Interview – We Were Promised Jetpacks

Jetpacks 2014

Having just released their third album, Unravelling, We Were promised Jetpacks are heading out on tour across America. Before they went, 17 Seconds caught up with guitarist Michael ‘Mike’ Palmer, to hear about being mates with the Twilight Sad, people getting married at their gigs, and how their dream collaboration is Dr. Dre…

17 Seconds: First things first, how the devil are you?

Mike: Pretty good! I have a few days off between tours and have decided to spend this time moving flats, so I lied just there about being pretty good for the sake of politeness.

17 Seconds: You’ve got a new member for this album, Stuart McGachan. How did you meet, and what prompted you to change the line-up after ten years?

Mike: He’s been our pal for years. Me and Adam [Thompson, singer and guitarist] were in primary school together and Stuart was in a different class in the same school year. Adam and Stuart’s parents live on the same street pretty much, so he’s been a pal since always. We decided we need to shake things up a little, so we got Stuart in because he’s good at playing keys. We’d been playing the same live show for years and were just starting to write the songs that are on Unravelling. So we felt that we needed someone who could play the keyboard parts from the first two records live. We also felt we could use another voice in the room when we’re writing to make sure we weren’t treading the same ground as before. Bringing in Stuart ended up solving both of those issues.

17 Seconds: You recorded Unravelling with Paul Savage at Chem 19, having used Sigur Ros’ studio for In The Pit Of The Stomach. What prompted you to work with him and how did it affect how you approached this album?

Mike: We knew we wanted to record in Scotland, at home, with regular hours. We didn’t want to lock ourselves somewhere far away and work 20 hour days like we have done in the past. We wanted to go in to the studio in the mornings, and work until a specific time, then go home to our girlfriends in our own homes. So, once we figured out we wanted to work in Scotland, it just made sense to work with Paul. He’s fantastic. We did a lot of pre-production work with our guy Andy Bush (our live engineer who we recorded In The Pit Of The Stomach with) so we had his input for a lot of the songs, so once we took on Paul’s input as well we felt really confident that the songs would work.

17 Seconds: The sleeve for Unravelling…are we meant to see something if we stare at it long enough – or is the joke on those of us trying to read too much into it?

Mike: You mean aside from the face? There’s a face in there that you’re supposed to see! Other than that there’s nothing extra. Other than the big face. [NB For the record, 17 Seconds can see the face. Just about.]

17 Seconds: In your early days you toured with Frightened Rabbit and Twilight Sad. Do you still see them -and what do you think of their recent albums?

Mike: We do! In fact, we’re taking the Twilight Sad on tour with us in America in a few days! We can’t wait. We love those guys. We’re a little nervous about playing after them to be honest, but it’ll be great fun. I love everything those bands have done. I’ve still not heard the newest twilight sad album actually [Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave]. You’d think that being on the same label would mean you get to hear it early, but I’ve still not. I’m thinking now I might wait and see the new songs fresh on the tour, or I might send James [Graham, the Twilight Sad’s vocalist] an email and get him to send it to me. I haven’t decided yet. I bet it’s amazing though. [For the record, 17 Seconds has – and it is amazing.)

17 Seconds: What new acts have you heard recently that you would recommend people check out?

Mike: Pronto Mama and Man Of Moon. Both scottish bands. Man Of Moon haven’t recorded anything yet so keep your ears peeled, but Pronto Mama have two bangin’ eps out that you should definitely seek out. [for the record, these are Lickety Split and Niche Market, which you can check out via bandcamp.]

17 Seconds: What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you at a gig?

Mike: Hmmm. A couple got married during our LA show once, but we weren’t really aware of what was going on until afterwards. We had a run of shows where people kept coming onto the stage. It was seriously like five in a row or something. Why would you do that? They got kicked off right away, but it was still a little scary. What if they stand on a pedal or knock my drink over? That would be a nightmare!

17 Seconds: It’s now ten years since We Were Promised Jetpacks formed. What are you most proud of as a band in that time?

Mike: The old answer used to be playing Coachella. That was incredible. Then recently we headlined Webster Hall in New York which was our biggest ever headline show. Playing to that many people who had actually paid money to buy a ticket was special, but the new answer is Unravelling. Our new album is the thing we’re most proud of. I know that’s a shitty answer but you’re all just going to have to live with it.

17 Seconds: Who would be your dream collaboration, either to work with as individual members or as a whole band?

Mike: Dre. we’d like to have been on 2001, but it’s too late for that. Maybe he’ll do a guest verse on our next album. We’d have to ask him nicely enough and have a song about running away from the police or something, but that’s not out of the question, I suppose.

17 Seconds: Finally, what ambitions do you still have to fulfill as a band?

Mike: We’d like to keep doing this. We don’t have a bucket list of things to achieve, really. We just want to keep writing and playing with this band. It’s not polite to talk about money, but we’d like to have enough that we can keep doing this when we’re in our thirties and not be embarrassed to tell normal people that we get drunk on tour for a living. That’s it, really!

Unravelling is out now on Fat Cat.

Album Review – We Were Promised Jetpacks


We Were Promised Jetpacks -‘Unravelling.’ (Fat Cat)

Often linked to both Frightened Rabbit and The Twilight Sad (they’re all Scottish, at one time shared the same label and all three toured the US together many moons ago), We Were Promised Jetpacks have long ploghed their own furrow. It’s that of a gorgeously moody indie rock, with a beautiful sadness at its core, which also nods to other Scottish indie acts like Idlewild, Biffy Clyro (the Beggars Banquet years) and Mogwai. Following on from their first two albums, These Four Walls and In The Pit Of The Stomach, they’ve added a fifth member, multi-instrumentalist Stuart McGachan.

And having listened to this album several times, it’s clear that their newest member has wasted no time in making his presence felt. There’s piano and keyboards here now, not drowning out the guitars but adding a newer, exciting atmosphere to the mix. This was clear from the first track to do the rounds, album opener ‘Safety In Numbers’ but also on ‘Night Terror’ and ‘Peace Sign’ both of them amongst the highlights on this album.

Of course they’ve always been guitar-driven too, and there’s an exciting intensity that’s still at work here. This is a much more rewarding and worthwhile listen than much of the run of the mill indie guitar rock topping the charts and getting serious column inches of late. Far from unravelling, Jetpacks’ third album is their most accomplished yet. If there’s any justice, this will be the album that sees them leap into mainstream acceptance.


Unravelling is out on Fat Cat on October 6.

The return of We Were Promised Jetpacks

Edinburgh’s We Were Promised Jetpacks are back with their third album, a new member and a forthcoming tour.

The album is called Unravelling and will be released this autumn, though no release date has been given. It was recorded in Glasgow at the (in)famous Chem19 Studios with Paul Savage who has previously worked with a number of 17 Seconds faves, including established and diverse Scottish acts such as Teenage Fanclub, King Creosote, Bwani Junction, The Twilight Sad, Franz Ferdinand and Mogwai. the first track to do the rounds, ‘Safety In Numbers’ can be streamed at the top of the page.

The band – Adam Thompson (Vocals / Guitar), Darren Lackie (Drums), Sean Smith (bass) and Michael Palmer (Guitar) are now joined by multi-instrumentalist Stuart McGachan.

The tour dates in the British Isles are as follows:

Sep 11 Cyprus Avenue, Cork

Sep 12 Limelight 2, Belfast

Sep 13 Nerve Centre, Londonderry

Sep 14 Whelan’s, Dublin

Sep 17, Garage, Aberdeen

Sep 18 Non-Zero’s, Dundee

Sep 19 Caves, Edinburgh

Sep 20 Deaf Institute, Manchester

Sep 21 Bermuda Triangle, Brighton

Oct 8 The Lexington, London

Gig Review – We Were Promised Jetpacks


We Were Promised Jetpacks, Edinburgh Liquid Rooms, 6th October 2011 .

Wow – Two days have now passed since this gig and my ears have not long since stopped ringing! It may have been a cold wet night in Edinburgh but half of Corstorphine ensured that a sold out Liquid Rooms was turned into a sweatbox for local boys We Were Promised Jetpacks and the band repaid them by turning everything up to eleven.

Two dates into their tour and with new album In The Pit Of The Stomach only a few days old, the band were clearly up for it as they produced a wall of sound that relentlessly pounded anyone who had any doubts about them into submission.

With their latest offering arguably their strongest to date, WWPJ played new songs like their explosive opener “Circles and Squares” and single “Medicine” with the pride and joy of a child showing off his new toys at Christmas. Although it was the more familiar songs such as “Quiet Little Voices” which saw the crowd at their most frantic, new songs sat beside old songs well in a set that proved that the band now posses an impressive catalogue of songs, which should see them expand their fanbase and finally fulfil the promise they showed back in 2009. Songs like the anthemic new album highlight “Pear Tree” suggest that the band are ready to step out of the shadows and give their peers a run for their money. Buy the record, see the tour and hop on for the ride before this band hit the big time and leave you behind.


Many thanks to Laurent Gauffre, the other half of 17 Seconds Records, for his review of this gig

To get a free download of the awesome ‘Act on Impulse’ go to their website

Album Review – We Were Promised Jetpacks


We Were Promised Jetpacks -‘In the Pit Of The Stomach’ (Fat Cat)

Two years on from their rather fine (and IMHO rather underrated) debut These Four Walls, Edinburgh’s We Were Promised Jetpacks have returned with an album which shows them moving forward, without compromising what made them so exciting in the first place.

They certainly still have the ability to rock like bastards (I mean that in the best possible way) in a post-hardcore/emo sort of way, but now there is an aspect of post-rock (for want of a better term) entering the mix. Tracks like ‘Act On Impulse’ and ‘Hard To Remember’ see the two aspects combine to brilliant effect. Given that they recorded the album at Sigur Ros’ studio in the wilds of Iceland, it would appear that this has had an effect.

Hopefully by now you’ve heard the brilliant single ‘Medicine’ – it’s one of many excellent tracks here, my favourite may well be ‘Pear Tree’ which closes normal editions of the album. They’ve been bracketed in with the likes of Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit – both of whom they have played with- but while there may be similarities, it is clear that WWPJ are moving confidently in their own direction, and their fanbase must surely expand with this album.


In The Pit Of The Stomach is out now on Fat Cat. The band play Edinburgh’s Liquid Rooms on October 6 and Glasgow’s ABC on December 16.

To get a free download of the awesome ‘Act on Impulse’ go to their website

The return of We Were Promised Jetpacks…


Edinburgh band We Were Promised Jetpacks are set to return with a new album in the next couple of months, the follow-up to the really rather excellent These Four Walls.

I was getting very into this, and then I understood when it finished just why these are called ‘Teasers.’

But I’m intrigued enough to share one of these with you for the first time ever…

..and while we wait for the forthcoming album, try these, if you haven’t heard them before (or even if you have!)

17 Seconds Records update


Hiya people, this is a very short update as I’m shattered and I really need to sleep.

However, the new 17 Seconds Records website is up and running, and we think it looks great! Cheers, Willie. Most importantly, it has the shop up and running and amongst the things you can buy is the forthcoming Chris Bradley album, At The Outpost. Some great reviews coming in for this, and if you cannot hold on ’til the album’s out, go and buy the ‘Waltzing’ and ‘Bored Little Rosie’ singles on download.

meanwhile, there’s a lot coming the way of the blog, so much that I wonder where this weekend is going to go. There are interviews with both Kid Canaveral and Midas Fall to be written up, lots of reviews, including the new album by Emma Pollock, and as ever, a whole heap of bands I want to feature.

This is not to do them down but if you haven’t heard Beneath Us, The Waves, they are truly awesome.

Oh, and there’s an imminent new EP coming from We Were Promised jetpacks called The Last Place You’ll Look. This track has been made available as a free download:

We Were Promised Jetpacks -‘A Far Cry.’ mp3