Madeleine "Leiney" Clark is an unassuming figure. You wouldn't think it, but the the lead singer of Raging Jupiter has fought tragedy and adversity since the band formed in 2009. They appeared on the cusp of success having progressed through the Live and Unsigned competition until the band's Cajun drummer (and Leiney's then partner) was involved in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down. This tragic turn of events obviously hit the singer hard, "Naturally we were devastated - especially me. Everything just stopped."
The band went on to lose another founding member in 2011, so it's a testament to their drive and determination that the band have, through non-stop gigging and scraping of pennies together, reached a point where they've released their first single (with a second due in the next few months) and their debut album coming in August.
Now a six-piece, the North-East band are Leiney, Jonny Phage (lead guitar), Devin More (rhythm guitar), Graham Summersgill (bass), Andi Grainger (keys) and Zol Fordor (drums). Songwriting duties are split between Leiney, Jonny, Devin and seventh member of the band Brian Clark.
Fighting both challenges and indifference ("We started out as an electric band with a totally different line up. I was the only one who seemed to want to take the music seriously") has obviously strengthened the hard working singer's resolve. Rarely do we chat to someone so determined to make it despite all that's thrown their way. A change of tack reinvigorated the band and a more natural, acoustic folk rock sound has developed naturally showcasing the best of the band's talents. When the result is something as polished as the band's debut, the country-infused folk of 'Someone To Me', it's hard not to be impressed about what they've been able to achieve on a shoestring. Creativity certainly isn't in short supply - "We also have enough original songs for a second album and we are working on the third" - it seems only practicalities are holding them back.
In a music world that seems to be fixated on the quick rise (and equally quick fall) of artists - especially those spawned from the likes of The X Factor who have mere minutes of fame - it's good to see a band working their way up from nothing. Madeleine has a commendable view on the subject; "I feel that going the long way round you meet people - you make friends, you build a pyramid of people who have helped and believed in you and when you make it you have all of that to fall back on instead of falling back to the floor." After their initial false starts, the band finally managed to put together some well received demos and then spent the next couple of years strengthening their catalogue and fundraising through gigging around their native North East.
Leiney promises an eclectic range of styles on the band's first album, Champagne Lifestyle, Lemonade Money. "We have always been about original music" she says, "when we do a cover version we always put our own spin on them". Describing the band's sound as a fusion between pop, rock and folk with the odd bit of funk, the bands influences are always close to home, describing their self-written songs as "an honest interpretation of our lives". The band's wide musical interests ranging from Carrie Underwood and Alanis Morissette to Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen (with a slight detour via Nine Inch Nails) have clearly enabled them to cast their net wider than some of their contemporaries.
Capitalising on Madeleine's background as an actress, as well as musician, has allowed Raging Jupiter's first video to be a cut above the usual amateur efforts that usually accompany self-funded releases. Clark produced the video, enlisting the help of director Andy Simpson (Young Hearts Run Free) and Director of Photography Chris Tritschler. The singer even designed her own dresses for the shoot which eventually cost just £300 - that includes venue hire, insurance AND food!
The band are planning big things for the future; as well as their second single and album, they're kicking off a UK-wide tour to drum up support and more funds - and Madeleine even has eyes on merchandising with her own clothing line to be sold on the band's website.
When (and this writer has no doubt that they will) Raging Jupiter finally find the success they're seeking it'll be through pure hard work - something that is largely lacking in the industry right now. It's refreshing to see a band so dedicated to their aims that they'll risk their own money to develop themselves and the pureness of the music and Madeleine's voice puts much of the current auto-tuned, over produced pop to shame.
Someone To Me is available to buy on iTunes now. You can follow the band on Twitter and Facebook.