THE STRAWBERRY JAM is a rather fresh UK band and this album is their debut from 2007, but you can only tell this from the rather clear basic sound. The first three songs have a quite earthy feel and go from utterly cool country garage rock hybrids to proto-punkish eruptions, all in the first ten minutes. You are tempted to put a label on this band right away, filed under garage rock music due to its lovely late 60s feeling. There is a savage lead guitar on the first few songs, making them a great joy to listen to. However, there is much more to discover. “Alice D”, “I Like You The Most” and “Alice D Reprise” take the turn from the down-to-earth, fuzzed-out US garage rock to a rather British psychedelic pop with a slightly giddy expression. You could find this kind of stuff on some early records from the London Underground and Canterbury Scene. The more laid back and folkish psychedelic sound and the weird humorous pieces stay with us for a while until THE STRAWBERRY JAM find themselves slipping through a time hole which leads from early 1967 to the summer of 1969. “I Don’t Want To Make You Mine” is a straight blues rock stomper with a typical British blues approach you would expect to hear from bands such as SAVOY BROWN or TEN YEARS AFTER. Some more beautiful hippie folk follows in its veins and an epic psychedelic pop tune ends a very colourful and captivating album. You know and hear that it is a modern day effort since this bandwidth of styles and sounds would have been a bit too far out for an original sixties audience. The step back from 1969 to 1968 on the last two tracks is definitely a great choice. The closing track "Dragon Seed" is a laid back epic with ever drifting rhythmic pulsations and a wicked swirl of sounds which, by its end, gets you lifted above all that people consider reality and frees your mind. A few moments of free form experiments close this retrospective but joyful album. From THE SEEDS to THE MC 5 to THE BEATLES to TOMORROW and TWINK and more... you'll find it all in here! This is a great soundtrack for a summer trip!
NATHAN NOBLETT (NN): Symphatic?
WAYNE ROACH (WR): It's a German word.
NN: Must be. Strawberry Jam, interview. My name is Nathan Noblett. I play guitar in The Strawberry Jam and I sing sometimes, yeah.
WR: That's true! My name is Wayne Roach, my name is. Uh, you know, I sing in the band The Strawberry Jam.
NN: Uh, Amadeus, from Germany, sent us, uh, some questions to answer in, uh, interview style. So that's what we're gonna do. Jerry "Yorkshire" Pudding is not here. John Elizabeth, not here. It's just Wayne and me. (lights cigarette) Wayne, if you'd like to begin.
WR: Alright, so, it says "From which parts of England do you come from?" (rubs hands vigorously) Well, myself, I comes from Kent.
NN: I come from, uh, Devonshire, which is in the, uh, yeah, it's in England. It's, uh, in the Southern North, yeah. Uh, Jerry "Yorkshire" Pudding, he comes from Essex. I don't know where John's from.
WR: He's from near me, you know.
NN: Yeah. Uh, question ... two. "Is the accent I hear Cockney English? Did you know that this is a great addition to the Jam's humour?" Uh, it's not Cockney, no. It's --
NN: A little bit, like, Jerry, yeah. He'll, like, he'll do the rhyming, um, slang.
WR: Right, yeah.
NN: (indecipherable) He'll say, just, I don't know what he's saying.
WR: No, I don't listen to what he's saying.
NN: Yeah, no, no, me neither.
WR: "And while we're talking about the band's humour, it is so unique, positive, and uplifting! In combination with the punky elements, it becomes a powerful force (indecipherable). What can you tell me about that? And what is the band's view on this?"
NN: (lights cigarette)
WR: Well, first of all, uh, unique, positive, uplifting, I'm not sure what you're really talking about. But if it makes your day, that is really the point, you know?
NN: Yeah, so much the better, yeah.
NN: Question the fourth. "Looking at the cover and credits and recalling the top secret 'Making of Jam' film" -- it's not so top secret anymore, is it now, Amadeus? -- "it's clearly on hand that each of you has his unique role within the band. How would each of you describe his role and how much of that is part of your real character?" Nathan Noblett, guitar. That's my role. Guitar, sometimes sing.
WR: Yeah, he's, he, his role was to play the guitar and to be a prick, you know. Mine, my role as Wayne Roach is to, is to be a nice guy, you know, and to play and to sing the songs.
NN: Yeah, sing. And Jerry "Yorkshire" Pudding, he's the drummer. And, uh, John Elizabeth --
WR: He likes his wine.
NN: Likes his wine. Little too much. He's good on the bass. Um, but sometimes I play the bass too, really. I mean, you know, there's a few songs I play the bass.
WR: When he's had too much wine, yeah.
NN: Yeah, exactly.
NN: Um, "how much of that is a part of your real character?" I mean, I really play the guitar.
WR: (slams down liquor bottle)
NN: That's what I do. Uh, John really plays the bass some of the time.
WR: Yeah, it's true.
NN: Jerry "Yorkshire" Pudding, he plays the drums.
WR: He does.
NN: He works in a sheet metal factory. Uh, Wayne Roach likes his gin.
WR: He likes his gin.
NN: Uh, likes to sing.
WR: He likes to sing.
NN: Uh, he likes to, um --
WR: (bursting into song) He likes to dim the lights / He likes to sing the songs / He likes to drink his gin / He likes it all day long
NN: ... That's quite good.
NN: Alright, question five. "Who writes most of the songs? Who comes up with all those weird ideas? What's the story behind each song?" ... I think I write most by a slight margin, yeah. Uh, "who comes up with all those" -- I don't know what that is. Wayne, are you, weird ideas? I, uh.
WR: What is it?
NN: It's weird ideas.
NN: Uh, the story behind each song. Alright, let's, uh, yeah, alright.
WR: Let's do it! 'Rock and Roll Music'! (lights cigarette)
NN: (banging on the table) 'Rock and Roll Music'. I don't know. I think it had been a late night. Three in the morning. And I was, uh, sweeping my chimney. As you do. And, uh, you know, the, the soot, it just, it formed a pile. And it was about, I mean, somewhere between knee-high, ankle-high. Somewhere, like, it was, like, in my leg and --
WR: (lights cigarette)
NN: -- it was, like, you know. And I looked at it and it just, like --
WR: (loudly clears throat; slams down liquor bottle)
NN: -- I had a, a jug of gin. When you get it all down, what is it really about? The name of the band, what is it? It's Strawberry Jam. What [do] we play?
WR: Rock and roll music.
NN: Rock and roll music. And then, it's just, like, oh yeah. (tries to stub his cigarette but finds the ashtray is full) Oh, bloody ... Uh, next one, 'Strawberry Jam'.
WR: 'Strawberry Jam' was the first song that we wrote as a band.
NN: 'Blueberry Jam'.
WR: 'Blueberry Jam', you know. But we all integrated some, uh, you know. We all played a part, you know. So that was a joint effort. (rubs hands vigorously)
NN: It was, it was alright. 'She's A Fairy'.
WR: That's just that, you know.
WR: She was a fairy. She is a fairy. When we wrote the song, she was a fairy after we wrote the song, you know.
NN: Yeah. I get, like, she ceased being.
NN: Yeah. 'Alice D.' It's a song about, uh, a lass named, uh, uh, by the name of Alice D.
NN: Uh, D. And, uh, yeah, it's just a good (indecipherable)
WR: But 'I Like You The Most' is not about liking Alice D. the most! It's about --
NN: No, no, completely unrelated, yeah.
WR: No, it's about --
NN: Yeah, it's about liking, you know, the most. Like, the most, um --
WR: Right, yes. Yes.
WR: Especially the things that I liked, you know.
NN: Yeah, like, um --
WR: Jam and toast and ham and roast!
NN: Uh, what I never really, like, put together is how, like, you know, for the rhyme, that was quite, uh, lucky ... that you liked those things. Because they all kinda fit together, like, just so, you know. Yeah.
WR: (gingerly sets a cup of tea in its saucer)
NN: Uh, 'Alice D. Reprise'. We were on a train to Marrakesh, really.
WR: Right, and John had just, had just met the most beautiful woman. Pregnant, you know. With big bosoms. Milking, like, four children at a time. And she was just fascinated with John. Nathan and I had to get together and write this song about this ... It was, it was just unbelievable, you know.
NN: Yeah. And, I mean, it's cut down. I think the song's only, like, [a] minute and a half. (indecipherable) But it was, like, twenty-seven minutes.
WR: Right, right, and there's actually a cut, you know. Some of the recordings that you hear, the sounds that you hear, are taken from the train ride that we was on.
NN: That's right, yeah. To Marrakesh. (long pause) Do you remember where Marrakesh is? I don't. I, I can't recall.
WR: No, I don't remember that.
WR: You're crazy.
NN: 'Hide Your Stash'. I mean, that's just good advice. Uh, 'A Girl Like Donovan'. That's a Noblett. Uh, which is to say I wrote it. And, uh, it's really about, uh, sort of, uh, how I wish, you know, every woman, uh, looked like Donovan. How I wish every scone was made by Donovan. And it's not like I'm saying, um, I want to eat scones with Donovan. Or I want to hold hands with Donovan. It's, I'm just saying, you know, I want a scone made by Donovan. I want to hold hands with a girl like Donovan would. Donovan Leitch. Uh, 'We're The Same'. I mean, that's, that's, that's, uh, centrificub [sic] -- uh, you know, that's like (long pause) big, you know.
WR: Yeah. I know.
NN: For the band, it's like, everything else that we've done is kind of, like, it, it has a piece of 'We're The Same', like, in it. It's, like, a masterpiece, really. (long pause) 'Alice, I Wonder'.
NN: I mean, what's, what more do you want to know? It's Alice -- that's a name, you know. I wonder, uh.
WR: Wonder about it. Figure it out, you know.
NN: Yeah, exactly. Just piece it together yourself. I don't know, like, what, I mean, questions. It's always questions. I don't know. Uh, 'Don't Wanna Make You Mine'. Again, it's like, I just don't want to. 'Look At All The Happy People'. Um --
WR: It's a nice thing to do on a Sunday afternoon.
NN: I mean, anytime. 'Dragon Seed'. That's just a true story, man.
WR: Oh yes.
NN: Question number six. "What is the members' musical background?" I mean, guitar. Nathan Noblett. That's what he plays, I play.
WR: Yeah, when did you stop playing guitar, Nathan?
NN: I mean, I've never stopped, really. But I kinda stopped, yeah.
NN: (lights cigarette)
WR: Well, uh, you know, I started singing when I was young and me mother had the Barbra Streisand records. And I sang along with, uh, Barbra Streisand and, uh, you know, it turned out alright. And I started getting an attitude like Barbra Streisand. I's smoking cigarettes when I was young.
NN: Like Barbra Streisand.
WR: And I was not familiar with, you know, inner pain. And so, this, you know, infuriated me even more. To sing rock and roll music in an angry way, which was, you know, buttered with love.
NN: And then, like, I think I added, like, salt? And Jerry added, like, um (long pause) ignorance. "How was the band founded?"
WR: (slams down liquor bottle)
NN: "And how did you met each other?"
WR: (slams down teacup)
NN: It was, uh, John and Wayne. They was, you know, playing. And, um, I played too. And then they was, like, 'Hey, you want to come play?' And I was, like, 'Yeah, I do.' And then Jerry was, like, 'Hey, uh, sheet metal?' And we were like, 'No. Drums?' 'Yeah.' 'Okay.' And that was the band. "How, how, how did we met?" Uh, John's, uh, mother and Wayne's mother, they was, uh, sisters. They's, they met a long time ago. I, I met them, you know, in a, uh, under mysterious circumstances, really.
WR: Oh yeah.
NN: And, uh, Jerry, it was just, like, I had to, you know, buy some sheet metal. That's really all he was about at the time.
WR: Eighth question.
NN: You want to read it?
WR: No. "What do you remember from the process of creating 'Jam' and from the recording (pause) sessions?"
NN: I don't, I mean, nothing, really.
WR: Question nine. "Why did you all flew to Canada for recording? And, uh, how did you come upon Simon Feret?" Well, we, um.
NN: I mean, that's a long story.
WR: Yeah. Okay, question ten. "What did I forget to ask?" I don't know. "Uh, what did you like to add?" Um ...
WR: Yeah, um, is there anything else, uh, you'd like to tell the readers of 'It's Psychedelic Baby' magazine?
NN: Yeah, I mean, um, keep a little jam in your heart?
Interview made by Amadeus Wächtler/2015
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