Liverpool rockers The Black Jackals have been studying how to create anthemic songs that stick with you long after they are done playing. Their debut number “Demons” shows they’ve learned their lesson well.
It’s a rollicking cracker of a tune that has tons of hooks and is catchy as anything. If this doesn’t light a fire under your feet, something is wrong.
Their next single, “Got What You Want” is a great follow-up, with crunchy guitars and a funky melody.
After they blew me away with “Demons,” we planned a chat where all four of the lads could take part. We talked about everything from how they started and their influences to what goals they have set.
Here is the conversation:
I am so excited to talk to you! “Demons” is a gem of a debut — it’s funky, it rocks, it’s a bit Mod … How did it come about?
“Demons” came about from going to gigs watching bands who influenced us and realising that every great band has that one anthem in the set that people are singing on the way out of the venue making their way to the coaches, train stations or off to the clubs to carry on their night.
It’s definitely an anthem that sticks with you. You formed in 2014 — how did you get together and is this lineup perfect?
We’ve been lifelong friends. Shaun Gallagher (singer) and Martin Clintworth (guitar) have been writing collaborators for almost 10 years, Ste (Stephen De Silva) (bass) and Mark Swift (drums) were in a band that split and The Black Jackals needed those roles filling, so it was an obvious cross over.
It’s by far the best line up. We all thrive off each other which is definitely bringing the best out of us musically.
Who am I chatting with now?
I think you’ve got Shaun and myself, Stephen.
This is Gally — the other lads are still trying to work out Messenger. We are dinosaurs in the tech world!
Haha! OK, I’ll keep it as generalized band comments unless anyone wants something attributed especially to them.
Do you write songs as a group, or what’s your process?
With Shaun and Martin being songwriting collaborators for almost 10 years now, they have a great understanding of each other’s writing process. They bring songs to the band. Martin will bring the chords and riffs, then Stephen and Mark will work on the bass and drum sections. The final structure is worked out together.
How many working tunes do you have at your disposal at any given time?
We’ve got an albums worth of tracks ready to be recorded. A full set from us is about 50 minutes to an hour-long, so I’d say we’ve probably got about four or five almost completed new songs.
We’ve got at least two albums worth of solid songs and we always have bits and pieces of new material.
The promotion for “Demons” has kind of eaten in to the creative process a bit, but we’re in a good place and ready to go with recording an album.
Wow, that’s awesome! I’ve also heard “Got What You Want,” the next single — I like the crunchy guitars and the rockiness of it.
How soon do you plan to hit the studio for an album?
Hopefully this year. We have the next two singles in the bag recorded, so we will see where we are after them.
How often do you play live shows?
At the moment, we seem to be out every other week. We’re also hoping to get on some summer festivals this year.
If I could be there, I’d love to see the Feb. 25 show — Joe Symes and Lee Heir of Prime are friends of mine too. That is a great triple bill! (*After the interview, I learned Prime will not be on the bill)
It’ll be a good gig, that. A few of us are originally from the Skelmersdale, so it’s almost a bit of a homecoming gig. We often played the pubs in the town when we were starting out. It will be a sold out gig.
I’ll be happy to hear how it goes — maybe someone will post some footage?
Facebook live, if we figure out how to use it!
Who are your main musical influences?
We’ve got loads. Led Zeppelin and The Who are two bands that we aspire to, and then we’ve all got our own personal favourites, I think. The Beatles are always going to be with us. Their presence is felt everywhere in Liverpool, so we’re always going to be influenced by them.
Yes, I definitely hear The Beatles and some Led Zeppelin in your sound. Did you grow up listening to them?
Yes, definitely, they were always on in our homes growing up. Our mums and dads were all 60’s and 70’s kids, so we were lucky growing up having our parents passing those era’s on to us.
It was a great time for music. I’m personally inspired by 80’s alternative — which today is what a lot of the new indie music sounds like!
Yeah, there’s a lot out there. Again its people being influenced by what they grew up on, we at an age where it was the 90’s, but our parents were showing us the 60’s and 70’s, so I suppose the next generation coming through have been bought up on 80’s music. There’s some really good stuff that came out of the 80’s that sometimes doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Shaun is a big fan of Joy Division and Echo and the Bunnymen from that era.
Yep, great bands. My favorite is Depeche Mode. I’m so excited to have new music coming from them!
It’s great to see these bands giving it another go and why not.
Where does the name The Black Jackals come from?
We were originally The Jackals, but we had a letter from a U.S.-based band with the same name saying they owned that name. So, we said OK, good for you guys, we are now The Black Jackals – black’s got rock & roll in it!
Haha, oh my! I think The Black Jackals sounds better too. Have you applied for many summer festivals? Any confirmed yet?
We’ve applied for a good amount it’s around now the confirmation emails start coming. We are confident we will be on some of them.
I am sure you will be too. It will be exciting to see which ones come through. Is this your first summer trying?
We are currently seeking management, so we are representing ourselves, which is a bit difficult at times. It’s the first time for the four of us together, yes.
Most shows you are playing, are they Liverpool or elsewhere?
They’ve been mostly the North West yes, but we have been down South a few times. We played the Shiiine On Weekender in November. That was a nice trip down the country. Any suggestions you can put are way festival wise would be greatly appreciated.
We want to tour definitely, hit the states. Think we would do well over there. Of course, it all comes down to finances.
You might have heard of the Sofar Sounds sessions? We’ve been invited down to London to play a stripped down set, the location isn’t confirmed yet but it’s a really exciting prospect.
Yes, Sofar Sounds is a great thing. Would be really good for you! What makes you stand out as a band?
We just believe in what we do. Our music is honest and our live performances are what we enjoy the most. That’s what The Black Jackals are about.
What do you get out of playing live?
I think that’s where we come alive. We’re at our best on a stage. Our sound is quite easy to get in a studio but live is when you can appreciate what we’re about. A great crowd response is always rewarding, whether it be 10 people or 100 people, it all means the same to us.
Yes, response is the best!
Personally, the fear of the unknown. I buzz off not knowing if your gonna go down well, and “we generally do!” I also love the bond the four of us have during however long the set is on stage I’m always very privileged to share a stage with theses three amazing musicians. This is Gally, for the record.
Thanks, Gally! Have you played acoustic sets before?
We’ve not done an official acoustic gig. It makes the Sofar Sounds that more exciting. We rehearse acoustically some times and they sound really good, but we’re going to step it up for the Sofar Sounds.
What do you do to get ready for a show? Any special preparations?
Cup of tea and chocolate biscuits.
Is that for all of you? And is it Yorkshire Tea?
Sorry, Gally again, and yes, always Yorkshire.
Mart likes several pints of lager!
Who else? Don’t be shy …
Yorkshire all the way. haha! I like to listen some music before a gig, a good vinyl — Ste here.
Ste’s the Mod in the band so he’s always looking the business! Mark is just banging things — typical drummer.