The Jazz June Interview

The Jazz June started their eight year run in 1996 in a small town in Pennsylvania named Kutztown. The 5 of them all met at Kutztown University and started playing shows in basements and garages throughout Kutztown, PA. The band took favorite aspects of indie rock, punk and post hardcore and made it their own. The indie rock sound is evident on “Low End Automatic” then carry over to a pop punk style with “Red Light District” and “The Possibilities Are Endless” to the instrumentals of “Falling Asleep On Lincoln Drive”. Each songs precision seems to be countered by just the opposite - the ever-so-often changeups can throw the new listener off a bit, creating a conglomeration of noise and melody as if 5 different bands were to play at once. The band broke up in 2004. Interview with Andrew Low

During the recording of your latest record, Better Without Air, a lot of stuff was going on in the background. Please indulge us.

We had just been home from our longest tour. A full 3 month U.S. tour during most of which we were playing with Elliot. I remember the summer before thinking how it was going to be the best tour ever, it happened to be the worst tour financially, the most fun, and the most damaging physically. I think we all had our own personal mental breakdowns at different times on the tour. I remember having Tim (our keyboard player at the time) by the throat against the wall of the club we played in Sacramento. We came home from the tour exhausted and took a big break. We then started to book shows about 8 months later. During the middle of all this 9/11 happened and Bryan (guitar) was living in the city at the time. It really hit him hard and he kind of disappeared for a while. We couldn't get in touch with him for some time so we had to cancel a bunch of shows. Finally that January we went in to the studio with a bunch of half written songs and just played and worked them out for a couple months.

How did 9/11 impact your songs?

Everyone was still afraid of an attack. We were all were just freaked out and very scared about what was going to happen. People in my old neighborhood died in the attack. I think everyone in a 500-mile radius knew someone that was either in the city that day or didn’t make it home. None of the songs are about the incident, but I think I really set the mood for the recording considering how hard it hit everyone.

What music and bands did you grow up on?

Collectively we all had been exposed to Punk Rock and Hardcore to some degree. I personally grew up on Led Zeppelin, Sabbath and a lot of older Rock n Roll that my brother liked. Because of skateboarding I was exposed to punk rock bands like Minor Threat, Dead Kennedy’s and The Misfits when I was in Elementary School. Then, when I was in Middle and High School I started hanging out with a bunch of Burn outs who were into Indy rock bands like Pavements Sonic Youth Super chunk Polvo and the Velvet Underground while I was going to Straight Edge Hardcore shows at Middlesex County College. I have carried all of theses types of music with me through out my life and still look to them for musical inspiration.

What drives you to write the lyrics that you do?

I write a lot of songs as poems before they become songs. What I usually do is take one of my poems and edit them into lyrics that fit into the rhythm of a song we have written. As far as subject matter is concerned I always seem to use writing as an outlet for the things I see and don’t like. Whether they be political or just about some jerk that yelled at me in the street or an ex girlfriend who dumped me and then proceeded to fuck all of my friends (not that happened or anything).

Can you please tell us about your guitar sound? It’s definitely not your average run of the mill generic guitar sound, which I feel is a good thing!

Bryan has a Gibson SG and a Les Paul that he plays through a Fender, Deville Combo amp. I have a Rickenbocker that I play out of a Fender, Twin Combo. I like to use really gritty sounding petals (mostly made by Danelectro) for some extra gain on harder parts of a song. I also really like Tremolo and a little Delay to make certain parts stand out. Recently I got the Danelectro Slap Echo Pedal. It was like fifteen bucks and it is the best pedal I have ever used. I have always felt that effects are great when they are not over used - some times less is more. Bryan has an Emerald Echo, Tube Delay and the Big Muff. I think we have a different sound because we don’t use Marshall or Mesa Boogie Half stacks like most of the bands we play with.

With your last release, how do you feel it differs from The Medicine and your older albums?

We just really wanted to do something new and different. Our first three albums were mostly just bass, three Guitars and drums. We wanted to reinvent our selves in a way and abandon our old song writing habits. We had also been playing with each other for 6 years; so playing together was very easy and comfortable. Justin experimented with some drum effects on his computer – I think he used Sound Forge or Acid one of those Mac recording programs. Dan became quite the keyboard specialist. He had three or four keyboards set up with effects pedals hooked up to them.

How did J. Robbins help in recording The Medicine? Did he use any tricks?

No tricks. He is just really good at what he does and knows how to achieve the sound that a band is looking for. Most rock engineers just set up the equipment sit behind the board and press record. J. was always giving ideas and suggesting that we use different amps at the studio for different sounds. I guess one trick he used for the drums was putting them on a 4" high riser. He put mics at the corners of the riser to record the sound of the kick drum resonating through the wood. It really gave the kick a big, loud, warm thump.

How many cups of coffee does he drink everyday?

I don’t think you can count in cups. You have to count pots. He must have made about 6 pots a day and drank every drop. He buzzes around the studio working like a mad man. It’s actually really cool because he knows what it is like to be in a band that has no recording budget but still wants to make an amazing record. He would give us suggestions and fix problems constantly. He even played some keyboards on one of the songs. Unfortunately I couldn't get him to do any back up vocals - that would have been amazing if he did.

What’s the latest news on a new Jazz June record? 

Well, at this point we have been pretty inactive for a while so I don’t think that Initial is too excited about spending a lot of money on putting out a record for us. I recorded four new songs on Pro Tools that I have if anyone wants a copy. They are really good. Much like the Better Off songs with some extra-added wackiness. Email me at if you want a copy. I went to recording school in NYC so I am now trying to record as much as possible and learn in the process so I can work with bands that I like.

When will you tour next? I haven't seen you guy’s tour in a long while.

Yeah, touring right now is pretty tough. We all have different crazy job schedules, girlfriends, wives etc…It sucks because I really miss it, but Dan (bass) and I are in a new band called Snakes and Music and we are starting to really get moving on touring. We are just looking for a booking agent right now and we are ready to hit the road. We still have the old Jazz June van.
The Jazz June isn't a full time band, what other projects are all you guys involved in?

Well like I said Dan and I have Snakes and Music, Bryan and Justin are in a band called Ready to Rip. I was going to recording school for a year, which took up a lot of time. I spend most of my time now writing and recording music with my friend Greg who is also in Snakes and Music. Dan comes from Philly once a week for practice.

What other hobbies or work had kept you busy in the meantime besides music?

I write a lot. I just had a poem published in a book called Revolution on Canvas that was put out by the guys in the band Ad Astra. I ride my bike a lot and get drunk with my girlfriend and run around NYC…it’s a lot of fun. I love New York. Bryan has to travel all the time with his job selling pumps, and Justin and Dan are married so they are busy doing family stuff.

Where do you see The Jazz June in five years?

Shit five years ...Hopefully still all playing, whether it is with the four of us together or on separate projects. We have been together for so long and through so much that we really are a family. We all get together and hang out a lot and just have fun. We still play together every once in awhile and we still play shows. I am sure you will see us at every Krazyfest until they stop letting us play. I know we will always be a part of each other’s lives.

Final comments?

I just would like everyone to buy CDs at the store instead of downloading them for free. Also, keep supporting independent music and look for bands that are doing something new and artistic. It is great that many of the bands in the scene are getting recognition for their music, but it feels like there are so many clones of bands like Saves the Day and New Found Glory that are just a shitty watered down version of them. Not that I like any of those bands, but a least they are not Lincoln Park or Creed. Most of all have fun and don’t take life so seriously. Laugh and tell people you love them. Oh yeah PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE if you are of voting age you have to vote this election and you should vote against Bush. He is an evil man who needs to be put out of office.


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