Reach Out: The All-Star Gang Mentality Of The Jaded Hearts Club

Reach Out: The All-Star Gang Mentality Of The Jaded Hearts Club

Indie avengers assemble...

The Jaded Hearts Club is a bit like a secret society. It’s a group that borrows musicians from your favourite bands, with the ensemble popping up on an ad hoc basis, playing scorching rock ‘n’ roll covers at charity shows, then vanishing into the night.

Formed by producer Jamie Davis to perform at his birthday party, the line up eventually settled into Miles Kane and Nic Cester swapping vocals, Graham Coxon and Davis himself on guitars, Muse frontman Matt Bellamy on bass, and Sean Payne on drums. Like a Venn diagram of indie godfathers, The Jaded Hearts Club are playing it for laughs – and loving every minute.

Becoming a social media phenomenon within hours of their first show together, the group’s fourth live outing was a special Teenage Cancer Trust at London’s epic Royal Albert Hall. All in all, not a bad little run.

“Once we’d all agreed, it was just really easy,” reflects drummer Sean Payne. “It ended up being the way you imagined being in a band was when you’re a teenager – playing with your mates, girls dancing… all that!”

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The hardest part of being in the band, it seems, is picking the set list. “Matt and Jamie really battle it out with the tunes,” the drummer adds. “There was a WhatsApp group, and we’d be throwing stuff down in there. We’d all take the lead. But to be honest, some of them I didn’t know! There was a lot of catching up to do.”

Very quickly, being in The Jaded Hearts Club became this act of one up manship. Each had to be on their guard, or as Nic Cester puts it “on their A-Game”. The Australian vocalist explains: “Stepping into any other group is always going to present new challenges, but what I love about this one is the constant knowledge of the quality of everyone involved.”

“It’s weird,” adds Graham Coxon. “You come in with your own knowledge and experience of this classic music, and you wonder about the knowledge these other guys have – whether it’s more or less, or about the same. You think ‘oh will he do that drum fill?’ and then he does, and it’s clear Sean knows what he’s doing! With everybody, it’s awesome because they know exactly what it’s about. Everybody knows their shit when it comes to this stuff.”

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Across a quicksilver series of live shows the set list began to coalesce around garage rock crunchers, super soulful Motown cuts, and the odd rock ‘n’ roll belter or two. Heading into the studio, Matt Bellamy came to the fore, amplifying the gusty, punk-fuelled passion of their performances into something different.

“We wanted to play that music with the right spirit… it was the punk music of the day, and we wanted to play it like we mean it,” says Sean Payne. “We’re not looking for 50 quid at the end of the night – it’s like, fuck that, we want to play it properly! Let’s mean this.”

Graham Coxon nods in agreement. “It wasn’t just slung together and we’d have a laugh… he’s pretty forensic, is Matt, about getting it right. In fact, he’d always say to me: tune your guitar, Coxon! Like a brigadier,” laughs the Blur legend. “But that’s good because he’s fucking serious.”

“It was doing these lovely sweaty shows for charity in the early days, but I didn’t know Matt very well to begin with – I was just getting to know him, like everybody. But to see how serious he was, and how enthusiastic he was about the recordings, and what it meant, what this group actually was… it was like: wow, this isn’t just a giggle! It’s not just a couple of charity shows, there’s a plan to it.”

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It was Matt Bellamy’s job to somehow corral this band of misfits and part-time icons – a true dirty half-dozen of the indie rock world- into something more. He did it the only way he knows how: by pushing them right to the edge.

New album ‘You’ve Always Been Here’ chafes at the edges, with its frayed boundary lines carrying the spirit and emotion needed to echo those epochal recordings. Just listen to the band’s take on ‘Reach Out I’ll Be There’ by the Four Tops – it’s an urgent, frenzied, intense piece of garage soul, one that taps into the manic performances from those initial Motown revues.

Says Nic Cester: “I remember him having this conversation with me, where he said what caught him was the desperation of that particular performance. The whole time he kept pushing and pushing me… to be more desperate! I was like: I am desperate, dammit!”

“That came from constant conversations with Matt. We would talk about a key… and then he’d raise it! He was very much purposefully pushing me to the absolute limit, where you can’t really plan too much. You’re just holding on for dear life! That was one way to get some real emotion out of it. It was fucking no joke!”

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Miles Kane, too, caught hold of this pressurised atmosphere. While the bulk of the album was laid down in Los Angeles, he recorded his parts afterwards in London – meaning he had already caught wind of what his compadres had achieved. “I went in just at the end of it,” he gulps. “They sent over the takes for the songs I sing. I didn’t know what it would be like, and then I put it on… and it was like: this is the real deal… they’ve gone for it!”

“I did my vocals in a few days, but I think it was pretty much like,” then Miles looks around him laughing with a devilish grin: “I nailed it straight away, didn’t I?!”

It’s not all friendly competition, though. There’s a clear bond of affection in the group – when Miles first heard the final take for ‘Reach Out I’ll Be There’ he immediately phoned Nic up, the recording blaring out in the background through his home speakers. “I’ve had it on repeats loads,” he admits. “I love Nic’s voice. When we’re working together it’s more, in awe… or, it’s a pleasure.”

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Started in the wild heat of 2019, the band’s debut album almost ran aground on the rocks of 2020. The pandemic set in, with that WhatsApp group becoming their only way of staying in touch. Those song recommendations and Scouse wind-ups, then, were a life saver of sorts.

Each tackled lockdown in their own fashion. For Nic, it was a means of staying close to his family. “Personally, for me, I’ve got a new family – my wife and a two year old daughter – and we’re all in Milan together, so it was actually quite a beautiful bonding period.”

Miles Kane put the finishing touches to his new solo album, and ramped up his FIFA score. “I was chilling,” he admits. “Eating a load of Haribo. Wrote a couple of tunes. Enjoyed just… having it.”

Graham Coxon, meanwhile, polished off some soundtrack work, and took in the sights of Los Angeles. “I appreciated it slowing down,” he says. “I remember being in LA during Spring, and being able to see the sea from the other side of LA because there was no smog! It was pretty amazing how things regenerated so quickly all over the world.”

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With the album now out, The Jaded Hearts Club is left to ponder when they’ll next be in the same room. Live shows are out for the time being, so they’ve gone back to their WhatsApp group, passing on deep cuts and in-jokes. At one point Miles Kane and Graham Coxon begin reminiscing about their mutual love of 60s French rocker Jacques Dutronc and his wife, the seminal songwriter Francoise Hardy.

“I used to go round their house quite a lot in the 90s,” nods Graham Coxon. “I didn’t see him, but I was in their house. Every wall is painted black. Francoise Hardy did a version of ‘To The End’ by Blur. She was always lovely. She was very quiet. She said Damon reminded her of Jacques Dutronc and I reminded her of Serge Gainsbourg. And I didn’t know how to take it!”

“It’s all friendly competition,” snaps Nic Cester. “You don’t want to be the one to drop the ball!”

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'You've Always Been Here' is out now.

Words: Robin Murray

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