Jamie Turner: from nostalgic mod-rocker to underrated modern genius
Turners turned from the past to the future
The High Leary’s are (or were) an excellent 60s style rock n roll group from Perth, fronted by singer/songwriter Jamie Turner. The group gained widespread popularity in Australia and overseas, particularly in the UK, garnering over 9000 fans on their Facebook page. After forming in 2011, touring Europe and releasing their album Here Come The High Learys, the group have called it a day on their past and changed their look, sound and even name. Perth Underground had a chat with Jamie Turner about the change, what’s to come, his influences and a little on his life in Perth.
Q: The High Learys have gained a huge following not just around Australia but abroad. Having made such a name for yourselves, you’ve decided to change the name of the band to MYTHS. Risky move, what’s the reasoning behind it?
A: Myself and the band felt as though The High Learys was the name of a group that started in 2011 as a 60’s revivalist band. We realised that we are no longer “that band”. Like any artist, you’re always striving for new things and pushing yourself to step out of your comfort zone. So it seemed the right thing to start fresh, with a new name and a new focus on our music.
Q: With the name change, will you still be playing the older songs of the High Learys, or do you plan to put that all on the shelf and perform only new material exclusive to MYTHS?
A: They’re on the shelf for sure; we’re putting the old songs to bed and focusing on new material.
Q: You don’t have to be a genius to see who your biggest influences are. The Beatles, The Small Faces and other ‘mod' bands such as The Who seemed to dominate the early phase of the High Learys, but your sound has always been maturing. Other than the aforementioned bands, whom would you site as your biggest influences in the band’s gradual transformation?
A: We’ll always have those bands as influences, as they’ll always be ingrained in our hearts, but maybe as we’ve matured both as musicians and people our influences have branched out further to other artists such as Electric Light Orchestra, Wings, David Bowie etc.
Q: It’s been a joy to watch those influences unfold over the years for the High Learys from 60s style rock n roll to psychedelic rock. Your first single as MYTHS, Nostalgia, is psychedelic with some definite disco influences in there. Should we expect more of the same style of music from MYTHS?
A: Our album Paradigm which will be coming out at the end of the year has a variety of new sounds on it. We decided to drop ‘Nostalgia as the first track to make a statement. It’s probably the most obscure when compared to the sound of The High Learys. It shows that we’re definitely moving in a different direction.
Q: As the front man, your new vocal style is very similar to that of Kevin Parker from Tame Impala. This is totally different from your older vocals that had a nasally tone to them similar to that of John Lennon or Liam Gallagher. Is this new vocal style set as the style for the band or can we expect a return to the Jamie Turner vocals of old in any of the new music?
A: I think it goes back to what I was mentioning before, I’m not the musician I was 6 years ago. A couple of factors come to mind, I feel a lot more comfortable and confident as a vocalist, I feel like a sing a lot more like “myself” nowadays. Since those days I no longer smoke cigarettes which may explain the nasally tone you’re talking about?
Q: I’m aware that you’re a big fan of amazing albums such as The Beach Boys Pet Sounds and Sgt Peppers, which are laced with little intricacies that are hard to notice on first listen, or even 100th listen. Your keys player, Mike Nutt, has said that you love to do the same in your music. I also love this sort of stuff, so give us a few hints of what we should listen out for?
A: When recording the tracks we sometimes would layer 10 or more guitar tones over the top of each other. There are lots of little melodies that’ll take you a few listens to pick up on. We recorded quite a lot of it down in Denmark WA inside a cabin in the middle of the woods, which is great for capturing sound bites from birds and the log fire crackling. I guess when recording an album yourself, you tend to try and capture everything you can, which can prove interesting and sometimes difficult in the mixing stages as you’ll want to try and keep hiding little intricacies in the songs, there’s definitely a lot hidden in there.
Q: The first LP for MYTHS, Paradigm, is set to be released later this year. We’re sure you’ll be heading on tour? If so, will you be keeping it local, national, or will you be eyeing up international shores once more?
A: When the album comes out we’ll be heading around Australia first, we plan to play the major cities and visit the regionals as well. Next year sometime we’ll be looking at heading back to Europe and The UK to promote the record for sure.
Q: On another topic, we’re always interested to know what haunts our local musicians love most in Perth. Where abouts in Perth are you often found?
A: You’ll occasionally find me having a drink at the Bird or singing for my supper in a pub somewhere. Moving to Victoria Park recently has been great because of the amount of amazing restaurants and cafes.
Q: Where was your first Perth gig?
A: My first Perth show was an all ages show at YMCA in Leederville, Myself and a couple of the guys from MYTHS were in a band back in high school, we invited pretty our entire year down, I think even some of our school teachers came down to watch, we had such a great time, I’ll never forget it.
Q: One final question to help us learn a little more about the man behind the music. If you could sit down and have a beer with one musician, dead or alive, who would that be, and why?
A: I’d love to sit down and have a drink with the late great George Gershwin, Having a talk to him about his music and asking him about living through the turn of the century would be incredible.