They came together as a trio in early 2007, lead guitarist Kai Smith coming on board later in the year. Their sound is difficult to put a finger on, but in general terms it would be described as ‘Upbeat Indie Pop’. Elements of genres such as Funk, Rock n Roll,Hip Hop,and Jazz can also be heard within their songwriting.
“People tend to try to pigeon-hole our music wherever they hear it” laughs Michael Williams, front-man and songwriter of Brighton based Jumping Ships, “but I don’t think we fit into an specific category; someone once described us as genre-defying, I quite like that idea.” Michael Williams moved from Wokingham to Brighton in August 2005; attracted by the buzzing music scene and the possibility of escaping the dreary confines of suburban life.
“Where I grew up it’s like a cultural void” laughs Mike, “we had maybe one good venue and not many serious prospects for a musician. It felt like the right decision to move and for me it was either Brighton or London, I guess I just found Brighton the most inspiring.”
With initial aspirations to be a solo singer-songwriter, Mike set out gigging around the myriad of intimate venues that can be found throughout the city; slowly building his confidence and forging a strong fan-base for his innovative style of musicianship.
“That period was really important for me” remembers Mike, “Playing live is a steep learning curve and that first year taught me a massive amount … it helped me find myself as a performer”
A demand for Mike’s songs from his Brighton crowds led him to record a five track demo at a local studio, where he met producer and future bassist Tristan Hall. After spending three days recording Mike’s songs Tristan saw potential in the young songwriter and offered to play bass on the demo.
“I just thought the songs were amazing” remembers Tristan, “Mike had mentioned wanting to get a band together while we recording so I thought I’d offer to play on the demo, that way I figured I’d get first refusals on the bassist audition!”
The pair instantly clicked as musicians and friends and began working on Mike’s material almost every day of the week; Tristans’ experience as a producer and intricate knowledge of music theory proving an ideal addition to Mike’s unique chord inversions and lyrical depth.
After a couple of months showcasing their early material at Brighton’s acoustic venues the pair quickly decided they needed a drummer; “We wanted to go fully electric” says Mike, “but we knew we needed to find someone special; we needed more than just your average drummer.”
The boys put adverts in every rehearsal studio, university and pub that would let them and within a week they’d found exactly what they were looking for in Leeds-born Tom Heron; having been in a succession of highly rated unsigned bands Tom found himself sitting behind Mike and Tristan, his inimitable hard-hitting style immediately giving the band the drive it was missing – with Tom’s addition the core of Jumping Ships was born.
“I LOVE playing in this band” laughs Tom, “I get so much freedom within the songs and it’s great to be in a band where the rhythm section is so important, rather than just sitting in the background … basically I get to show off”
With their rhythm section complete Michael put down his acoustic guitar, dusted off an old telecaster and Jumping Ships set about gigging across the South; Brighton one night, London the other, the band played up to five shows per week – resulting in them being considered some of the tightest performers in city.
With their reputation growing throughout the South the trio decided that they wanted to further develop their sound; adding an extra element that would push them further into their genre-defying territory. This extra element would manifest itself in the form of ex Brighton street-cleaner and experienced guitarist Kai Smith.
“Kai’s incredible” insists Tristan, “he has such an individual sound and his choice of parts is perfect for the material we’re doing … we knew he was the one after the first rehearsal.”
Excellent receptions at venues such as Brighton Barfly, Dublin Castle Camden and Concorde2 led to the band being invited to support the likes of Hush the Many (Heed the Few), The X Certs, Alabama 3 and The Winterkids, cementing their place as one of Brighton’s hottest unsigned acts.
Constant requests for recordings from audience members led to the boys being offered the chance to record for two full days at The Levellers’ ‘Metway Studios’ in Brighton; ultimately resulting in the lauch of new material at their Brighton Komedia show on March 2008. In October they released their new single Liberty Row and are set to go on tour.