‘Do we have to get proper jobs one day?’

The Mystery Jets. Photo: PA Photo/Tom Beard.
The Mystery Jets. Photo: PA Photo/Tom Beard.

The return of Saturn is a significant event.

According to astrologers at least, who believe that when the planet returns to where it was when you were born, which takes between 27 and 29 years, it brings huge life changes.

“It’s when you might break up with your first significant partner, buy a house or get a cat or something,” says Mystery Jets’ Blaine Harrison, who admits to becoming a bit obsessed with the idea while writing the band’s fifth album, as reflected in its frequent references to all things celestial, and the fact one song is called 1985 - his birth year.

Harrison turned 30 last May, with ideas connected to growing older, and the sorts of responsibilities supposed to come with that, on his mind.

Whether or not you think there’s any truth in astrology, the notion that big things happen in your late-20s is pretty hard to ignore.

“It’s the first time you really take a glance over your shoulder and think about what you’ve done,” says Harrison.

“When we released our first two albums, we were running around London like a pack of wolves, going out with the wrong women and experiencing everything the city had to offer. We still love it, but we have a sense of perspective about it all.

“There are friends of mine who might be 10 years in to doing something far more honourable and worthwhile than playing in a band, and they’re starting to think about kids and all that, so on this album I am asking where I fit into all of that, along with the feeling at the back of our mind about whether we can sustain it forever. Do we have to get proper jobs?

“But that’s the romance that has always attracted us to this life,” he continues. “It is so up and down, especially now - music is precarious - and people crave security. This record also had me wondering what security actually is; a house in the suburbs with your family, or something else?”

The background to the record saw Mystery Jets, who have been a pretty permanent fixture on festival bills around the world since releasing their debut Making Dens in 2006, return to the UK after an extensive US tour with their fourth album, Radlands, in 2013.

“We came back an unsigned band really, and we’d been touring the US for so long, so it was scary for us, without that infrastructure, to think about carrying on,” says Harrison.

Add to that the departure of original member Kai Fish - who told the band he wanted to leave while they were recording Radlands, and officially announced the news shortly after the album’s release - and the band were in a state of flux.

“It was definitely scary, but looking back, it was really liberating, because we felt we were at a stage where we could take as long as we wanted to make our fifth record - we didn’t have to keep up playing festivals and touring, we took our time,” London-born Harrison notes.

Since returning from the States in 2013, the band played just two shows; at Y Not Festival and at the 10th birthday party of their former label, Transgressive.

Harrison says a large part of their time away was spent setting up their North London studio, home to the weird and wonderful instruments and equipment they’ve picked up over the years and have finally been able to find a home for.

Once that was all set up, it was time for writing - although the process moved along more quickly than they’d anticipated...

After taking a first batch of songs to a prospective producer, they asked what he thought of their ideas and how they should record them. When he replied that they already were recording them, it dawned on Mystery Jets that they’d been making their album all along, and should just continue.

The next step, some months later, saw family and friends brought in to hear it. However, it was during this phase that the band themselves realised they weren’t entirely happy, so they went off again to write more songs.

Harrison retreated to a beach hut on the South Coast, where he wrote between five and 10 songs every time he visited. Oh - and almost got washed away by the sea.

“I was there one time with my dad Henry, going through some songs. We were sitting watching the sea, and very quickly noticed the waves were getting bigger and bigger,” he recalls. “Then the phone started ringing and it was relatives telling me to get out of there, because there were flash floods coming - the worst seen in that part of England for 60 years, it turns out, and we just had enough time to pick up the guitar and rush to the nearest B&B.”

He and his dad finished the song that night.

“I asked my dad what he thought the song was about, and he said the moon, and its effect on us, so it fitted in with everything else I’d been writing, too.

“And I love that idea,” Harrison adds. “It all started as pretty airy-fairy notions about the moon and ageing and pondering security, and then ended up being shaped by the very real event of almost being washed away by the sea.”