Tell us a little bit about how you met and the creation of Jess and the Bandits.
Ricci: We met on tour with The Overtones. We (The Bandits) were backing the 'tones and Jess was supporting. Jess and her manager used to come and watch us from the side of the stage and we used to go out drinking after the shows. On the last gig of the tour we stage-invaded Jess' set and we've shared a stage with her ever since.
Jess: We got on so well that when it was time for me to open for Boyzone, I knew I wanted these guys backing me up, and then it naturally evolved from there. It made sense that the next step was to become a proper band, and Jess and the Bandits was born.
Was there instant chemistry between the five of you?
Dave: Well I knew the boys way before we met Jess and there was massive chemistry when we first met, on-stage and off. Musically they all play what I want to hear and off-stage they are all my best mates. Then we met Jess! Instantly we got on with her and when I heard her sing I was like: 'yee ha, she's the real deal!'
You recently performed at the C2C Festival, what was that experience like?
Louis: So much fun! It's really exciting to know that there's a lot of love for country music in the UK.
Jess: It was incredible! I think the thing that shocked us the most was hearing there was a long queue of people who were waiting to get in to see us but couldn't, because the Brooklyn Bowl was at capacity!
What have been some of your biggest challenges in your career and your journey so far?
Louis: Paying the rent!
Steve: A musical career is challenging and rewarding in so many ways, but I think the biggest challenge is coping with the unpredictability of the job. Stability is rare in this line of work!
Ricci: Balancing home life with the ever-changing schedules of the music industry.
Jess: I think just the typical things. Making sure we put out an album that people are going to love. Also as you grow as a band, in the beginning it isn't easy. Sometimes you play to 10 people, but then it's hanging in there and being persistent. Before you know it you've packed out a venue at The O2!
Similarly, what have been some of your biggest highlights to-date?
Steve: I have to say that playing last weekend at C2C was a real highlight for me. Playing great songs in a great venue to a great crowd... and loud!
Jess: Performing on the main stage at The O2 was amazing. Equally, Wembley is right up there as well.
Ricci: Recording at a TV studio that is home to the set of Saturday Morning Kitchen! That show IS my Saturday mornings! Wembley Arena with Jess and the Bandits.
Now you're working towards the release of your debut album, can you tell us about the creative process behind that record?
Jess: I spent a lot of time in Nashville writing with some of the best writers there for about a year. As this is our debut album, it had to be amazing. We made sure when making it that we spent a lot of time and were thoughtful about every single thing. From the lyrics to the music, it had to be great. Now, here we are with a finished product and we couldn't be more proud!
What should fans and new listeners expect from this album?
Louis: Killer country hooks, tasty playing and heartfelt songs.
What do you make of the country genre in the modern world? Is it being redefined?
Dave: I think it's great, you have to move with the times. There will always be good, amazing and OK artists, but that's peoples' tastes. I'm not sure it's being redefined.
Jess: I don't know if it's being redefined but I do think it's growing. Something that you will always get from country music that you don't get from typical pop is storytelling. In any genre, music grows and changes with the times. I think that is what country music is doing now. It's becoming more mainstream but still keeping the wonderful storytelling, fiddles, the steel guitar and such that are part of the foundation of country music.
How do you balance your work and personal life?
Ricci: I don't really. It's pretty tough if you want to keep working and do well in this industry. Having an understanding wife is key.
Steve: Again, 'balance' is an elusive concept in this job! I tend to think of balance as something you achieve over a long period of time. In music, you may be constantly busy for weeks or months and then have very little to do all of a sudden. These are the times to redress the balance with other aspects of your life. But on a daily basis... forget it!
Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for those who may want to go into a career such as yours?
Jess: Don't do it! Just kidding! I'm not going to lie and say it's easy because it definitely isn't. If you want this, go for it! Put in the hard work and get a great team of people who believe in you to help move you forward. Don't get discouraged when you are only playing for a few people. My mother always told me to perform for five people as if you were performing for 5,000. They all deserve the same show. Be persistent and don't give up.
Dave: Write music you want to write. It's called the music business so be business-like about it, get your music to the right people. They won't come knocking. Be pro-active.
What should we all expect from Jess and the Bandits in the coming weeks and months?
Jess: We have lots of announcements coming up about live shows, but we will be back on the road in the coming months for festival season. We also plan to take the show to other countries including Ireland. It's going to be a busy year for JATB so stay tuned to www.jessandthebandits.com as well as social media for all of the updates!