Best of What's Next: We Were Promised Jetpacks

Music Features We Were Promised Jetpacks
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Hometown: Edinburgh, Scotland
Album: The Last Place You’ll Look (EP)
Band Members: Adam Thompson (vocals, guitar), Michael Palmer (guitar), Sean Smith (bass) Darren Lackie (drums).
For Fans Of: Frightened Rabbit, Bloc Party, Biffy Clyro

When childhood friends Adam Thompson, Michael Palmer, Sean Smith and Darren Lackie first played music together, they were fifteen years old and had fairly modest expectations.

“Our first goals were to come up with some songs to play, because that’s a good excuse to play a show,” explains guitarist Palmer, “which is an awesome excuse to get drunk.”

But the band quickly realized they had something more to offer than a few hazy nights spent bashing out their raggedy tunes. We Were Promised Jetpacks relocated from Edinburg to Glasgow, where they begin to garner some serious attention for their brand of emotive, soaring guitar-pop; soon, the folks at FatCat Records had taken notice while listening to MySpace friends of fellow Scotsmen (and FatCat signees) Frightened Rabbit. Jetpacks were offered the opening spot on Frightened Rabbits’ 2008 U.K. Tour, and the next year released their stunning first record, These Four Walls, an anthemic expression of personal angst delivered with heart-pounding urgent tempos and over-the-top choruses. It struck a chord with crowds on both sides of the pond. “There were way more people than expected turning up every night,” Palmer says of the band’s first U.S. tour, which followed shortly thereafter. “We had been booked to play these massive rooms, and we’d psyched ourselves up for playing to an empty room, but each night they were full of people.”

We Were Promised Jetpacks’ extended stay on the road limited the time the bandmates have had to work on material for a new LP, but they recently found a bit of time to record some new songs. Working within a narrow, two-week window, the band abandoned their traditional songwriting routine and entered a studio with only the roughest of song sketches and ideas; the result of the experimentation is The Last Place You’ll Look (out now), a five-song EP that features two reworked songs from their debut as well as three brand new-tunes written during the recent sessions. It shows Jetpacks taking a more subtle, subdued approach; stripped away are the thunderous guitars and stadium sized howls, replaced with the simple, hushed power of a still-evolving young band.

With just a few European shows scheduled for this month, Palmer says the band is looking forward to spending some time off the road and in the rehearsal room “to crack on with album two.” As their follow-up record looms, they’re aiming a bit higher than their once-modest goals. “We’re are really focused on making a great album,” Palmer says. “Not a ‘Great’ album or anything, but one that all four of us think is great and we’re proud of.”