Jake Bugg on his Beastie Boys inspiration, and why he wishes he was more prolific – despite releasing his third album at the age of 22
A year after dropping out of school, Nottingham-born Jake Bugg rose to prominence at the age of 17 when he was discovered and signed by Universal.
His self-titled debut album topped the UK album charts and Bugg quickly established himself as perhaps the biggest British breakthrough artist of 2012.
He spoke to Daniel Jeakins about his upcoming third record, On My One, trying his hand at rapping, and the downsides of lengthy touring.
Hi Jake. Your new album On My One is out on June 17. You’ve spoken a bit about the title track being about the loneliness of touring – does that extend to the whole record?
“It’s not so much the loneliness of touring, it’s more about all the other stuff you don’t really have time for. It’s fun being on the road – I enjoy it a lot, but there are downsides”.
Does this album represent the fact that you’ve grown tired of touring so intensively? Could you see yourself taking a break?
“Well last year I had a break from touring – I was writing this album. Right now I feel like I have to put in the groundwork so in the future I’ll be able to have a bit more free time”.
There’s a number of ballad-type love songs on the album. Where did they come from?
“It comes back to being on the road again. When you’re touring you don’t find time for some of the things in your life which most people find necessary. It’s hard when you’re on the road to find companionship and so some of the album is a reflection on relationships which could have been but didn’t work”.
One track that stood out for me on the album was Ain’t No Rhyme, which has a rap delivery. What inspired that move?
“I was gunning for a kind of Beastie Boys vibe! Whether I managed that I don’t know. I was in the studio back in Nottingham and laid down a beat and bassline, and because there’s no chord changes it only allowed for a rap over the top. I don’t consider myself a rapper by any means!”
You worked with Rick Rubin on your last album, and have used co-writers for most of your previous material. What was the process for this record?
“I don’t work with any co-writers on this record. I worked with a producer of course, which was really cool because some of the tracks were written in more of a traditional way. I think it really brought out that traditional element of them.”
When you broke through, a lot of people labelled you as a throwback to the fifties and sixties. Do you feel that’s valid with this new album?
“Yeah, I like a lot of country music and that kind of stuff. Some of it is intention and some of it’s what I enjoy writing I suppose”.
You followed up your self-titled debut very quickly with Shangri-La, but this one’s taken a little longer. What’s the reason for that?
“It took the same time to write and produce – about a year – but I didn’t start it until last year because I was on the road so much. It was hard to do another album when I was touring so intensively after the second album”.
When you put out the second album you spoke a lot about not being able to write about the same things as your first record because it ‘wasn’t your reality any more’. Did you feel under pressure to write about the same kind of things that initially brought you success?
“I think so. There’s a song on this one that’s close to that, Ain’t No Rhyme, but it’s kind of from the perspective of being in the middle of it rather than on the other side of the fence”.
A lot of the artists you’re frequently compared to – Bob Dylan in particular – produced a lot of albums at a very young age. You’re 22 now – do you feel under pressure to put out as much material as you can while you’re still young?
“I wish I was a little bit more prolific to be honest. I think it’s really cool to see artists that have like 30 albums to their name. It’s amazing they’ve got that much different stuff to listen to. People are touring a lot because that’s where the money is – also it’s more about the big single now rather than the big album”.
Jake Bugg’s new album On My One is released on June 17. More info at jakebugg.com
Jake Bugg plays the following UK dates:
Jun 26: Glastonbury Festival
Jul 10: T in the Park
Aug 20-21: V Festival
Oct 18-19: Manchester 02 Apollo
Oct 21-22: Glasgow 02 Academy
Oct 24: Birmingham 02 Academy
Oct 26: Leeds 02 Academy
Oct 29: Newcastle City Hall
Nov 1: London Brixton 02 Academy
Main photo credit: Tom Oxley