Marillion and us: Jump praise the band that helped boost their career
Jump may not call themselves classically ‘prog’, but with their eclectic, quintessentially English music and strong links to Marillion, they’re certainly part of our world. Now 26 years and 13
Jump. That’s a pretty unusual name for a band. In these days of rapid fire internet searches and user-friendly branding, some might even consider it stupid. John Dexter Jones, frontman of said six-piece group for more than a quarter-century, disagrees.
“The name is easy to remember,” he explains. “It’s short and sharp and looks good on a poster, but we also chose it because it doesn’t imply anything of who and what we are as a band – it’s non-genre specific.”
Yes folks, Jump are among those curious groups to look and sound like a prog act yet not entirely embrace the label. The way Jones sees it, their roots lie in everything from rock to country to folk, blues, prog and even heavy metal, and when pushed to defend this viewpoint he can become exasperated, telling a previous interviewer: “If being ‘prog’ is about golden rules that can never be broken then nope, that’s not us. But if progressive means exploring what you’ve absorbed, and the different ideas you have, melding them together into something that people might find interesting then… okay, that’s us.”
“There must be a reason why over the years people have asked us where we stand,” he acknowledges today. “For me, a blues element is vital but there are those that turn around and say, ‘That’s not prog’. To which I reply: ‘Have you actually heard Jethro Tull or Man?’ Tull are a perfect example of why the terminology is flawed. Their music has blues, some hard rock crunch and of course a little folk – a bit of everything, basically.
“Based upon such criteria we are a progressive rock band,” he concedes, adding pointedly: “But we are not a prog band, as defined by some bracket where time signatures must be strange and inconsistent, and the songs of epic proportions. It’s a subject that irks me, but I guess I’m easily goaded.”
So let’s put it this way – were we to travel to a gig in Jump’s van, what would fill the soundtrack for the journey?
“Great question,” he chuckles. “On a Venn diagram, Led Zeppelin would sit in the middle, where those six circles cross. Ronnie [Rundle, guitarist] is a massive Iron Maiden fan, and Steve [Hayes], the other guitarist, loves Rory Gallagher. So you’d hear some 80s metal, some folk and country rock from me. Andy [Barker, drums] is into Tull and Fairport Convention. And Mo [surname-less keyboardist] was originally an accordion player, so there might be some Jimmie Macgregor and Robin Hall.”
These ingredients flavour Over The Top, the High Wycombe-based band’s thirteenth album. More rock-focused than its predecessor, the largely acoustic The Black Pilgrim. It’s a pleasing set, the gravitas of its songs coloured by some marvellous tunes.
Our conversation takes place in a boisterous North London pub on a Saturday night, over an adult beverage or three. Jones, who sports a tattoo of a Red Dragon, provides amiable, entertaining company. Given that we have already poked the bear by mentioning the ‘P’-word, Prog takes its life into its hands to ask whether Jump’s music can be considered quintessentially English. It sounds quaintly bucolic and pastoral, after all. Silence descends and the Welshman’s eyes narrow.