Better Kate than never

Three years put on hold: But now Kate Jackson is back
Three years put on hold: But now Kate Jackson is back
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WHEN The Long Blondes called it a day one person who wasn’t as upset as the fans was the band’s lead singer.

“I was relieved,” admits Kate Jackson as she prepares to take her new venture on the road.

“I was kind of glad it was over. We’d been on this treadmill since 2006 when we signed and even before that because the build up was so blown out of proportion. We had more press before we were signed than we did after, all that ‘biggest unsigned band in Britain thing’.

“It was so much pressure to make it work and when we did we were in each other’s pockets 24 hours a day, day in day out, living together, trying to be creative together, trying not to kill each other and some of the band had relationships with each other so it was all quite fraught.

“It was stressful at times so I was relieved it was over as it gave me a chance to sit down and go ‘What just happened’?

“There was a good two year period after where the thought of doing an interview made me feel sick. I didn’t want to think about it. All I wanted to do was write.”

Formed when they met as students at Sheffield University, The Long Blondes released two albums and a compilation and struck a chord with singles such as Separated By Motorways and Lust In The Movies.

Having moved to London and then back to her childhood home of Bury St Edmunds, chatting in a Sheffield pub Kate says she missed her band home so much she cried when the train pulled in for her first visit since the split.

Destiny eventually led to her forming a band with some of its feet and amps in steel city.

Her gig at Plug on June 24 is one of just three to introduce The Kate Jackson Band.

In spite of her feelings about the Blonde days it raised her profile enough to work with the man topping her wishlist of writing collaborators, one Bernard Butler.

“When I first met him I was nervous because Suede were my favourite band as I was growing up,” she recalls.

“In the Long Blondes we had a certain way of working. Dorian (Cox, guitarist/keys) was the creative powerhouse behind that band, he would bring the idea to the rest of us and we’d work on it together, and either I or he would write the lyrics.

“We had our set way of working and it was very much controlled by Dorian. So after that I was on my own thinking ‘I don’t know how to do this’ and the first person I’m going to work with is my icon.

“I really wanted to do it, though, because I had lots of ideas of how I would want to sound if I was doing solo stuff. I always liked Bowie and The Smiths so I knew Bernard would be great to work with because we would have common musical reference points without really needing to discuss it.

“I don’t think Bernard’s capable of writing something that’s not dramatic. That’s his style, his guitar playing is unique and so powerful, emotional. It’s like he’s not trying and I’ve been privileged to be in a writing room with him, playing and just coming up with riffs.”

In around six months they wrote around 20 songs, but neither was prepared for the drama that was to follow.

“My manager said ‘Right, brilliant, we’ve got an album here, go and record it’ so we did that, album finished, done... and then my management company got bought out by another, and that album cannot be released now.

“I was mortified and angry at the same time because I worked really hard with Bernard and we were really enthusiastic about it and definitely wanted something to come of it, even if it was an EP.

“People will probably be asking ‘What’s she been doing the last three years’ because it’s taken ages, but I had this ownership issue. Suddenly it got stopped dead in its tracks. Nothing else could happen and Bernard moved on to other projects.”

Where some might have thrown in the towel Kate found new writers, including Marco Pirrono and Chris Constantinou, once of Adam & The Ants and like-minded souls in music and art.

“That’s just how it’s fallen really,” she says. “I always liked the idea of music being cinematic so I wanted to work with musicians who were able to make my vision happen.”

And she’s found four more for the live band that includes two members of former highly-tipped Barnsley band Tiny Dancers.

“It was pure coincidence. It wasn’t like I came back up here and met them in the pub or anything. I hadn’t been to Sheffield since the split up, had no reason to come back.

“Part of the problem I was envisaging was being a solo artist with a band of session musicians behind me and that is not the background I am from.

“I’m so lucky I found people to do it with and make it happen. I want it to be like an organisation. I can add and take away from that.

“Now, so much time has passed... I’m a bit nervous but excited about it all.”