Christmas: a joyful holiday that draws families close together in loving celebration to eat, drink and be merry. Perhaps, but don’t expect to see Stevie and Alan Jukes grappling over a cracker later this month.
Fret ye not - Glasgow siblings Saint PHNX are not about to self-destruct with an epic festive blow-out of Gallagher proportions. Not when things are just getting interesting, anyway. After a restless yet productive year that’s seen the band progress from toiling away in their hometown studio to prime time airings on Radio 1, the brothers are simply looking forward to some well-earned time apart.
“I make sure I don’t see him,” affirms drummer Alan, the younger of the Jukes.
“He tries to stay out my way,” laughs Stevie, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. “I’m like that annoying brother who has always got a camera in your face taking Snapchats, taking videos…”
Unlike previous rock ‘n’ roll brothers, the Jukes’ differences are not an antagonistic timebomb approaching detonation with every petty squabble. On the contrary: their disparity is an essential component of the Saint PHNX creative process.
“Me and Alan have got a quite varied music taste but we’re sort of on the same page in terms of what we like,” Stevie explains. “That just lets us bounce ideas off each other and we work well together, so that shines through when we make the music.”
“Working with your brother in a band, we’re in each other’s faces 24/7 and it can be ups and downs because sometimes you get sick of each other,” he continues, “but I think that’s a good thing for the music because when everything comes together you’re on the same wavelength. You can put something together that [one of you] might love but because you’re brothers you can say, ‘No, that’s rubbish,’ or, ‘I don’t like that.’ It’s quite straight to the point and cutthroat when we’re talking to each other and trying to put stuff together. It’s not as if we’re thinking about each other’s feelings - which has its plus points, but also it can lead to some fiery moments.”
Thankfully, the pair have endured long enough to forge an impressive opening gambit of two striking singles that align Saint PHNX as contenders to Kasabian’s title of chief riffs ‘n’ beats instigators.
‘Reload’, their debut single, is a pounding introduction to their defiant style - its stinging anti-war sentiment made all the more profound by its video, which combines images of combat throughout the ages with worrisome flashes of Donald Trump in all his dictatorial pomp.
Following up with ‘King’, the brothers put in song the resolution that has driven them thus far. “You can’t bring me down,” its chorus warns. “One day I’ll be king.” It’s an allusion to the perseverance they’ve maintained throughout the last few years of chasing their musical dreams. Originally two-fifths of indie rock hopefuls Vigo Thieves, Stevie and Alan broke away to pursue a shared vision of “something different, something bigger, something more ambitious, something a bit more raw and edgier,” as Stevie reveals.
Today, the band released their video for the track, which follows a young boxer in the run-up to a fight. Directed by fellow Scot, Drew John Barnes, it’s a perfect visual accompaniment to a song so forcibly heartening.
Watch the video for ‘King’ here:
Recalling both bands’ bids for success, the essence of ‘King’ is relatable to anyone that sustains a belief that compels them through life’s struggles. “But, on a personal note,” Stevie says, “from previous musical endeavours, it was doing the rounds - playing in front of two or three people at shows, going down to London to see record labels and people in the industry telling you you’re not good enough or telling you that what you’re doing is not good enough. It’s just having that belief, that perseverance and that focus to say to them, ‘Do you know what? No, we will do it, and we will show you,’ and show them the middle finger. That was the whole idea about the song, and that’s what we tried to emulate when we put it out.”
Greg James picked up on ‘King’, premiering it on his Drivetime show, which was a major propulsion for an unsigned band, and all the more impressive considering Saint PHNX have only existed since January.
Currently focusing on crafting new material, with a writing trip to LA planned for January, Saint PHNX are harbouring a masterplan to reach the hearts and minds of as many people as possible, with the intention of being even busier in 2017, and have their sights set much higher than just their hometown.
“We don’t want to sound like we’re from a certain place,” Stevie concludes. “We want to be universal. We look at bands like X Ambassadors and Kasabian and Imagine Dragons - they’re all worldwide, massive bands, and that’s what we want to do.”
Words: Simon Harper
Saint PHNX play King Tut’s in Glasgow on December 20th. Tickets are still available online.
Brought to you in association with Cheap Monday. Check out their latest offerings over on their website now.