We had a BIG lockdown chat with Jamie Webster!
With his plans of conquering the rest of the UK put on ice during these unprecedented times, I chatted with Liverpool legend Jamie Webster on all things lockdown, Bob Dylan and his upcoming debut album ‘We Get By’.
EE: Hi, would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
JW: “I’m Jamie Webster, singer songwriter. I’m 26 years of age. I started out in life learning my trade as an electrician and playing covers in pubs but more recently I’ve been associated with Liverpool FC doing some football songs around their events, but now I’m fully fledged into getting my debut album off the ground which is my own music. Looking forward to seeing where it takes me.”
EE: So, Jamie, how are you holding up this lockdown?
JW: “Sometimes it gets a bit tough obviously. Like I’m so used to just being out and being at live events and it is hard not being able to go out and gig, but on the other side of it I’m looking after myself a little bit more you know, running, exercising and eating well.
Also, it’s given me time to sit down and write music as well which probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise this summer, I’m in my girlfriend’s box room with my guitar. I’m just trying not to stay still, to keep moving you know?”
EE: It seems you’ve become a bit of a Liverpool local celebrity, are your eyes now set on the rest of the UK?
JW: “Yeah, it’s unbelievable to get the support from your own city in the way I have. It means an awful lot to you because those are the people that you represent, you represent the people of your city; the people who have grown up in your class and your background.
But having said that its relative to people anywhere in England and they can relate to what I’m saying in my songs. Definitely the whole of the UK is next, I just want to break through those borders and crack on with everything, play to as many people as possible no matter where they may be.”
EE: Of all of the dates on your UK tour which are you most excited to play and why?
JW: “It’s gonna have to be King Tuts in Glasgow because it’s just sold out. It’s a really historic building in Scotland and so many people have played there over the years… it selling out is sort of a milestone in music. I know you are Scottish but it’s nothing to do with that, it’s because Scots love music, they’re so supportive like the way they got Gerry Cinnamon off the ground was amazing.
I don’t think he’d be where he is today without having the support from his country. It’s great to see, the Snuts as well are another great up and coming Scottish band, they’re from west Lothian with great support, Scots love the music.”
EE: Selling out King Tuts is definitely a big milestone to reach in your music career, it seems you’re certainly at a defining moment in your profession just now.
JW: “Yeah, it’s crazy a lot of the support in music I get is from Liverpool. So first off, I’ve got Liverpool fans supporting me, and now other people are liking my music and supporting me as a person. It seems other people are now starting to like me for my own original music and buy tickets to see me and that’s something I’ve always wanted really, it’s just a great feeling when you see someone connect with your music then buy a ticket to see you whether its in Glasgow, Newcastle or wherever it may be.
It’s an amazing feeling and it means a lot to me. It’s the best part of it all, that shared live experience and interacting with fans makes it all seem real and not like a job. Selling out king Tuts is a milestone. The excitement is in Glasgow and I’m really excited to play there. I’m proud of myself now to be rubbing shoulders with some successful musicians and following in their footsteps.”
EE: What’s your favourite song to play live?
JW: “My favourite one to play live off the album is ‘Weekend In Paradise’. It’s the most well-known because it’s one of the three singles I’ve released and it always gets a great reaction. But in terms of my favourite song off the album it’s got to be ‘The Joker’. I fell in love with the song before I’d even finished it, I got the chord progression then started humming the melody and I just thought this is one of my best. It’s got a lovely groove to it; the lyrics are real and really heartfelt and true and the melody to it is really dancey as well.
I can’t get enough of it. If you said to me “I’m gonna listen to your album, what song would you recommend?” I’d say the joker. But once the album gets released, I might have a new answer for you because, you know, people will take differently to different songs.”
EE: What was ‘The Joker’ written about?
JW: “I was watching the actual film ‘The Joker’ as the new one came out recently, I was watching it with my girlfriend and I just automatically from the start of the film knew what they were trying to get at, that they were trying to paint a picture of what is means to be abandoned by society so many times before you turn into a villain.
The warning signs are there but we choose to ignore them, and straight away I just got what the film was about. A light bulb just sort of went off in my head and I knew I needed to write a song about this concept, it sort of touches on mental health too which is really important these days. As I was watching the film the lyrics just started coming to me so I started making notes, I already had the chord progressions beforehand and it was just the perfect song to put together. I had been struggling for lyrics beforehand for that melody and I kept putting it off and writing other tunes in between then coming to the studio to finish that song and just getting frustrated with myself that I was writing a different song and putting that one on the back burner, but after I watched that film I got my concept and my story in my head and it basically wrote itself that day.
I practiced it with a band a couple of times and got it how I wanted it and now I’m really happy with it. Once the album was all finished and I listened to it that was the song that I kept listening to and listening to. It’s basically about how many times you can be abandoned by society and ignore it before you turn into a villain or it all collapses on yourself and I think its something everyone can relate to a little bit. All my songs are about exploring and reflecting on what I’m thinking or how I see things happening to someone else, it’s the record of the album for me, and my manager too.”
EE: Who are your biggest musical influences on the album?
JW: “My biggest influence in music is Bob Dylan probably. He’s always been someone who’s just straight up. I mean at first, I listened to Oasis, the La’s, those sorts of bands, but mostly for me being in Liverpool in particular the Zutons as well. You listen to different things but for me once I found Bob Dylan it was like woah, this fella’s not doing anything too complicated here, he’s just playing his guitar and telling it like it is.
For me there’s nothing more powerful than that, than someone who means what they’re saying and speaks from the heart. He couldn’t care how many feathers he’s going to ruffle by saying what he’s saying, he’s saying it because that’s what he thinks is right. As a young 14 or 15-year-old lad I listened to about 15 new songs per day, and there wouldn’t be a day that went by where a song wouldn’t make the hairs stand up on the back of my neck because it was such a good story. You feel every emotion that he’s feeling when he’s singing and it just resonated with me. It was one of my best mates’ older cousins who was into music who came down one day and was telling me about Bob Dylan.
He told me the story behind the song of ‘Hurricane’, about Rubin Carter who was wrongly imprisoned for murder, and once he told me that story I listened to the song and just thought oh my god. That’s unbelievable, that he could raise that awareness and help out a man like that. How many more people now know the story of Rubin Carter now that he’s told it, that was something that was always on my mind as a songwriter. Speak the truth, speak what you feel and speak from the heart. You might not make a change but you’ve got more of a chance when you say what you think instead of going along with what everyone else is doing. His music resonated with me and it’s still so powerful and so relevant now.”
EE: Of course, as well as music you have a passion for football as “Allez, Allez, Allez” has become an Anfield anthem, but if you could only pick one what would you choose?
JW: “Oh that’s a good question. It’s hard because music is so involved in football like you wouldn’t even believe. You go to the match, you listen to music in the car to start your day off, you listen to music in the pub before and after the game. I don’t know which one I could go without. If I was to say music then football would never be the same, and if I was to say football then music would never be the same… you know what, I suppose realistically when I’m older I’m not gonna be able to play football but if I found out I was going to die in my sleep tonight I’d probably listen to one of my favourite albums with a loved one.
So if I HAD to choose I’d probably need to say I’d can’t live without music. You don’t realise how much music is in everyone’s lives. When you’re like three years old you sing nursery rhymes, you don’t realise how important music is. Even if you’re not a music fan, if you’re a building site worker that radio that’s playing every single day impacts you, I don’t care what you say.”
EE: Okay, one last question for you. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
JW: “Enjoy it. I’ve got a mate called Timmo and he’s played in some really big bands in Liverpool, and he really enjoyed himself. One thing he’s always said to me is “enjoy it”. When I made the decision to pursue music at the time I was an electrician and music was just something I did on the weekends, but I realised I could actually make my living from music. I wanted to follow my passion so I talked to him about all these things from recording an album, to being a full time musician and touring the world and he basically just sat me down and had a chat with me and said “Just do it, as long as you’re enjoying it.
Even if you come out of this in five years time and you have financially nothing to show from it, you’re not driving around in a big sports car and you still live at home, if you’ve had the time of your life in those five years then no one can take that away from you”. When I do find it stressful or frustrating, especially in the LFC side of things playing to 60,000 people in that world, on the day there was so much pressure on my shoulders, the crowd all waiting there for me, the police were trying to shut it down because it was in communal areas or something like that, it was just really chaotic. But I just remembered what he was saying to me you know, to just enjoy it and I realised that I might not ever have 60,000 people in front of me ever again, you’ve just got to go out and give it everything you’ve got.
Those words from Timmo were just coming to me, going through my head and I did enjoy it. He couldn’t have been more right; it was probably the best day of my life so far and the memories I’ve got on that stage in front of those people, no one can ever take that away from me. I forgot about all of the worries and stress and just let the crowd know who I was. Obviously, this lockdown isn’t ideal for anyone but before all this I was playing guitar every day, writing songs, recording songs, that’s my job.
I was enjoying my life probably more than I’ve ever enjoyed it. As a kid you have great times but you’d always have school, then I always had my job. I don’t feel like I’ve changed in any way. I just feel like this is what I was supposed to do, so I’m gonna do it. I’m enjoying my life and I understand not everyone is fortunate enough to have a great life but I know I’m just really lucky. I’ve been able to do this through playing music. If you’d have told me three years ago that this is what I’d be doing I’d have told you to get lost but there’s been a complete turn around and I couldn’t be happier. Obviously you have days where you struggle, everyone has bad days but as a whole I’m happy with what I’m doing, my parents are proud of me, all my mates are proud of me and I feel lucky.”
Jamie’s music documents his personal take on modern daily life, from singing about his working-class upbringing to calling out injustice in his latest single ‘Something’s Gotta Give’. His music has resonated with thousands of people who can connect with his words and his story, as his live shows have gained a reputation for having an electric, festival-like atmosphere. This is only the beginning of Jamie’s journey from local hero to established solo artist as he plans to take the rest of the UK by storm this autumn.
Jamie has a refreshingly optimistic take to music; his songs are always uplifting, always real and they always have a story to tell. Having went from his job as an electrician to playing in front of 60,000 people is a great accomplishment for just one man and his guitar and personally I can’t wait to see what he does next. See you at King Tuts Jamie!
Interview carried out by Emma Edwards
20 year old film and media student from South-West Scotland living in Edinburgh. Lover of all things gigs and music.