Strange to say I hadn’t heard of The Jackets before Matt from Voodoo Rhythm Records, a cool garage rock’n’roll label out of Bern, Switzerland, sent me a promo of their recently released album Queen of the Pill. But yeah, as soon as I slapped that baby on was I ever mightily impressed!!! The Jackets deliver such a powerful punch of intense and stylish garage punk that immediately draws you, hook line and sinker. And then later when I heard from Chris Rosales, The Jacket’s drummer, that they toured the US and Canada a couple years ago was I ever bummed! They played Montreal and I didn’t know it! Kicking myself, I feel I’ve missed out on what must have been an incredible, crazy and memorable live performance! Well now I am so thrilled that I know them and get to experience their sheer exuberant and maddening garage tunes, and maybe I’ll be lucky if they come back this way again so I can experience their killer live show – as you can see from the photos borrowed for this interview. I hope if you don’t know them you will do yourself a favor and check them out and then love them like I do!
– Samia ♥
What’s the story of how you all first met and formed The Jackets?
Chris Rosales: I met Jackie at a show I played (Lightning Beat-Man) in Zürich in the late ‘90s. We started a relationship and one of our goals as a couple was to start a great Rock and Roll band. We started writing songs together and rehearsing with just guitar and drums, which was our original idea for the band. Eventually we wanted a fatter sound so I asked one of my favourite bass players here in Bern to play with us, Severin Erni from a band called Tight Finks. We had our fist show in January of 2008. We had good bookings right away. Our fist shows were actually a tour with the French band Magnetix from Bordeaux. The calendar started filling up fast and we even booked a studio to do our first LP after that Summer. This was a bit too fast for Severin. He was about to start a family and wasn’t really prepared to start a new Rock and Roll adventure so he agreed to finish all our bookings we had so far and to play on the record but he couldn’t go on with us after that. We met Sam as a promoter at a small countryside club that we played at. Severin left on the train after the gig and Jackie and I stayed up all night drinking and talking to Sam. To make a long story short, Sam became our bass player a month later. He even plays a little guitar on our first LP but didn’t start playing shows until January of 2009. Jackie and I are no longer romantically linked but we are the best of friends, confidants and partners in crime!
Describe what it’s like being a Swiss garage band…What’s the culture like in Switzerland…Is it easy for a band like yourselves to work on your art? What’s the garage music scene like’s there?
Chris Rosales: Well, we aren’t a Swiss Garage band. We are a band that is based in Switzerland. We spend most of our time outside of Switzerland and lately outside of Europe a bit. The National Arts Council in Switzerland is very happy to have Swiss bands go outside of Switzerland to play and we get a certain amount of subvention from the State which we are grateful for! I think this is unique to most of Europe besides France. I have also heard that Canada gives money to bands and artists as well. Switzerland is a small, traditional country with not much experience in the music world but things have been changing for the last thirty years. Bands like Yellow and The Young Gods broke internationally as well as others from the hard rock genre. But Switzerland is famous in the underground Garage Rock and Roll scene because of Voodoo Rhythm Records and Reverend Beat-Man. In this scene, all of Europe has heard of Switzerland and Bern is probably one of the Garage Underground capitals in Europe. There is a Punk, Ska, Rockabilly, Garage and noise scene here because of the influence of Voodoo Rhythm Records and Beat-Man.
Jack Torera, you have such a powerful voice… who are some of your influences?
Jack Torera: I developed my voice basically on stage playing live with bands over many years. I never really had an idol or a certain style that I wanted to achieve, I couldn’t do that anyways. Of course I like strong female singers like Nina Hagen, Patty Smith or Janis Joplin, mainly because the have a very unique voice and style. I like voices that have personality and don’t sound like everybody else or are perfectly trained.
Who came up with The Jacket’s unique style, makeup, look and outfits?
Jack Torera: The make-up comes from a character I also play in my One-Woman-Plays called Jack Torera, my alter ego. I also do costumes and we were looking for a simple outfit that is comfortable to wear (and wash!) and that is timeless and recognizable as The Jackets.
What brought you to Voodoo Rhythm Records and getting King Khan to produce and Jim Diamond to mix and master you record Queen of the Pill?
Chris Rosales: I have known Beat-Man of Voodoo Rhythm Records for over twenty years and King Khan is also an old friend that I met in the 1990’s touring Europe in one of Beat-Man’s bands. So we are all friends and associates. After our last record, we wanted to work with someone who could produce us. Make us work harder but in a fun way and we decided to go to Berlin and do a few songs with King Khan and it worked really well so we decided to go back and do a whole LP. Jim Diamond has been writing us for years about doing something but we never met personally so it never happened. By accident we met on on airport shuttle in Spain at Asturias Airport and started talking. He asked again if we ever want to do something he would like to work with us. After the Berlin session we decided to send him a few songs to test mix and the rest is history!
As a band who are some of your inspirations?
Chris Rosales: We like a lot of different things. Theatre, Painting, Movies, so we find inspiration in more than just music. Our musical inspirations are endless but a few who I could list would be The Cramps, The Monks, The Music Machine, The MC5, The Stooges and The Kinks.
Your videos are loads of fun! Can you talk about what are your favorite ones and why you like them and how you made them?
Chris Rosales: Videos are a lot of work! Jackie is a film maker and went to film school in Zürich so we have an advantage technically. We have had great experiences and we are lucky to have worked with some really great film people. We made “Wasting My Time” all by ourselves in the south of France with a tripod and the three of us taking turns holding the camera. One was a film compilation (You Better) while we were on tour taken by our driver. Two were major productions (Freak Out & Keep Yourself Alive) with budgets and a professional crew. The last one (Losers Lullaby) was a professionally shot with one camera person and a set assistant. I think they all have their own personalities. I don’t really have a favourite but I always like the newest one!
You’ve been around since 2008 so how has your style and sound changed over the years?
Chris Rosales: I think our song writing has developed a lot. We are still attempting the same things but I think we are way more successful at them now. And that goes for our recordings as well. We are just getting better at it, or making better decisions now. But if you listen to our first record (Stuck Inside 2009) and then our second (Way Out 2012) there is a big change. We have just refined the “Way Out” sound for the last 7 years.
What are some of the most outstanding moments for your band – greatest shows, or experiences that really stand out?
Chris Rosales: Playing Funtastic Dracula Festival in 2013 which really put us in the spotlight here in Europe. Also the two tours of the USA in 2017 and 2018 were very important for us as far as exposure in another continent. The Jackets have had so many great moments (for me personally). I am really lucky and really grateful that I can do this crazy job.
What’s on the horizon for the Jackets with your upcoming release of Queen of the Pill record?
Chris Rosales: Well, We are on tour at the moment in Switzerland and as I write this (June 2019), we are on the way to Spain to tour. We will be coming to the rest of Europe (France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, etc.) starting in October.
Any plans to tour North America?
Chris Rosales: Yes, we are thinking about coming early Spring 2020 but maybe just the North West/ South West USA and then maybe Mexico. But we would like to come back to Canada. You know we played Montreal, Quebec City and Sherbrooke in 2017?
Does the band have any special messages for the audience?
Chris Rosales: Give Pizza Chance!