Interview conducted by Malcolm Dome (for Classic Rock Magazine, 2019)
The following interview was commissioned by Classic Rock Magazine, and conducted by rock journalist Malcolm Dome. The interview first appeared in the Classic Rock Magazine, July 2019 (issue #265).
(Bergen/Norway, London/UK: July. 2019)
The Fluffy Jackets team up with Nazareth's Manny Charlton and Neil Murray for their new record
Forget about that rather daft name. The Fluffy Jackets are energetic blues rockers who deliver a sound that draws from the early days of blues, Americana and classic bands like Bad Company. Formed in 2006, they released a self-titled EP the following year and debut album Fighting Demons in 2014. Now the ensemble are back with a new album Something from Nothing, a mixture of original material and covers. This comes with a two-hour DVD; a documentary covering the band’s decade long existence. Frontman Helge Rognstad believes this album takes The Fluffy Jackets to a new level.
You had a lot of guests on your first album. Is that the case this time?
Manny Charlton plays guitar as he did on Fighting Demons, and we have Neil Murray back on bass. Alison Cooper, an old friend of mine, does vocals on A Better Place. We’ve also got Manuel Reyes and Charly Rivera playing some drums and bass; they’re part of Manny’s own band in Spain. Steve Froese, a drummer who also works with Manny, is on the album as well.
Manny Charlton produced this album, as with the first one. What makes him a good studio partner?
Apart from the fact that he’s criminally underrated as a musician and producer, we connect so well musically. My influences are bands like Nazareth and Free, whereas he goes back to Elvis and Little Richard in the fifties, so it’s a good mix. We’re also like-minded on ideas. One of us will come up with something and the other develops it.
You live in Norway, Charlton lives in Spain and the other band members – bassist Jerry Bessent and drummer Nick Rhodes – are based in England. Did that cause any problems making the album?
Not really. Manny and I worked out the song arrangements. Then I went to England to rehearse with the band, before we flew to Spain to record. The one problem was that by the time we got to the studio, Manny had changed the arrangements. That threw us a bit.
Why did you want to do a documentary?
We recorded some of that first album at Sun Studios in Memphis. Both Manny and Neil told so many amazing stories, as did Robert Hall, who was on that record and had also played drums with Jerry Lee Lewis’ band. I regretted not having it all on film, so I wanted to make sure we captured those incredible stories for posterity.
How did you choose which covers to include on the album?
I brought in Glen Campbell’s A Better Place and Howlin’ Wolf’s 44 Blues (aka Fourty Four). Manny suggested we cover Emmylou Harris’ Heaven Only Knows. It made sense to do Son House’s John The Revelator, because it is better than anything I could have written.
How do you think the band’s sound changed on the new record, compared to the debut?
We had a lot more time to do things this time, so there’s a much more layered sound to what you hear. It’s smoother in style.
Something from Nothing is released on August 16 via FJCD Records / Cargo Records.
Post note: 1 Nov. 2021: RIP Malcolm Dome.
The Fluffy Jackets are sad to learn that Malcolm Dome recently passed away, only 66 years old. Malcolm was such a lovely man and he supported The Fluffy Jackets from early on. A Rock N Roll encyclopedia on two legs; an awesome journalist & knowledgeable writer. We last spoke after the release of "Something from Nothing" and it is bittersweet to think that this interview would be our last conversation. RIP Malcolm.