JAAW: "It has to be loud... everything has to be raging and full-on"

JAAAW standing on a stony beach in front of a pier
(Image credit: Svart Records)

As the leader of Northern Irish alt. rockers Therapy? since 1989, Andy Cairns knows a thing or two about death by decibels. But as the moonlighting frontman presents his new industrial-psych collective JAAW – which also includes vocalist Wayne Adams (Death Pedals), bassist Jason Stoll (Mugstar) and drummer Adam Betts (Three Trapped Tigers) – he says he’s never been involved in a heavier or trippier project.


How did JAAW come about? 

It all happened really quickly. Usually, in my thirty-three years in the business, when someone says to me: “Do you fancy getting together?” it’s normally in the pub and you don’t hear from them again. Wayne masterminded the project, and within two days he sent me some ideas. 

How do you pronounce JAAW? 

Just ‘Jaw’. We’ve done an ABBA. It’s the first letter of our names. Do JAAW qualify as a supergroup? I think there’s a bunch of super musicians and super people in this band. But if I was reading Classic Rock and there was an article about a supergroup, I’d expect a few more zeros at the end of the sales of the artists involved. 

You’ve described the sound of JAAW’s debut album, Supercluster, as “postindustrial”. What are the touchstones? 

There were a few bands that were really exciting me when Wayne got in touch. I really like a band from London called Luminous Bodies. They’ve got two drummers, they’re a bit of a Butthole Surfers noise-rock thing. A Brazilian band called Deafkids who reaffirmed my belief in the live music experience. They’ve got echo on everything. It’s trance-inducing, like a ritual. 

I was listening to a lot of Can and Hawkwind, and Wayne was listening to Godflesh and Type O Negative. We decided JAAW would be really grimy, noisy, industrial and even dirtily cinematic.

Which are the most aggressive tracks? 

I actually think it’s the slower ones, like Bring Home The Motherlode, Barry. That’s tuned down to A and done at this glacial pace. That was the one we were all buzzing about at rehearsals, because it’s this huge, lumbering beast. When we were halfway through recording it I forgot where I was. I don’t mean where I was in the song – I’d literally forgotten where I was. 

When should we play this record? 

Well, speaking of industrial, I worked in a factory in my early twenties, before Therapy? took off. I used to do night shifts, and there’s a certain mind-set at three in the morning, when you’re surrounded by huge machines that hiss, grate and sizzle, and your body is saying: “You shouldn’t be awake.” It’s quite a unique experience, and anyone that’s ever worked in a factory will tell you that. So I think this record should be played at three in the morning. 

How loud will JAAW be live? 

If it’s anything like the rehearsals, it’s going to be insane. Whenever we’ve rehearsed, it’s the loudest rehearsal I’ve ever been at since early Therapy?, when people used to complain that you couldn’t actually hear anything and all they could feel was these massive cabinets pushing air on their chest. And I think this is going to be similar. It has to be loud. The guitars have to be on the verge of feedback. Everything has to be raging and full-on. The whole experience of the Supercluster record is something to get lost in. 

Supercluster is out now via Svart Records

Henry Yates

Henry Yates has been a freelance journalist since 2002 and written about music for titles including The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a music pundit on Times Radio and BBC TV, and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl, Marilyn Manson, Kiefer Sutherland and many more.