Band leader/guitarist Jackie “Jax” Chambers – Syteria
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Judith Fisher at BJF Media PR for setting up the interview
Thanks to Syteria Records for the promo pictures of the band.
Back in 2015 Jackie “Jax” Chambers, guitarist of legendary female act Girlschool, formed her new act Syteria. The band doesn’t have a record label and funds their releases through pledge music campaigns. The new album, REFLECTION, can be found on Kickstarter and if you want to buy the album check out that site. REFLECTION is the band’s second album and I had the opportunity to have a short talk with Jackie “Jax” Chambers about the new album, why they don’t have a label, the upcoming tour in England, and what the rest of her bandmates in Girlschool think about Syteria. Read on to see what she had to say……
Hi Jax, nice to talk with you today, are you ready to kick off the interview?
JAX : Sure, here we go…
You that founded Syteria back in 2015, what made you want to form a new band in the first place?
JAX : Well, back then Girlschool weren’t busy enough for me, I wanted to gig more and more or at least every weekend but I would have loved to be out on tour all year round, LOL, so I decided to put another band together as well as playing with Girlschool. I had a lot of songs that I’d written which haven’t been used in the past so I figured it was time to have some fun with it all. We got together right at the end of 2015, recorded a Christmas single called “Santa’s Harley” which we released as an introduction to the band, and typically…just at that time I was about to go on tour supporting Motorhead and Saxon so Syteria didn’t get started until mid-2016.
Was it hard to find members to join the band or did you already have a line up in mind?
JAX : It wasn’t that hard, no. I wanted a band of people around me who lived locally so that we could jam and rehearse regularly. I found our vocalist, Julia via an online friend, then we found Keira on Facebook. The drummer was a problem; we auditioned a few but couldn’t find one that fit the bill. Pablo, Julia’s brother stood in for us for a few rehearsals and we loved him so much that it would have been impossible to replace him, so we asked him to join and he did. 🙂
Why did Keira (bass) leave the band? Was it hard to find someone to replace her?
JAX : Because Keira was in so many different bands and projects it got to the point where we were unable to rehearse, gig, do videos etc. so we had to replace her. We auditioned a few and then found Steph. She fits the bill perfectly as she is an amazing bass player, a fantastic singer, an all round lovely person, it’s working out really well for us. We went back into the studio and replaced all of Keira’s tracks with Steph’s tracks, bass and vocals, so the album now has a different feel to it yet again, more energy we think.
Back in 2016 you launched a pledge campaign which ended up funding the EP, WAKE UP. Debut album RANTOBOT was also financed through a pledge campaign; why finance the releases this way? Is it hard to find record label that believes in Syteria?
JAX : No, in fact as soon as we released “Santa’s Harley” we had offers and have had several other offers since then. But after reading the contracts, we turned them all down and decided to do it ourselves. Not to say we wouldn’t sign to a record company if it was the right deal but so far the ones we’ve been offered just weren’t workable for us.
What are the pros and cons with recording albums without any back up by a label?
JAX: Well doing it ourselves we get to retain 100% control of the material, where and when and with whom we record it, which songs we use, which direction we take, what image we want etc. There’s no one to butt in and tell us how we have to do it. We just thought, what can record companies do that a band can’t do themselves these days? Yes they have bigger finances to promote, but then they take a big cut of what is already a very small amount when it comes to downloads. We sold physical copies ourselves taking 100% of the income which we put back into the band rather than give a record company a percentage.
The bio states the album is released through Syteria Records and distributed by Cargo Distribution, who takes care of the distribution outside the UK?
JAX : It seems you have to have a record label name to put something out there, so we just called it Syteria records as it just made sense to us for now. Again Cargo will deal with all of that, if someone wants to buy it abroad they should just go into their local shop and ask for it and that shop will get it from cargo.
The brand new album REFLECTION was recorded and ready last summer but wasn’t released until the end of February 2020. Why has it taken you so long to release it?
JAX : Well the original plan was to record in June and release it to the pledgers only for the first 3 months and then around October or November release it to the world but as I said before, Keira was so busy with all her different projects that we had no time to do any promotion, rehearsals, photographs or even get together to discuss a plan so everything was held back until we were ready and could do it all properly… which just happens to be now!
Do you think the band have changed or developed anything musically if you compare RANT – O – BOT with REFLECTION?
JAX : Yes, I believe we have. The first album, apart from one song and a half of another one, were all written by me, mostly a lot of ranting songs about the state of our planet, hence the name RANT-O-BOT, but this one is definitely more reflective. It still has songs about problems in the world but with more emphasis on thinking about things rather than complaining about things. Of course there are a few songs on there that are just plain fun, Some pop-punk silly songs like ’As If’ and ‘Gossips’. Also, on this album Julia wrote the song ‘Back Off’ and Pablo wrote ‘Asylum’ so not all songs have that same thread, but it still sounds like Syteria.
Make Some Noise (Official Music Video)
At 35 minutes of music the album is pretty short, why is that?
JAX : Is it only 35 minutes? I don’t think any of us realised that, haha. There are 12 songs on the album but I guess they are all three-minute songs or less. Also we did have a bonus track on the Pledge version, which was the song “Halloween” but we took that off as we really wanted the pledgers to benefit with a unique release as promised.
What are the lyrics about this time?
JAX : I can’t really comment on Julia and Pablo’s lyrics but the ones I wrote: ‘Make Some Noise’ is more of a social uprising song about people speaking up, not staying silent any more about everything going on on this planet. ‘Goodbye World’ is self explanatory about how we have stolen this planet’s beauty and how apathetic we are about the consequences of our actions. ‘Reflection’ talks about looking at ourselves first and if we all acted individually to change, we could change the planet before it’s too late. Instead of saying we all need to do this, starting with yourself. ‘Gossips’ is about choosing our friends wisely and not surrounding ourselves with people who drain our positivity. ‘Sorry’, well I think we’ve all been in a position where we’ve said something we didn’t mean or done something we shouldn’t have and felt the guilt or shame of that experience and wished we could take it back. ‘As If’ is a little pop at those flakes and pretenders who we meet along the way claiming that they have so much, that they’re so successful, but it’s all for show. ‘Moving Forward’ is about the baggage we carry around in our lives that we need to shed, time to stop, take stock, search within ourselves for that inner silence that we all need. ‘I Want It All’ is about never being satisfied with what we have. ‘Plastic Fantastic’ is taking a look at how the media portrays beauty, it should come from within not the outer skin, the body is just the vessel that carries us around, it’s we the souls who are important. ‘Guilty’, if we were to stand trial right now,what would our defence be? Would we be ashamed? Proud? take responsibility for what we’ve done or do? Is anyone really innocent?
How would you like to describe what kind of music Syteria plays?
JAX : I think we are a crossover of many genres, we fit into Pop Rock, Pop Punk but at the end of the day as Lemmy would say: ‘we are Syteria and we play rock’n’ roll!”. We are a rock band that have a Punk Energy, but because our songs have four part harmonies, we could always be considered as Pop too.
In March the band is going out on the roads in England, are you excited? What’s the best thing with being out on tour?
JAX : I really am looking forward to this, I’ve just come home for a few days to rehearse with Syteria after being out on the road with Girlchool for the past month. So to do it again with my other band is even more exciting. I love meeting new people at gigs and chatting afterwards but also Love it when people sing along to the songs that we’ve written.
Any plans on heading out on tour in Europe?
JAX : We would all love to come out to Europe, we’ve done a few gigs already out of the UK but really want to play more. It’s so hard these days booking gigs abroad, no one wants to take the risk, the promoters are all still a little worried about Brexit and what that means for British musicians travelling abroad. As it is most bands lose money or barely break even when travelling abroad so just can’t afford to do it. We are hoping that a promoter somewhere will pick up on us to take us out there again.
Is Syteria a band or a project?
JAX : Most definitely a band! All four of us are equally important it’s not just my band and I would never run it like that.
Since 1999 you been a part of the legendary act Girlschool, do you think fans of Girlschool is going to like the music of Syteria?
JAX : Yes, with the tour I have just finished I saw quite a few Syteria T-shirts in the crowds and a few people talked to me about the band afterwards which was encouraging.
Where does the title REFLECTION come from? Who came up with the name and does it have any special meaning to the band?
JAX : This song “Reflection” was actually recorded for the last album, In fact it did appear on the WAKE UP EP but as we recorded 3 extra songs for RANT-O-BOT we didn’t put that one on. It was always a live favourite and we planned to release the song as single but never did, so when it came to recording the REFLECTION album we knew we were going to include it and realised it would be the perfect title for the follow-up album seing as we were feeling more reflective this time around anyway.
Do you see any problems in the fact that you are involved in two bands that are active? Any problems in finding the time for the bands?
JAX : Not at the moment, it’s working out very well. The gigs fit around each other quite well as both managers tend to talk to each other when booking and we’ve even played on the same bill 2 or 3 times now, which I love of course. The very reason I wanted a second band was that I wanted to be busy because I love playing live; and I got my wish, LOL
Gossips (Official Music Video)
Which band is your main priority?
JAX : I guess if it came down to it I would take the Girlschool gig and reschedule the Syteria gig as Girlschool is my bread and butter as they say, and of course we do much bigger gigs so it would be stupid not to. So far it hasn’t been a problem and I can’t see it being one either.
What do the rest of the members of Girlschool think of Syteria’s music?
JAX : They are very supportive, Kim and Denise both appeared in our “Halloween” video which was recorded at Kim’s home. They both played zombies and looked much better for the experience, but don’t tell them that. LOL
“Halloween” Official Music Video
What would you like to say to those that haven’t heard Syteria’s music yet?
JAX : Please go and check us out, we have several videos now on YouTube which we have mainly recorded ourselves but recently have 2 brand-new videos to go along with the new album which we think you’ll enjoy!
Could you give them three reasons why they should buy REFLECTION?
JAX : 1. We have the BEST producer (Tim Hamill) who brings out the best in the band and we are getting great feedback already about this album. 2. If you want high energy guitar driven rock n roll then this is the album for you 3. You won’t be able to get the songs out of your head!
Today the band’s got about 14,000 followers on Facebook, are you happy with that or are you aiming higher?
JAX : Of course we will be aiming higher, once we get out on the road to play to new audiences we believe we will pick up new followers. It’s not all about Facebook though, at the end of the day that’s just a small percentage of music lovers so we don’t focus on that.
Any final words of wisdom to share with readers and fans?
JAX : Thank you to everyone who has pledged or pre ordered our albums and thank you for all the support you have given us at every opportunity
Well that was all for me and metal-rules.com today, thank you so much for taking the time making the interview. I wish you and the band all the best in the future and really hope to see you live on stage in Scandinavia soon.
JAX : Thank you so much for an interesting interview and I really hope we make it to Scandinavia sometime soon as I love to play there and would love to bring the band out whenever it is possible.