Jess Clemmons from Jess & The Bandits talks music, touring and more

Jess & The Bandits. Photo: Sam J Bond

Jess & The Bandits. Photo: Sam J Bond - Credit: Sam J Bond

We caught up with Jess Clemmons from Jess & The Bandits ahead of their headline show in Norwich on February 7 at The Waterfront Studio.

Jess & The Bandits. Photo: Sam J Bond

Jess & The Bandits. Photo: Sam J Bond - Credit: Sam J Bond

Being Texas born, is country music something that has always been deeply routed in your life?

Oh absolutely, it's a genre that I remember hearing as a little girl and from that point on, it was just normal to be a fan of country music.

How/why did you decide to go from working and performing as a solo artist to performing in a band?

In all honesty, it just felt like a natural progression. Being on stage with a band is a totally different feeling. It feels like you're all in it together. There is a lot of pressure on stage as a solo artist, it helps knowing other people are there to take some of that pressure off.

How did you all meet?

We all met at different times but all while working in the music industry. There is a crazy amount of talent in the UK and it's so exciting to be able to showcase that as part of Jess and the Bandits.

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Who have been your major influences throughout the band's career?

I think it changes frequently. Lady Antebellum was always an obvious one but then artists like Fleetwood Mac come to mind in terms of the longevity of their career.

I love the new album 'Smoke and Mirrors'! Has this been your favourite one so far and if so why?

Yes absolutely. I love 'Here We Go Again' but I feel like I've grown so much as a writer between the two albums. I really bared my soul with 'Smoke & Mirrors'. From the writing to the song selection. I also love how 'Smoke & Mirrors' takes on a different musical feel. That's what we wanted.

Do you feel that your sound has developed a lot from your debut album? Was this a conscious decision or was it something that happened more organically?

A very conscious decision. We never want to give our fans the same exact thing every time we put out new music. We knew we wanted it to evolve. Gospel music has always been a big influence when growing up so it was nice to bring that sound into the new album.

Understandably the tour for the new album was postponed until February due to Hurricane Harvey. How is everything back home for you all now?

Finally returning back to normal! My family is back in their home. Although they still don't have a kitchen, they have bedrooms and walls so that's the important thing. I hated postponing but personally, it was the right thing to do.

I saw an article last year where you spoke out about some of the troubles you had with polycystic ovary syndrome. I think it was really great to see you talking about something which I imagine is very personal to you. What made you feel that you wanted to speak out about this?

There are so many women who suffer from PCOS but not many are talking about it. Because of that, some women don't even realize they have it. The more we can speak up, those of us who have the condition, the more can be learnt.

As I understand, you are recently married. Congratulations! What's it like spending such long periods of time away from your partner and family and how do you all (as a band) cope with this?

Honestly, it's the worst. It's so hard to be away from my family and new husband. Thankfully for the band, they are all based in the same country as their families so they don't have to be away as long. I'm looking forward to bringing my husband and his two teenagers to the UK this summer!

And last but not least…what's next for Jess & The Bandits after your tour is complete? Is it new music or a well deserved break with your partners and families?

We have a year full of gigging and performing the new album. Going to take a little break from recording new stuff actually. Since this one hasn't been out long and we're only just starting to tour it, it has plenty of life left in it. I actually have a honeymoon to take so I'll fit that in somewhere!

Tickets for the show in Norwich on February 7 are available for £16.50 advance from the UEA Box Office website.