When I reach Gary Jarman, frontman for UK buzz-sensations the Cribs, he's holed up in a fancy New York hotel and a complete nervous wreck. Is he nervous about the high expectations of Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever, the band's well-hyped major label debut that has them poised to break out in the States? The recent controversy over onstage comments at this year's Glastonbury Festival, where the band played to over 175,000 people? Their Conan O'Brien performance scheduled to tape in a few hours? It was none of those things. Jarman was nervous about playing the Doug Fir, and his first return to his newly adopted home, Portland.
"I never get nervous about shows, but this [Portland] show I'm really scared over, because I have a lot of friends that I know who will be there." He adds, "In England everyone knows me—I'm this guy in a band—but when I come to America, my friends there, they don't really know about that side of me too much. It's going to be so weird playing in front of them all."
Jarman is in love with our town. So much so, that when he wasn't busy leading this band of brothers (including fraternal twin Ryan on guitar, and baby brother Ross on drums), he uprooted himself from England and relocated here. Much like all new transplants to the Rose City, he's a little defensive of his new digs. "I've never really been that type of person, but, for some reason, Portland is just the one place where I really do feel protective of."
The Brothers Jarman grew up in the downtrodden city of Wakefield, England, a monochromatic former mining town. "Back in the '80s, under Thatcher, all the mines were shut down. I remember growing up there, everyone seemed really angry all the time because the industry fell apart," says Jarman. "But growing up in Wakefield is one of those things I'm really proud of in a perverse way—it's given me some of the values I have now."
That rough upbringing has translated well to Men's Needs. It's a punchy record of desperate youth anthems and back-against-the-wall street poetry made by—and for—bored kids wasting away in dead-end towns. Despite Warner Bros. writing the checks, the band adopted little major label sheen on the record, instead turning over the producing duties to friend Alex Kapranos, lead singer of Franz Ferdinand. While Men's Needs—from the punk opener "Our Bovine Public" to Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo making a spoken-word cameo—is a well-rounded effort, Kapranos really flexes his muscles as a hit-making pop star with the single, "Men's Needs." Quite possibly the best import single in years, the song is a frantic dose of bouncy pop, complete with larynx-shredding backing vocals and some jabs at their peers in the music industry.
Back home Jarman is a celebrity whose face, along with his rowdy brothers, is splashed across the newsprint of NME, but here in Portland, he's just another guy in love with his new home. "That's one thing I love most about Portland," says Jarman. "I feel like I have more in common with the people there. They're our contemporaries, rather than all the shit we get lumped in with back in England."