Rob Jones' Interview
Missing Andy exploded onto the music scene in 2008. Since then they’ve released four albums, had two Top 40 Hits in the UK charts, and played major events alongside the likes of Madness, The Specials, Razorlight, Status Quo and Bob Dylan to name but a few. Rob Jones is on bass/vocals for the band. This is his story.
When Did the Musician in You First Emerge?
Rob: When I was about six I played drums in a marching band. I got pretty good and by fourteen I was teaching drums to marching bands. But I never really set out to learn to play one instrument, I was more interested in learning about music in general. My focus moved on to playing the guitar, bass guitar, piano, and then on to songwriting, mixing and recording.
How Hard Was it in The Early Days Before Missing Andy?
Rob: In a word: very. I started, inevitably, playing in small clubs and seedy pubs. On one memorable occasion, I had the joy of driving up to Scotland in an old van for ten hours only to find the venue there was little more than a room. Then found out that it didn’t much matter because only three people had turned up!
And there the inevitable disappointments. I almost got into Busted. Almost got into McFly. Then I answered an ad in the music press for a band looking for a guitarist and bassist. The band was being managed by Amanda Holden’s husband. I got in, and we almost got a major recording deal. Almost. You need to be very thick skinned and strong-jawed to survive in this business.
How Did Missing Andy Take Off?
Rob: I’d been in the band before. It had come so close but changed its line up and angle so many times. We ended up disbanding and starting something new. Enter Alex, a younger bloke with all the hunger and talent! We gigged up and down the country for several years (we’d play for beer and a burger just to get a show!) then things started to come good. Our music got better, we found our sound, the audiences grew and the venues got bigger. One TV Show and two top 40’s later and suddenly we were signing a record deal. And got to see a queue form to buy it on release day in Oxford Street HMV.
Then life got very hectic. We toured Europe. I was listening to the radio one morning and realised BBC Radio One was playing one of our tracks. I suspect it was only because they had to, we were in the charts, but it was good to hear. We played loads of festivals, and got to share billing with big names!
Photography by James Earley.
Did You Get to Meet Any of Your Musical Heroes?
Rob: Fairly early on I was at a party that was about half musicians and half press. Both Liam Gallagher and Paul Weller were there. Both heavily influenced my early musical thinking. I watched Liam work the room very professionally, whilst I chatted to a female journalist. When Liam finally reached us, I was about to introduce myself when the journalist lunged across in front of me and started bombarding him with questions. He was clearly very unimpressed, and also clearly thought we were a couple and I was guilty by association. He left rapidly and studiously ignored me for the rest of the night. But I did get to chat with Paul Weller.
What Are the Best Moments of Playing With Missing Andy?
Rob: It’s always that point where you hear the crowd singing back your own lyrics. Whether it’s 50,000 people at a major festival or 5,000 in a club, it’s always a special moment. You stand on stage thinking: ‘I wrote those lyrics in my bedroom years ago, and here they are, being sung back at me’. That moment never gets old.
And I’ll never forget the feeling of standing behind the curtain at Wembley Arena listening to us being announced and hearing the crowd roar. That’s the first time I’ve ever had my heart in my mouth.
Is a Musicians Lifestyle as Rock and Roll as Many Think?
Rob: It can be. The guys in Madness can really drink. All of them. And I once got into a nightmare evening with Spandau Ballet’s Steve Norman where I only managed to beat him into submission by shooting vodka shots through my eyeball.
And there was a lot of general partying. Before playing Wembley Arena on a Saturday we had a very old booking in Camden for the Friday. We’d always said we’d honour every booking so we decided to keep the show. The queue went about half a mile down the road and only three hundred got in. I remember the Wembley folk begging us not to go out and get rat-arsed after the show. So we went out and got rat-arsed.
But that was a while back. We’ve been going for eight years. You get older and wiser, and realise you either slow down or burn out.
Why’s the Band Called Missing Andy?
Rob: I wish I could say it has deep, spiritual meaning. Hell, there was a time when we did tell journalists it had deep and spiritual meaning. We’d make up answers like: it’s the name we give to the part of our soul that goes missing every time we go on stage. Or something equally ridiculous. Anything that sounded better than the truth, which was we’d kicked around an idea years earlier about putting the pictures of missing people onto T-Shirts. The band’s name gradually evolved from there. It was a ridiculous idea, and probably an even worse name for a band.
You’ve Been Incredibly Successful But Aren’t Household Names?
Rob: I guess we should worry about it but what’s the point? Our music has always been a little edgy, we’re not exactly mainstream. Our songs centre about the real world we see around us. We all write songs for the band. And we are all brutally critical of each other’s work. What emerges is the genuine consensus of five people, all coming from very different musical backgrounds, all with very different musical tastes. It’s our music and we’re not going to change it. I’m not sure we’d know how to.
And I get an extra outlet with songwriting and creation via my recording studio ‘Manor Studio Essex’ where I work daily for all kinds of clients and their music. Having learned to play all those instruments as a kid has finally come in handy…
So, did we get intimidated talking to a man who's played Wembley Stadium and drinks with Madness? Err... Yes, we probably did! But unnecessarily so. Rob is about as down-to-earth a guy as you could hope to meet. It was a joy chatting with him. Don't miss the opportunity to catch these guys on stage, they're really something.
ROB JONES WEARS