THE INTERVIEW: Jupiter One
Jupiter One is a band from New York, whose unique sound is derived from mixing vintage musical elements with modern techniques, bringing back to the forefront that old, forgotten element of song-writing…Melody. Members Zac Colwell (lead guitar), Pat Dougherty (bass). Dave Heilman (drums). and K Ishibashi (vocals) demonstrate this sound perfectly within their second album Sunshower, due out mid-September. Working with greats like Jac Holzman and Chris Ribando, and having their songs already featured in commercials and video games, you may have already heard these folk-funk-pop sensations, but I guarantee you’ll be seeing more of them after this sophomore effort. Here, I speak with lead guitarist Zac Colwell about Jupiter One’s new album, a possible new tour and what happens when foxes get married.
For your fans, how would you say Sunshower is different from your debut album? Did you do anything different with the recording process itself?
We were able to book a studio, plan it out, test all the songs on the road and write it more as a group almost. I think it’s a big difference from the first one. Still the same guys playing, but it’s a little bit more of a concentrated effort.
Sunshower definitely hints at some classic influences like The Beatles, Pink Floyd and The Police, yet you guys managed to create a sound all your own (which is difficult to do in a business where everything has been done, or rather heard, before.) When Jupiter One decided to become a band full-time, did you set out to sound like a specific genre, or did you guys simply merge your musical influences together?
Melody has kind of become an antiquated element in young people’s music. People can do it, but they just don’t seem to like it… but we love melody. K and I each write the lyrics and the melodies for the most part, so we have each other to bounce off of. I guess what the band set out to do was just make cool songs.
Can you describe what instruments and formats were used to create Sunshower?
Dave, our drummer, is a 5’10” hurricane, and our bass player Pat is made of steel, so there’s that element (laughs.) Mocha plays organ…We have a bunch of awesome 70s synthesizers, which everyone seems to associate with the 80s, but we always considered synthesizers to be a 70s element. I play woodwind, as well as synthesizers and guitar…
I did hear the flute on a couple tracks…you don’t hear that instrument every day.
Well the flute and clarinet, as well as Mocha’s violin, we keep layering to create our own little orchestra. So even though it was nice to have the resources to make a better album this time, we still wouldn’t be able to afford a real orchestra, so we just decided to do it ourselves (laughs.) I guess the main thing is, some people record an album the way they would do it live; we just thought it would be a little more fun to treat each song with equal amount of effort and give each piece its own personality.
For those unfamiliar with the fable, can you explain the influence of the Japanese short film Dreams on the album’s title and concept?
Well the album title wasn’t taken directly from that. Most of the songs on Sunshower are either bittersweet, or they seem sweet and they’re bitter, and vice versa. So as far as the imagery, like the foxes we have on the cover, that’s really where the short film comes in. It has to do with a little boy who wants to play outside, and he wanders to a forest where he’s not supposed to go, and he sees these foxes getting married in a wedding procession, in Kabuki theater style….more or less, it has to do with foxes being mythical creatures and playing the role of troublemaker in almost every culture. So anyway, sunshower is when foxes get married (laughs,) but also about nostalgia. When a sunshower happens, I really think of my childhood, which I’m sure everyone does as it’s something really poignant, you know.
Definitely. Now were there any favorite tracks off of the new album for you guys, whether it was your favorite to record or perform live?
Well we just figured out how to play “Flaming Arrow” live, because we hadn’t been playing it on the road, and that’s the first single. But we like to rearrange stuff sometimes so we can emphasize certain elements. “Simple Stones” is the funky one; I really like playing that one live, and “High Plains Drifter” is another really fun one.
Before you became a band, (and still to this day) it seems all four of you had day-jobs that were anything but ordinary. Do you think this collective creativity played a role in allowing each of your individual styles to mesh so well together?
Yeah, sure. I think New York is a big even-outer, as far as making people compatible with each other. Every time I meet a genius musician in NY, (or take my friends in the band for example,) it’s easy to get along with them because everyone’s doing the same thing…scrapping, starving and pretending like you’re not.
So what do you anticipate for the future of Jupiter One?
Well, we just made four videos which are going to be really exciting. One is by our friends Trevor Bittinger and Brandon LaGanke, and they are psychedelic geniuses. They worked on the first track, “Volcano,” which is a really fun, psychedelic visual experience that features a street performance artist who is known for wearing a giant plushy dolphin suit. Robertas Nevecka is a Lithuanian-based visual artist and animator, who is directing the video for our first single, “Flaming Arrow.” It’s an animated version of the story told in the song with cartoon versions of Jupiter One… And we just did videos for “Made in a Day” and “Simple Stones.” So I’m looking forward to those videos coming out and touring.
Awesome, I’ll have to check them out. I heard you guys are known for playing over 100 dates in one year alone. Do you plan on doing an extensive US tour for the new album?
Oh yeah, we’d do 365 if we could. We’re going on the road again soon in September.
Be sure to check out Sunshower when it’s released September 15th.