WE WERE PROMISED JETPACKS, possibly the most talked-about unsigned band in Scotland. We’ve been in their bedrooms, photographed them without their knowledge and garnered intimate secrets about them from their friends and acquaintances.For the past four months The Pop Cop has been stalking
But before you call The Actual Cops, know this: the Jetpacks asked us to write their official biog for them. And if you’ve been given the honour of doing a job that important, you have to do it properly. So here it is, everything you ever wanted to know about We Were Promised Jetpacks but were afraid to ask…
The first thing you forget about We Were Jetpacks is how young they are. When your speakers crackle with surges of gratifying guitar squalls or when this breathless dazzle of uninhibited anthem-building is taken to a stage, the Jetpacks define themselves by the magic they create with their hands, not by their 1987 birth dates.
Originally from Edinburgh, schoolfriends Adam Thompson (vocals, guitar), Michael Palmer (guitar), Sean Smith (bass) and Darren Lackie (drums) headed west to further their education at university, but they now find themselves graduates of Glasgow’s illustrious musical talent pool.
We Were Promised Jetpacks are a band of beautiful contradiction. Their songs are driven by urgent hyperactivity yet possess the most exquisite restraint. Coil-sprung drum beats and exuberant yelps get the kids bouncing, but the purists are usually left salivating over their insanely clever chord structures.
Given their confidence and wondrous ambition, you could be forgiven for thinking this quartet had been handed a blank canvas to decide their destinies for themselves.
Their first-ever gig was at a battle of the bands contest at Craigmount High. With their teachers adopting the role of bouncers and schooldesks becoming makeshift crowd barriers, their cover of Jet’s Are You Gonna Be My Girl saw them trump nine other rivals. A morale-boosting victory for sure, but the real battle was just beginning.
They quickly realised they had more than enough talent and original ideas to ditch the indie covers in favour of their own vision of the future. They rehearsed like crazy. It took them a while to work out what kind of band they were (they had an ill-fated gig at a metal night, on another occasion they thought it would be a good idea to play without shoes) but they always knew what they didn’t want to be: unambitious, derivative, inaccessible.
As confidence soared, their sense of purpose became increasingly formidable. Every Jetpacks gig was seen as an opportunity to extend their own comfort zone a little bit more. And as the group’s admirers grew, so did the songs.
Moving Clocks Run Slow feels like two incredible tracks rolled into one as the beat-driven melody morphs into a dizzy instrumental. The Jetpacks’ favoured set opener, the startlingly dreamy Conductor, is Sigur Ros-esque in its emphasis on atmosphere and the threat of drama, complete with chiming glockenspiel. Equally hypnotic, but in a much noisier way, is Quiet Little Voices, an anthem to end all anthems that will make your head spin by the time it has reached its frenzied finale in a blizzard of strumming and feedback. Seeing it played live is like watching a band in fast-forward.
If this is what We Were Promised Jetpacks are capable of while barely out of their teens, the future really isn’t that hard to predict – it’s theirs for the taking.
b June 5, The Captain’s Rest, Glasgow (free acoustic set)
b August 29, Nice ‘n’ Sleazy, Glasgow
b August 30/31, Hydro Connect, Inverary (tickets)