UNION JACK

UNION JACK might seem like a strange choice for a band but this French punk rock lot were brave enough to pick it. Anders Ekdahl ©2017

When you formed the band with what intention did you do so? How easy was it to pick up a thread as to where your sound is going?
Ben (bass, vocals) : We were friends wanting to play music together and to express ourselves. We listened to a lot of different bands and wanted to do our own thing. And then our music evolved over the years, we never told ourselves that we wanted to do this or that kind of sound, it just comes up naturally.
Tom (guitar, vocals) : Forming a band was the obvious way to express myself, through music and specially Punk Rock, I found the soundtrack to express my rage, my pain, my feelings and everything that was blocked inside of me. When I listened to Lithium from Nirvana for the very first time I knew that it was what I wanted to do, this song changed my life forever. I formed the band something like 5 months after I started playin guitar, so at this point we were just doin what we could do. And years after years, we’ve tried to create our own thing and that’s what we did, nobody sounds like Union Jack now and I’m happy with it, my motto has always been ‘Love it or not we don’t give a fuck!’

As I haven’t recorded anything I have no idea what that is like but are you ever 100% satisfied? How pleased are you with your latest recording?
Antoine (Drums) : Very pleased, it took us a long time to get what we wanted. But the result is pretty close to what we had in mind. It’s great when a project is done and the end result is just like you wanted it to be.
Ben : it’s hard to be 100% satsfied with a record, but we’re really happy with the sound of ‘Supersonic’. We had the pleasure to work with a good team and I think it’s the best production we’ve ever had.
Tom : ah ah sadely no. It’s impossible for me, I feel like I can never be satisfied with what I’m doing, It’s part of my personality. So I’m always critic when I’m listening to my records, my ears are focused on my mistakes and what I should have done better ; only when I’m drunk sometimes I think it’s not so bad! I guess that being a perfectionist pushes me forward, and it helps to stay focus on the future not the past.

To me a band name is the first thing I notice. If it feels cool then I’ll check the band out. How do you explain the meaning of the band name?
Antoine : To me it’s about paying tribute to our british music influences.
Ben : we all listen to a lot of english music and we thought that the name sounded cool, so we took it!
Tom : Yep true, I’ve always thought that its was an important thing to have a cool band name. I read this name Union Jack in a newspaper in the library, and I remember this moment very well! I thought to myself, fuck that’s a really cool name, I asked my friend, what do you think about it dude, and he said something like “oh yeah!!” with a big smile. And so I knew that was the good one, it meant something, I was listening to a lot of english punk like The Clash, The Damned, The Pistols. It was sounding cool, it was a tribute to what I was listening to, it was sealed.

How important is image to the band? What impression do you want the fans to get of the band?
Antoine : that’s a tough one. Image is of course important, we hope people get the impression that we’re a band that stays true and honest basically.
Ben : Image is pretty important because it’s what the band conveys and how people perceive us. We’re not trying to look like something we’re not, the most important is to stay ourselves.
Tom : Image is important because I’m a graphist but the most important thing is our music, our lyrics. I just want that people who are listening to our music feel touched by what we convey and the subjects that we talk in our songs.

I am a huge fan of LP art work. How important is it to have the right art work for your album?
Antoine : It is very important, when you spend so much time on the songs, the recording etc, you want the object to be good looking in the end. At least we do.
Ben : My favourites albums are the ones that have both great songs and a good artwork. It’s as important to have a good artwork for our albums than to have good songs, and Tom did a very good job on this one!
Tom : Thank you very much, It means a lot to me. I’ve spent 7 months working on this one. The artwork is an important part of a record, so it has to be perfect, original, it must catch your eyes at the very first sight. The Supersonic artwork was really a huge work, I’ve never worked like that on a previous artwork, sometimes I was getting crazy with these hundreds of layers in my photoshop file, I did like 50 differents versions but I knew it was worth it.

We live in a superficial world today where you don’t exist if you are not on Youtube and Facebook. Has social media been only beneficial in socializing with the fans or is there a down side to it too?
Antoine : well, we use all that the best we can, but we’re no experts so sometimes we struggle a bit. But we want to publish as many videos as we can on our youtube channel and facebook is a good tool to keep our friends & fans informed. Of course the downside is that rush towards clics & likes that you sometimes see. It’s just a mean, not an end.
Tom : I don’t really like these superficial media but it’s a real pleasure to share with people all around the world thanks to this so it’s a real paradox. But you feel addicted to these, you, as a band, can’t really exist without them, we need them to promote our shows, being in contact with promoters and stuff.

Something I often wonder about is when you play in a band does it feel like you are a part of a massive community?
Antoine : well yeah, the punk & DIY scene isn’t perfect but it sure is one huge community and a lot of us are ready & willing to stand for each other. It’s great to see that wherever we tour, we meet people who are happy to put on our shows host us and help us out with geting our message out. And we’re happy to support the scene as well, as much as we can.
Ben : Definitely. The punk and underground scene offer a lot of opportunity to do shows, meet people and make new friends. I would even call it a family.
Tom : The Punk scene is worldwide and everywhere we play I know that I will meet new friends because we share the same values. We met so many bands and people since all these years, we have some really good friends all around the world, so much fun and memories! That’s why we are also doing it!

How important is it to be signed to label today? What can they do that you cannot do on your own?
Antoine : Getting a record out is a matter of time and money, we know how to do it now so we don’t really need anyone to do this. What we lack is the money to get the record to be just like we want it, because it can quickly be very expensive, and also the promotional support to get the word out that the record is in the stores. We can usually reach a faithful fanbase, but get new people to listen to our music is something that a label can really bring to us.
Tom : We like to collaborate with different artists, and labels, it opens you up on other publics, other experiences, It’s important as a band to not stay in your garage but share with others.

How much of a touring band are you guys? How hard is it to get gigs outside of your borders?
Antoine : We love touring, that’s what got the most of us to start bands in the first place.
It’s actually easier to tour abroad as we have a great german tour agency called Subkultura. We’re currently looking for such an angecy in France as well but for know we book our french shows ourselves.
Ben : playing shows is one of the best part of playing in a band. We have already played shows in Germany, the UK, Canada thanks to our contacts and to the punk family as said before. And we definitely want to play more and more shows and discover new places.
Tom : And to be exhaustive, I would add Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands as countries we had the pleasure to play in. Until people want to hear us, we’ll play everywhere we can..

What will the future bring?
Antoine : who knows. More records, more gigs, more music. Sounds cliché, but we’re just trying to push our ideas as far as we can. We’re not about to call it a day. Expect us.
Ben : different and fresh music, shows in countries or cities we’ve never been before and a lot of exciting new projects!
Tom : More and more people for less and less resources. Mediocrity, hatred and poverty, thanks to our world’s economy and politic.

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