J.F.K Talk about IT

Perth garage rock six-piece J.F.K have launched their debut EP IT with the local stint of their tour hitting Badlands Bar on Saturday, September 8, 2018. IT tackles topics from the 2017 same sex plebiscite to transitioning between different stages in your life, bringing punchy, ambitious and engaging content to their enigmatic live performances. ANNIE MUNROE catches up with frontman James Knox the day before they kick off the east coast leg of their tour to talk about the motivations behind the EP, and what we can expect to see from the tour.

Congratulations on the release of your newest EP, IT and your upcoming tour in Melbourne. J.F.K started off as a much smaller band, didn’t it?

Yeah, we did it as a four-piece band for a while, then we picked up and lost a few members and now we’re up to our full line-up which is awesome because it means I don’t have to play guitar on stage, which is the best thing ever. I love being the frontperson. It’s so much fun playing live – now that I don’t have a guitar I can take it to that extra level, which is so much fun. Every member brings a different quality and a different character to the band. I think it’s the most special thing about our band is that everyone brings something a little bit different but we all work so well together. Even our newest member Connor who’s only been playing with us for three or four months now immediately joined the band and it just worked. It’s really exciting to be playing as a six-piece.

So you’re doing some shows over in Melbourne and you’re leaving tomorrow for that. Can you tell us about the local bands you have supporting you over there?

Oh yeah sure, our manager Sarah actually manages another band called Flossy and she booked a tour for them earlier this year which included one of the bands that we have supporting us called [Face Face]. They’re kind of like a garage-y upbeat rock band and Flossy said that they loved them. So when Sarah was making the booking she messaged them straight away. There’s also another girl that we’re playing with, who unfortunately won’t be playing with her full band on the night [Gina Rose Bruce] but she’s amazing. I listened to some of her songs and I was like “Damn, she’s really good”.

How do you feel your sounds are going to translate to those audiences?

J.F.K hasn’t actually played over in Melbourne before but I really hope they’ll enjoy what J.F.K brings. We play all sorts of rock. We’ve got some really garage-y songs and some more alt-rock songs. So hopefully we’ve got a little bit for everyone there. On top of it, our main thing is the live performance aspect of it. We really like all our recorded music and I shamelessly listen to it on my own. But when we play live, it’s a whole different aspect to our band and it really shows because all of us really love performing. Even though some of the people at the shows may not have heard us before, I’m hoping they can really connect to our live performance.

You’ve spoken about how this EP is a reflection of different frustrations. What kind of frustrations were you tackling to inspire it?

I guess I was just finding that things started going a bit wrong. Some of the songs on the EP are a bit of an outlet for some experiences that have happened this year. Some of the other songs are also just about going after or chasing your dreams, without sounding too cliché. The EP is just about that next step in my life, and it’s about just life in general. The songs are quite upbeat and fast and angry, but I really hope people engage with the content. Angry, trashy and fast music is really good but they’re all supposed to be about something.

It definitely appears that the way that this EP has been structured was very intentional with meticulous planning in the track listing to create a narrative or journey that you take the listener on. I was really wondering whether that was intentional or if it just happened organically?

It’s pretty interesting, when I write the songs they’re all pretty organic. I definitely didn’t sit down and say “I want to write a song about this”. It just happens when things happen in my life, all of a sudden I’ll start writing a song. A lot of the time I’ll just write the lyric and not really know what I’m saying until I write it all down on a piece of paper and think “Oh my god, all of what I’ve written is about this one topic”. It’s pretty interesting how it happens. As you correctly said, the whole EP is a bit of a narrative so I hope people can engage with that.

Some of your songs are only 2:17 seconds long. What can we expect from the live versions of the tracks from your EP?

I don’t want to give too much away but I will say we like to put on a full show. All of the layers that we’ve added in the songs and all of the parts are going to be there. There’ll be extra little special bits with little intros to rock out to to turn it into a whole show. Growing up watching really big bands come through, what I admired was how they engage you the whole time. Even between songs, it’s not just dead space – it’s purposeful. [As a band], we really strive for that.

You’ve been playing in different venues in Perth since early 2017. Have there been any highlight shows so far?

Yeah definitely. There’s been quite a few highlights that have happened. Even just to reference this year, we played a festival called Hyperfest which was our first all-ages show. That was really special for us. We have a song called A Boy and a Boy which I wrote about the same sex marriage plebiscite and some experiences I had during that time. After the show we had quite a number of young kids come up and say how much that song meant for them. That was probably one of the most special things to date that we’ve experienced. The fact that there were kids younger than myself having to deal with those issues were able to have an outlet through something I created was incredible.

You can check out the EP IT HERE.

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