Kansai Scene Magazine


A leap into the unknown

Mark Richardson of Age of Jets

Try and picture the love child of The Beta Band, Blur and Devo. Yes, that Devo. Welcome to the Age of Jets.

This electro-pop quartet, fronted by thirty-five year-old Hull, England native Mark Richardson is anything but ordinary. Compa- risons to Brian Eno and German electronic duo Kraftwerk created a buzz around the band four years ago that booked gigs at various venues throughout England, spurred the beginnings of a small following and got them signed to London's Damaged Goods, a label also home to The Buzzcocks and Adam and the Antz. So with all this momentum, what Richardson did next, may come as a surprise. He moved to Japan and became an English teacher.

"I came to Japan with the mindset of staying here," says Richardson, who has been in Osaka just over three years working as a high school ALT.

"I became interested in the history of Japan a few years ago. Since Japan and England are both island nations, I think that there's a similar mentality, yet a different character in both places." As Richardson prepared to leave behind his family, friends and job as an interior designer, he also had to prepare for the daunting task of leaving behind his second family, the former members of his band, who had inspired him to get into music in the first place.

"I always knew I wanted to be up there on stage," says Richardson, who only started playing guitar at the age of 25. "I was really fortunate that the friends around me went to record shops and looked for music that wasn't run of the mill." It was this early influence with experimental music that inspired Richardson and his mates to form their first band ten years ago called Summerbee, named after an English football player.

While rummaging through the apartment of former Summerbee band mate Paul Sarel, Richardson found a stack of fictional band posters that Sarel had created as a hobby.

Among those posters was one titled Age of Jets. "I thought it was a cool poster and we were looking for a modern name that reflected a modern sound," says Richardson.

Thus the Age of Jets was born. Though the Jets first album Go Go Gadget Pop was mainly guitar-driven, Richardson's move to Osaka meant that plans for a second album would have to be put on hold. The result has been as Richardson describes it: "a darker, moodier album with an 80s retro feel, reflected greatly in the catchy new single 'Robotboy'. "I've got a fascination with robots," laughs Richardson. 'The whole idea of robots controlling so many facets of our lives inspires me and fits in with our sound." The current Jets are now looking for a label in Japan to release their sophomore disc, Music by Numbers.

Richardson chose to come to Osaka over Tokyo for its friendly reputation and being from a town of 300,000 himself, he also preferred a smaller-town vibe. However, selling an electronic band in a place where language barriers are a constant factor has proven to be a challenge.

"As a foreigner in a foreign country, it is harder to promote your- self," says Richardson.

"There is a bigger audience here, but it's harder to capture."

But Richardson and his band mates keep plugging away because for them music is "more than a hobby."

The Jets are trying to maintain their original fan base in the UK and raise their profile in Japan, so they can play festivals like Fujirock or Summersonic.

With a solid base of songs for their follow-up album, new friend- ships with established Japanese bands like Tokyo's Polysics and a few upcoming gigs in the New Year, it looks like the future is bright for this young band. And Richardson is enjoying the journey.

Text: Antoinette Sarpong O Photos: Chris Lulic

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For more info: www.ageofjets.co.ukwww.myspace.com/ageofjets