Interview with Warbly Jets: Keeping The Rock 'n' Roll Scene Alive

All photos by Grant Hardester

Amidst a world of chaos saturated with the raging overproduction of mainstream music, Warbly Jets is a breath of fresh air we all need. A contemporary take on classic rock is achieved by the four-piece, consisting of Samuel Shea, Julien O’Neill, Dan Gerbang and Justin Goings, in their self-titled debut album released this past October. A delectable crossbreed of the 60s and 90s, Warbly Jets has created an image for themselves exceeding a foundational resemblance of artists like The Rolling Stones and The Verve. Aside from this, the band has overcome many of the challenges one faces in an industry that can be unforgiving at times. Authentic and inspirational, Warbly Jets exemplify possibility. After returning home from a tour in Europe, Warbly Jets joined Liam Gallagher as the supporting act on his US tour this November. 

Teal Magazine: Congratulations on the release of your first album. What is your favorite song off of the album? Tell us something about it, whether it be a story behind the song or the recording.

Shea: My favorite song is Getting Closer (Than I Ever Have). Jules wrote the music for it in LA and emailed it over to me and I wrote the melodies and lyrics in the basement of my parents house. It felt like it was the culmination of everything the 2 of us had been through trying to create a band.

Teal Magazine: Did it take a lot of trial and error to find the direction you wanted to take the album?

Shea: Yes, finding the direction for your first album as a band is always a very tricky thing. We spent a fair amount of time in Brooklyn exploring the sonic boundaries of what we wanted to create, but most of the songs were written early into moving to LA.

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"I think it was just the realization that I had just set the stage for one of my all time favorite singers and frontmen. It was one of the most real moments I’ve felt in my life and I’ll never forget it.

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Teal Magazine: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced either as a band or in creating the album?

Shea: Keeping everything moving forward as personnel and positions of members change is always a challenge. We’ve switched some things up recently and that was difficult. I’ve always had the progression of the band as a first interest.

Teal Magazine: How was it being able to tour with Liam Gallagher? What was your favorite city on the tour?

Shea: It was a total trip. I still think my favorite show was opening night in San Francisco at The Warfield. I don’t really get nerves playing shows anymore but that one really shook me up post-show for some reason. I think it was just the realization that I had just set the stage for one of my all time favorite singers and frontmen. I walked across the street to our hotel, puked my guts out in our room. Smoked a spliff on the walk back and walked downstairs through the basement greenroom as they were opening their set with a rock ‘n’ roll star. It was one of the most real moments I’ve felt in my life and I’ll never forget it.

Teal Magazine: Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Was touring something you thought would become your reality?

Shea: I had a pretty solidified idea that I wanted to be a working musician around 17. The idea of touring is much more glorified than what the reality of it is. It’s hours and hours of hard work. Everyone’s personalities come out in full force for better or worse. I always want to hole up in the studio by myself when we’re on the road and want to be on the road with the boys when I’m in the studio. 

Teal Magazine: Now that you’re finished with the tour, what have you guys been up to?

Shea: We hopped into the studio for a few days and recorded a new track I had written on tour. Then hit Miami for Art Basel. Miami is crazy. Still recovering from that now. (laughs)

Teal Magazine: Moving from NYC to LA, how has your experience of the music industry been different in the two cities comparatively?

Shea: LA is an industry forward city. It’s one of the few things I don’t like about LA. I feel like I overhear more people talking about, “creating content”, or “developing a new artist” than I hear artists trying to express their individual ideas. 

Teal Magazine: What is one piece of advice you would give musicians who are looking to get started?

Shea: Just dive in 100%. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to go about it. Keep developing your craft and digging deeper to find meaningful things to talk about.

Teal Magazine: Is there anything you’d want to change about the industry?

Shea: Of course. I hate seeing the tyranny of how the industry is ran. The blood suckers of talented unknowing artists are many and need to go. We are still working on how we can help other artists, but we’ve held everything of ours tightly to the chest. That’s allowed us to make the moves that we have.

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"The idea of touring is much more glorified than what the reality of it is. It’s hours and hours of hard work. Everyone’s personalities come out in full force for better or worse."

Teal Magazine: What is one misconception people have about your band?

Shea: That we’ve “lucked out” every opportunity we’ve had has come from loads and loads of hard work. We’re all clocked in working for this band 24/7.

Teal Magazine: Since we are nearing the end of the year, what are your top five albums of 2017?

O’Neill: In no particular order: 

  • V by The Horrors 
  • Saturn Over Sunset by Midnight Sister
  • Damn. by Kendrick Lamar
  • Sketches of Brunswick East by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
  • Hot Thoughts by Spoon

Teal Magazine: If you made a playlist right now, what is the first song you would put on it?  Why?

O’Neill: People Everywhere (Still Alive) by Kruangbhin. It’s a pretty convincing rip of some William Onyeabor music, but it’s a really nice don’t-worry-be-happy song to throw on a mix.

Teal Magazine: Name a few artists that deserve more recognition and why?

O’Neill: 1) DBFC. They’re a great French band that hasn’t really crossed over to the US yet, but hopefully they will before too long. 2) Max Sedgley. He is a great electronic artist, DJ, and remixer making some of his best work right now. 3) Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith. She’s pretty well exposed at this point among certain circles, but her approach is just totally bizarre to me. Her music creates such vast atmospheres with a Music Easel and vocal tapestries that it really shows the capabilities of modular synthesizing. She should be opening for Bjork. 

Teal Magazine: What can we expect from 2018?

O’Neill: A pretty intense run of shows at SXSW, our second tour of China in May, and of course more music alongside many more shows.