UK country group Jess and The Bandits are some of the most prominent players in the United Kingdom’s rising country music market, and they have been shaking things up since hitting the scene in 2014. American born Jess and her UK Bandits Dave, Ricci, Steve, and Louis bonded over a shared passion for country music at their first meeting. Lead singer Jess describes their musical merging as “destined to be,” and the group rapidly hit the studio to work on recording for upcoming releases. In early 2015 they released their debut album Here We Go Again, and all their hard work and long hours in the studio paid off with a top ten debut on the UK country charts!
FDRMX has had the opportunity to chat with Jess about her time with The Bandits and all of their adventures together. We wanted to know all about their feelings after the release of Here We Go Again, the impending release of a live EP, and what is going to happen when the hit they road for a UK tour. Make sure to read on, because we have all the details about what to expect from these exciting new projects.
Jess and The Bandits have truly experiences a whirlwind over the course of the last year. Looking back I was curious if Jess had any favorite moments from her time with the band, and her response was pretty all-encompassing. “Just about every time with the Bandits is an experience to say the least. Those guys are so much fun to be around.” It seems as though their good times are truly paying off. When I asked her how everyone felt about Here We Go Again’s success Jess revealed her surprise and joy.
She revealed that everyone was “a bit shocked to be honest with you,” going on to reveal that “when putting together the album we worked really hard to make sure we got it right and had something that people would love. Once it’s out there, you hope those things happen. We were thrilled to see people really seemed to love it as much as we do.” Now that the album is out Jess and the Bandits are focusing their energy on promoting it with a few upcoming projects.
Located in London R.A.K. Studios has hosted some of the biggest names in music over the course of the last 30 years. Artists such as Adele, the Arctic Monkeys, Ellie Goulding, Paul McCartney, and Muse have all recorded some of their biggest hits in the studio, and it just so happens that Jess and The Bandits hit R.A.K. to record their upcoming EP titled R.A.K. Studios. The album is a compilation of live recordings from Here We Go Again as well as several of the band’s favorite covers, including a reworking of Bonnie Raitt’s classic “Love Sneaking Up On You,” which acts as the release’s lead single.
Jess and the Bandits are no strangers to reimagining classic tracks both onstage and in the recording booth. Their reworking of Jimmy Webb’s “Wichita Lineman” was a standout track on Here We Go Again and has become a staple in the group’s discography. Jess expressed a similar appreciation for Raitt’s Grammy nominated “Love Sneaking Up On You.” I was curious why they selected the cover as R.A.K. Studio’s lead single, and Jess explained the group’s affinity for the track. “We are all huge fans of Bonnie’s and love performing her tunes. When we do it on stage people really seem to get into it.”
With five people in the studio at any given time, recording is all about focus for the group. Jess explained that the group “always has a plan when spending time in studio, for the simple fact that it could cost a fortune otherwise.” The group brings their magic when their voices and instruments blend to create the sweet harmonies and melodies they are so well known for, but there is a lot of hard work behind their time in the studio. This time around though things were a little easier for the group, since they all recorded at the same time. “Usually it can take several hours for just one song, so this was definitely more relaxing,” Jess revealed.
Alongside the release of R.A.K. Studios, the group has some promotional performances as well as a headlining tour in the works for the coming months. “We are starting to talk about our set and the songs we want to include,” Jess said regarding the planning process. Things wills tart out this summer with performances at several music festivals before they take the headlining spot this autumn. How do they feel to take the lead spot? “It’s a bit scary, but we’re ready for it. We LOVE being on the road!”
Currently promotional plans are focused in the UK and Ireland, where the band has already established a following both as a group and as solo performers before coming together. Jess revealed that she moved to England “many years ago” to stay close to her management. After meeting the Bandits, she and her team worked to maximize her impact in the market after years of laying the groundwork as a solo artist. After their success, the group is beginning to spread their reach and explore other markets.
Luckily enough, Jess revealed that she and the Bandits would be spending some time in America within the next year or so. When I asked if she had any plans in the works for touring America Jess revealed that plans are in motion for 2016. Texas will get a good portion of loving from Jess and the Bandits, but the group will hopefully tour the rest of the country as well!
A Texas native, I was curious if there was anything that Jess missed about America while she was working in the UK. She immediately listed her friends and family as the main things she missed, but she went on to add a few more things that highlight the subtle cultural differences. What else made the list? Just “air conditioning, ice in abundance, gigantic washing machines and separate dryers.” Although she seems to love the city life (she listed the tube as something she misses about the UK while in America), she does appreciate the open spaces offering in America.
While the focus now is on promoting Here We Go Again, Jess shared that the group will begin working on new original music as the year proceeds. Looking forward Jess and The Bandits have a lot on their plate, but they are all ecstatic about the plans. “We are supposed to take this journey together and cannot wait to see where it leads. It’s only just the beginning,” Jess promised.
FDRMX Eyes: Check out the new music video for Jess and the Bandit’s song, “Love Sneaking Up On You”.