Pete Jupp Gets Synchronized
The Mighty FM have just released their 12th studio album Synchronized on Frontiers Records and Rockgig had the pleasure to catch up with drummer Pete Jupp.
Rockgig Hi Pete and thanks for taking the time to talk to Rockgig so firstly how are you and the family keeping during lockdown?
Pete It's all been fine and just getting on with it really. It's alright and better than I thought it was going to be. Music is keeping me sane as I have my laptop which means I can write and do stuff at the moment.
R How are the rest of the band holding up? I see Jim Kirkpatrick (guitarist) has finished his solo album and Steve Overland (vocals and guitar) is writing for various projects. Have you done much?
P Yes I have been quite busy writing and trying some different things. We are all baring up.
R Will there be any weird and wonderful lockdown songs from this period?
P I don't know to be honest probably weird (lots of laughing). As a band we can't stray to far from the well beaten track as I don't think our fans would really appreciate that if we came out with some left field stuff but you never know.
R 2020 a new album ready to go and a tour booked including your first ever Australian dates on the horizon how hard has it been to keep motivated and push on with everything now on hold?
P Not going to Australia was a disappointment as we were all psyched up to go there but sometimes things work out for the best as we would probably have been stuck there with the lockdown. We didn't like letting people down but we can hope that may get back there again when things are a bit more stable.
We have pretty much written off the rest of this year so have already started to plan for 2021 and fingers crossed things will calm down as no one knows as there is so much uncertainty .
R It is now 13 years since the one off Firefest show are you genuinely surprised at the reaction to reforming?
P Yes completely still because when we did Firefest this is the honest truth there were no plans.Nothing.Other than getting through that show without embarrassing ourselves that was the only thing we were thinking of.
We had no thoughts about doing an album it hadn't crossed our minds. When we got in to it we were thinking there may be a couple of hundred people turning up for the show and we would have a good time,a few drinks and then go our separate ways again afterwards as we hadn't fallen out,it had just got so hard to carry on in the 90's.
We then sold out Rock City in Nottingham and the fans were just so incredible and I hope this doesn't sound corny but you really could feel the love coming up from the audience.We came off stage and we were shell shocked,I know that I definitely was, and it was like bloody hell now what do we do. Maybe we should do an album in fact no maybe we have to do an album for these people.
It was then like " How do you write an FM song?" kind of thing but we got into it and the reaction was good to Metropolis and we have just carried on going.
That is the honest truth as before the Firefest show we weren't allowed to do any warm up shows so it was literally straight in at the deep end.We had to rehearse and it is so different to rehearse as there are no nerves and I can see why when watching these Premiership footballers and they will miss a penalty. I can see why they would do that because you do it every day but once there is nerves and pressure it does change and I can respect them for making the occasional mess up.
R Is that where you get your inspiration and from where your creativity comes from to write more songs?
P Yes I think it definitely is as we have always loved being in this band and even when we knocked it on the head in the 90's we didn't hate each other.
When grunge came in we were so unfashionable and things were getting very hard financially for us. When we did Dead Man Shoes we recorded it in a youth club in Southall. We borrowed some recording equipment off of Pat Cash and it really was hand to mouth. It was really hard work and it just seemed like a good time to stop but fair play to Kieran for his part in this.
R It is always a clean slate or are you always writing and has there been any gems not been used and you then recorded them later?
P We will normally try to write 20 songs and then put 11 or 12 on the album. So there may be a few kicking about but not many as they normally get used up as bonus tracks but there may be half a dozen around.
R Do you enjoy the writing and recording process more or less now?
P I have always enjoyed the writing process and I enjoy the recording as it is nice being creative. When it is going well it can be the best feeling in the world but when it is not it really frustrates you. It is weird and then next day it can completely change and it is easy again. There was one song on this album that Steve and me were doing the middle eight and it just wasn't happening. We were sat there for hours and hours trying different things and then suddenly something clicked. A friend had come round and he must have been feeling pretty uncomfortable due to the tension. Once you have finished a song it really is one of the best feelings in the world and I am quite involved in the recording as I have a little studio here.
R My next question was about the producing process that you now do as a band and you enjoy that?
P Yes we all get stuck in but I probably do pretty much all of the vocals for Steve and some guitars and keyboards but when we need to record loud guitars and vocals we go to a commercial studio as my neighbours wouldn't really like that!!
I am not sure you could fit a full drum kit in my studio as it is very bijou but it works.
R I asked Steve before who has the best ears in the band or are you all happy for Jeff Knowler to do his thing?
P Sometimes you can get too close to things and I am probably involved the most and it is good to have an outsider involved with a new pair of ears. It works so we will carry on with it.
R Your new album Synchronized carries on in your rich vein of classic rock with no dip in quality do you feel the pressure to match the older material when producing new music?
P It isn't pressure it is just trying to make the best album we possibly can. We are quite strict with quality control and will only say the album is finished if we have 11 or 12 songs that we feel are the best we can do so we can stand by it. We may think the album is done but we will farm out some songs to close family and friends and management and they can help us. It happened on Metropolis I think "Over You" wasn't going to be on the album and then we were told you must put it on there so it is good to have that outside influence.
R How long did it take to write and record Synchronized?
P I honestly have no idea. Really we kind of start writing as soon as we finish the last album so could be 4 months before that was released. This album was put back by 6 weeks because of all this stuff that is going on so I can honestly say I can't remember when the last one Atomic Generation came out !!
Once we have finished then we start getting ideas together so it's an ongoing thing.
R Are the songs always demoed?
P Yes we do but sometimes the demos make it onto the album .What is a demo? You can sometimes play the same thing but it doesn't sound the same or feel right but when you play it for the first time you get that moment. Just don't think too deep and sometimes the first take is the best.
R A modern album with files going back and forth or do you write and record together?
P It is a bit of both. When we go to a commercial studio to do the drums I will take them up with me on a hard drive. It does go backwards and forwards and if Jim is doing some solos in a studio he will send them to me and I won't bother to go in.
There isn't masses of file sharing it is normally me who has it.
We were very lucky when we got robbed in Barcelona last year my laptop had the new album on it .It is weird how things work in mysterious ways I was trying to buy something on line some software or something and I couldn't pay for it online it just wouldn't go through. I rang up the company support and they said try a different browser. I downloaded google chrome but I got a virus as I downloaded it.
It kept filling my RAM up on my laptop so I took it to these guys and they said have you backed it up to Time Machine and I said "What's that then?".
They said get a drive and do this and do it once a week or every now and then. If I hadn't got that virus I wouldn't have known about and it and I would have lost the album. I got a new laptop finally as one of our fans Jim Gibson very kindly said he had a MacBook Pro you can have and said you can have it. Bloody hell that is really generous and it was actually on my birthday .He came to Reading (yes we were there too !) he turned up and we had the Time Machine drive and an hour later there was my old laptop. I am not the biggest Apple fan but for that I give them 10 out of 10.It was a bloody nightmare if I hadn't backed it up.
R Do you all write the music and lyrics or if you bring the idea to the table are you allowed to run with it ?
P Yes there are no rules with this band and people have idea whether a lyric or music or a title there really are no rules and we kind of just get it done.
R What is your favourite song on the new album?
P Don't ask me that question?
R Ok I won't then (lots of laughter)
P I don't know as it is still quite new and being so close. Normally it can be the last song you write is your best song but it doesn't always work out like that.
I am really very pleased with the reaction to the album it has been great because we never know. What we think is great the fans might think what a load of rubbish and we think we are lucky and got away with it again.
R I have been a fan since day one and Steve sounds batter than ever with Ghosts Of You And I and Walk Through The Fire my personal favourites. Does he continue to surprise you with his vocal excellence?
P It really is just how he is this amazing vocalist to me. What does surprise me is his lack of technology knowledge!! His best one recently was we were at a gig and he was trying to get on the wifi. The password was written on the wall and he has got his phone and he is tapping away and he can't get it to work. He says to Jim "Is that a lower or upper case 7?" It's like ok!!.
R Jim Kirkpatrick (FM guitarist) continues to shine on the new album with his solo's fantastic. After Andy Barnett left how has Jim fitted in and does he continue to push you all to greater heights?
P Jim has fitted in perfectly.He is probably more sympathetic to the older stuff than Andy was and that isn't putting Andy down. Jim is quite happy to listen to Chris's original solo's where as Andy who was amazing would just do it and then would be unable to do it twice. You would record Andy and say could you just play that again and he would say I don't know what I did. He was very spontaneous a really fiery guitar player. Jim has fitted in absolutely perfect a good choice.
R Last year's shows with Dan Reed Network and Gun were very well received how did you enjoy playing Tough It Out in full and any songs that you revisited that you have a new appreciation of?
P We didn't realise that we played so much of the Tough It Out album and there was only 4 songs that we hadn't played before. Can You Hear Me Calling, Feels So Good and there was a bit of an argument about Obsession did we or didn't we.
The whole tour was great with the guys from Gun such lovely people I got on so well with the drummer. Dan Reed Network are one of my favourite bands in the 80's and 90's just amazing. I remember seeing them at The Marquee whenever that was. The Marquee was just full of musicians and they blew me away and they are a bunch of lovely guys. All of the crew were great and I could have done another month !! And we were all thinking the same way. Great respect to everybody.
R You have now played Indiscreet then Tough It Out in full would you consider another? I believe Aphrodisiac is your personal favourite?
P Yes but no idea at the moment let's just get back playing live when it is safe to do so.
R Any thoughts on just playing after the reunions songs on a tour now that you have released as many albums with this line up that you have previously with Synchronized being your twelfth?
P It is definitely the longest we have had a line up for I can't say we have as I don't know if we could as the fans would expect us to play That Girl. If I go and see a band I like and they don't play a specific song it is the big songs I want to hear. I suppose if we advertised it as after the comeback songs we could do it. We could probably cobble a set together .
R Yesterday you announced a UK tour for April and May 2021 what do you do as a band until then? A new album in the can for after next year's touring cycle?Quarantine online songs? Virtual gigs ?
P I suppose we will have to wait until we are in a room together and sort it out one thing a time. There is talk of shops opening from the 16th and schools going back and then outdoor markets until we are allowed to be in the same room at 2 metres apart (that won't be difficult (lots of laughter)) I am not going to speculate but wait until we know as this is such a terrible thing that is happening with families being in dire straits when you can't say goodbye to people that have died and not being able to go to funerals then when we can play live music pales into insignificance.
R How did you enjoy the Facebook Q & A's you did as a band recently?
P It was awful and nerve racking. I felt like oh god. I hate having my picture taken at the best of times so to stare at myself that was definitely over rated. I looked like a rabbit in headlights if I am honest .
R Did you watch the rest of the band?
P I saw bits and pieces of everybody. The only one I didn't see was Merv's and he then deleted it by mistake. I went back the following day and thinking where was it and thought I had done something wrong but he had deleted it unfortunately by pressing the wrong button. They did seem to go alright.
R We have spoken about the live shows in the future. Have you seen the shows already in America with social distancing and a drive in?
P I saw something about the drive in show ( R Keith Urban ) oh was it? Is that a good idea or not and how does the audio come in through your stereo ?
R The gig there was only 220 in a 1100 capacity venue and even the band weren't allowed close to the front of the stage so you will be ok?
P Yes exactly maybe people have got to try these things I don't really know to be honest. Hopefully we can get back to some sort of normality next year.
R Any last words for the fans?
P Stay safe and thanks for buying the album and all of your continued support over the years because without them we wouldn't be doing I.
Stay safe and stay healthy.
I would like to thank Pete for his time and to Gary Levermore at Red Sand Pr for his help in setting up the interview.