Newcastle’s Primary Colours are continuing to gain steam, not least in part due to their floppy-fringed frontman, Jack Wright. A musical magpie with a broad palette, Wright recently enjoyed some internet notoriety with his anti-NME campaign, which included burning copies, hashtags, online petitions and, of course, memes aplenty. Sam Lambeth spoke to Wright about the band, plans for the future and the words ‘journalistic integrity’.
Talk to us about Primary Colours. You’ve got a pretty diverse musical taste, so does all of this go into making your band’s sound, or would you say it’s a more streamlined selection of bands / genres?
I'm probably the least involved in shaping the form the music takes. If the music was backed by my influences it would sound a lot more avant-garde. The way I try to assert my influence musically is to get my bandmates to listen to some of the weird stuff I like. There are Facebook group chats filled to the brim with Stump and US Maple. Whether they take any of that in is their decision.
My lyrics come from a variety of places. Sometimes I just scream random words as the songs are being played to me, sometimes I take demos home and work hard on fully formed structures, sometimes I'll take sentences from old books people never read and implement them in. I won't tell you which books.
When it comes to the songwriting process, is it something you do as a full band or something you do individually? For you, what *makes* a Primary Colours song?
There's a real collaborative spirit at the heart of Primary Colours. In the beginning it was Corey Hunter and I sitting in his bedroom and writing punky songs on a strat (the garage rock dream), but the other members of the band have become more important to the process as time went on. Writing songs now is the five of us sitting in a practice room, throwing tunes at a wall until some of them stick.
You’ve been prepping the arrival of Primary Colours’ EP for a few months now. What can fans expect from it? And are there any details, in terms of track listing, title, artwork?
"A few months?" The EP's been in production for over a year. In fact, when we were initially ready to record, we had an entirely different line-up bar Corey and I. The reason it got so pushed back is because people left or were forcibly removed and we had to train up new'uns! The new lads are lovely though, can't fault em. Almost.
As far as what to expect, there's four pop songs on there in very different styles. Psych, post-punk, indie rock and acoustic. Not in that order. The artwork's got some toast on it. Buy it!
You’ve got some big shows coming up in Newcastle. Is this a positive sign for you that the band is going places? Are you hoping to build on this by playing some shows around the UK?
I'd like to think we're going places. It doesn't feel that way sometimes because Primary Colours seem to be a difficult band to book. When you have a bunch of songs in different genres it surprisingly limits the likelihood of gigs it seems. It's not like we're hugely inaccessible either, they just can't fit us into a scene!
So we're taking matters into our own hands and playing a show at the O2 in Newcastle on March 11th (hint hint) with an indie band, a punk band, and a shoegazing band. I'd love to gig elsewhere, just for the experience of seeing other places and having other people hear us. Some festivals would be nice.
Do you think with social media being such a prevalent platform these days, that new bands like yourselves have an easier, quicker way of courting fans? Or do you feel with such voluminous outputs and bands it’s the opposite?
Oh, it's easy to get your stuff out there, yeah, but BOY is the market competitive. You have to be interesting enough to attract the attention of onlookers, but also accessible enough to keep that earned attention. I'm doing my bit to achieve this by performing our pop songs in an eccentric, homoerotic way on stage.
Of course, I have to ask – do the words ‘journalistic integrity’ mean anything to you?
I should have bloody known. Damn you indie journalists, capitalising on meme culture!
And following on from that, let’s talk a little about that ‘campaign’. It was something that, although tongue-in-cheek, seemed to chime with a lot of people who were disenchanted with the publication’s output. Why do you feel the current incarnation of NME is provoking such derision, not just in yourself but in others, too?
The fire seems to have burned out a little bit now, but I did find it interesting how those events all played out. For your readers who are unaware, I was blocked by the NME Facebook page for asking if the words 'journalistic integrity' meant anything to them. Several times. On every one of their posts for a few days. After being forcibly removed from their social outlet, I jokingly ranted about it publicly, and everything descended into madness from there; there were memes, petitions to shut down the NME, copycat rant posts, the works.
I'm not sure whether I'm surprised that it genuinely resonated with people, because the current state of the NME is a joke. They completely rely on a certain demographic to share their increasingly slanted articles on why whichever 'indie' band is popular that week is better than the one that was popular the previous week, or why AM by Arctic Monkeys is the greatest album ever made. It's the same mind-numbing garbage over and over again, and it's inescapable, especially if you're a figure in the scene they tend to have a bit of control over. I hope they never mention Primary Colours.
If you were put in a similar position, where you were trying to negotiate a perfect storm of sales and credibility, how would you go about it? What would you do differently?
If I were in their shoes, I would just try and be a bit more honest. Instead of real journalism, genuinely trying to challenge people or try something new, it's effectively just a TMZ for popular rock music. Try to focus on smaller bands a bit more and teaching your audience something new NME, because right now, God help you if you're not a Gallagher. And this is the same company who put out C86 for crying out loud!
We’re only into the start of 2017 and there are some big things on the horizon for Primary Colours. By the end of this year, what do you hope to achieve? And, in the short-term, can fans expect some new music before the EP’s release?
Well obviously we want to achieve world domination and make all of humanity our slaves. Oh, and maybe be on the way to releasing a proper album.