Recording new album 'Hidden'
These New Puritans

Of every admission a musician could make in an interview, being meticulous would arguably be one of least likely. But Southend’s These New Puritans are no ordinary band, and lead singer and songwriter Jack Barnett is no ordinary musician.

His stance on composing and recording music is truly refreshing, speaking as he is in a digital age when music is flung at listeners from all corners, sometimes without due care or attention to quality control.

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This is an excerpt from an article that appears in the February issue of Clash Magazine. Pick it up in stores from January 11th. You can read the full issue online HERE and subscribe to Clash Magazine HERE.

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Jack is telling the story of the band’s last two years and the making of their sophomore album ‘Hidden’. Following the release of debut ‘Beat Pyramid’, These New Puritans found themselves in a somewhat paradoxical position. Hailed as part of the nu rave revolution by some, derided as Dior-clad fashionistas by others and praised for the originality and complexity of their music by those in the know, such a multi faceted reception was certainly unexpected. So, what did the band think?

“We toured a lot, then got started on the new record,” Jack says simply. However the layered textures found on ‘Hidden’ belie any notion of simplicity. More beat heavy than its predecessor, ‘Hidden’ is packed with huge dancehall rhythms and beats, and features cameo appearances from a children’s choir (inspired by distant civilisations and the beginning of a Japanese cartoon), a thirteen-piece brass and woodwind ensemble and six-foot taiko drums, not to mention cinematic sound method, the Foley technique.

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These New Puritans - We Want War

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Despite his desire to push boundaries, to try (and perfect) anything and everything, Jack is satisfied with his end product, as he confirms when describing album track ‘Drum Courts’ (“I like its weird, complicated structure of the last thirty seconds where all the layers come together”).

But do his band mates, including twin brother, and drummer, George, object to his creative control? After all, he is responsible for music (even sending George ideas for drum beats - “He pretty much plays what I want him to play”) lyrics and arrangements. Clearly there is no ill feeling, even from George: “He’s happy, there’s no problem with any of us - if something sounds crap we can say so; there’s no politeness.” And the beats Jack sends to his sibling? “That’s why it sounds good, because it can’t be improvised, it’s awkward to play.” Then comes the admission. “Yeah, I suppose we’re a meticulous band.” As ever, the front man has a reasoned explanation. “I think things that are written sound better. If you write something you can make it change, whereas if you’re improvising you can’t. I like quick changes, and you have to be meticulous to achieve that.”

Such care and attention to detail can only be driven by pride; belief in the fact that their music really is as good as the band want it to be, and These New Puritans combine this quality with astonishing musicianship. As the interview draws to a close it seems appropriate for Jack to attempt the impossible and define his remarkable band. “We want to make new music but we don’t want to make it sound too experimental, like we’re trying not to sound like anything else.” And in ‘Hidden’, an album as intricately structured as it is immediately accessible, they have done exactly that.

Words by Ben Homewood


Read ClashMusic's 9/10 review of These New Puritans' album, 'Hidden', HERE.

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