WHEN he left New York – he was already a man transformed. He boarded the plane with renewed focus and a resolve that had been missing for so long. The air of change had already swept through his life, but things were looking up. Things would be different. Better.

Adam Thompson left his wife in the US and headed back home to Scotland in the hopes of completing the new We Were Promised Jetpacks album. But no sooner had he stepped off the plane did the dreaded realisation take hold.

“It was March 23,” he tells The Weekender with a tone of reflective exasperation – it is clear, now, exactly where this tale would go. “I flew home from New York and all I could see was that Britain was going into lockdown.

“I was then hit with the sudden realisation that I did not know how long it would be before I can go back. At that time, I didn’t know whether to stay in the US with my wife Becky or not – I wasn’t sure how long I could stay, without a green card or whatever. It ended up taking eight months; it never made sense for one of us to fly over there or over here. It was a pretty long wait.”

No doubt, Thompson’s tale is far from unique as the pandemic laid waste to international travel, but in the very least he had a project to sink his teeth into – to distract from the unknown and the isolation.

By this point, We Were Promised Jetpacks as a band had already endured a fundamental change with the departure of Michael Palmer. The guitarist opted to leave the project in the summer of 2019. The group continued on as a trio with Thompson, drummer Darren Lackie and bassist Sean Smith deciding to begin work on album number five in the ill-fated spring of 2020.

And, so, even before Covid had become so ubiquitous, they knew the making of this record would be odd from the beginning as they continued to adapt to the change in personnel.

Thompson says: “It’s strange going into band practice, just me, Sean and Darren, and me being the only guitarist there. So, that’s a lot of space to fill up, there. It had been the four of us for 15 years – so that was definitely strange.

“We knew we didn’t want to just try and do what Michael had done – we’d only do a poor version of it in any case. And I think I wanted it to be a little less aggressive and more laid back. That was, sort of, the goal for it.”

With studios closed and rules in place against meeting in person, the trio had to improvise. GarageBand tracks and ideas were being sent back and forth among them, with the majority of the album, essentially, being written in Thompson’s childhood bedroom at his parents’ house.

“Writing and recording was a huge part of our life for those six months,” he recalls. “Normally an album would take longer than that. It was pretty intense. We normally work on one song at a time, but there were 11 on the go at once. It was a bit of a challenge.”

The band’s complement was not the only major transformation in the inter-album period for Thompson – indeed, it had been an era of vital personal growth for him.

His mental health had become a source of concern and he had taken some time to address those issues. He speaks of those efforts as if it was the best thing that ever happened to him – that and settling down.

“I actually went through a bit of a depression stage a few years ago,” the frontman says. “It took me a while to come out of that. When I did, I met my wife and that was after recording our last album – I just started to feel better.

“I felt that I wanted to separate from me an older, worse version of myself, and to just tell myself that it’s okay and that I didn’t have to be that person anymore – I could move on. I wanted to just grab happiness wherever I could and hold onto that. I think as a Scottish person, and especially younger guys, we just don’t do that, or we don’t think about what’s good for you.

“There was a lot of that in this new album and I think the first song I wrote for it was Not Me Anymore. I never really thought it was a ‘Jetpacks tune – but it really summed up where I was and what I was feeling. I wanted to break up with an older version of myself and move on."


We Were Promised Jetpacks have released their fifth album, following a period of immense transformation. Picture by Euan Robertson

We Were Promised Jetpacks have released their fifth album, following a period of immense transformation. Picture by Euan Robertson


Maturity comes in waves – there are tipping points and realisations. Moving from the teenage years into early 20s has its own set of challenges, although a sense of grounding in the shape of youth and optimism should largely stay intact. This is not always the case when levelling up from late 20s to early 30s as the first drops of truly valuable life experience really land. Lessons learned in strife are rarely forgotten.

We Were Promised Jetpacks were in the spotlight from a very early age, with commercial success and mind-spinning tours across the world. Through their 20s, they released four albums, some of their earliest work being the product of their teenage years.

Enjoy The View is the band’s first record to be written as 30-somethings. It stands to reason that there might have been a tipping point for the band – something to take them in a new direction. The wisdom of maturity, the comfort of stability? Or even just the realisation that if the ride has lasted this long, they might just be in it for good.

Thompson reflects: “Being in a band… travelling about. It’s super-cool in your 20s, but it all changes at some point. Realising that this is all I know how to do and all I have any experience in. You realise that you have to earn a living, so the pressures are a bit different. It’s something, I guess, you need to try block that out when it comes to writing an album.

He continues: “The first album was written in my teenage years – a mad time to grow up and when still processing emotions and feelings that you don’t really understand yet because you are so young. But, yeah, I definitely feel there is a greater understanding of the human spectrum now that we have been doing it so long and are now in our mid-30s.”

Taking the time to deal with mental health problems had already made a huge difference in Thompson’s life. It was a massive step towards a happiness that was seemingly out of reach. A happiness that a younger Thompson would not have attained, one which he would have dismissed before any first step.

He says: “Self-care becomes more important as you get older – it is so important. You have to take care of yourself and you have to give yourself a chance. For all those who think happiness and contentment is not for you… it can be.

“Meeting my wife changed everything for me, so being apart for eight months was really difficult. My world seemed really huge and then, all of a sudden, I was back in my childhood bedroom trying to write songs again – ‘Please knock before you come in, mum’. It was definitely strange.”


We Were Promised Jetpacks have released their fifth album, following a period of immense transformation. Picture by Euan Robertson

We Were Promised Jetpacks have released their fifth album, following a period of immense transformation. Picture by Euan Robertson


It is, therefore, no anomaly that Enjoy the View represents a departure in the norm for We Were Promised Jetpacks. Sure enough, it has all the hallmarks of experienced musicians working on their craft. It will be seen as more measured output from a band that has, at least in some respects, slowly developed a more dynamic sound over the years.

With so many changes on board, something new was inevitable. But, all the same, Thompson had a mind to step into new territory when the time to begin work on the album. He had seen the same progression in many influential artists – it was their turn.

He adds. “When I was young and listening to a band I could never work out why there is a big change from one album to the next. But I’ve realised that it’s never just someone taking a decision on how it should sound.

“With each album that you do, there are a bunch of different things that influence it. It’s about the artists – three on this album and four on the others – and all they are going through, what’s happening in their lives, what music they are listening to, the bands they have recently toured with. Situations always change.

“And with this album, we’ve probably experienced the most change in the space of writing an album. Michael, who we started the band with, he left after the last album, so it was already different before we had even started. And then you have a lockdown on top of all that.

“Another change is that we always thought ourselves as a live band. We would write songs to play live and then record them, that’s what we always did. But this new way was completely flipped and we recorded everything and then we had to work out how to play it all again.

“I didn’t want the record to be… pandemic-y. It couldn’t be about being stuck indoors and not seeing friends. I guess it was a lot more about moving on.”

With a deeper appreciation for the development of an artist, Thompson also feels he has taken steps in other aspects of his career. Crucially, he wants to move away from old perspectives on live performance – when nerves and the initial pressures of the industry were at their highest.

After almost two decades in the music industry, he only now feels he is ready to be the performer he has the potential to be. To truly entertain and not recite the records they had released. To make a show, a proper show.

“I guess my whole attitude towards the band has changed a little bit,” he says. “I want to entertain – I want those who come to see us to really enjoy themselves. I just really want them to have a good night.

“I used to play gigs before,” he reflects. “I don’t know if it was nerves or whatever, but I would barely look at the audience, acknowledge them, and just play 14 songs or whatever and walk off. I guess I used to get myself a bit too worked up.

“But, just before lockdown, we did a month-long tour in the US and I was really looking forward to playing each night – it was a joyous experience. I wasn’t boozing or smoking and just really focusing on that hour and 15 minutes we play each night.

“I just really felt the difference; there was real positivity. I felt that if you give all that to the crowd then you’ll get it back and it’s so much more enjoyable.

“That is really what I want – I want us to entertain; I want them to have a good time. I guess the older I am and the longer we do this, the more grateful I am for it all.”

Enjoy the View was released through Big Scary Monsters Recording Company on September 10.

We Were Promised Jetpacks will perform at Lemon Tree in Aberdeen on December 2 and the QMU in Glasgow on December 11, before touring the rest of Europe and the US.

For more, visit www.bandsintown.com/a/219645-we-were-promised-jetpacks