Jake Bugg opens up on new chapter with 5th album Saturday Night, Sunday Morning

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Jake Bugg’s new album Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, marks a new chapter for the Nottingham singer-songwriter.

Delving into the sounds of pop titans Supertramp, ABBA, Beach Boys and Bee Gees for inspiration, his fifth record is arguably his most complete so far, combining the lighter and darker side of pop as the 27-year-old moves out of his comfort zone to stunning effect.

Tracks like the euphoric pop leanings of All I Need and the catchy, hook-filled banger of About Last Night are complimented with more tender moments, like the piano and strings-driven ballad Downtown or the disco-esque Lost.

With all its variation, it’s no surprise he described the creation process as “the most fun he’s ever had making a record”.

Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, the follow-up to 2017’s Hearts That Strain, also saw Bugg collaborate with Andrew Watt and Ali Tamposi – famed for their work with behemoths Post Malone and Dua Lip.

The result is an ego-less approach to writing as he explores themes including jealousy and insecurities, and also his Nottingham roots. Its title is a nod to the famous Alan Sillitoe novel depicting working class life in the city.

“Because it’s based on a working class lad from the Midlands, that rang with me”, Bugg told Daily Star. “But I felt like it was an apt title for the album in regards to the songs.

“It was always hard to get a subject that explains all the other subjects of the individual tracks. Some of the songs had the energy for a Saturday night, some of the more ballad tracks are more for a hangover for a Sunday.”

The time provided by Covid-enforced lockdown saw Notts County fan and the all-round footie fanatic channel his creative juices into another project. His manager approached him with the opportunity to score The Happiest Man In The World – a documentary about legendary Brazilian star Ronaldinho.

Taking inspiration from Vangelis – one of his favourite artists – and Jean-Michele Jarre, Bugg was gifted the opportunity to learn different guitar styles and play with synthesisers to evolve a sound departed his usual, indie rock-leaning dynamic, further establishing his eagerness to expand his sonic horizons.

“It feels like chapter two in my career. It’s a new sound. I’ve got a completely different attitude towards it all now”, he added. “’m definitely more open-minded when it comes to working with different people and producers. I think that’s what’s allowed me to enjoy it, having an open mind but still keeping my DNA of who I am in the music.”

Daily Star’s Rory McKeown sat down with the Lightning Bolt star to talk about Saturday Night, Sunday Morning’s creation, its influences, playing live again, collaboration, and scoring films.

Hi Jake, how have you found the last few months in lockdown? How can you describe your experience as an artist?

“It’s been tough time for everybody, hasn’t it? For me, there’s been a lot of time to reflect and work on some things that I wanted to in the past.

"I’ve been keeping busy and it’s been good for me. It’s made me a lot more appreciative of being on the road. I can’t wait to get back out there.”

I can imagine. You must be itching to get back out on stage?

“Yeah absolutely. To be honest, I did so much of it for years that I never thought I’d be that desperate to get back out.”

You were doing shows just before lockdown, weren’t you?

“We had a UK tour that finished just before everything hit. It was brilliant. The audience seemed to treating it like the last big night of their lives. More of that when we come back hopefully.”

You’re releasing your new album Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, your fifth, on August 20. When did the writing and recording process begin?

“It began quite a while ago. I had four or five of the songs by January 2019, I think. After getting those additional songs – I was very happy with them and with the sound – it was more of a case of making the rest of the record fit together and make it the best it possibly could be.

“I could have released it a year sooner but I just thought with everything that had happened in the world, and it had been a while since I had put a record out, I just wanted to make sure it was the best it could possibly be.”

You’re quoted as saying it was “the most fun you’ve ever had making a record”. What was different this time around when you compare your previous four efforts? And do you think it marks a new chapter for you?

“It feels like chapter two in my career. It’s a new sound. I’ve got a completely different attitude towards it all now. I’m definitely more open-minded when it comes to working with different people and producers.

"I think that’s what’s allowed me to enjoy it, having an open mind but still keeping my DNA of who I am in the music. But also having the opportunity to work with other great people.”

Sonically, the album is extremely varied. All I Need is this euphoric pop single, Downtown is a tender piano-driven ballad with strings, and About Last Night is a catchy, hook-filled banger. Did you enjoy delving into these different styles and sounds on this record?

“Absolutely. In general it’s something I love to do. Working with the Camelphat guys was brilliant. It showed me it was possible to bring what I do in my sound into a more modern approach.

“It’s something I really enjoy. I just love writing songs. I don’t care too much for the genre or style. If it’s a good song, it’s a good song.”

You collaborated with Andrew Watt and Ali Tamposi. What was it like working with them? What did they bring to the table and add to your output?

“They brought a whole lot. Going back to when I mentioned the initial tracks I had with this record being written a couple of years ago, they were written with Ali and Andrew. We discovered that new sound for me. Ali’s great with words and she brought a different perspective with the lyrical side. Andrew is a brilliant producer. He brought a whole big energy to the creation of this record.

“It’s what I thrived on, being surrounded by really good musicians and writers. It was keeping the energy high, having fun and having a laugh. None of this record really felt like hard work, to be honest.”

That’s amazing, the enjoyment in the creation of an album as an artist. You want it to be fun…

“Definitely. There have been times in the past when it hasn’t been fun. It can get you down.

“To be on the other side of that with this process and this record was just refreshing to me.”

Do you think you’ll take things you’ve learned from this process to your next project?

“I’ve had the pleasure with working some great people on this record. Working with people like that, you’re going to learn a lot. There’s a lot to be taken away from the people I’ve worked with and to move forward.”

The album was inspired by a love for ABBA, Beach Boys, Supertramp and Bee Gees – absolute titans of pop music. What drew you to these artists during Saturday Night, Sunday Morning’s creation?

“I love melody. All those you mentioned are great in mass amounts. What’s interesting about some of those 70s pop records, especially with some of the ABBA and Supertramp ones, there’s are elements of darkness to it, and in its undertones.

"I have always liked pop music, but the darker side of it. I wondered if there was a way of incorporating that to my own sound I would be very happy. I feel like I’ve done that in a good way and it’s not too over the top.”

What was it like entwining the darker side and brighter side of pop?

“I feel like I wanted to incorporate some psychedelia and 60s psychedelic bands. I wondered if I could incorporate that as well. The music having the pop production elements and these sounds that leap out at you, but also the melodies staying very on the dark side but keeping it as melodic as I can.

"Playing live I enjoy the crowd singing along to the words. I feel like having strong melodies really helps with that.”

It is a record that will translate to a live audience. Are you already thinking about your stage shows?

“Absolutely. I always look at the set list before I make an album. I look at what I need.

"With my last record, it’s a nice relaxing album and I love it, but I felt with that record and looking at the set list, I really needed to inject some energy and high tempo stuff.

"I’m really excited to see how it’s going to work. I feel it’s a record I could play in its entirety but one that’s going to work very well back to back with some of the older stuff as well.”

You’ve got host of tour dates scheduled for March and April next year with some big venues in there like Brixton Academy and Rock City in Nottingham. How much are you looking forward to getting back out there?

“I’m a bit apprehensive as well but that’s part of it. The shows wouldn’t have the edge if I didn’t feel apprehensive myself.”

Its title Saturday Night, Sunday Morning is a nod to the novel by Nottingham author Alan Sillitoe, which also spawned a popular kitchen sink film. What drew you to that name for this record?

“Because it’s based on a working class lad from the Midlands, that rang with me. But I felt like it was an apt title for the album in regards to the songs.

“It was always hard to get a subject that explains all the other subjects of the individual tracks. Some of the songs had the energy for a Saturday night, some of the more ballad tracks are more for a hangover for a Sunday.”

What themes are you tackling this time? What were you consuming for inspiration?

“Lyrically it’s a reflection on the past two years or so. It’s very difficult to write about those same things on the first two records. You’ve also got to sing what’s real.

"If you don’t mean what you’re singing or singing it with any conviction, people really see through it. It was singing about experiences, things I’ve seen, but also very much keeping it true to myself.”

How do you think you’ve evolved as an artists since the release of your debut record in 2011 to now?

“It’s been a natural progression. I’ve been a lot more confident in myself and being on the stage. Even in interviews to an extent, you learn all that stuff as you go on. I started in the industry very young aged 17. I had a lot to learn and I’m still learning. It’s just part of the process.

“I think it’s great to develop as an artist but for me it’s more important to develop as a writer as well. I’d like to think I’ve done that.

“With all the experience you have growing up in the industry and the people you meet, it helps you grow as a person as well.”

It must have been very intense early on and you must have seen so many changes over the years?

“I’ve had ups and downs. There have been times in records where it hasn’t gone as well as I would have hoped. All those moments are humbling and they are the things that show you the other side of the industry when it’s not going so well – it can be pretty brutal. But you have to keep going. You can’t let it get you down and I’m very happy this record I’ve created now.

"For me it’s the best in terms of being an actual album I’ve probably made. Sometimes you have to go through those bad patches to get to where you want to be.”

Are you already thinking ahead to your next album?

“Yeah absolutely. I haven’t started on it yet but just before everything gets going again, I think it might be wise to get started before touring. I’m sure as you know there’s not a lot of time to get a lot of writing done on the road.”

What do you think of the musical climate post-pandemic? Are you hopeful of things getting back to normal again?

“You’ve got to make sure the venues survive. We have those creative outlets for artists and audiences to express themselves and their feelings. Music is important in that regard for people.

“It’s going to be very competitive as well. Every artist is going to want to get going at the same time. That’s brilliant. When you look back to the 60s, the industry was rife with competition. That only brought us more and more good music. Let’s hope the competition stays high and we get loads of great music out of this.”

Tell me more about the score you’ve created for the Ronaldinho documentary called The Happiest Man in the World? What was the experience like?

“It was one I needed. Having more of a pop influence on this record it definitely was great to have a creative outlet where I could experiment more and try things, and not have to listen to my own voice for a change!

"It’s been brilliant. I’m a huge Vangelis and Jean-Michele Jarre fan, so be able to mess around with synthesisers and have some fun has been brilliant for me.”

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Are you a big footie fan yourself?

“Oh yes, massive. I’m a Notts County fan, that’s how big of a fan I am. Non-league! We lost in the play off semi-final and they lost in the final last year, I don’t know how much heartbreak I can take to be honest.

“You’ve got to go with the bad patches. We might be up there later on.”

What about Ronaldinho?

“When I was a kid, he was like the best player in the world. You’d watch him mid-week in the Champions League and every kid would be trying to recreate what he’d done on the football field. He was a joy to watch.

“It’s inspiring for me to watch the footage and play along to see how passionate he is about what he does and see a smile on his face. It’s very infectious. It’s inspiring for me and my own craft.”

He played the game fitting for a soundtrack with the skills and the goals…

“That’s it. It’s to signify every skill or pass he does with the music. Like putting a little glide on the synthesiser when he goes past someone. It’s brilliant to watch him try and create with it, you’re moving with him. It’s been a brilliant project. I don’t know what I’m going to do when it’s finished to be honest!”

What are your next steps? What are you hopeful for looking ahead?

“I hope these shows go ahead. I want to get back out on the road now. I’ll probably start cracking on with the sixth record next year, or this year if it’s possible. I want to get going.

"I’ve been very anxious about this record because it’s been a while. It’s very hard to gauge the market or how people are going to receive it at the moment, but I’m just eager to put it out, get going, and build it up.”

Jake Bugg’s Saturday Night, Sunday Morning is out on August 20 via RCA Records

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