Jordan Cardy rides round the corner of Chelmsford’s market square on his brand new red shiny bike.
As the rest of the band appear one by one, they all take it for a ride, innocently reeking havoc as grannies do their charity shopping in this kind-of-quiet Essex town. They grab their skateboards and we head to the place the guys skate when it’s been raining. Which it has.
They all have a Los Angeles glow about them, drummer Noah and guitarists Liam and Harry, as the group just got back a few days prior. Except for Jordan that is, “I got more pale. I literally didn’t go outside.” Instead, he was having 17-hour stints in the recording studio working on two albums worth of music. “We did a whole album worth of stuff with a guy called Tim Armstrong who’s in a band called Rancid. So halfway through the trip we were like, ‘We’ll just try and do two records’.
“When I was out there, I was writing more lyrics. People said I wouldn’t write about home, but I wrote more about the UK. I was doing full lyrics for two songs in one day, I was like ‘What’s going on?’ It was cool. I’m knackered now though.”
Making quantities of music that would take other musicians a lifetime to write isn’t new to Jordan though. His laptop is filled to the brim, and his debut record, SCUM, had 25 tracks. “It had a few interludes and stuff,” says Jordan, playing down its vastness. “I just wanted to put everything out there that I’d done so I could start afresh. I thought the next album would be a lot less tracks but now after getting back the US, we have 19 new tracks…” The promise of two records next year is something Jordan seems pretty set on.
“I found this sweet spot in the tempo of tracks,” he says, and goes on to talk about beats per minute, which I pretend to understand. “In the choruses you can double time it, so it’s a rock band energy, and in the verses you half time it and it’s like hip hop.”
Speaking of his first album, Jordan tells me how it’s about growing up in Chelmsford, “It’s just me talking loads of shit about growing up here, you know what I mean?” He wrote ‘REVOLUTION’ because he “was pissed off”. With what? “Society,” he says in an emo, I-hate-this-world, sarcastic way. “I’m pretty explanatory with my lyrics, I hate talking about them. I always change my mind about them every day.”
“My first tracks I recorded got noticed. Then I got signed and I was like ‘Ah shit, I’ve got to try and make a record’. It’s kind of luck when you make them first songs, I didn’t know how to record, so if something sounded good it was because of guessing and trying to figure out what to do with them.”
At this point in our chat, he grabs his phone out and asks me, “Do you want to hear the song I wrote this morning?” Obviously I say yes. “It’s the iPhone ringtone with heavy guitar and a trap beat. That’s what I’m doing now, ringtones.”
Ringtones, and prepping to play his next London gig at Brixton Academy. “I’m nervous. I think the stress of it is that we’ve got to try and sell this out and make it as crazy as we can. I always think the next time is going to be calm and now it’s fucking Brixton. I’m gonna get my friend Tommy [their videographer] on stage announcing the band dressed like a bingo guy. I just want to do loads of stupid stuff for it.”
And stupid stuff is probably a pretty accurate way to describe Rat Boy’s gigs. But good stupid. The guys have been playing music together for a few years now. “We’re the same but we play a lot tighter now because it’s been so long. We know what each other is going do. If I fuck up on lyrics, Liam will know when to come in and save me, or the other way around. And if Noah drops a stick, then we shout at him and call him out on stage.”
Jordan is this entirely creative being, and has an aura around him where you can just sense that he can’t sit still for longer than ten mins. He says he’s done art way before he started music and shows me the Instagram magazine titled Rat Piss he’s just created. “I want to keep making them and keep putting content out.” Whether he’s sharing his artwork or an entire magazine on Instagram, working on storyboards for music videos and new clothes designs for SCUM, or posting fresh tracks on Soundcloud, he just wants to carry on being creative. “Even if it’s not going to be a single it’s still lyrics that I’m proud of. Plus, I’d be bored if I didn’t do it. It’s just as fun for me making art and clothes as it is music.”
Although art and music go hand in hand, Jordan says there aren’t cohesive connections between them both for him. “Sometimes if I try and relate stuff too much, then I lose creative freedom, I block myself in. With the Rat Piss magazine, I just stuck anything in it that I liked. Then I’m not overthinking it and I have time to get more stuff out that people can look at.”
And that’s Jordan, or Rat Boy, a constantly working, consistently artistic guy, who’s just as humble as he is creative. “Eventually, if everything goes back to just me working on it in my bedroom, I’d love to have a website where people pay a fiver a month and I keep putting tracks on it all the time. Not an album, but EPs, or a random song a week, a comic a week, and a video. That would be so sick.”
As we were walking back to the rest of the band, more of the group’s mates had brought their skateboards and joined them, which reminds Jordan that he wants to give a shout out to Suspects, “They’re gonna be big.”
Photos by Elliott Morgan
Words by Eliza Frost