The curious case of the Glasgow band who signed to Columbia before they’d even played a gig

The Controls frontman Jack Jones; Photo: Robert Adam

If you’ve never heard of THE CONTROLS then you’re far from alone – even those with a healthy interest in Scotland’s music scene know very little, if anything, about them.

At the time of writing, The Controls are so new they have no official band photos and no custom website or MySpace page – so how did this group of four teenagers from Glasgow sign a major record deal with Columbia last month before they’d even played their first gig?

Perhaps the answer lies in their background. Guitarist Andy O’Neill and bass player Johnny Madden are both former members of a much-touted band called Young States (with whom Johnny was the frontman).

However, the ace in The Controls’ pack would appear to be singer/guitarist/lyricist Jack Jones, who is no stranger to the limelight having enjoyed starring roles as an actor under the name of Jack McElhone, appearing in movies such as Young Adam, Dear Frankie (for which he was nominated for a BAFTA Scotland award) and Nowhere Boy. Drummer Connaire McCann completes the line-up.

Gerard Butler and Jack in Dear Frankie

The Controls’ first ever gig, at Aberdeen’s Lemon Tree on November 15, was one of 17 dates in support to The View on a month-long tour of the UK, during which the rookie group fleshed out their sets by throwing in a cover of 20th Century Boy.

The sound of T.Rex, in fact, is a decent indication of the style of music they play. The one track the Glaswegians have made public, the thoroughly enjoyable retro stomp of Hey Jackie, suggests The Controls have designs on ushering in a revival of Buddy Holly-esque rock ‘n’ roll.

While most new bands face an indefinite slog just trying to get noticed by the music industry, The Controls have had no such trouble, thanks in no small part to the influence of James Endeacott, the man who signed The Strokes and The Libertines.

Frontman Jack told The Pop Cop: “We’ve just been very lucky. James Endeacott is the A&R for The View and he heard us and liked us. Initially, we were only given four dates on The View tour but then they heard us and liked us too, so between The View, their manager Grant Dickson and James we ended up doing basically the full tour, which was fantastic as we couldn’t have asked for a better band or nicer guys to do our first tour with.

“Although The Controls is a new band, and mine and Connaire’s first ever, Johnny and Andy have been in bands together since they were 12, so they already knew a few people and things just went very quickly. Sometimes for some bands that just happens and you just go with it. You don’t stop and think, ‘This is happening too fast’ or anything – you just enjoy it.”

*UPDATE: In March 2011, The Controls changed their name to Jack Townes to avoid conflicts with other bands with the same name.

The Controls – Hey Jackie

January 7, Captain’s Rest, Glasgow

22 Responses to “The curious case of the Glasgow band who signed to Columbia before they’d even played a gig”

  1. Rob Strong Says:

    December 30th, 2010 at 23:12

    Popcop, thanks for your great work this year.

    Shame to end on such a dismal note. I’ll give The Controls six months to record and release their first album before James Endofmycockdear loses interest.

  2. dave galleries Says:

    December 31st, 2010 at 01:49

    oh dear is that the end of Young States :(

    i dont think this tune on show is too shabby actually, good going guys!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    December 31st, 2010 at 15:16

    Isn’t one of them related to the GR management guys as well?

  4. Anonymous Says:

    December 31st, 2010 at 16:01


  5. The Pop Cop Says:

    December 31st, 2010 at 16:06

    Indeed – Jack’s uncle Gerry co-runs GR, while Jack’s dad, Johnny, is the guitarist in Texas, who are managed by GR. I guess it doesn’t do any harm to have friends in high places.

  6. Colin Says:

    January 1st, 2011 at 10:51

    I like it.
    Oh, and great blog too.

  7. Chris Says:

    January 1st, 2011 at 17:02

    Caught the end of them at the QM, thought they sounded pretty good actually.

  8. jc Says:

    January 1st, 2011 at 17:15

    Just popped in to wish you a Happy New Year and thanks for everything in 2010.

    If young Jack has 10%of his dad’s talent, he has a great chance of making it. While I was never a fan of Johnny’s work with Texas, he was magnificent in both Altered Images and Hipsway.

    Oh and did you know both of his folks were Members of Parliament for Glasgow constituencies in the 70s and 80s??

  9. Anonymous Says:

    January 3rd, 2011 at 15:19

    quality band, up there with the vaccines!

  10. Anonymous Says:

    January 3rd, 2011 at 15:27

    Workin hard or hardly workin?

  11. jamesendeacott Says:

    January 4th, 2011 at 13:47

    hey Rob Strong…you spelt my name wrong…it’s Endeacott.
    i hope you are well – what and who are you again…i lost interest a minute ago.
    james x

  12. Anonymous Says:

    January 5th, 2011 at 00:53

    this is terrible. manufactured band. and everyone in glasgow knows it

  13. Fife Says:

    January 5th, 2011 at 15:20

    Being well connected never did Kassidy any harm…or did it?!

  14. Anonymous Says:

    January 5th, 2011 at 17:36

    just because these guys have connections does not mean they are manufactured…

  15. Anonymous Says:

    January 5th, 2011 at 17:52

    Man, I’m not from Glasgow but every time a band seems to do well coming out of there, so many jealous people try n slate them, this is a good tune, so fuck if they’re connected, with a tune like this they’re going to get noticed anyway.

  16. Scott Mackie Says:

    January 9th, 2011 at 03:14

    Heard them at the Captain’s Rest last night. They played really well, the instruments sounded great. I really liked the guitar sound. It makes me a bit sad to hear all the “connection” talk though. I know how hard it is for unsigned bands to even get noticed. My old band managed to get played on Jim Gellatly’s XFM show but it was the last song on so that was as far as we got! I’ve got better feelings about my new one though.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    January 27th, 2011 at 00:31

    sounds terribly average. I can’t believe band like this are being touted for the next big thing.
    @scott mackie- if your dad is from texas and you’re using his equipment, i’m guessing your guitar sound is going to be pretty good huh!
    this band is simply proof that the music business is mainly about who you know sadly.
    probably a hundred other glasgow bands who deserve it more.
    remember the apple scruffs?

  18. Anonymous Says:

    February 8th, 2011 at 22:34

    sounds pish!

  19. Anonymous Says:

    February 22nd, 2011 at 01:02

    hey, my band Arthouse played with them at the captains rest, really cool guys and the music is good. It is easier to get noticed if you have connections but they still have to work to keep up in the business and still right songs so if they are good song writers and truly believe in what they are doing then they should do well. I hate how in Scotland people have to be shy about their talents or where they come from, seems to be an ongoing theme in our culture. http://www.myspace.com/arthousetheband We are fucking good and i don’t care who knows it and neither should the controls.

  20. Anonymous Says:

    March 1st, 2011 at 13:19

    Yeah we supported them at the Captains Rest too (Midnight Harlots). I was very impressed with them. Before that point I had never heard of them but they did have an effect on me when I saw them. The frontman was a standout and showed how it should be done so regardless of any connections they may or may not have, they are doing a great job and will be entirely justified when they achieve album success.

  21. boaby Says:

    August 31st, 2012 at 16:56

    Are these jokers washed up yet? Haven’t seen any web activity for ages. I hope the singer has given up completely and got himself a job he can actually do.

  22. Anonymous Says:

    September 13th, 2012 at 22:54

    boaby u hero. i saw that idiot fall off stage in tuts haha

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