Manchester is well known for producing great bands and Turrentine Jones fit exactly into the category of ‘the greats’. Founded in 2010 by an Aussie-born Julian Neville (guitar, vocals) and later joined by Thomas Scotson (organ) and Rich Watts (drums), the band started to create their own stamp in today’s music by taking influences from the 50’s and 60’s rock and blues.
Turrentine Jones come with a big, fresh and captivating sound that’s been getting a well deserved recognition not only in the UK but also in Australia. They also picked up Best Blues Act and Best Male Act at the Exposure Music Awards in London in October last year.Recently, the band signed a publishing deal with Rough Trade Records, so there are surely exciting things written in the stars for this trio.
Get to know Turrentine Jones in our interview below, where the guys talk the beginning of the band, their sound, latest single plus how they all got into music etc.
Can you take us to the beginning of the band? When and how did Turrentine Jones form?
Turrentine Jones was founded by Julian Neville in 2010. Neville first arrived in England in late 2008 from Australia and went in search of players to join him, spending late nights at clubs around Manchester. An encounter with the uncle of previous drummer Chris Carcamo at a Chilean restaurant, Neville was introduced and they both began rehearsing a book of songs Neville had already written. Fast forward a while, and with the addition of Thomas Scotson, Turrentine Jones played their first show at the London Tavern in Kilburn on July 9 2010.
Tell us more about the genre you do and what do you think makes your sound unique?
There’s nothing to hide behind with our music. There are many spaces to fill when you don’t carry a bass player, a second rhythm guitarist, whatever. Each of us has that extra responsibility. At the beginning people were surprised we could hold such a big sound when we perform… these days people take a few steps back before we’ve even started playing. They know what’s coming. Having a Hammond organ sets us apart from everybody sure, it straight away puts you in that ‘classic’ or ‘vintage’ scene, but we’re bringing something fresh and so far people are digging it.
Your latest single ‘Della May’ was released last month. Is there a special story or meaning behind this track and the B side ‘Electric Angel’?
Della May is a song Julian wrote about innocence, being young and free. “We could close our eyes, and watch the sun turn blue” – we’d stare up at the Australian sun for a second and then close our eyes and you could still see it, only it was a different colour.. little things you did as a kid, you know?Electric Angel was a reoccurring dream Neville kept having. He felt a presence in his room while he was sleeping. He’d dream that he’d wake up, see this woman in the corner of the room. She would approach him and start screaming, start flying through the walls like electricity, and then return. He’d wake up with his hands behind his head, his toes crossed. This same dream happened several times. Yeah… take what you want from that!
You gained quite a success in Australia with your first official release ‘Le Debut’. Could you tell us more about how it happened?
How it happened? Who knows!? We went in the studio and spent a week cutting tracks. We shot a music video with all our friends and their friends and put it together. Once it was released the video was the tool that sold it for us. I guess people want to tell their friends they’re in a video? Word got around. Once it reached the top 10 on the iTunes blues charts we then started seeing it in Finland, Ireland, Germany. You can’t plan these things.
Where do you usually gather song writing inspiration and how do you work as a band?
Neville is the songwriter. All the songs are stories or experiences of his. When he comes into the studio he puts down the music and ideas and we all start slowly working our way through the song, arranging it as we go. We’ll perform a song several times, come back into the studio and change it, perform it again… all of this before we’re happy with it. Songs take time to evolve.
Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
Joe Tex, Booker T & The MG’s, The Animals, The Doors, The Mar-Keys, Rufus Thomas, lots of soul and early rock and roll. One of the greatest singers is Etta James.. ‘Don’t Cry Baby’. You know? Amazing. You see her played by Beyonce in a film about Chess Records.. shows you what’s so wrong with the music industry today. Non-musical? We’d all have different influences here.
Do you remember that one defining moment when you realised you wanted to play music?
Julian: For me, it was one evening watching a live programme on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) where Silverchair were performing. Daniel Johns had his long, blonde hair at the time. I can’t remember what they were playing but watching him in front of a crowd. I was 6-7 years old. My mother gave me an acoustic classical guitar with nylon strings for my following birthday and I began learning. This was the early 90’s so grunge had arrived. It was a great time to make noise.
Thomas: Around the 90’s, when it was acceptable in society to make your own shorts out of your denim jeans, grow mullets and eat with your mouth open. Not sure how it happened but I realised that I could play bits of melodies with instruments I had available to me. There were plenty of song books lying around the house, which I picked up and soon figured out how to read music. I was so excited about playing music that I’d run home from school to pick up a mouth organ, a mandolin or to have a go on the baby grand.”
Rich: British invasion. Watching mod bands chew it up on TV and scaring the life out of the patrons in the audience.
If you had to choose a motivation quote or a line to live by, what would it be?
“No amount of skillful invention can ever replace the essential element of imagination.” – Edward Hopper
Could you describe your live show, visually and musically?
Electric. Loud. Lots of movement on stage. Highs and lows. We talk to each other while playing. Never do we play one song the same. Each show is different. Each set. It all comes down to the way we feed off the crowd. Sound cliché ? It’s the truth. The bigger the crowd the more we feel it. Getting the crowd involved is always a trait of ours.
Do you have any shows coming up or working on some new releases?
London at the legendary Water Rats. Tickets are selling now for that and we can’t wait. There’s lots of shows. Check our website for details www.turrentinejones.co.uk/live.We’re working on our debut record this year, we’re hoping to release it towards the end of the year.
What’s the main ambition for Turrentine Jones?
Good question. It’s not fame. Can anyone really have that as an ambition? We’d like to see our music, our name at the forefront of a new wave of music. Music that is real, soulful and not contrived, mass produced. We’re seeing a revolt now. Paul Weller says he’s starting to listen to new music again, The Strypes are getting in people’s faces with their take on rock and roll. It’s all coming back again and we want to be a part of that. There’s so many bands out there we’re listening to and we’ve played with. Good music deserves to be heard, not controlled by big industries with a handful of cash… but hey, that’s the business we’re in right? Beggars and thieves, jokers and wannabees. Difference is now, people are getting together tired of hearing what’s on the radio. You can only play what the people want to hear! Hopefully now, this time, the cream rises to the top.