Following infectious recent single ‘Happy Birthday’, Oxford band Junk Whale have now announced the release of their new EP, Caught In The Act Of Looking Weird, next month. Taken from the EP, latest single ‘Pilebox’ pays homage to being yourself in the face of adversity. Propelled by a fuzzy, emo-tinged energy and scuzzy hooks, raw impassioned vocals flow throughout as the track builds with a jangly allure to an anthemic blast of angst-driven splendour. Of the track, the band explain:
“It started as an attempt to write a song that sounded like a mashup of Pile and Jawbox (hence the title), although it ended up not really sounding like either. It’s about the joy of living life on your own terms and trying not to worry about fitting into anyone else’s expectations of you.”
We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspires them. So, to celebrate the release of a quirky brand new video for ‘Pilebox’ and the upcoming EP, we caught up with members of Junk Whale to ask about the music that has inspired them the most. See below for their choices of their five favourite songs, and watch the new video for ‘Pilebox’ at the bottom of this feature.
The Cribs – ‘Things You Should Be Knowing‘ (Jenny – bass/vox)
When I wrote the guitar bit that became ‘Airbed’ from the EP, I sat down and basically just tried to write a song that sounded like The Cribs. One of the reasons I was keen to join Junk Whale was I heard that Hannah & Josie were also huge Cribs fans. Needless to say, I love them. They’re so consistent in their ability to produce bangers even now, but their first album is still closest to my heart. It’s so delightfully ramshackle, and has such an infectious energy – listening to it makes me feel young and reckless again (and it makes me feel old to be writing that). It sounds like they’re having loads of fun without even having to try, as if they’re just mucking about in the garage, and even though they’re playing massive venues and festivals now, I’d still favour the ramshackle mucking about sound any day.
Illuminati Hotties – ‘Knead’ (Ali – vox/production)
Illuminati Hotties are one of the few bands I’ve discovered recently that I’ve really connected with. This song does a really great job of balancing elements of indie rock, pop and grunge which is more or less what we’re trying to do in Junk Whale. Their lead singer, Sarah Tudzin, is a professional audio engineer and produces their songs; she does an amazing job and is a real inspiration for me.
Doe – ‘Julia Survived’ (Josie – guitar/vox)
I first saw Doe in 2016, supporting Muncie Girls in Brighton (also on the bill was another Junk Whale fave, Fresh). I left with a cassette copy of their First Four compilation, and over the next few weeks I rendered it more or less unlistenable by playing it over and over again. At that point, Hannah’s and my pre-Junk Whale band was coming to an end and we were thinking about our next project together. Somehow, Doe had managed to capture exactly the kind of music that we wanted to make. Every song on that comp is great, but ‘Julia Survived’ has always stood out to me. It has that visceral punch of emotion that I crave in music, and the overlapping vocal harmonies were definitely a big influence on our songwriting. Nicola Leel is up there with Corin Tucker from Sleater-Kinney in my “people I wish I could sing like” rankings.
Taking Back Sunday – ‘You Know How I Do’ (Hannah – guitar/vox)
I first got into Taking Back Sunday when I was in sixth form because the drummer in my band really wanted to cover ‘Cute Without the E’ and I’ve never looked back. Their first album, which this track opens, is pretty much without flaw in my eyes and I struggled to pick just one song from it. Something I really love about it is the sheer quantity of vocals; Adam Lazzara barely lets up for a second, singing over almost every section of every song, with John Nolan pitching in frequently for some really effective back-and-forth segments. I think we have a pretty different sound to Taking Back Sunday, but they’re always on my mind whenever I’m trying to structure a song, and especially when I’m writing vocal parts.
Dinosaur Jr. – ‘Little Fury Things’ (Josie – vox/guitar)
First hearing You’re Living All Over Me as a teenager was a genuinely life-changing moment. It exemplified everything I love about guitar music: heavy riffs, soaring solos, ear-scraping noise and, most of all, beautifully expressive rhythm-playing. It was the latter that had the biggest influence on my playing; messing around with different harmonies and chord combinations is my favourite thing to do with a guitar and has formed the basis of my songwriting. ‘Little Fury Things’ is the best example of this. After the pummelling drum intro and aural chaos of the opening section, the plaintive guitar and melancholy vocals of the verse completely disarm you. To me, this song is the best demonstration of the immense dynamic power of a distorted electric guitar.
Huge thanks to Junk Whale for sharing their Five Favourites with us! New EP, Caught In The Act Of Looking Weird, is set for release on 8th July via Reckless Yes. Watch the brand new video for latest single ‘Pilebox’ here:
Photo Credit: Tom Turner