JAKE BUGG HAS GIVEN MOJO a clue what to expect from his second album, which he’s recording in The Band’s old Shangri-La studio in Malibu with beardy rock mage Rick Rubin, a collaboration that’s already yielded the hit re-recording of the Jake Bugg album slowie, Broken. Bugg was playing last month’s one-day Bushmills Live festival (tagline: ‘Handmade Whiskey, Handmade Music’) held at the whiskey-maker’s old distillery in County Antrim, where 500 or so social media competition winners surveyed a disparate mix of acoustic and rock acts that veered from stadium hopefuls Sons & Lovers – an exuberant mini-Coldplay in Mumfords’ clothing – to lachrymose Martha’s Vineyard singer-songwriter Willy Mason.
While Bugg’s been sharing a studio with the cream of West Coast musicians – including Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer Chad Smith and alt.guitarist-by-appointment Matt Sweeney – he appears unfazed by the stellar players ushered in by his new producer.
“I didn’t know who Chad Smith was at first..."
“I didn’t know who Chad Smith was at first,” Bugg tells MOJO. “But it’s great to be working on a second record in a relaxed environment, and not having to do interviews. I think [the new music] sounds a bit more mature – not too much, I’m only 19 – but I want to progress.”
He also admitted to being irritated that people are still asking him about his past comments about other musicians – one being that he thought it was ludicrous to compare One Direction to The Beatles. “It’s not personal,” says the peaceable Bugg. “I’m not saying sorry for shit though.”
Onstage, Bugg’s sharp observations about teenage hedonism and the untrammelled weekend violence of British town centres were bashed out on an acoustic guitar at a volume that rivalled even the more refreshed people towards the back of the room – who would be smouldering piles if the singer’s murderous looks could kill.
Also appearing in a line-up semi-curated by ex-Snow Patroller and Bugg co-writer Iain Archer were Belfast boys David C Clements and Tony Wright, aka Versechorusverse, extravagantly moustachioed Bangor native Foy Vance, Mumfords affiliates Bear’s Den and Icelandic headliners Of Monsters And Men, who’ve hardened into an anthemic folk-rock ensemble to rival the Arcade Fire after nearly two years on the road. Even so, there was still something of the Eurovision qualifier about them, which made them an ideal hands-in-the-air finale to a whiskey-soaked day.
An agreeable busman’s holiday for Jake Bugg, before he returns to album work with that Rick Rubin and the other guy – the one who looks like Will Ferrell – on drums.