Tipped as a band to watch in 2019 by Fred Perry Subculture, JW Paris have accumulated nationwide radio play, amassed over 20 000 views across social channels, been synced to Sky Sports, and had their single Darker Side of Paradise taken up as the British Swimming 2019 promotional song.
I initially met JW Paris just before they took to the Bella stage at Wilkestock, but it wasn’t until the next day that I had the chance to properly catch up with both Daniel Collins (guitar/vocals) and Aaron Forde (bass/vocals) to discuss their philosophy on making music, where they’re aiming to be, and their soon to be released new single Favourite Thing.
Daniel and Aaron, you’re clearly very close friends. How did you meet?
Dan: We’ve known each other pretty much since birth.
Aaron: Our dads used to be in a band called Choke, back in the ’90s and, yeah, Dan’s been in bands longer than I have. We have grown together and split apart.
Dan: We don’t have any other brothers or sisters, we are our own brotherhood, and with our dads in bands we have always been surrounded by music.
So non-sibling siblings then?
Aaron: Yeah, we have got over the fights now.
Dan: Only in the last three years have we got our shit together and actually started making collaborative music together. But, to be honest, I think a lot of our songs and what we write has been based on those years and growing up.
Aaron: And general inspirations of what we are into now and what Dan was into. I grew up with a hip-hop vibe and grew more into rock ‘n’ roll as I hit 16. He has grown up with mod and The Libertines and things like that.
Dan: We have driven down the same path and there is a fusion. It shows on stage that what we do is not fake. We genuinely enjoy playing and want to play with our best mates.
So you basically play music that you enjoy playing?
Aaron: Yeah, absolutely. We try not to play music that is necessarily commercial. The idea is to keep it as broad as possible but to suit ourselves. That’s the best way forward because you enjoy it and hopefully other people enjoy the enthusiasm of us enjoying it.
Do those influences and the music you grew up with influence the music you play now?
Aaron: In a way, I think that the way I grew up meant that mine has more of a fusion into blues. A sampley bluesy, I would describe as cool-sounding music. But, yeah, there it’s a massive fusion of instruments and melodies that come into play.
Dan: For me, it’s always been about guitar-based music, obviously, as I am the son of a guitarist. It’s been fuelled by the likes of Blur and then Nirvana. I first picked up a guitar at the age of eight but did not get on with it. I picked it up at around 12, with The Libertines and The Strokes, it was about a guitar, and being loud, not about electronics. I like the feel of a guitar live and the weird and raw sounds that you can get live.
Aaron: It’s the honest version of what we do when we are recording. You can fuck up as much as you like on stage as it is a different kind of performance. The recording is so polished, you have gone through so many takes. When you are live there are so many nuances that add to the live experience.
And no one wants to listen to a CD live do they?
Dan: You look at what the likes of Reading have become now. There are acts that literally sing over their CD tracks. There is no live band and you see the audience listening to it. Where is the grass roots music? For me live music is about getting a show that you don’t get on a record. We like to generate a “this is what you are going to get” vibe.
Having said that, having seen your set last night, you are not quiet are you?
Dan: We are not polished either. You can guarantee if you come and see us that there will always be something that is different, such as peddles going, leads going. We may not be pretty but we will give you a show!
I think people like that though don’t they?
Dan: Yeah, and we do. We like to go to gigs and see raw guitar music live. That’s what you want. You want sweat, but when you’re listening to a recording you want a different experience.
Aaron: It also gives you a future conversation, like you saw X or Y, and this happened. It’s like last night with Fiende Fatale, where he split his head open. If you weren’t there you would not have seen it. If you just listen to music you just know what they sound like, but if you are there watching them then you remember the gig and the fact they wrapped his head in T-shirts. It is those little things make music more of an experience.
Dan: Yeah rather than being on your mobile phone. You’re not watching a YouTube video, you’re not listening to a Spotify playlist, you’re not buying bloody albums these days. It’s a different experience live.
So you have been together for three years now?
Aaron: Actually coming on for four years now I think.
Dan: You go through your teething stage, you know, playing the toilets of your home town, kind of cutting your own sound. Now I think in the last year and a half we have honed our sound and our songs are sounding like the best we have produced.
Aaron: We have some really good producers on our side, with the likes of JB who works at Buffalo Studios. We have gone through a few producers who have been absolutely amazing for our sound in the past. As we have been growing as a band, we have come into contact with more people that are on our level, who get what we want to do. We know what we want to create, but don’t necessarily know how to do it. There will be that one person that will know how to do it and will throw something into the mix, which is what a producer is there to do.
So, have those years where you were honing you craft made you more aware of what you want your sound to be? Was there an element of trial and error?
Dan: I think trial and error is the best way possible, because playing live it’s different. Because our records live are different, because as a three-piece there is only a certain amount of sounds you can make. But when we go into a studio, like with JB at Buffalo, it’s all ’70s and analogue and you actually get to try and elevate the songs. You hear things and you can think: “Actually, that’s a little shit.” Live it might work as it’s a wall of noise, but actually when you are exposed in the studio, stripped back you can realise: “No, we need to change this.” So it’s always a good thing to improve your songs.
Aaron: As much as you can craft your sound, as you are writing, you are evolving.
Dan: You are only as good as your last song.
Aaron: Yeah definitely, it’s a constant progression. For instance, last year I was into certain other bands, which I am less into now. I still like them but they are not as influential now as other artists are now. So it’s a constant progression, which can take you over the edge from where we were last year or can elevate you.
Do you mean that, as you progress, there won’t be a JW Paris sound as such? As you evolve will things be different?
Dan: Yeah, I think that our core beliefs are there: it’s live, guitar-driven, wall to wall, exciting music. Do you know what? Quite frankly, fuck it. I am playing music I want to listen to and I want to play it live, and if I just start to want to please anyone else, then what’s the point? Then you give in and become a covers band. So the core principles of what we do is that we have to enjoy it and we have to get on with it. It has to be loud, it has to be in your face, but we always try and develop that further. We might add little nuances, but we are not going to go from a grunge band to a country band.
Aaron: Yeah, not any time soon! If the grunge scene doesn’t work then maybe.
I’m looking forward to your cover of Achy Breaky Heart, but I don’t think it’s going to happen now. So, changing the subject slightly, how many singles have JW Paris dropped so far?
Dan: In terms of the big ones, we have released three.
Aaron: So, going from the top, we had Darker Side Of Paradise, then Rapture, which was a song that we actually wrote during our early days. We recorded it, then got it properly mastered and re-recorded, and so that came out second.
Dan: And then we had Radio, where we actually filmed the video, and in that video we kind of went on a road trip to LA and California and we shot the video on my iPhone. We were in Joshua Tree desert, so you don’t need these big budgets to do these videos.
That video for Radio is really fun.
Aaron: You have a couple of guys out there that just want to have fun. We crafted a slight…well it wasn’t really a storyline of any sorts, but we tried to give a little bit of a performance and the majority of it is us arsing about in America.
Dan: We do all our own videos too, so the creative process we look at is not just the song. It’s how we put it all out. So the videos are done, shot, and edited by us, so we can have control of how our music is portrayed.
So you think that is very important, having that control?
Dan: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
Aaron: “The videos really complement the sound, and especially now with the way media is ingested. Everyone is watching videos on Facebook etcetera. I have songs from years ago that I associated with periods of my life purely on the visuals. Yeah, so they complement each other very well.
Dan: As I have said, if you see us live you will get a different experience to if you just listen to the records. If you see our videos we don’t cheat the audience and just put out a live video. All our videos are thought out so that at each point that you might listen to us, watch us, and see us, you get a different experience”
We have seen you on stage at Wilkestock, so please tell those that haven’t what they can expect at a JW Paris gig.
Dan: Well it’s quite thrashy and trashy and loud! You will get energy and we are never pedestrian. When you come to see us, you will know that you will get the best that we can possibly give you.
Aaron: Also, though, as cool as we try to look, we are a bunch of goofy dudes in a way, so we try and give a fun experience as well. We interact with the audience.
Dan: No egos.
Aaron: Yeah, that’s the thing. Egos are great if you can work them, but I don’t think I can. I would just look like a pretentious twat! With the live experience you just put yourself out there, whether there are a hundred people, fifty, or just one person.
Dan: We have played to the bar staff before!
Aaron: There will be no difference. If we are playing to an entire stadium it will be more nerve-racking. If there are only a few people we won’t say fuck this and not try because this is essentially what we want to do. That one person could be the one that makes or breaks us.
And getting back to what you said earlier, you are playing for yourself anyway, aren’t you?
Dan: Yeah, and the best feeling in the world is when other people are singing back to you the words of your tunes. I know everyone says it but these are written in shitty little bedrooms and they mean a lot to us, so when you see people “woo-ooing” or singing some of the lyrics it does mean a lot.
Aaron: We did a gig in Brighton and it was our first gig in Brighton. It was our song Rapture that everyone loved. It has a chorus that goes “Woo-oo Woo-oo”. We had people leaving the gig after we played, screaming that. When we wrote it we were as drunk as hell at 4am and thought: “Fuck it, let’s whack a ‘woo-oo’ in there.”
Dan: And no matter how many deep lyrics we’ve got it’s always the “woo oo’s” that stick.
Aaron: Who cares for the deep lyrics!
Well it certainly worked for The Stones on Sympathy For The Devil.
Dan: Yeah, yeah, that’s going to be my funeral song.
So you have released three singles. Are there any plans to release more soon?
Aaron: Yeah, so actually a couple of days ago we shot the video for Favourite Thing, which is going to be our next single. In terms of the video it went really well. We have a some of our friends in it. One of my friends, Dan Brown, is an incredible director. I went to university with him. We had a really good day out filming it.
Dan: I think it is the best we have sounded for a long while.
Aaron: It is a kind of fusion of our past sound and our new sound, so it’s got a little bit of A and a little bit of B. It has got melodies as well and I think what we are striving to do, which has been influenced by other bands, is to have more melodies. Like we were saying before about people singing back, if you look at bands like Kasabian, there are hooks there and melodies and that influences us. That is the drive to try and get people to remember it, rather than having to keep listening to it. So it comes off the tip of your tongue.
Dan: And I think Favourite Thing is probably the proudest example for me, of our sound. Yeah so that’s got just about everything.
And a tour to go with it?
Dan: Yes, and we kicked off with Wilkestock yesterday and, to be honest, I was so surprised with the crowd, I was made up. I mean at ten past eleven.
And it was hot in there wasn’t it?
Dan: Yeah, it took me a while to get those trousers off when we got back [laughs]. So it started here and then Nottingham Arts Club. We have a few in London, then there are shows in Brighton, Manchester, and Reading, and some TBC. It depends on the route and how much we can afford. The idea is just to jump in a van.
Aaron: It is so expensive, We are like a lot of bands these days, we both still have full-time jobs.
Dan: It is one of the most expensive hobbies you can have in the world.
One of the biggest problems a lot of talented bands face is they don’t have a wealthy backer.
Aaron: Yeah, the band Otherkin have just split up, but they’ve been on tour with the likes of The Amazons, and they have such good songs, and they split up because they can’t afford it. It is insane to see these bands that are a lot further on than we are folding.
Dan: It’s killing guitar music.
Aaron: There are so many bands out there that are putting their heart and passion into what they want to achieve and what they want to do. I am not going to slander it too much, but the music business is so fickle and it does not seem to allow much scope anymore. In the ’60s and ’70s guitar music was the craze.
Dan: But going back to a previous point, if you don’t make music for yourself, because if you start making music for other people and it goes nowhere then you have lost your integrity. At least we know that a year down the line, if nothing comes of it, I have played in a band with my best mate. I have spent four years making music I feel passionate about, and that is success.
Which is why you started in the first place.
Dan: Yeah, absolutely.
Aaron: Yeah you have to keep that humble, grassroots vibe to it. If you lose that then you lose your integrity. Not necessarily, it depends what you want. If you want that commercial success then by all means go for it. Speaking for Dan and myself, we just want to make music we enjoy listening to. Then hopefully we will have an audience that like listening to the types of sounds that we do. They may have heard similar sounds, but maybe not that honesty, which is what I think we strive for.
You can tell by speaking to Dan and Aaron that they have known each other for so long that they are practically like brothers. We did ascertain that they get on better than the Gallaghers. You can tell this by their sense of purpose and drive, their desire to keep it real, and the unity of their approach.
Keep your ears to the ground for Favourite Thing, which is coming out on 6th December. Also look out for other releases, because during their set at Wilkestock there was at least another banger that might make its way to a platform near you.
If they are at a venue near you, then check them out. I can confirm that they are, to use Dan’s words, “thrashy, trashy and loud”. They are also authentic, enjoy playing on stage, and give every joule of energy they have in their performances.