The Mancunion chats to frontman Connor Schofield about Jaws’ debut album ahead of their UK tour
The success of bands such as Peace and Swim Deep over the last couple of years has seen the beginning of a vibrant new indie scene in Birmingham, aptly dubbed “B-Town” by NME. Jaws—apparently named after the Bond villain, not the shark—are the latest band to emerge from the area, and have recently been making waves with their hazy brand of wistful bedroom pop. Their debut album Be Slowly was released last year, and The Mancunion caught up with frontman Connor Schofield ahead of their headline tour of the UK in March to discuss their story so far.
First things first, how did the whole Jaws project come to be? “I just wrote some songs and recorded them in my garage, and I put one online and there was a bit of a reaction to it—like, I think it was something like a thousand plays in a couple of weeks, so I thought I might as well put a band together,” he shrugs, his demeanour as breezy as his songs would suggest, “it was just sort of the people I knew at college; I was doing music technology and all the music courses and that were in the same building so you just knew everyone that could play what instruments, and I knew Eddy [Geach, drummer] from playing in other bands, so I just got everyone together.”
Following a couple of well-received EPs, Milkshake and Gold, their full-length Be Slowly dropped back in September, and became a surprise success. Are they pleased with how it’s been received? “Yeah, a hundred per cent, because as an unsigned band to have that many people be interested is amazing for us, and it charted at 73 or something—which again, for an unsigned band, is amazing.” The title, he explains, is something of a personal worldview of his; a “hakuna matata” for the 21st century: “I’ve said to people before that it’s like the whole world seems to be always in a rush, everything seems like the best way to do something is always faster—and it just means there is no rush! Take your time.”
The record is packed full of lush synths, chiming guitars and sunny melodies—part Madchester-meets-new wave, part something like what the Spyro the Dragon soundtrack may have sounded like if it was written by Robert Smith: “I think it just comes out in the music. It’s just the way I write songs; it’s just something that happens—but yeah, The Cure are definitely an influence. It’s quite weird that a lot of people comment about the Manchester sound, like The Stone Roses and stuff like that. I’ve never really been a fan of those sort of bands, but I can hear it and I think that’s a cool comparison. It’s coincidental; I guess it’s like a subconscious influence.”
One track in particular that epitomises Jaws’ sound is the euphoric ‘Swim’, which combines lazy vocals and twinkling keyboards and is a definite highlight of the album; “I remember just fucking around with that keyboard sound, that bit at the start, for ages,” Schofield says, talking through the song’s creation, “and I think it was one of the ones where I didn’t even intend for it to be for the band, it was more going to be like a dance song or something. But then I slowed down the drumbeat over it and it was more like this,” he begins, tapping a subdued rhythm, “just slower, you know? Then I was just jamming the guitars over it when I came up with that little nice riff, and then I was finally like ‘ah, this is going to be a Jaws song.'”
Having spent the last couple of years supporting fellow Birmingham indie favourites such as The Twang, this year will see the band set out on their biggest headline tour to date—culminating in a hometown show at the Birmingham Institute—an experience which Schofield says he finds rewarding, “It makes it all worthwhile. When you’re supporting someone it’s always hit and miss; you’re only on for like half an hour, and the days are long because you do nothing all day then you have that hour where you get ready, you’re on stage then you’re off stage. When it’s your show they’re all there for you—and you get to play longer!” Now the album’s out, are there any tunes they’re especially keen to air? “I really love playing a song called ‘Home’. It’s my favourite, there’s a lot of energy in that song,” he says, “‘Gold’ as well. I always love ‘Gold’.”
Jaws will play Manchester Academy 3 on the 6th of March.