’ show for an interview and live set with it's host Alan Raw. An excellent step on the ladder taking into account all the Hull artists such as The Favours and Emma Rugg who are all doing really well after appearing on the very same show.
However the fortunes of the band look set to lift-off, after facing the wrath of the London traffic system and cockney thieves, when Damaged Goods release their album 'Go Go Gadget pop' in the near future. There are bands that would have you believe that fame, fortune and a good selling album won't change them, and then disappear up there own backsides. Then there are those that it genuinely won't change. When asked about the new album the Jets simply reply indifferently, "We're excited, but we won't change because of it." Joking on how they would spend their money to further their jet-themed moniker, "We hope to sell enough records to buy a substantial sized runway."