Ex Rueben vocalist and guitarist Jamie Lenman spoke to Ash Edmonds about his latest singles, Long Gone and Irrelevant, his illustrations and the ever-changing music industry.
How have you felt about your shows so far this year?
I've had a really good time, yeah. Download was one of the biggest crowds I have played to, but I’m not sure I did my best there. I was a little bit put off and my performance probably wasn't as great as it could've been, but I think that the crowd enjoyed it so that was pretty good.
How would you describe your live show?
Just rockin’: big riffs, big melodies, same thing I have always done really, it’s fun. It usually sounds massive thanks to our sound guy, usually people complain about ringing ears.
Your new single reached number one in the vinyl charts, why do you think that your fans value vinyl over other formats?
There is a general fetish for vinyl these days; the market is very big. I know one record shop in particular, Banquet in Kingston, have had to lease out another space due to the amount of vinyl they are selling. I think that people just want a thing to hold; I do too! As you can tell by my clothing, I’m a 19th Century guy, I like physical objects, and I think that people were missing that.
Do you believe that illustrations or things that come with it drive the sale of vinyl?
I’d like to think so, as a lot of effort goes into making the designs. People just like pretty things; I certainly like pretty stuff. I think that a lot of musicians share that collector gene, they’re quite nerdy really, musicians. I collect movie memorabilia, ‘80s action figures – Back To The Future, Batman 89, all that stuff, the ‘80s cartoons as well like Thundercats and Ghostbusters.
You have varied the amount of musicians on stage in the past, a brass section whilst touring with Devolver, to now only playing by yourself with a drummer; which do you prefer?
I massively prefer just me and Daniel because he is so close to me anyway. He has been my drummer for five or six years, but we had been friends long before this solo venture started. We have just got such a great musical relationship and are very comfortable with each other. I can rely on him in a way that I couldn’t with others. I liked it when we did the tour with the seven-piece band and brass section, but now I prefer the stripped back feel.
Do your illustrations inspire your music? Or vice versa?
No, they are quite separate actually, apart from when I did my last album, where I did all the artwork. I wanted it to be a big piece of me, a big chunk of my own life – the limited edition art print on the new release was in the same vein, I wanted to offer as much as I could, but generally they don't tend to meet. I did all the artwork back when I was in Rueben but that was because we couldn't afford to get anyone else to do it.
What music inspires you?
Well, I saw Delta Sleep and they were fantastic! So I might write some fiddly bangly stuff now! But then I also saw Conjurer at Trees and I thought, ‘It's time to write some heavy shit!’
How can younger bands make the most of the way the industry works now?
I would say the best plan of action would be to save up enough money to make your first record yourself and put it out on Bandcamp; don't waste time looking for a label; fill your time playing shows. Hopefully by the time you are ready to get on with your second record some label would have picked you up and might be willing to help you. But you’ll already have a running start. Dont wait for labels, agents or managers to get involved, just get your music out there.