Jesse Welles is an Arkansan-native who performs with his band simply as Welles. When we meet up he’s part way though a pan-European tour with label mates Highly Suspect and things have started to get a bit hazy. As a result, our plans to intro Jesse to the delights of pie and mash are scuppered when his tour manager (the lovely but equally spangled Simon) confuses Exmouth market for Chapel market. Thus we find ourselves enjoying the Music, Coffee & Bagels of Brill and big love to them for having us.
Wonderful photography by Nicole Eberl.
“It’s cool to be over here because pretty much all the bands I grew up on were British” says Welles as we pad down the market. “Black Sabbath, Zepplin, The Beatles – those were all a big part of what I listened to growing up.”
That growing up took place in a small-town named Ozark, Arkansas, not exactly a cultural hub by Jesse’s own admission.
“I kind of felt on my own music-wise while I was growing up. Like kids my age weren’t really into the music I enjoyed. But then I went to college in a town which was a dot of (Democrat) blue in a sea of (Republican) red. Basically the guys in my college town were a bunch of hippies. They had their minds open and it exposed me to a whole range of new stuff.”
During this time Jesse played in a whole host of bands which might explain why he’s not been scared to tour with a band from a different side of the rock spectrum in Highly Suspect.
“Yeah, some people might say we play different sorts of music but I’ve really enjoyed playing with those guys and the crowds have been great, they’ve really got into my stuff. I think the rock world needs to work together more. You see in the rap or hip-hop world, people are always featuring each other, appearing on each others records. They support each other. It’s been rare to see that in a rock context but I think we need more of it. I’m not in competition with anyone.”
In a similar vein, the acoustic sounds on new single “Seventeen” are a departure from previous Welles releases but Jesse again plays down the controversy.
“The way I see it, I’m a songwriter and a song like “Seventeen” comes out of me just like any other. To me, it’s definitely a Welles song.”
Check out Welles’ upcoming live shows including his headline show at Shacklewell Arms on 27/02/18 at ticketmaster.co.uk/welles