Intentionally or unintentionally, you have for sure listened to Jungle’s Back On 74 multiple times ever since it was released last year, and if you count yourself as a Jungle fan, you have done the same with the album this song belongs to. The extremely high quality of the album production as a whole, where the visuals, live staging, and music videos are an integral part of the piece as much as the songs, has been highlighted infinite times, with millions of streams on music platforms, views on their cinematic videos, and attendees jumping and dancing on their world tour.
But this is not just a one-time phenomenon; the band has been consistently doing the most for the past ten years now, with not a single flaw in their discography. During Balad Beast 2024, we had the chance to briefly speak with Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland, the minds behind the art.
Volcano has been recognised as one of the best albums of 2023, and it seems like there’s a unanimous agreement between the audience and experts about the truth of this fact. With a solid record that brings back the best of the groovy sounds from the past that are guaranteed to be effective despite the passage of time and the artistry with which the band makes full use of their instrumental, vocal, and producing skills, this album resuscitates the valuable practice of listening to a record from beginning to end and enhancing the experience by watching a full-length motion picture film that gracefully translates the story behind it to hypnotising dance routines and theatrical performances that have already gone viral multiple times.
But what Josh and Tom have created alongside Lydia Kitto, the iconic female voice we can hear throughout the album who also took an important part in the writing of the album, and the whole band goes far beyond the virality and the numbers. The compromise to create such a well-thought-out project that translates even better to the live stages, creating one of the best concert experiences one could have, where everything you’re listening to and watching is happening right in front of you, live, as it should be, has an insane value in this day and age.
Just moments before one of these intense performances, this time in Jeddah during Balad Beast 2024, we caught up with them for a fun, relaxed, and quite random conversation.
I'm very excited to be here with you guys. How's the tour going so far? You've been to many places, including Barcelona, which I couldn't go to because it sold out super quick, even after a venue upgrade. It’s been crazy, hasn't it?
Josh: It's super fun, and it's always good to be out touring and playing music. We love it. We've just been to South America, and we had a lot of fun there. It's always a great place to go. We went to Barcelona too, which we hadn't been to for a while. Great show, great energy. We sort of inadvertently ignored Barcelona for about eight years.
Tom: (laughs)
Josh: But we'd always wanted to go there. You know you end up going to the festivals, they always try to get you to not do the small shows.
I've been listening to you guys since your very first album. I listened to Lucky I Got What I Want, and that song is still one of my favourites to this day…
Josh: Niche.
So looking back at when the album was released, it was ten years ago now. I was surprised by that, and I thought about how much I've changed ever since. I was wondering how much you have changed in ten years. Not only as a person, it's obvious the age and everything, but also as artists.
Josh: Ten years is a long time, isn't it? So it starts to become a chunk of your life, a part of your identity, and a part of yourself. I suppose there's a part of you that's kind of trying to figure out who you are within that. But it's been an amazing ride—an amazing kind of time. But it's been a long time now.
Time is passing very fast, yeah. Is there a lesson that time has taught you during these years?
Tom: It's interesting. It's so hard to have a perspective on it because you're constantly living in the moment. I guess that's one thing that we've learned, right? Is to live in the moment. Is to not overanalyse things too much. Life's definitely too short. And we're always worried about, you know, little things, but then you're able to see the bigger picture and understand what this has done for us over the last ten years. We've known each other for, like, twenty-five years now. Which is fucking nuts.
Josh: Fuck (laughs)
Tom: It's fucking nuts yeah. (laughs)
Josh: Oh dear.
Tom: So yeah, just perspective and a bit of maturity in how you view the world, I think.
Reminiscing about our past selves can go in different directions; it can go from being extremely cringy to feeling nostalgic in many ways. How do you look back on your younger days?
Tom: Definitely some shit outfit decisions.
Josh: Ultimately grateful, you know. It's an amazing experience to do what we do. And, you know, we're lucky to be able to do that. There's a lot of people who make music and don't get to experience what we do. So I'm grateful.
Do you have any regrets?
Josh: You can't really live with regrets, can you?
I don't know if you've seen the stage here, but it's pretty amazing. Your concerts are also well-known for insane live performances, so I think it's going to be a great combination. Do you conceive the albums with the visual aspect of the live stages in mind?
Josh: Yes, we do. Definitely. You imagine it when you are doing the album; it goes hand in hand. We put a lot of work into the visuals—both the music videos and the live stuff—and some support. It looks good. But here today, I don't know what it's going to look like, Ballad Beast today is doing something of their own accord.
I guess you won't be able to put your usual rectangles.
Josh: We won't do our usual show. They're doing their show, and we're going to fit into it and keep our mouths shut.
Tom: (laughs)
Any predictions?
Tom: No. Hopefully some flames and some lasers. It's a little bit more EDM for us.
Josh: We brought our visuals. But apparently they're going to be put on buildings. So we'll see how that works. We work with silhouettes. We'll see what happens.
In a previous interview that you guys did with METAL some years ago, you mentioned how horrible it is to do interviews and have to talk about yourselves. As a normal person, I understand and agree 100%, but as someone interviewing you right now, I wonder if there's any way out of that perception.
Josh: I don't think it's necessarily an issue with talking to people. I think it's talking about yourself. We created Jungle as a vehicle to escape ourselves and to have a vessel to completely lose ourselves and our egos in. And then…
Tom: The industry does the opposite to you.
Josh: Yeah. Being asked stuff about us. That's not Jungle. Jungle is something else. Okay. Talking about Jungle is amazing. We love it. And we can talk about it for hours. Because that's our passion. Yeah. And that's what we've created. But when it gets personal, that's not what we're here for.
Is there an alternative to it or is it just like how the industry goes and you just have to adapt?
Josh:  I think it's just this way. Journalists will always want to know the hidden story. But our story is there.
Tom: Our story is rubbish (laughs), but we can make some stuff up.
Yeah. I appreciate it. I have to write something there. (laughs)
Josh: Just ChatGPT it (laughs)
Is there something you'd like to talk about in interviews that you don't usually get asked about?
Josh: No. Because then you're like talking about your own shit again. Do you know what I mean?
Tom: Philosophy. Philosophy is always quite fun.
Josh: Yeah. I like talking about deep shit.
Tom: Cosmology.
Josh: AI, the future. The doom of the planet.
How do you feel about AI?
Josh: We haven't got time for that (laughs).
Tom: Have you seen the film The Creator?
Josh: It's rubbish, isn't it?
Tom: I've really enjoyed it, mate. It's fun.
Josh: I bought it.
Tom: I saw it. I watched it for free on my plane. It was good.
Circling back to the first question about your song that I love, have you guys gotten what you wanted yet?
Josh:The tax man taking out all my dirt and leaving me in my stately home.
Tom: I think if you looked at it like ten years ago and you looked at where we are now, then yeah, definitely.
Josh: I think just being able to play music and still being able to do that now is just amazing to be able to do that and not have to go and get a job in the supermarket or something like that.
You're on the lucky side, I guess.
Josh: Yeah, very much so.