The Jazz June have just released a new full length titled ‘After The Earthquake‘ on Topshelf Records. The album was recorded with producer Evan Weiss (Into It. Over It.) at Gradwell House, with Steve Poponi (Young Statues) engineering / mixing and Dave Downham (Dowsing, Into It. Over It.) mastering. The release marks their first new studio LP in over 12 years. You can sort out a copy now on iTunes [Here]. This week in The Hotseat we catch up with singer / guitarist Andrew Low to tackle our questions. Expand this post to check out his answers.
Name : Andrew Low
Band : The Jazz June
Job In Band : Singer/Guitarist
Website Address : facebook/thejazzjune
Hometown : Reb Bank New Jersey (me, not the band. The band met while at Kutztown University, Pennsylvania)
Hometown is best known for : Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Skid Row, The Sopranos
Best venue in your hometown : The Stone Pony
Favourite show you’ve seen in your hometown : The Transmagetti at the Brighton Bar
Favourite show you’ve played in your hometown : Opening up for NJ hardcore band Endeavour
How did the band first come to exist? We all met at Kutztown University. I didn’t actually meet the members of the band until we started playing together through a mutual friend. We eyed each other up on campus from time to time, but there were so many hardcore and punk kids on campus that it took us until our sophomore year before we were actually in a room playing music together.
How long has the band been going? Almost 20 years, with some hiatuses along the way.
Any particular story behind the name? It is from a Gwendolyn Brooks poem called We Real Cool. We thought it was a badass poem and hoped to mimic the rebel nature of the characters in the poem.
What’s your most recent release? Tell us a little about it… We are about to release ‘After the Earthquake’, our first proper album in 12 years on November 11th via TopShelf Records. We had talked about writing new music for a while after we reformed in 2006 to play a string of benefit shows for our roadie Adam, who had been diagnosed with a brain tumour. Things were put on hold when Bryan (lead guitarist) had his third child and I moved to London. A person very close to Bryan feel ill and he really got us motivated to actually do it. He reminded us that life is too short to procrastinate and that we really needed to start working on a new album. We posted something on our facebook page about two years ago about recording new songs and and TopShelf got in touch. We traded tracks over the Internet from different places in the world (London, Philly, North Carolina) and finally went into the studio to record the full album last April at Gradewell House in New Jersey with Evan Weiss (Into It Over It) producing and Steve Poponi (Up, Up, Down, Down…) manning the controls.
Got a personal stand out achievement of your band to date? There are a few. The first was being featured in Thrasher Magazine, a skateboarding magazine I have read my whole life. We also got open for Built to Spill, although I got kicked out of the venue during their set, but that is another story. Recently we were had a song premiere on NPR and mention in The Guardian’s 2014 CMJ review. Noisey premiering our album stream was also a real buzz.
OFF THE STAGE
What was your first introduction to music that made you think seriously about playing it? I guess seeing my old brother jamming with his friends in the garage at the same time I started going to punk rock shows. I really buzzed off the energy of punk and hardcore bands and having a set of instruments at home at my disposal made it easy to form a band.
Any particular band / album or song that you personally credit as a major influence? Not really a song, but I have always listened to Superchunk songs and loved how they combined noise and energy with seriously catchy vocals and chord progressions. Also, hearing Pavement’s Slanted and Enchanted album in the back of my friends car at 15 made me really want to be in a band.
Your first band name, and what style did you play? My first band had 5 different, really bad, names – Wake, Regret and Samsara. It was straight up chugga chugga hardcore. We were seriously terrible but we had a lot of fun cranking up the amps.
Most prized music related item you own? My Rickenbacker 360 guitar. I have had a lot of other guitars over the years, but I have always hung on to that one. It just looks really cool and it plays like a dream. I actually had to retire it from live shows because it is a bit beat up and I want to keep it forever, or give it to one of my kids.
When you’re not doing band related stuff, what are you usually found doing? Mostly hanging with my awesome girlfriend Jen or drinking with friends in London.
The thing you most look forward to just before a tour is… Seeing the guys in The Jazz June, hanging with old friends and meeting new people. We have met some seriously awesome people at shows that we have now known for 20 years. I would never meet these people if it weren’t for The Jazz June.
The thing you least look forward to before a tour is… Travelling. I live in London and all our shows have been in the US, so it usually involves a long flight with pissy flight attendants and they occasional 12-hour delay. I am actually typing this interview on a flight to Austin, Texas for Fun Fun Fun Fest.
ON THE STAGE
When on offer, what’s your one must have item on the rider? I like Whiskey, Makers Mark especially.
Favourite place you’ve toured… and why? The West Coast is always a trip. Mostly due to the freaky people you meet. The ride from LA to San Fran along the Pacific Coast Highway is unreal.
Most memorable show you’ve played? and why? This would probably be the show we played at Gillman Street in San Francisco. That place has so much history and it was just a magical show. The people were seriously awesome to us. Afterwards we stayed at a local kids house and he fed us Government Issue weed and loads of other stuff. We didn’t leave for 3 days. There is a video of it out there somewhere that I hope no one ever sees.
Got a favourite song to play live? ‘When in Rome’. It is about 5 minutes long and has a lot of changes. I love playing the breakdowns. Die-hard fans usually know and sing along with us.
Any embarrassing on stage moments come to mind? I move around a lot on stage so I am constantly unplugging myself or dropping my guitar. It sucks every time, but I really don’t know how to stay still when we play.
Any pre-show rituals? A few beers and a little chat with the guys in the band usually gets me psyched and ready to play to any crowd.
What do you find is the hardest aspect of touring in a band today? We don’t do much touring, but I have to travel a lot. The cost of travelling is super expensive for us, but it is always worth it.
Last song you listened to? ‘Surrender’ by Tom Petty
Last album you picked up? Beach Slang – Cheap Thrills on a Dead End Street.
Which band or album is currently on high rotation? Beach Slang, Alvvays and Tom Petty – ‘Damn the Torpedoes’.
Tell us an up and coming band or artist you think we should go and listen to right now? Beach Slang, Field Mouse and Joanna Gruesome.
What’s on the cards for the next few months for the band? Fun Fun Fun Fest and then a Winter tour with Field Mouse. We are hitting NYC, Boston, DC and Philly. We also hope to make it to SXSW in 2015.
You can pick any one album for your band to cover in full, what would it be and why? Pavement – ‘Slanted and Enchanted’
You can pick any one band / artist to cover one of your albums in full, what would it be, and why? The Band back when they backed Bob Dylan. Tightest Band Ever and Levon Helm is such a dude.
One band you wish you were able to see live but never had the chance? Guided By Voices. They were supposed to play FFFest this weekend but they broke up!!! Also, Sonic Youth. Lets hope Kim and Thurston patch up their differences.
One venue you have yet to play that you would love to? The Roundhouse Camden London is such a great sounding room.
The chance comes up to fill in for a member of a band for one tour, which band would it be, and why? I would love to tour as member of Built to Spill. They are the perfect combo of great songs and jams that would be so fun to play every night.
A headline tour overseas comes up, tell us two bands you’d take along to support your band. I would support Neutral Milk Hotel. I saw them in Kentish Town and it was a life-changing event.
Got any final words? New album ‘After the Earthquake’ on Topshelf Records from November 11th. Winter US East Coast tour in December / January. We also hope to get to Australia next year. Fingers crossed. We have a video coming out for the song ‘After the Earthquake’ soon, which is looking as great. Eric Bader and Ernie Gilbert made it and it’s flipping amazing.
THE JAZZ JUNE – ‘After The Earthquake‘
Available now on Topshelf Records.
Order now on iTunes [Here].