Photo by Euan Robertson

We Were Promised Jetpacks headline Skully’s Music Diner on Friday, October 7. Breakup Shoes opens. Doors at 7pm, show starts at 8.

After a successful headlining gig at the Columbus Arts Fest in June, We Were Promised Jetpacks returns to Columbus to kick off a run of October dates that will be the last live shows of the year for the Scottish band. Lead singer Adam Thompson had been splitting time between Scotland and the U.S. after meeting his future wife, Becky, and was set to move to New York City permanently when the pandemic hit. Because travel was difficult and he didn’t have his green card, Thompson spent most of lockdown living with his parents in Scotland while working on WWPJ’s fifth album, Enjoy the View, which came out on Big Scary Monsters in September 2021. As restrictions eased, Thompson made NYC his home base while the band played nearly 100 gigs in 2022. During downtime, Thompson’s recently taken up a side job that keeps him busy and is completely unrelated to music. This is one of the things we talked about when we chatted early one morning this week before we both had to head to our day jobs.

You’ve sort of shattered the image of being a rock star by being on a phone call at 8:30 in the morning.

I’ve already been up for two-and-a-half hours. I get that quite a lot with people with interviews, they’re like, “I’ve never met a guy who’s up before 10.” My wife works and she has to get up pretty early so I’m always up and about walking the dog. I’ve got work today as well so it’s an early start.

An early start with work to do in your personal life or work to do because you’re getting ready to go on the road in a couple of days?

Personal. I work at a flower shop when I’m in New York. I’ve only been back eight days in between tours and I’ve been working most days. Not the most relaxing week but I like the job and it’s nice to be working and busy.

Are the October dates the end of the tour or do you have ideas for next year?

We kept November and December off this year. No plans to tour after the last show in New Jersey. We might do a little bit of touring next year but kind of just have to have a chat and work out what we want to do and how it’ll fit into our actual lives.

Did the pandemic cause you or anybody else in the band to consider where you’re at in life and try to figure out if this was really what the future held for you?

That comes up. To be honest, it’s something that you think about daily. It’s not something that was brought on by the pandemic. It’s something you constantly think about. Everybody does that with their life. “What if I chose this path?” or “What if I did this?” or “What if this didn’t happen?” I do think it is weird that band that we started just messing about in high school, there’s no way I thought 20 years later I’d be talking to someone in Columbus about my band going on tour.

Nothing bad enough has ever happened that we’ve wanted to stop. I guess I can feel a slight change now because we’re in our mid-30s, everyone’s married, settled down, living in different places. It’s a slightly different thing and those thoughts always happen. But, we’re a close group and we get on really well. We’ve always loved doing it. We like making music. We like touring. Something that I’ve always loved about our band is since we’ve grown up together, we all kind of feel the same things at the same time. And when it comes time for the band to end, it’ll be something we discuss together and decide upon together.

I was a fan of Jimmy Eat World early on. I saw them play in a really small club. I think they have mostly moved on past the Static Prevails record. How do you view your early catalog? Is that stuff that you’re willing to explore and play out or have you moved past the earliest stuff you’ve done?

I’ve been back and forth with it. I remember an old booking agent saying something like he was chatting with a guy in a band and they were like saying that he couldn’t believe that the most popular song he had written when he was 18, like 20 years ago. And the booking agent looked at me and said, “Do you know that feeling?” At that moment, I was like, “Oh, fuck. Yeah.” “Quiet Little Voices” from that first album might be the biggest it gets for us. There is a little bit of that when you’re at shows and people only want to hear that song. It’s like, “Come on, we have a bunch of other stuff.” But, if I’m being completely honest, by this time now I’m just fucking so grateful that anyone gives a shit. I’m like, “Yeah! Fucking ‘Quiet Little Voices’, here we go! I can’t believe you like that song.” And getting to see how much that makes a room buzz. I love it when our merch guy, Steve, will be like, “I think 5 people left immediately after you finished playing that song.” I think that shit when I was younger would have annoyed me but now I’m like, “Fucking good for them. They saw the song they wanted when they bought a ticket. Everyone’s had a good time. What’s the problem?”

I saw you at the Columbus Arts Festival this summer and I saw the reaction from the crowd when you played that song. I was standing up front, I can’t judge how many people were behind me, but it felt like a stadium-rock moment where everybody was singing along.

That’s what you’ve got to do. That’s how we play every show. It doesn’t matter if there’s a hundred people or you’re supporting someone at a place in front of 10,000 people. You just have to rock out. I’m definitely appreciating the fact that we can do that for people. It makes us enjoy it so much more as well. I think I used to be a lot more closed off and serious about it. Now, I just want to try and entertain people. I want people to have a great night and it helps me have a great night instead of me coming off and being like, “Oh, I played shit in that song” or “That fucking verse was off.”

I remember you saying something like, “Thanks the applause but if you don’t like it, just make sure that if you’re standing back by my in-laws, pretend like you liked it.” I didn’t know until that moment that your wife was from Columbus.

Yeah. She’s from Groveport, just south of Columbus. But her sister is there and her dad and step-mom and mom and step-dad live there. I’ve spent lots of time in Columbus, the last few Christmases and a bunch of other times. We go there quite a lot. And, funnily enough, I’ve got one brother and he married a girl from Dayton, Ohio.

I really enjoyed the Arts Festival. My wife’s sister’s fiancé, Sean, is part of the festival team. It was really nice getting to see his work and see what goes into this big festival and getting to play it. It was a really nice day. I got to see loads of family and my wife’s parents got to see me play for the first time.