We Were Promised Jetpacks on “Enjoy the View” and the Mental Health Impacts of Touring | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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We Were Promised Jetpacks on “Enjoy the View” and the Mental Health Impacts of Touring

Loving Silence

Aug 10, 2022 Photography by Euan Robertson Web Exclusive
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Scottish rock band We Were Promised Jetpacks released their fifth album, Enjoy the View, last September via Big Scary Monsters. Conceived while the band were in pandemic lockdown (and after parting ways with founding member Michael Palmer) one might expect the aura of the new album to be dark and restrictive. But while Enjoy the View does retain some remnants of the band’s early catharsis, it’s more controlled and refined and not wrapped quite as tight. This gives the tracks room to breathe and allows the band to include resounding crescendos with echoing, spiraling guitar lines and leaner, cleaner rhythms while retaining the passion We Were Promised Jetpacks are known for.

Adam Thompson, lead singer and guitarist, took time out prior to a show in Boston at the intimate, 525-capacity Cambridge MA music venue The Sinclair to sit down and chat about their tour, the music, and other things with Under the Radar’s Matt the Raven. The band (which also features Sean Smith and Darren Lackie) will be back on the road across America this October.

Matt the Raven (Under the Radar): After touring the U.S. a few times, how have your impressions of the United States changed from what your expectations were coming in?

Adam Thompson (We Were Promised Jetpacks): We’ve been coming here since 2009 and I think we’ve done over 500 shows now so we’ve been coming here pretty regular. Since the start of our band we’ve been doing pretty well over here so I guess the expectation of this country is that it’s just this large insane mix of everything; weather, culture, everything. I have no idea what I was thinking about back in ’20-21 but now I enjoy everywhere in the states. The expectation is that it’s a big fun crazy place and that has been the reality of it. There’s a lot of beauty, a lot of fun stuff to be doing, a lot of great cities to visit, everywhere is different, so that’s something as a touring band that’s really nice.

What has surprised you most about the United States?

To be honest, the love that people have for our wee band from miles away. It blows my mind when we play like Fargo or somewhere, and there’ll be like 300 people there. We’re always really, really appreciative of the support and still don’t quite understand it.

Besides all the COVID stuff, what are some of the biggest challenges that you guys face on tour and how do you deal with that?

Probably mental health is the biggest challenge. It’s such a strange thing to be checked in for six weeks and then go back to normal life. Adjusting and taking time to think about yourself, about how you’re good, is a bit challenging. Every so often I have to do something for me. It’s difficult sometimes to be the one that is happy and to entertain or be positive all the time. You kinda have to get used to the cycles, you have ups and downs along the way, but that is life isn’t it?

You guys have five albums and tons of songs, how do you determine the setlist for the tour? I mean obviously it leans heavily towards the new album but, how do you figure out those other songs?

I guess there’s like half of our songs that we don’t ever play live, so that’s easy.

Why is that?

Either that we don’t particularly like them anymore or we feel they don’t quite fit with what we’re doing, we didn’t enjoy them when we were recording the album so we don’t want to play them anymore, that sort of stuff will determine it. So then the four of us will look through the rest and determine what we want to play. We try and look at it as what we haven’t played for a while and the bigger songs we have that we’ll always include and try and keep it fresh. We got this set pretty early on and we definitely do the same one every night, but it flows really well. I love the consistency of it and every day we try to be the same, it just makes it a lot easier, but we’ve got one that we nailed and it’s a really good flow. It crescendos at the right spot, which is really important.

I’m always curious about the creative process like how do the music and lyrics come together? Do you write lyrics that you put to music or do you write the music and then write the lyrics to fit the music?

It’s always music first for me. I don’t think I’ve ever written lyrics down and then tried to fit the music to it. I usually jot a bunch of phrases, so when it comes to writing a song I’ll look through all that for the song titles and once I’ve got all the song titles, I’ll go back to that list and work off that to try and make the lyrics work to the title of the song, or something like that. That’s how it usually works. To be honest, I think writing lyrics is the most difficult part. It’s hard to know how much you should give over or give up, how vulnerable you should be, and I don’t really like being like that, so I find it difficult sometimes to articulate myself. If I don’t have something for a song I feel the pressure when we’re recording that I have to put something down. So some songs come more easily than others, like I get in that groove, but others are definitely more of a slog like they’ll have four or five different versions of it and I’ll pick away on it. It usually takes the other guys to say, “Hey it sounds good,” and I’ve spent days thinking this is the worst song anyone’s ever written. That’s usually how it goes.

Well, I think you did a good job on the new album [Enjoy the View], particularly “Fat Chance” and “If It Happens.”

Nice! Thank you! Yeah this album was definitely strange. I can say for sure our first album These Four Walls and our fourth album The More I Sleep I didn’t write anything down. Even when I finished them, it was all up here, it was all really gradual. Where our second, third, and fifth albums have all been like on the laptop so it has been a split as to how the albums came about. I’m not sure if that’s because some albums have a lot to process and deal with or something else. But it’s really when I’ve felt less of that, less heavy, so there wasn’t stuff waiting to pour out of me, I can’t think of what to sing about or what kind of message I can give to myself, like some albums are just stream of thought and then I’ll work it out after.

If you could have your professional dreams could come true, what would you want to accomplish?

Ha Ha Ha! I would love to play 2000 capacity theaters regularly. I would like to be at that level. I don’t want to be a huge rock star, its never going to happen, but I want to keep making albums and touring nice places. I want to play the small garden clubs and all that, like that’s bread and butter every time.

Yeah, I won’t go to stadium shows.

It’s expensive and it’s not a good experience. It’s not dope for the fans.

The intimate venues are the best, like you said, 2000, once you get over that you lose the connection.

Yeah, that’s where I want to be. As a unit we do know one thing, not so it’s a hardship, but it’s difficult being a grown up and not knowing when you’re going to get paid. It’s difficult, so everyone in the band has to sacrifice and prioritize the band, which is a nice thing because we all have done for years, but we’d be lucky to keep playing 2000 capacity venues everywhere we go and keep making the music we want to. We’ve been lucky to work with nice labels and nice people so we just have to keep going, keep the dream alive.

What artists and music do you like to listen to?

Not too much heavy rock stuff, I’m not really much into that. Usually like solo artists and things like that. I love Bon Iver, Sharon van Etten, that kind of thing. Far less bands with four guys playing guitars, bass, and drums.

So one of my favorite bands lately is Fontaines D. C., are you into them at all?

Yeah, I like them but it’s not like I love them, I won’t necessarily put it on. Also when listening to music sometimes I listen and think, “Is that good?” Or, “What are they are doing? What is that verse? Why is this band big?” But there are things that I’ll get into, but I’ll only listen to it for like a year or something. I don’t listen to a huge amount of music and not a huge variation. Silence, I like silence.

What types of hobbies do you have outside of music, what do you do to relax?

I do a lot of walking. I moved to New York recently and got married and we try and do 20,000 steps a day which is quite a lot, but yeah, I love walking. I love fiddling about on the guitar at home, and I have a little dog at home that I spend a lot of time with, that sort of thing. Watching movies, TV shows.

That leads me into the next question, what is your favorite movie and why?

I did an interview recently with this German guy and he asked that as a last question and I partly froze and I said Hook, you know, with Robin Williams. And then afterwards I thought, why the hell did I say that? That’s just dumb.

That’s pretty lame!

Yeah, it’s like, “Why did I say that?!” But really, really I don’t. I couldn’t really say honestly that I’ve got a favorite movie. There’s not one I go back to, but I suppose growing up there’s loads of ones that I remember watching with my brother, I guess that’s maybe why I said Hook. But you know Cool Runnings and Dumb and Dumber like that sort of stuff, like that silliness, I can’t get enough. So yeah, something like that.

Alright. So I have to ask, who promised you the jetpacks?

I’m not sure who it was, not sure who it was. [Laughs]

But you’re still looking to get the jetpacks?


What advice would you give to a band who are just getting started in order for them to be successful? What would you say to them?

Do their own thing and be nice to everybody. I think being nice goes a long, long way. And I sometimes think that maybe I wasn’t as nice as I could’ve been when I was younger and that is the most important thing that I find. Be nice to everybody, do your own thing, be happy for other people’s successes, and that is it.

What is the one thing you own that you should really throw away?


It’s getting personal now.

I barely own anything. I think when I moved to New York I had one small suitcase.

So, you live in New York now?


Does the rest of the band live in New York?

No, they’re in Scotland still. We got the album finished before I moved.

Do you live in New York City?

Yes. I really don’t have that much stuff. What should I throw away? I need everything I have, I like to keep it lean, I’m more than happy chucking stuff out. Sentimental stuff, I don’t really get that. I’m never going to look at things like wedding cards. But cables and old chargers, that is the one thing that I could live without. I have a big box of them that I would never miss.

What’s the most used app on your phone?

I’d have to say probably Instagram or Twitter. I don’t really have any games, but WhatsApp I use a lot because I’m always phoning and texting people. Social media stuff. Especially with the band we’re trying to be a lot better but being mid-30s I’m not sure if we missed the boat at being good at social media or not. We’ve certainly been really striving with it for years but the last year or two we’ve been trying to be a bit better and more consistent because it’s just a nice easy way to keep in touch with everybody.

I think it is a must do for bands these days.

Yeah, I guess we have to get on Tik-Tok now. But we try to keep an eye on that and try to reply to people…

Liking other people’s tweets?

Exactly! It definitely gives our band more of a connection with the people that come to see our music. I want to entertain, I want people to enjoy the show, and feel really positive leaving it. So, I think that’s where we’re at.


We Were Promised Jetpacks 2022 U.S. Tour Dates:

October 7 - Columbus, OH @ Skully’s
October 8 - Grand Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme
October 9 - St. Louis, MO @ Off Broadway
October 11 - Oklahoma City, OK @ Beer City Music Hall
October 12 - Fort Worth, TX @ Tulips
October 13 - Austin, TX @ The Mohawk
October 14 - Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
October 15 - New Orleans, LA @ Tipitina’s
October 16 - Pensacola, FL @ Vinyl Music Hall
October 18 - Orlando, FL @ The Social
October 19 - West Palm Beach, FL @ Respectable Street
October 22 - Nashville, TN @ Third Man Records
October 23 - Louisville, KY @ Headliners Music Hall
October 25 - Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Soundstage
October 26 - Ardmore, PA @ Ardmore Music Hall
October 27 - Syracuse, NY @ The Lost Horizon
October 28 - Pawtucket, RI @ The Met
October 29 - Portsmouth, NH @ 3S Artspace
October 30 - Jersey City, NJ @ White Eagle Hall

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