Having gone down a storm at last years' Country 2 Country festival in the UK, together with seeing their debut album Here We Go Again rocket straight in to the number 6 spot on the UK country music chart, Jess and The Bandits have whipped up a storm of support from both fans and music critics on both sides of the Atlantic.
The band, singer Jessica Clemmons from Texas, and her group of UK born musicians (or bandits...) Ricci Riccardi, Louis Riccardi, Dave Troke and Steven Reid Williams have since been on a seemingly non-stop run of performances and music releases - not that their fans are complaining!
2016 has already seen the group tour the UK and work on new material, and ahead of their next slew of UK dates which kick off in March and include a return to the C2C stage, JATB kindly agreed to this interview to chat career highlights, Terry Wogan and new music.
PW: 2015 was a huge year for you, so looking back, could you pick any highlights?
Jess: Without a doubt debuting at number 6 in the Official UK Country Charts was huge!
Ricci: Packing out both shows at the Brooklyn Bowl for C2C last year was exciting an took us by surprise.
Louis: When we won a for Music Video of the Year at the BCMAs for "My Name Is Trouble".
Steve: Doing several sessions with Bob Harris last year was a lot of fun as well.
PW: You’ve just completed a short tour with Holloway Road and Darcy and have your own headline tour to come later in the Spring. What is it about playing in the UK that you love so much?
J: For the Bandits, there is nothing like playing at home for us. For me, it's having the opportunity to introduce a new genre to people. There are a lot of people not familiar with a country style of music here and it's amazing to make fans out of people who are new to listeners to country. Also, the fans in the UK are so enthusiastic!
PW: Which songs are you finding UK audiences like best and do those songs differ from the choices of say American, home-grown fans?
J: It really depends on where we are. I would say at the end of the day, people love good music, regardless of what country you live in. Our songs are aimed towards a wide audience so a lot of the songs the UK audiences like, so do the US.
PW: You've been throwing some amazing covers into your sets including “Mama Told Me Not To Come”, but if you could cover one song that you haven't yet, which would it be and why? How do you choose which songs to include?
J: I'd like to do a medley of old country songs. Like the ones I used to listen to my grandpa play as a little girl.
R: When choosing songs, we try to go for something outside of the box. One that not everyone will cover. Then we give it a JATB transformation and hope for the best.
PW: "Witchita Lineman" is a cover song that was brought to fans' attention thanks to your performance of it on Terry Wogan's radio show. Does the song have more poignancy for you now that he's passed on?
J: So much. We sang it for the first time since his passing at our gig with FSA Presents in Manchester and we were all a bit emotional. Like so much of the county, Terry meant a lot to us. He was the very first to give us a chance at BBC Radio 2. It will be impossible not to think of him every time we perform that song.
PW: You're also playing Country 2 Country again after going down a storm last year. Excited?
L: SO EXCITED! We are thrilled to be included again. We weren't in the initial announcement and so many fans were upset because they thought we weren't playing. We just had to keep it a secret so once the cat was finally out of the bag, it was great to see people planning to come see us.
J: There are a lot of incredible acts during that weekend and we are honored to be in the mix!
PW: Jess, your project/campaign with Evans has gone down phenomenally well and you regularly receive messages from fans thanking you for reminding them that it's okay to be a "bigger girl", as you do via your track "Nitty Gritty." How does that make you feel and would a project such as your one with Evans be something you'd be open to doing again?
J: Absolutely, I loved working with Evans and we definitely are planning some things for the future. My goal is to always use whatever platform I have, to help lift people up who are struggling. Regardless of size, I can't think of one woman who doesn't have body image issues. I hope that in working to overcome my own, it will help other women do the same.
PW: Regarding the April/May tour, how did you choose Luke & Mel for your support slot?
S: They opened for us in Manchester on our tour last year and we thought they were so great! We love their sound and are two of the nicest people around. We can't wait for them to hit the road with us!
PW: Is there any particular venue you're most looking forward to playing or do you just like getting out there and performing?
Dave: Bush Hall in London is going to be a great one but mostly we are just excited to hit the road and perform.
PW: For fans who have yet to see you live, how would you describe a JATB show and how would you say they differ from shows put on by other artists?
R: We love to bring a party and a lot of energy to our shows. When people leave we want them anxious to get to another gig. It's really important for us to win over the audience each and every night.
PW: You get to play one venue in the UK and one venue anywhere else in the world for the foreseeable future. Which do you choose and why?
D: Assuming it's sold out, probably Wembley Stadium because, who wouldn't want to play sold out gigs there!?
J: For me it would have to be NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas because the thought of being able to fill up a stadium in my home town would be a dream come true. Look as us aiming big with stadiums!
PW: On your Facebook and Twitter, you've been posting about writing new material, can you give me any teases as to what you've been working on and does that mean there's a new album on the horizon?
J: Yes! We are back on the creative side beginning to write for a new album. We definitely aren't rushing but we want to start the process now so we have plenty of material to choose from. We actually have some new music coming out in the spring and can't wait for y'all to hear it! We will be debuting some of the songs at C2C!
PW: Finally then, with so much going on, what else does the year have in store for you? What's your number one priority for the year?
J: Our goal is to double – or more - the amount of live gigs we do and get out across Europe as well. We want this to be a very busy year for us!
For more information on Jess and The Bandits and to buy tickets for their upcoming tour dates, check out their website, give their page a like on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. The bands' debut album Here We Go Again is available now on itunes.