VIDEO: Teenage troubadour Jake takes his next giant stride down stardom road
Chart-topping Jake Bugg plays a sold-out show at Plymouth Pavilions on Sunday. Jackie Butler hears some words of wisdom from the boy wonde.r
It's quite awe-inspiring to ponder the youthful achievements of singer songwriter Jake Bugg.
Not much more than 12 months ago, he was, to all intents and purposes, simply another teenager strumming an acoustic guitar in his Nottingham bedroom.
Little did we know that he was about to unleash a batch of songs that grabbed the attention of pretty much every discerning music lover in the land.
Jake certainly has it all going on; with a distinctive and charming wail of a voice, honest lyrics that don't flinch from reality, however grim, and a musical trait that bridges the gap between 1960s American folk and the impassioned power of contemporary rock,
His eponymous debut album went to number one in the charts, reached platinum status and prompted several high-level award nominations.
He's just unveiled the driving and rocky new single What Doesn't Kill You – with more than a hint of early Arctic Monkeys about it – and next month sees the release of Shangri La. his second long player of self-penned and co-written material.
This summer Jake made the giant leap from the BBC Introducing showcase at Glastonbury, straight to the Pyramid stage, and he's about to play a string of big, sell-out headline shows in Britain – starting in Bournemouth tomorrow and coming to Plymouth Pavilions on Sunday.
He may look no older than his 19 years, but there's a self-assured maturity about his compositions and his outlook on the world, although he has no pretension, or ego, about either.
"There is no better feeling than looking at people really enjoying what I do," he says. "It's absolutely fantastic, and to me it's almost unbelievable that I'll be playing some really big venues this autumn. But at the same time it's all I ever dreamed about."
No doubt his adoring fans, who span an eclectic demographic, will be delighted to celebrate the new songs, but I expect they'll sing along in hearty fashion with the ones they already know and love – there were, after all, seven singles released from album one.
It was the last of these – the exquisitely moving Broken – that led to the "accidental" recording of album two in America, with celebrated producer Rick Rubin – the founder of Def Jam, a key figure in the development of hip hop and latterly teasing brilliant albums out of everyone from Johnny Cash to Adele.
Jake – originally inspired by hearing Don McLean's Vincent on an episode of The Simpsons – explains: "Well, I was in Rick's studio in Malibu with the intention of recording two songs – one of them being the new version of Broken from the last album. And, er, we ended up doing 12! He was brilliant at dragging all these ideas out of me, and they quickly turned into finished songs – in just two weeks."
He had already been working on new material while he was on the road.
"I'm here to write songs and that's what I do," he says. "It's not a task, it's something that I enjoy and there were just loads of tracks that I'd worked on as I toured in the last 12 months. And then when I got into the studio it all came together really quickly."
Adjusting to such a swift change of lifestyle and pace has given Jake plenty of food for thought and inspiration for his writing.
"It certainly makes you look at the things you experienced before in a completely different perspective. But I've always wanted that."
He says the first LP felt like a list of songs which he had accumulated over the course of a few years.
"Whereas this, to me, feels like a real progression, more of a coherent album," says Jake. "When I wrote the first album I'd never really been out of the UK. And so when it came to writing the lyrics for Shangri La I found it quite easy because of all these new experiences I was having around the world. What I found really interesting is that all the things I was writing about before aren't unique to Nottingham, they happen all over the place, just in slightly different ways. Then, of course, there were a few dark tales of relationships I wanted to get out too!"
The single version of Broken replaces the programmed strings from the album track with a proper choir and string section.
"So it wasn't about getting Rick to make it really polished, I just really wanted to make it feel more real," adds Jake.
The accompanying video is set at an open mic night in an American pool hall and opens with a snippet of performance by US roots duo HoneyHoney – Suzanne Santo on vocals, banjo and violin) and Ben Jaffe on vocals and guitar). On screen they walk away without applause as Jake takes their place; I'm sure that won't be the case when they open the show for him at Plymouth on Sunday.
Not country, not folk, not rock, theirs is a vintage-fuelled hybrid that defies exact definition and is well represented on Billy Jack, their current album release.
Also warming the stage for the young Mr Bugg will be Bath-based, 1960s-inspired rock 'n' roll trio The Family Rain, comprising brothers Will, Ollie and Tim Walter who supported The Rolling Stones at Hyde Park in the summer and have a debut album out soon.
Jake Bugg plays at Plymouth Pavilions on October 20. Tickets are sold out.