“You’ve gotta make the record you don’t want to make before you can make the record you want to make.” – In conversation with the Mystery Jets

It’s been a while between drinks for English band the Mystery Jets. Three years in fact. In that time, they’ve changed record labels (they switched from Rough Trade to Caroline International), recruited a new member (Jack Flanagan, bass), converted an old button factory into a fully functioning studio and created what they call their most personal record yet, Curve of the Earth. This fifth album in the Mystery Jet’s discography is a bold exploration of personal growth moving into adulthood through slightly prog-tinted rock. Nine songs long and with a keen focus on the storytelling that the band have done so well over the years, Curve of the Earth is out today. After a few false starts due to a crackly phone line, we got to speak to drummer Kapil Trivedi on the morning that Mystery Jets kicked off their record store tour in the UK.

Hi, how’re you going?

Hey Ruby! How are you? I’m very well, I’m very well thank you. I’m looking at quite a lot of British rain.

It’s quite early for you right now, half past nine?

Yes, it’s surprisingly early but we’re starting a tour today so everyone’s kind of up and about.

Yeah! And you’re looking forward to it?

Yeah it’s good news. Yeah totally! I think it’s going to be really fun. It’s a record store tour, so we’re going to a lot of indie record stores around the country and playing some stripped back versions of the album for people. It should be really fun!

Yeah, cool. It seems like a good way to get back into the swing of touring.

Yeah totally.

I just wanted to say that I’m really looking forward to the new album, I’ve been a Mystery Jets fan for a long time – I have a lot of very fond memories connected to your music.

Oh amazing! I’m glad you’re looking forward to the record.


Is the anticipation very high knowing that it’s about to drop?

I mean, with this record everybody’s just been… we’re all telling each other not to expect anything really, which is quite a nice way of doing it because it means that every time something good does happen, you’re nicely surprised. You haven’t built up in your head any kind of preconceived ideas. So at the moment life is full of really nice surprises and it’s really cool. But I can’t wait for it to come out. We spent three years building a studio and working on it. It’s kind of mind blowing for me that the world is going to hear it tomorrow.

Yeah, it has been three years, that’s quite a bit of time. Was all of that spent on the album?

The studio was kind of strange. It grew as the album grew in a way. As we went along we would kind of build more in. The first session of the album we only had one room and then after a few months we managed to convince the landlord to let us to have the room next door so we had a control room and by the end of the record it was like “wow, we’ve actually built a really cool studio.” But it was a very slow process – as was making the record. We were all very much cutting out teeth in the world of production.

The entire thing was self produced?

We produced it ourselves with a friend of ours, Matthew Thwaites. He’s a very close friend of the band’s and he was there for the entire journey. It was great to have Matt on board because I think being in a band things can get very insular. You spend a lot of time in a room and maybe you’ve listened to something a bit much and everyone’s wondering if it’s still good. So having Matt there was really good for that. He’s such a positive force and a creative person.

With it being self-produced, was that the band’s idea… You’re on a new label now.

We were in between labels actually. Between Radlands and this record. I know that Blaine [Harrison, vocals, keys, guitar] always really wanted to self-produce a record and William [Rees, guitar, vocals] did as well.

When we started the record it wasn’t the same kind of pressure that you have when you have a record label sort of tapping you on the shoulder every five minutes like “You’ve got to finish this,” you know? It was kind of like a fresh start really. It was like being kids in a garage again and I feel like if we didn’t have the time we would have made a very different record and I’m not really sure what that would have been like. I’m so glad we did it and now we have a fully functioning studio on our hands. And it’s kind of existing as its own thing now and having all your equipment in the one place is so cool.

And I believe it was in a pretty convenient location, as well?

Haha yeah it was right opposite Blaine’s house. We all live like five-ten minutes away from it so there was no escaping.

So you’ll be able to use it again now then?

Yeah! We all pop in from time to time and other bands have been recording in it since we’ve left actually. Matt’s kind of taken it on and he’s made like five more records in there. Every time I go in it looks a bit more exciting. But I think by the time we finished our record we were like, “Okay I think we’d better spend a bit of time away from this studio.”

Radlands was recorded largely in Texas which I would say was pretty greatly reflected in the end result – How important is location and environment when recording a new album?

Well I think this album is kind of like the most personal album we’ve made really. All the subject matter are things that really mean something to the people who are writing. It’s very much about being at a certain part in your life and kind of looking back on the world from a distance really and from quite close at the same time. So I think making the album quite close to our home environment, although we didn’t realise it at first, was quite an important thing to do because in a way there was no escaping the every day troubles that come with growing up and turning into an adult really. So I feel like being in London and being where we’re all from and kind of working it from a home perspective kind of made it that way. I don’t think anybody knew the album was going to be like that when we started out in the studio but I think the environment it was made in played a big part in that.

On Telomare, one of the lines is “the one thing they can’t take away…” – was there a sense of needing to regain a kind of ownership going in to this new album? I guess being between labels and having a few changes in terms of line up.

Blaine was actually reading Just Kids by Patti Smith, her autobiography. There’s something that she says in that book which is basically the idea that in your ancestry and everybody in your blood line.. All of those people will live on through you and are all kind of part of what makes you, you. Basically inspired Blaine and Henry [Harrison, keys, guitar] when they were writing the lyrics and they kind of tried to put that idea into a song. They matched it with the idea of telomeres. They’re kind of like the end of the shoelaces on your DNA and they kind of fray and determine your life span and protect you from illness. The whole song is the kind of balance between trying to say that what makes you you can’t be taken away by mortality really. If that makes sense.

It’s a pretty huge concept… it’s quite grand and I think the way the song sounds fits with that quite well.

Thank you very much. Telomere is kind of the most personal song on the record. It’s the first track, yeah. It’s the most kind of microscopic, looking into the human body kind of and as the album progresses there’s a feeling of expansion and drifting further and further away from that until hopefully you feel like you’re on the outside looking in.

Kind of like the album trailer… I don’t know if it was, but it looked like it was shot at an observatory and how it’s close at first and then zooms out.

Oh yeah! It’s pretty cool right? We went to space! That was a really fun day. We thought, “This fits us perfectly.”

Where does that space theme come from? How does it fit in with the fact that it is such a personal kind of album?

I kind of feel like at the beginning we all kind of joked and said, “Let’s make a space-rock record.” But I feel like you’ve gotta make the record you don’t want to make before you can make the record you want to make. Space-rock was kind of like a spring board and naturally, the whole thing kind of flipped on its head and we realised that it was kind of like a “Planet Earth” record; we were writing about things that were happening to us as people – or Blaine and Will were. So space was a springboard. Curve of the Earth was actually a working title for the record and when we worked with an art director called Gary Barber basically he presented a piece of artwork to us that was a massive picture of the actual curve of the Earth. We saw that and all of these things kind of clicked into space… Into space? *laughs* Into place!

The cover of the single Telomere, is it a petri dish or a shot of Earth from outer space? Because I can’t quite tell and either would be fitting.

The Telomere cover? It’s a petri dish! It’s quite cool, right?

Yeah! I looked at it a couple of times and I actually couldn’t figure out what it was.

That was the idea – so it worked!

Yes, it did!


Mystery Jets albums, I think, tell stories. What is Curve of the Earth’s story?

It’s kind of very much the life that we’re living at the moment. Every song is based on personal experience really. What we really love about music is being able to find yourself in a song. You know when you listen to your favourite record, I think often you find yourself in it. I think this record is our own and we tried to capture a certain time and a certain place and a certain feeling. If people can hear that feeling in this record then the job’s been done, you know?

I always think when I listen to music whether I think it would work as a movie soundtrack.

Yeah – I know what you mean! Could this be the soundtrack to my life? We’re basically just trying to write the soundtrack to everyone’s lives *laughs* But that’s basically the gist of the record. That’s what we’re trying to get across.

You’ve had a few chances to play the new material live…

Yeah, we’ve played it live quite a few times actually. Probably about four or five times we’ve played the whole record from start to finish which is absolutely thrilling. Bringing those songs to life in that way is such a mad thing to do because when you play them live they start to take on a whole new meaning. You’re going from the room you made it in to all of a sudden blasting it in people’s faces [laughs] it’s really cool. And people responded to it really well.

And have some tour dates locked in for the UK this year… Are you looking forward to getting back into touring?

We’ve got a February UK tour and we’ve got dates coming through date-by-date and very soon we’ll be able to announce some where you are! Which would be pretty amazing!

Yeah I was going to ask – any chances of an Australian tour?

I mean there’s a pretty huge chance, which really excites me. I’m a big fan of coffee and apparently you guys do coffee fairly well.

Yes! But I’m going to say in Melbourne.

Melbourne has the best coffee?

Yeah that’s my opinion. Other people might say otherwise.

I trust your opinion. I’ll keep that in mind.

Mystery Jets’ fifth album, Curve of the Earth, is out today via Caroline International.