Interview: Jesse James [June 2014]

By Lais

Jesse James split up back in 2007, but they’ve reformed this summer for a couple of special occasions, one being our very own Punktastic show at the Borderline on July 5th. We spoke to frontman Donagh O’Leary (AKA DKO) and guitarist Rich Warren to ask just why they reformed and what the future holds for Jesse James.

You guys split up in 2007. Have you missed being involved in Jesse James?

RICH: I’ve missed the other guys in the band, and sometimes I miss the crazy situations that arise in a touring circus, but I definitely don’t miss having no money, driving crap vans up and down the M1, chuckle-brothering speaker cabinets up tight staircases and generally being in a bit of a state all the time.
DKO: Jesse James worked very hard, we exhausted ourselves and to an extent we felt under siege from certain quarters so that was the downside and nobody missed that. But we had some great times and played some great shows and if you can separate the drudge and the stress from actually playing the music there’s a lot of good memories there. Playing live is great, you do miss walking onto a stage in front of an audience, same with recording but not so much the rest of it.

What led to you deciding to reform?

DKO: We’d had a fair few offers in the past but it was always too soon. Slam Dunk asked and offered a fair fee, the timing was right and we all thought it’d be fun, and it was.
RICH: I wanted to drive up and down the M1, carry heavy equipment up tight staircases and get in a bit of a state.

You played Slam Dunk last month – how did that go?

DKO: It was good fun, we played better than we expected to I think! And the lighting highlighted our greying hair nicely.
RICH: It was fucking great. We played well, we got on well, and we had a heart-warmingly appreciative audience at each venue. After being away from the scene for seven years. it was amazing to see and hear people singing along to the songs.

Will your Punktastic/Big Cheese show in London be your only headline date?

RICH: It will most definitely be our only headline date.
DKO: Yes. There will be no other UK shows at all.

Where will you go from here? Is this really a one off or do you intend to reform properly?

DKO: We’re also playing Mighty Sounds festival in Czechoslovakia, but there are absolutely no plans for more shows after that. Having said that, the right offer for the right festival might get results.
RICH: I could see us doing more festivals if the offers and the timings are right. Reforming properly is a bit of a non-starter as the inevitable reality is a lot of us are married with kids now. Plus I’m not sure my vital organs can take the extended punishment of touring in a punk band any more.

Is there any chance we’ll hear any new material from you?

DKO: Personally, I think I’ve said all I have to say lyrically. Writing was always cathartic so I’m not at all sure I have anything more to write. Over to Rich…
RICH: I’d put a cheeky fiver on it, but some of us are keener than others on the idea.


Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]