Kent rockers Salvation Jayne have honed an excitingly eclectic sound of effortlessly cool indie rock and absolutely filthy guitars under the deliciously hard-hitting vocals of Chess Smith.
They initially formed as a concept back in 2013 but the current line-up, completed by guitarist Holly Kinnear, bassist Dan Lucas and drummer Tor Charlesworth, only came together last November. They then took six months out to re-evaluate their sound and emerged with the resulting fusion of big fuzzy guitar riffs, epic melodies and huge vocals that combined have been described as “fucking brilliant” by The Clash drummer Topper Headon. Who are we to argue?
The rockier side of the band comes to the fore with the release of this month’s single Juno. It opens up with a fuzzy opening riff, a big bassline and echoey distant vocals, then Chess’ crooning vocals come in with a catchy rhyming opening verse. A huge smash of dirty fuzzy guitars cuts in then gives way to a bigger, edgier verse before a big rocking chorus with the fuzzy guitars under cries of “Hey, get yourself together.”
The pace drops down briefly, then explodes with a huge a capella cry from Chess that sparks another chorus. The song switches up completely with light guitars, multiple repeats of “Get yourself together” then dives back into the big chorus. Check it out in the video below:
On the single, the band tell us: “It’s a step more towards the rock world for us, with some cool indie moments too. Big hook in the chorus, and a lot of light and shade in terms of dynamics!”
The Salvation Jayne sound has been influenced by recent bands like Wolf Alice and The War On Drugs, while the likes of The Cure and Killing Joke have evoked the more gloomy aspects. Interestingly, they tell us their vocal cadances have been inspired by rappers such as Yelawolf and Berner, their atmospheric sections from bands such as Broods or Paper Route, and their heavier side from bands like Deap Vally and Queens of the Stone Age – they really are quite the mixed bag.
As they explain: “We’re a bit of an eclectic mix. The heavy bits are really loud and in your face, but with great poppy vocal hooks, evocative guitar parts (usually sombre and in a minor key!), a lot of dynamics and atmosphere but without losing sight of playing actual songs.”
For me the most impressive example of all these coming together is the brilliant single Burn It Down, which was released in May. It opens with a big noisy guitar and bass intro with rolling drums, then drops into an engaging opening verse with a rolling guitar riff. That feeds into a chorus of huge screams of “Burn it down” and the faster “Burn that house down that made me” then drops into delicate vocals through the second verse – really showing off the diversity of Chess’ vocals.
Big dirty guitar follows the second chorus, then drops into a cool high-pitched, laid-back guitar lick over an atmospheric backdrop. An awesome blend of big dark instrumentals alongside Chess’ almost haunting vocals follows, then explodes into a huge final rendition of the chorus. Check it out in the video below:
The issue of what inspires bands to write generally intrigues me, and Salvation Jayne’s focus on popular TV shows does so particularly. They explain: “We’re influenced by a lot of TV shows recently. Lyrics have come about after hearing phrases in shows such as Dexter, American Horror Story and Stranger Things. We try to keep the lyrics interesting and like a story, with various interesting characters involved. The subject matter is generally pretty sombre, but in a kind of beautiful way.”
The band is focused on promoting Juno for the rest of the year, ahead of writing for a new EP next year. You can see them at the Old Blue Last in London on 29 November, at NME Presents on 13 December and at The Harp Restrung in Folkestone on 22 December. More info on all their gigs is here.