The phone rings at least five times before someone answers. The greeting, accompanied with a strong gust of wind in the background, belongs to that of Jim Maddock, bassist of Air Traffic. Having answered fellow band member, guitarist Tom Pritchard’s, mobile, he has unwittingly signed up for a ten minute interview with me. Yet in a way that is instantly likeable, Jim agrees to the interview without hesitation, despite the weather that I can hear in the background implying that the warm confines of a recording studio may be preferable.
I soon find out the gusty backdrop is because Air Traffic are a little bit further a field than their coastal hometown of Bournemouth. “At the moment we’re in Ireland…in the middle of nowhere! We’re writing new material that we’re hoping to have done by the end of the year to release early next year.” Together with the band’s singer and main songwriter Chris Wall, and drummer David Jordan, Air Traffic are set to have a very busy 2008. Jim explains “Our next tour actually starts next week and our last tour went brilliantly”. Promoting the February release of their debut album “Fractured Life” in America, the band toured enviable locations such as LA and Texas, as well as Europe. “The [American version of the] album has extra tracks that weren’t on the one we released in the UK and we’re going back to America in March too which should be good”.
So that’s this year set up for four twenty-one year olds, but how did it all start? “We all met at school, I guess that’s where it all started” Jim remembers “We were all in different bands and knew each other through the music scene and decided we’d be better together”. That was three and a half years ago. Whilst in college the band maintained a passion for the band, although it was a side project whilst they hurried through education. “When we left, we sort of thought ‘okay we want to do music properly now’”. Listening to Radiohead, Supergrass and Blur, just some of the band’s influences, lead them to establishing their own unique sound that set them apart from other local bands. But a familiar complaint from Jim and other Bournemouth bands is the lack of opportunities for local groups. “All the venues in Bournemouth have been closed and turned into wine bars. That’s the problem I think, there’s nowhere for bands to play original music.” Advocators of under-age gigs, Jim also thinks this is something that would be beneficial for Bournemouth. “What we’d like to see I think is the old places re-opened where young people can go too. Speaking at a rate that my handwriting struggles to keep up with, the band’s active passion for music and for the music scene is undisputable and refreshingly sincere.
Despite all the touring, the band still has a lot they come back to Bournemouth for. “We’re really big fans of the beach. We were never really into the club scene but we like 50 Million Postcards...and the usual places like Walkabout.” With their up and coming gig at The Opera House on 26th January, coming home to perform at such renowned venues is always pretty special for the band too. “It’s brilliant. Obviously it’s where it all started, it’s great to see a lot of familiar faces and we’re all really proud to be sort of the only Bournemouth band to have UK success.”
Since being signed, the bands memorable points range from the first time they were played on Radio One, performing on Jools Holland and selling out at The Electric Ballroom in London. But when put on the spot for interesting facts on the band “I can’t think of anything that would be really interesting to other people!” Jim laughs before remembering something. “We just had a number one in Belgium. ‘Shooting Star’ was number one for five weeks.” Clearly, a loyal fan base has already been established in Belgium and yet endearingly modest, Jim jokes “I don’t know why!”
Their debut album ‘Fractured Life’ combines mature, thought-provoking lyrics and songs that encourage toe-tapping and make dancing unavoidable. With their homecoming show at The Opera House, Bournemouth, on the 26th January, kicking off their next tour, Air Traffic seem set for big things for 2008.