An Interview With Jukebox The Ghost

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Jukebox the Ghost, March 15, 2018

Jukebox the Ghost (JTG) is one of our favorite bands. The trio weighs 300 pounds combined, is cute as a button and talented #AF, and is one of the hardest working groups we know. How do they stay so upbeat and personable? How do they keep their girlish figures (hint: breakfast is the most important meal of the day)? Read on to discover their secrets…

First, congratulations on the new album! Can you talk a little about the inspiration behind the name, Off to the Races?

For the last few years we have put on a show called Halloqueen. For this show we do a set of original music and then take a set break, get in costume and character, and return to play a whole set of Queen. It’s one of the highlights of our year. In putting this show together we learned a ton of Queen tunes. It opened our eyes to how songs can be constructed and performed. So yeah – it’s a bit of a nod to their record A Day At The Races.

Queen has been a career-long role model which I know your fans love to see in your work. It sounds like your new material may include some more contemporary influences (e.g. Walk the Moon). Are there any other newer influences you can talk about in your work?

Honestly – It’s funny to say that because Queen hasn’t really been a conscious reference for us in our process until this album and I remember when Walk The Moon broke out we had a bunch of fans come to us and say “YO! this band sounds like Jukebox The Ghost!” So to be honest – we don’t actually have a lot of newer influences that we consciously tried to apply. I find with writing music it is almost better to block out what is currently happening as a way to try to forge your own path.

It must feel great to have Off to the Races finished up – but the work is far from over as you look towards your spring/summer tour schedule! I’ve always wondered what bands look forward to more: the album-creation process or the live tour component of showmanship. What’s your favorite part of the musical process? And what are you most looking forward to on your upcoming tour?

I love writing music – always have, that moment where a song comes into existence is a magical thing for me. So that’s probably my favorite part of the process. As for touring – I can’t wait to perform these new songs. Adding new tunes to a set adds and creates a wonderful and needed energy.

I’m sure your travels are always exciting (if, at the same time, exhausting) but I imagine, at the end of the day, there’s no place like home. What do you think of as home? Is it the place you make your best music as well or is that another location?

Brooklyn is all of our homes now. It’s the place where we relax and write and recharge.

Your band’s origins go back, by some counts, over a decade. What has changed most about the music industry in that time? What is the most frustrating thing about being in the music industry right now? What is the most rewarding thing?

When we started we were spending hours on Myspace trying to build an online community. I think it can be frustrating to be at the mercy of ever changing technology and musical spaces. From pirating to iTunes to Spotify… Regardless at the end of the day each of these things are making fans – so that’s what’s most rewarding.

If you could choose any question to be asked in this interview, what would it be and what would your reply be?

Q: What’s your favorite Breakfast food?

A: All of it.

Jukebox The Ghost’s Off to the Races is out on March 30, 2018

Getting Real: An Interview With Fictionist

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Fictionist Press Photo - Spring 2015

We sat down (virtually) for a chat with Robbie Connolly of Provo, Utah band Fictionist. The band released their third, eponymous full length in October of last year.

First, congratulations on the new album! It’s a blast to listen to – each track is so unique. Can you talk about some of the musical and artistic role models that influence your range of sound on Fictionist?
Thanks! We definitely have a long list of influences between all the members of the band. This is album started out with us making a pile of instruments in the middle of a room and making songs with them, so a lot of it we discovered as we were going along. There were references to some 80’s favorites along the way, like Sting or Peter Gabriel, but we certainly tried to make our own mark with these recordings.

I know in the past, Stuart’s been the primary singer-songwriter on your work, but this latest album features a lot of Robbie’s handiwork and vocals. What spurred that transition and how do you think your sound changed (if it changed at all) because of it?
Yeah, I have always sang in my own bands since I was in junior high, and when Fictionist first started, I was invited more as a guitarist than a singer. So for years we ran that way, but I brought a lot of songs to the table for this album, and we decided to embrace the fact that there are two writers and singers in the group.

It must feel great to have Fictionist out to critical acclaim – but the work is far from over as you look towards your summer tour schedule! I’ve always wondered what bands look forward to more: the album-creation process or the live tour component of showmanship. What’s your favorite part of the musical process? And what are you most looking forward to on your upcoming tour?
I really enjoy the different phases for different reasons. The recording process really satisfies my creative side, because watching something come into existence that didn’t exist before, and watch it take shape is really fulfilling. There are certain stresses that also accompany recording, and I think while we are touring, we forget about those a little bit more, and have fun with each other. We also get to get out and meet so many great people when we are touring.

I’m sure your travels are always exciting (if, at the same time, exhausting) but I imagine, at the end of the day, there’s no place like home. Your home-state, Utah, definitely showed you major love with your well-deserved Salt Lake City Weekly’s Band of The Year Award. Can you talk a little bit about your relationship with the fan-base and music community in Utah and how it felt to win the award?
We were definitely honored to win the award. City Weekly is Utah’s most artistic publication, and it felt good to know that they enjoyed the stuff we were making. Utah has a really great music scene. We started the band in a city called Provo that has been the starting grounds for a lot of great bands, and we are happy to be a part of it in that way.

Your band’s origins go back, by some counts, over a decade. What has changed most about the music industry in that time? What is the most frustrating thing about being in the music industry right now? What is the most rewarding thing?
Hmmm, I think the biggest changes definitely involve the number of albums that people buy. In some ways the convenience of Spotify and online music services helps because it’s an easy way for new people to hear you, but I think we would have an easier time touring and surviving if people bought albums the way they used to.

If you could choose any question to be asked in this interview, what would it be and what would your reply be?
Who is your favorite band member? Haha, I can’t answer that ;)

Tour Dates:
July 9 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Revolution
July 10 – Orlando, FL @ Beacham Theatre
July 11 – St. Petersburg, FL @ State Theatre
July 13 – Atlanta, GA @ Center State Theatre
July 14 – Nashville, TN @ The Cannery
July 16 – Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
July 17 – Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues
July 18 – Baltimore, MD @ Rams Head Live
July 20 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
July 21 – Philadelphia, PA @ TLA
July 22 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
July 26 – Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club

Getting Real: An Interview with St. Lucia

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In the cold dead winter, there is nothing that can alleviate the painful realization that you simply cannot go out in shorts and sandals. Still, we all have our distractions that take away from the overall dreariness. One of the things people do is listen to summery records and envision days of sun and beaches in their mind. For me, one of these records I find myself reaching for is St. Lucia‘s album When The Night. This Brooklyn band’s debut album evokes for me memories of a tropical past and has been a steady listen since it was released sometime last year. I had a chance to sit down, have a sip of whisky and exchange emails with front man Jean-Philip Grobler about many things. He was probably sipping something fruity. The band themselves are preparing for another whirlwind tour through the states, with the hope on further building on the momentum they had gained last year.

Have you ever watched the movie Cocktail, and then thought to yourself, our album “When the Night” is a good soundtrack for this movie? If not, or if you disagree, can you think of a movie you think your album would make a good soundtrack to?

Hahaha, I haven’t seen cocktail in a long, long time. I think I saw it when I was really young, like around 9 or 10 or something. I’d say it could be a good soundtrack to a film like that, or to any film with beautiful and dramatic tropical scenery that has an undercurrent of romance.

So you lived in South Africa for a really long time, is there any food in particular there you miss when you are in North America? What are some things that are really tasty there that people here may or may not know about? Also, are you tired of being asked how being from South Africa influences your music?

I’m not that tired of it because I always think of new and different ways that living in South Africa influenced my music whenever someone asks me that question. I grew up in South Africa until I was 19, and yes, there are a LOT of things I miss about it. In terms of food, there are a few dishes like ‘Bobotie’ (pictured below), which is basically a Shepherds Pie, but with curry spices, raisins, almonds and a bunch of other stuff too. There’s also this really special sausage called ‘Boerewors’ that you can’t really find anywhere else.


Do you think the Sax is coming back? or is it back already? I’ve always had a fondness for it, and it appears that St. Lucia does as well. Maybe it never really left, but it definitely seemed like it did. I think it was the best part of M83’s Midnight City, and I was like “the sax is back” and now it seems like it is.

Well, yes, I think the sax is definitely back, but I also think it’s been back for a while. It definitely went away for a while because there was this period in the 80’s where it was in pretty much every big hit on the radio, so people got sick of it. I think it still kind of has that connotation, but if you use it in a way that gives a little bit of a wink then it’s ok.

Did Ellie Goulding ever try to convince your wife (bandmate Patricia Beranek) to shave the side of her head when you guys were touring together, or was that her thing and no one else in the touring party can have it?

There was never any convincing from her, but there were definitely a lot of jokes thrown around about how the whole band should get side shaves in honour of Ellie Goulding for her tour.

You guys are touring once again in the New Year. As fans, we are always curious what is the thought process behind a decision like this, and also, who is the one that decides the path that you tour? Like, if I was in a band, I would probably not go to Minnesota or the Midwest in the middle of winter. Did you have a say in the matter?

We do have a say in that matter, but there are a lot of logistical considerations that go into how you route a tour. For example, any day that we’re not playing a show we’re losing money, and in order to make it to the West Coast we have to go through the Midwest. There are a lot of great cities to play in the Midwest like Chicago and Denver etc etc and so if we’re there, even if the weather is terrible, we might as well play those cities. Plus, we have fans there and we don’t want them to think that we’re ignoring them. :-)

All Eyes On You was one of my favorite tracks from last year, when you write something like that, do you just do a pump fist afterwards and be all like “fuck ya!” or do you not really know that it’ll be a great track?

When I originally came up with the idea for that song, I definitely had a fist in the air ‘fuck yeah!!!!’ moment. It’s almost always like that with song ideas that I feel really good about in the beginning, but that feeling often wanes after the first day. Very often I’ll wake up the next morning and listen to what I’ve done and realise that it’s not as great as I thought it was the day before. With that song in particular, I got stuck with how it was arranged at the time, and had to go through a bunch of completely different arrangements in order for it to work and to be captivating until the end. It was originally a lot more ‘African’ and had a Mariachi band ending.

St. Lucia is touring this spring, be sure to check them out!

Getting Real: A talk with JC Brooks

Posted on by Celeste in interviews | Leave a comment


“Get ready to listen to me ramble”

This is how Jayson Brooks of JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound started off our phone interview. Which was of course not at all the case – the frontman of JCBUS was as charming and delightful as his public persona would make you think, with just a sprinkle of self-deprecating humor to boot.

For the uninitiated, JC Brooks and the uptown sound is an indie soul band out of Chicago, headed by charismatic and energetic frontman Jayson Brooks. It’s hard to say exactly what category the band fits into – R&B, punk, soul, funk, garage-rock – the group covers all of them without batting an eye.

For the New Girl fans out there, you might recognize JCBUS from the band’s poster which is currently hanging in Nick’s bedroom. Turns out Jake Johnson, the actor who plays Nick, is a fan of the band as well as a friend of guitarist Billy Bungeroth. The band sent the artwork to the show, not knowing if it would ever be featured, until they got a text from a friend who was watching.

I suggested that perhaps a guest appearance might be in order, and for any New Girl producers out there, Jayson would be amenable. “I think a cameo’s a great idea. But what might happen is that the episode will be so popular that it’ll become ‘the New JC Brooks’ with occasional appearances by Zooey Deschanel” he joked. I know I’d tune in.

The attention the band is receiving from the show is well deserved. The hardworking group put out their most recent album, Howl, this past May. The personal and emotional album was inspired by a break-up between Jayson and his ex. “I was writing emotionally about my life on this album. It’s about an ex – I was ready to love he wasn’t” says Jayson. “I had tended to stay away from personal stuff previously, and had tried to write more in a certain style, but on this album I was writing about my life, and people can relate to that.”

It’s something that comes across organically in the live performances especially – the feeling that you know exactly what he’s singing about. There’s a moment in his show when he’s singing the title track off the album, when JC literally hooooowls into the microphone, starting low to the ground, and moving up to his full stature of 6’3’’ (minus the hair) under an illuminated moon on stage, and it’s just downright chilling. “We howl for love.” You kind of want to howl right along with him.

If you’ve ever been to a JCBUS performance, you know how fun and energetic and over the top they are. I asked Jayson how much of the live performance is him and how much is a role that he’s playing, “a lot of it is me playing a role. In real life I’m not a ‘center of attention’ person, I’m more of a ‘hover around the edges and make sure everyone is okay’ kind of person. My friends tell me I’m like a sheepdog.” He approached performing as frontman to JCBUS as he would approach an acting role – he studied up, “I went to classic clips of performers like Sam and Dave, Otis Redding, studied up on the history of soul.” But he says that as time has progressed the JC Brooks frontman has had more and more Jayson infused into him.

Despite JCBUS’ remarkably astute degree of self-perception and awareness, the performer did expose a more vulnerable side, which of course just made him more endearing. He admitted that Chicago is one of the few places where he still gets nervous before performances, “The warm and supportive greeting that we get from crowds in Chicago makes me want to give them a performance that makes them feel good in return, which can sometimes be nerve wracking.” (By warm and supportive Jayson is talking about the hordes of fans and friends who walk up to the very front of the venue, grinning goofily, and wave at the lead singer as he’s performing – it’s adorable until it’s a 6’5’’ guy standing in your line of sight.)

Jayson says that he looks for “faces he can lean on” in the crowd that help calm his nerves and perform with the aplomb for which he’s so well know.

And then he goes “that phrase made a lot more sense before I said it.”

Which made me laugh because I would never have realized that it didn’t quite jive. The same way that Morgan Freeman can narrate anything and make it into a documentary, JC Brooks can say anything and make it sound downright deep.