Reuben frontman Jamie Lenman tells Rock Sound about ‘We Should Have Gone To University’.
Jamie Lenman, Jon Pearce and Guy Davis, collectively known asReuben, released three outstanding British rock albums over a decade long career that abruptly ended in June 2008 when the band announced they were going on an indefinite hiatus.
A year into the aforesaid hiatus the group have decided to release a posthumous B-sides and rarities collection, entitled 'We Should Have Gone To University', which will be available from Monday, August 31. To celebrate the band and the album Rock Sound grabbed singer and guitarist Jamie Lenman to discuss what life looks like a year after the band's break began...
So what do you now do with your time now that you are not in Reuben?
"I currently spend a lot of time based in a building in Farringdon working for The Guardian. I make online cartoons for kids and so I draw cartoons, do voices for those cartoons, animate them, do website design and all sorts really."
What does the rest of your life look like now?
"I get in quite late as I commute from London to Surrey but I’ve actually been going to quite a few gigs in my spare time. Near my house there is a place called the Boiler Room, they get a lot of big bands considering it is quite a small place.
Apart from that I hang out with my wife a lot, have chums over and watch a lot of Doctor Who. I also do a lot of freelance stuff too so a lot of my time gets taken up with doing drawings for anyone who wants some of my work. So really I spend most of my life drawing, if I'm not doing that I'm watching Doctor Who, at a gig or asleep."
Do you still play guitar and write songs?
"I haven’t done anything with music for a year. Actually that's not true, I've had a couple of jams with my brother as he plays the drums, we play a few songs, that has happened a couple of times."
Who made the decision to go on hiatus in June 2008?
"It was me. I can't go into details as people’s feelings are involved but I think we had all had enough of each other. Everyone else could have continued battling on almost indefinitely but I wasn’t being a very nice person. The last year of the band I was a dark raincloud and I just didn’t want to be that person anymore. I felt very old, I was only 25 but somehow I felt 50 so I thought it was best to stop it all before I became bitter and twisted.
I'm glad to say I'm not an embittered arsehole anymore, looking back I think it all just got too much. We couldn’t really carry on, it’s easy to think we could have done another album but there wasn’t another album, it would never have come out, we could never have written it as we were."
Did you know at the time how you were acting?
"I’ve always been very self aware so I saw most of what was happening to me. It was also my wife, she came on tour with us a lot and she would see the difference in how I was behaving. You can just tell from people’s reactions, people talked to me differently, in fact we stop talking in the band and generally if I said something it would always be negative, which is terrible. I could feel myself creating an atmosphere a lot of the time."
Do you think it would have been different had Reuben sold a million albums?
"Absolutely. During the last year of the band, just before we started the record label and just before we did the third album I started working at the Guardian full time. We were all still doing jobs and the money that we had saved was running out and we had to step it up. We still worked, still did everything and we ended up pulling favours everywhere and that did not sit well with me.
Everyone that worked with us ended up doing things for mates rates or on a promise, it didn’t feel very good to always be asking favours. If we had sold records that would not have happened, we would not have needed jobs and we could have paid people properly for working with us. Our situation really grated on me, I felt we were taking too much and not giving enough, if we could have had a decent record deal or been allowed to just concentrate on the music then that would have been perfect and we could have carried on."
How are relations in the band at the moment?
"We’ve not really seen each other but I’ve bumped into Guy a lot as he goes to quite a lot of gigs. We’ve been communicating quite a lot about this release but most of that has been through email and Barney, our manager who still has all our numbers. We don’t really hang out, we just need some space from each other. John and Guy are still in a band together so they still see each other as much as they used to, which is a horrific thought, but they sound like they are having a good time with it too which is great.
How did the B-sides and rarities album 'We Should Have Gone To University' come about?
"We were all band fanatics and collectors before we were band members and we always loved B-side collections so our plan was always going to be release a few albums, split up and then do an awesome B-side record. It was always something we were looking forward too and we had been talking about it since album one, we knew when we went on the break that it was going to be done but I thought it would take us a lot longer for it to come out."
Would you ever play again or do shows as a solo artist?
"I don't know, I have lost the appetite for performing live. When I see all the videos, especially the live stuff, it looks like a different person up there and I really can't imagine playing the guitar live anymore. I used to want the spotlight on me but I don’t now. The only reason I would do something like that again was if I thought there would be some people that would enjoy it. I think there are some that would really enjoy it, but I’d be quite nervous."
'We Should Have Gone To University' will be out on August 31 through Xtra Mile Recordings. For more of Jamie check out his online portfolio at www.jamielenman.com and to see what Guy and Jon are up to head for www.myspace.com/freezetheatlantic.