A CONVERSATION with Rob Nichols from Junior Bill

Junior Bill recently released “Boys from Jungle”, a song with social commentary on the bleak fates of asylum seekers in the UK. The track is from their upcoming debut album Youth Club, and we were thrilled with the chance to sit down with frontman and singer, Rob Nichols to discuss all things Junior Bill.

ATN: For new fans, is there a story behind the name, Junior Bill?

ROB: My dad was in a band for 33 years called Railroad Bill, plus I’ve always loved the reggae singer Junior Byles.

ATN: How did the band come together?

ROB: We all met in Cathays Youth & Community Centre over the years and started rehearsing in the youth club there as teenagers

ATN: The UK lockdown during the pandemic made bands or broke bands, did it have any effect on Junior Bill?

ROB: On the one hand it gave me time to chip away at the production and arrangement of the songs on the upcoming album, on the other it made it take a lot longer than it should have to get back into the studio to do the things I couldn’t do at home.

ATN: How do you as a band (or individually) approach writing music?

ROB: I try to stay healthy. If I’m working a full time job I haven’t got too much time to be hugely prolific, so if that’s the case I try to not be too hard on myself. I try to make sure that the cogs of creativity keep whirring so I take a lot of notes day to day and look out for phrases, sentences, anything that I can turn into a song. That doesn’t happen when you’re stressed and distracted, so you gotta stay healthy. Then it can help to really set aside the time to be creative (especially if you’re working some boring full time job) and make sure you’re enjoying it and it doesn’t feel like a chore. THEN, once an idea seems like it could be a song, I work out whether it’s the sort of thing I can write on my sofa with a guitar, or something that needs to be put into recording software and built up differently, or something that can just be written in my head. Often I just sit at my guitar and jam and see what comes but I find that approach less and less fresh these days.

ATN: What’s the hardest thing about creating music?

ROB: Self doubt/lack of confidence. But if you don’t suffer from that then it isn’t hard, or else why would you do it? It should always be fun.

ATN: What’s the easiest thing about creating music?

ROB: The moments that occasionally occur where suddenly the song feels like it’s writing itself and you’re riding the crest of a wave.

ATN: It’s been written that your influences range from The Clash to The Specials and more. Who or what is one influence fans may be surprised you draw inspiration from?

ROB: I don’t know what they would expect or be surprised by. People who hear my music tell me different music they hear in the sound and it can be quite varied. I really like Aldous Harding and I can’t find much in my music that I would say is reminiscent of hers but then not much is.

ATN: How has fans’ reaction to “Boys From Jungle” been?

ROB: We’ve been gigging it for a while and people always get into it.

Artwork by Dan Nichols

ATN: Can you tell fans anything about the upcoming album, Youth Club?

ROB: It’s diverse, it keeps you on your toes just the right amount, it’s got a nice arc to it, and the tunes are very singalong-catchy. It’s quite sentimental and nostalgic actually, but with a socio-political outlook. It’s youthful, colourful and cartoonish, like a lot of my favourite music, and this is even reflected in the album artwork. The lyrics are its most important aspect for me. It’ll be out on vinyl with a nice inner sleeve with lyrics in there, so if you like it, buy it, and you can sit at home and listen to it whilst reading them.

ATN: What was your favourite song to write for the album?

ROB: They’re all my babies. Some came out in 15 mins, others took months, even years to come to fruition. While the ones that take longer to write can seem painstaking compared to the ones that came out straight away, I now look back fondly at all the time I spent grinding out final lyrics and sections.

ATN: What was your favourite song to record for the album?

ROB: Who Said You Could Film Us? was the only one we did in a studio at which we were all present and all contributed. It was the only one where the bulk of it (all drums, vocals, bass and guitars plus extras) were recorded in the one session, so it felt like a nice journey and as I said each band member was present.

ATN: What can fans expect from Junior Bill this year?

ROB: Junior Bill mouse mats


ATN: Artist / band that you feel is the most underrated and why?

ROB: I’d have to say a Cardiff-based artist called Minas. He’s fresh and original and deserves to be heard. Although I believe he won’t be underrated for long.

ATN: Artist / band that you would like to collaborate with and why?

ROB: Meridian Brothers. They are freaky and fun. 

ATN: Artist / band that you would like to tour with and why?

ROB: Huun-huur-tu. I think it would be a very educational and spiritual experience.

Watch “Boys from Jungle” by Junior Bill below

Discover Minas below

Discover Meridian Brothers

Discover Huun-huur-tu