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Jess and the Bandits have released their new Christmas EP called ‘Always Christmas Eve.’

This festive-inspired four-track EP consists of ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside,’ ‘Wrapped in Red,’ ‘O Holy Night,’ and the title track.

‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ features Kevin McGuire’s wonderful vocals, giving a great country twist to this well-known song.

‘Wrapped in Red’ is an exciting ballad with country singer Luke Thomas. They did something magical and different with the Kelly Clarkson’s song, and it’s a perfect fit to the festive, homely Christmas feel.

‘O Holy Night’ features British singer-songwriter, Laura Oakes. Merged with Jess’ vocals, the track kept with the old-school style and has brilliant harmonies. A definite favourite!

The title track, ‘Always Christmas Eve’ is an amazing duet with four-time British Country Music Association Awards winner Gary Quinn and they’ve added the country essence in the track. This original song is co-written by Quinn and Texan songwriter David Banning. The Christmas spirit rings high here with Quinn and Jess’ vocals!

The four-track EP is now available on Spotify.

Due to Hurricane Harvey that devastated Jess’ home in Houston, Jess and the Bandits’ September tour was cancelled, and therefore have been rescheduled for February 2018. She is currently doing restorative work on her home.

Jess and the Bandits will be coming to Southampton on February 10th at the Talking Heads.

They will tour the UK on the following dates:

February 6th – Hull @ Fruit

February 7th – Norwich @ Waterfront Studio
February 8th – Leicester @ The Musician
February 9th – London @ Borderline
February 10th – Southampton @ Talking Heads
February 12th – Cambridge @ Cambridge Junction
February 14th – Bristol @ The Tunnels
February 15th – Manchester @ Gullivers
February 16th – Gateshead @ Sage Two
February 17th – Glasgow @ King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut

Book now to see them perform LIVE!

I interviewed the lead singer Jessica Clemmons, who recently married photographer Chris Peavey, on the Christmas EP, and the difference between UK and US country genre.

ALWAYS CHRISTMAS EVE EP

What is the most surprising response to the EP?

We have had a really lovely response. It is hard to say what the most surprising response is, as everything has been so lovely. It is always interesting to see which songs on a collection resonate best with an audience, as usually there are clear favourites, but everyone seems to like different tracks on this one!

How was the EP formed?

The only original song on the EP wasn’t actually penned by me. When I spoke to Gary Quinn, he mentioned that he had written ‘Always Christmas Eve’ and I loved it when I heard it, so knew we had to record it. The rest of the EP is made up of my favourite Christmas songs.

Do you have a favourite song in the EP?

‘O Holy Night’ has always been one of my favourite Christmas songs. It just really gives me the warm and fuzzy tingles. I really was thrilled that Laura Oakes agreed to record it with me.

Apart from the obvious Christmas theme, is there a relationship between the four tracks?

I wanted to show the evolution of the Christmas song, and demonstrate how even though it has always taken different shapes and forms – they are a wonderful way to bring us all together to celebrate something so very special. All the artists on the EP are joining us on our upcoming UK tour, so I thought it was also a great chance to celebrate the amazing bonds of friendship that have formed in the UK country scene.

What did you learn from working with Gary Quinn, Kevin McGuire, Luke Thomas, and Laura Oakes?

I already knew from time on the road with all of them that they were skilled musicians and amazing vocalists, but working with them has just heightened my love for them all.

Was it difficult to merge the band’s vision of the songs together with the different featured vocals?

We actually found it very easy. There were no egos involved, so we all just gave our feedback to the producer, who managed to piece together finished edits that really fit all our tastes and directions.

PERFORMING

You’re originally from Texas, and you and the band have been involved in the British music industry. How is country genre different in the UK compared to the US?

When I first started coming over to the UK there was a massive difference between the two scenes, but over the last few years, there has been a real shift in the sound in the UK. There is still a difference between the two countries, in the US country has really shifted its soundscape even further than previously, but with artists like Walker Hayes and Margo Price enjoying success in the UK – that range can really be seen there too.

What have you noticed about the UK fan base of country genre and the crowd’s energy?

The UK country crowd are like a very large family. It is so full of love for each other. They are also such an attentive and responsive crowd. When the songs ask them to dance, they give it everything they have got. But equally, when it is time to stop and listen closely, you can hear a pin drop. I love the UK audiences.

Public performances can be fun and nerve-wracking. How do you and the band deal with nerves?

We are always excited before a show. There are some nerves, but we just know that our audience are always so supportive that we can’t wait to get out there and show them what we can do.

How has performing live changed since you’ve all started your careers?

We have a bigger audience coming out to see us! We opened for some amazing artists and got to enjoy their audience, but knowing people have come out to see us and know all the lyrics to our songs is just amazing!

Where’s the best place you’ve gigged at?

That’s an impossible one to answer. Every venue is very different and it is the crowd that shape the memories rather than the space itself.

Have you been to Southampton before?

Yes! I have done a few shows in Southampton and I love it.

What do you think of the changing music industry and the various platforms for putting your music out there?

The music industry is always re-shaping and technology has really made it much easier to connect with an audience in the day to day life, but at the same time, it makes it harder for an artist to make a comfortable living from their craft. I wouldn’t change it though.  I love hearing from my fans. I always enjoy a good Facebook live!

SOUND

Your music genre is country rock. Could you describe your sound in four words?

Feisty, fun, meaningful and playful.

What do you like to do outside of music that influences or contributes to your creativity?

I love to bake – and get very creative with decorations. I have just got married and loved my pre-wedding boot camp. I do enjoy a good work out session!

Is there a go-to song by another artist that you and the band like to cover?

We all have different tastes, but we do enjoy taking classics and reshaping them. I would say our cover of Glen Campbell’s Wichita Lineman has been the most powerful for me.

The band’s number 6 charting sophomore album Smoke and Mirrors is popular. How did you and the band feel about being nominated this year for four BCMA Awards including the UK Album of the Year for Smoke and Mirrors?

It was wonderful. We are very lucky to have an audience who pay such close attention to our releases.

FUTURE PLANS

What’s the next step?

We have our tour in February – we can’t wait to see everyone there!

You are newly married! Congratulations! What are you most looking forward to?

Like every little girl, I always dreamed of being married. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with my dream man.

Is there a motto you live by?

Love each day.

Book ahead to see Jess and the Bandits on their February 2018 UK tour including the Talking Heads, Southampton on February 10th.

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