Joe Lean from Joe Lean and The Jing Jang Jong Has a New Band With an Equally Shit Name

The song's pretty good though. We spoke to Joe to find out where the fuck he's been for seven years.

Jan 3 2014, 2:24pm

It’s hard enough being in a modern day indie band, duking it out for Q&As in The Fly and Neu! recommendations, but it’s even harder if you’re a one-time NME favourite attempting to claw back a career in music, seven years after the lego-haircut era ended. This week Joe Lean released his first music video since 2007, leaving the Jing Jang Jong behind and starting over with new group Boyband.

If you’ve never lived through the halcyon era of The Rumble Strips, Johnny Flynn, and T4 Freshly Squeezed and are therefore unaware of the legend of Joe Lean, here’s a bit of a backstory. At a time when Jack Penate, Kate Nash and a bunch of art students from New Cross were being touted as The Next Hottest Thing, Joe Lean and his band The Jing Jang Jong promised real rock’n’roll, the sort that had been unheard of since a couple of years earlier when Razorlight’s Up All Night was released.

As part of a band-name trend that encompassed Noah and The Whale, Florence and The Machine, Mr Hudson and The Library, Peggy Sue and The Pirates, Joe Lean had everyone excited. His band’s first two singles, “Lucio Starts Fires” and “Lonely Bouy” were in constant rotation on XFM, they scored a support slot on MTV2’s Gonzo tour, and someone probably fingered their A-Level girlfriend to the sound of The Jong at KOKO’s Indie Night.

Unfortunately, the climax didn’t arrive. The band’s album became Azealia Banks' Broke With Expensive Taste before she’d even contemplated “ruining someone’s cunt”. We waited, but the group’s debut album never arrived. NME started a countdown in their magazine, noting how many days we’d been without the record, and slowly everyone stopped caring about Joe Lean and started caring about The Maccabees instead. Six days before it was due in shops, the record had been officially pulled, despite being sent out to press and reviewed by our own Gavin Haynes for NME, who called it “a genuinely innovative debut that takes a whole tradition of soul and doo-wop and stretches it over the chassis of the latest post-Strokesian thinking in duelling-guitar indie.”

Undeterred on his journey to success, Joe Lean then appeared in several TV dramas.

He was in the Tudors and Fresh Meat and Jane Eyre, which is another film-adaption of a book that bombed because it wasn’t directed by Baz Luhrmann and couldn't be made into a three-part series with the final installment split into two episodes.

But despite his newfound small screen fame, Joe never forgot the Jings, Jangs and Jongs that could have been. If guitar music has taught us anything, it’s that bands like Viva Brother, Cheeky Cheeky and The Nosebleeds, and Larrikin Love can all benevolently reform, tirelessly plucking away on Stratocasters, providing a national service to those that still want to see four-piece bands in small venues that reek of stale beer . Of course, LOVELIFE, The Cheek, and Pan I Am have all failed, but that’s not stopping Joe Lean.

He’s in a new band. They’re called BOYBAND, which is either a really witty name for a bunch of boys who play music that is the polar opposite of the Backstreet Boys, or mind-numbingly bland. IDK, you decide.

Their song, which was released yesterday, is called “Motorcycle Boy”, and it reminds me of that one Frankie Cocozza tune that goes “She’s got a motorcycle! A big black motorcycle! She knows how much I like it! She won’t let me ride it!”. Except this one goes “Hey! Hey! Motorcycle Boy! Hey! Hey! He’s dead!”, which has reminded me why I enjoy listening to the words in guitar music.

Thankfully, the two sound completely different. Where Frankie’s ode to motorcycles will whet the palate of Mum’s who buy Teenage Kicks Vol.1 compilation CD’s, Joe Lean’s blackened poetic snarl is skewing its sights a little further leftfield. It’s guitar music for people who care about Charlie Boyer and The Voyeurs and TOY, people who see their life how Anton Corbijn saw Ian Curtis’s in Control, black-and-white mundanity imposed with faux-meaning resulting in something that looks like it should mean something, but doesn’t.

Unfortunately, even though the video was tweeted by X Factor star Diana Vickers last night, at the time of writing, it still only has 789 views. We got in touch with the illusive Joe Lean to find out more and help push his video out there.

Noisey: Hello Joe. Why did you decide to make a return to music?

Joe Lean: It's not really a 'return' for me. I write every day and now with BOYBAND we're just making songs that we feel are ready for people to hear.

You've started a new band, rather than going solo. What's the idea behind BOYBAND?

Wow, I couldn't go solo! The other members of BOYBAND make the songs what they are and complete my ideas. I'm not the only one who comes up with initial ideas either. Without them I'd be singing songs that no-one would ever hear.

Your voice seems to have got a bit more gravely since 2007. Is that years of chain-smoking and hard drugs?

Must be...

Is BOYBAND your full time priority now? I still enjoy you popping up in Jesse Armstrong sitcoms and BBC costume dramas...

Ha thank you! No more acting for the moment. BOYBAND's way more fun.

I'm really interested in what's interesting to you. What are you interested in RIGHT NOW?

New bands I'm into are Splashh, Wolf Alice. I'm obsessing about a song called "Book of Revelation" by The Drums and the latest Arctic Monkeys record might as well be superglued to my record player. I'm currently reading Down and Out in Paris and London.

Cool, oh, and also, how are you? What did you do for new year? What's your resolution?

I'm good - thank you for asking <3 i'm="" really="" excited="" about="" playing="" live="" again.="" i="" was="" in="" paris="" over="" new="" year="" with="" my="" girl.="" resolutions?="" to="" release="" an="" album="" maybe?<="" p="">

Chance would be a fine thing.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @RyanBassil

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