Let’s make a few things clear: Joe Lean is his name, and – for anyone curious after hearing the band’s first release, the rousing ‘Lucio Starts Fires’ – Lucio is his middle name.
According to Joe, the drummer’s real name is Bummer Jong. Joe is the eldest band member at 24, the others range from 18 to 20. “I asked every member of the band to be in it without hearing them play, this isn’t to say I didn’t know them before: I went out with Rose from The Pipettes for 4 years, and Tommy D (guitar) is Rose’s little brother, so essentially he’s my little brother too. Tommy used to turn up with his pals, Panda (bassist) and Dommy (guitar) and we just hung out.”
"I want to be a contemporary pop band that has a universal appeal."
“It was obvious choices,” he states. “When I met Bummer I didn’t know he played drums and when I found out I was like, ‘Really? Get Bummer on the phone!’ and he said yeah. Lucky for me, they’re amazing. I really do feel like I’ve got something, almost like a label feels when they’ve got a band. I’m very proud of them.”
Joe Lean is currently on the phone to Clash, standing in the rain a few hours before their 18th gig. The hype surrounding his band, Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong, is almost as ridiculous as the band name itself.
“We signed after our 12th gig, and that’s pretty lucky, you know? Everyone asks how we feel and the only response that I can give is that we do feel really lucky. So many bands tour for years and becoming signed becomes the finish line – I just feel lucky that all of the fun and finding our feet is going to be done properly. We just want to get our heads down and work as hard as we can to try and justify this.”
Joe Lean, actor (credits include Sophie’s brother on Peep Show) and drummer from The Pipettes, is now taking centre stage as the singer. “It’s nerve-wracking, but it’s more nerve-wracking this time round because I really care about this, it’s my project and there’s no compromise. I just really want it to be received the way I want it to.”
Which is? “Well, as a succinct pop band. I want to be a contemporary pop band that has a universal appeal. As soon as soul got a bit of a groove in the late 50s/early 60s, it became pop and people were dancing but this music still had the lyrical complexity and depth of blues and soul of which it was a product, and still everyone was dancing. I think that back then, the most progressive and coolest thing was the most popular thing, but it seems that now the coolest and the most popular are mutually exclusive, and that’s a huge shame. So much music is about being cool at the moment.”
What contemporary music has achieved the ‘cool, progressive pop’ tag? “I think there’s only been one song in my lifetime, and that’s ‘Hey Ya’ by Outkast, which is now a cardinal sin to play because it gets everyone up and dancing – but that’s the point! It was played in indie clubs, techno clubs, in drum and bass clubs. It wasn’t about making anyone feel excluded; it was about saying “shake it like a Polaroid picture”. And I want people to shake their booty to my groove too.”
Listen, shake, and get your jing jang on.