Introducing: Black Star Jackals

Glasgow based Black Star Jackals burst on to the scene in 2019 with debut single ‘Maybe’ winning great critical acclaim. The band then went on to win the Scottish final of the Soundwaves Music Competition. Since then the alt-rock 4 piece have quickly garnered new fans, radio airplay, and positive reviews from industry professionals thanks to their infectious melodies and hard rock vibes. Latest single ‘Party People’ has just dropped and Black Star Jackals guitarist Stephen Joseph was on hand with all the details, as well as giving us the background on the band.

What are the origins of Black Star Jackals? How long have you been playing together?

Our lead singer Kieran had been gigging as a solo acoustic act, playing his own songs for a few months when he decided to form a band. By early summer 2019, and after a few changes of personnel, we settled on our line-up as it is now and started gigging soon after.

How did you feel performing your first gig as a band? And how was it?!

It was only one of the best experiences of our lives and something we’ll never forget. You only get to do your first gig once right? We actually put on our own gig with support. We took it very seriously! We played every song we’d written at that point (which wasn’t many) and all our family and friends came along to support so there was a decent crowd and great vibes. I think most of them were just surprised we didn’t suck!

What should people expect when they check the band out? How would you describe Black Star Jackals?

We all grew up in an era of truly great bands and a time were bands and rock music were still mainstream, on the radio and MTV. Bands like Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soundgarden, Muse, Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes, Incubus, and countless more. We wear these influences on our sleeves and I think our sound harks back to this era, but with our own modern twist. It feels like everyone we meet without fail loves that kind of music and our goal is to bring it back to the mainstream.

‘Party People’ is the new single, what was it about this one that made you chose it as a single? And what are the lyrical themes behind it? It could have multiple meanings…

The song itself is driven by this simple, but super effective pounding ‘four on the floor’ style drumbeat – similar to what you hear in lots of dance tracks. That was the foundation on which we wanted to build the track i.e. a proper party jam you can’t help headbanging to. In fact, the words “Party People” came about from us imagining a crowd rocking out to this at a party. Then we decided to put a twist on the meaning, instead suggesting that the “Party People” are kind of like mindless sheep, dancing away their dreams. You can draw whatever analogies or metaphors with real-life you choose…

What goes through your head in the run-up to releasing new music? Are you excited? Nervous? – Both?!

It’s always exciting releasing your own original music. Here’s this thing you’ve created yourselves and it gives others joy (well, Calum’s mum for sure!). At this early stage, we’re hopeful but realistic about our chances of huge success off the back of one song. There’s so much new music being released each day that it’s tough to get noticed, but we genuinely believe that Party People has real potential to be a hit if it gets heard by the right people, so you never know…

Is ‘Party People’ indicative of what a full-length album would sound like?

Possibly! It’s hard-hitting, catchy, melodic, upbeat – usually a good recipe! It’s actually a bit different to all our current releases. It definitely has a more modern, contemporary vibe to it, using some synths and fx, something we hadn’t done before.

In what ways has the band grown since it formed in early 2019?

I think we’ve all learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses and whilst it’s still early days and we certainly don’t feel like we’ve nailed down ‘our sound’ yet, we’re definitely evolving and developing through each song and pushing ourselves to be as creative, original and authentic as we can. I think just comparing Party People with our last release shows this – they’re both clearly from the same band, but also very different from each other. We don’t want to become repetitive and stale.

In terms of a similar audience: who would be the ideal act for Black Star Jackals to support?

Gotta be the Foo Fighters. We’re massive Dave Grohl fanboys and that band has been a huge influence on our sound.

What are your first musical memories? And what was the lightbulb moment that made you go “I want to do that”?

We all have very different musical upbringings. For example, both myself and Max (bass) studied classical music at music conservatoires. But for us and probably most bands, music isn’t just something that we ‘do’ on the weekend, it’s what we are. We’re our happiest when we’re up on stage playing music live. Doesn’t matter if there are only 2 people in the audience (which there has been!).

Personally, who has been the biggest influence on you becoming a musician?

I mean, that’s an impossible question! There isn’t one single band or artist we could single out as THE biggest influence (except maybe Dave Grohl in Kieran’s case!). We bring our own influences to the table and it’s the combining of those together that gives the Black Star Jackals sound.

What was the last gig that you attended as a fan?

Ahh gigs, we remember those! The last of us to attend a gig pre-lockdown was probably Steven and that was to see Ghost (for the 2nd time that year no less).

What current social issue are you particularly passionate about?

We’re keen on the importance of mental health and well-being. Pretty much all of us have been through some dark times in our lives and anything we can do to bring attention to mental health and to remove the stigma is a good thing. Most of our lyrics deal with mental health issues.

What album do you have in your collection/Spotify playlist that would surprise most people?

We’re all pretty opened minded when it comes to music. Max often asks us if we’ve heard the latest song by Doja Cat or Cardi B (we always haven’t)! Steven has a soft spot for cheesy pop. Right now his most listened to album is Miley Cyrus’s latest record.

What are your plans for 2021 should COVID ever disappear?!

It’s unlikely the gigs are gonna just suddenly appear again and we return back to normal just like that, so our focus is going to be predominately on creating content online. We’d love to get out as many new releases as possible, but also new avenues are opening up like live-streamed gigs and even virtual reality gigs, one of which we might be doing sometime soon…

How active are you on social media and where can people connect with you?

Well, being locked in your house for nearly a year isn’t a breeding ground for fascinating and engaging content, but we try to post and engage on a pretty regular basis. You can get us on all the usual places:

Stream ‘Party People’ here:

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