This was a BIG one. And a hot one. 90 degrees in the shade. Source* Unreliable app: my memory.
“LCD Day! Wooooo!,” I heard a group of glitter-and-paint-spattered revellers shout.
Yes. Yes, it is, but there’s so much more music to hear, discover, and fall in love with before James Murphy and the reunited NYC group take the stage tonight. Let’s do this.
It’s fun, catchy, sour candy-coated rock n’ roll.
If you haven’t heard the excellent “Plugged In” from the band (or seen the fun music video), go watch it now. It’s okay, I’ll wait.
Hey, you’re back! What did I tell you? So good, right?
Made up of married couple Jared (vocals and guitar), and Kristyn Corder (vocals and keys/synth), and Andy Herrin (drums), this Nashvillian trio (by way of AZ, TX/CA, and MO, respectively) catch a 60’s pop wave on an 00’s indie rock longboard, and hit your 2017 Summer beach party with a big, sweet sound you can’t ignore.
Dressed in matching black and white, when the band appeared on the Port Stage early Saturday afternoon, they wasted no time in setting off. Herrin’s warm drums produced those 20-foot waves that crashed brilliantly against the rocks. Ripping on guitar and singing into a telephone mic, *Repeat Repeat played with super gusto and the band’s onstage chemistry was palpable. The sweetheart kisses and loving exchanges between J & K charmed the Forecastle crowd as much as their surf rock candy songs entertained and gained new fans.
*Repeat Repeat interview
I know you’ve been in Nashville for a while, but where did you all grow up?
We’ve all been in Nashville for around 10 years, give or take.
Kristyn: Texas and California
Andy: St. Louis.
Jared, were you a singer by birth or by necessity for band?
I have a degree in classical guitar but always knew I wanted to play in a rock band. Guitar and drums were the instruments of choice but singing comes with the territory. As a kid, I used lyrics as an outlet of my expression when I didn’t know how else to express myself otherwise. At some point in high school, I realized I actually had to learn how to sing.
What do you tell people you sound like?
Arctic Monkeys meets B-52s. Or as our buddy Patrick Rodgers has said, “Dick Dale’s snot-nosed grandkids”. Those two descriptions seem to fit the spectrum.
What’s the weirdest description of your music you’ve heard or seen?
Probably our own. Haha. We have always referred to sound as Surf Rock Candy because it’s part sweet, part, loud, and surf-tinged more often than not. We also sometimes say it’s a blend of bloom and doom.
Who is your favorite historical figure and why?
Jared: Mine is the romantic French composer, Erik Satie. He wore these wild velvet suits, talked shit about Beethoven, and started his own religion.
Andy: Abe Lincoln
Kristyn: Dolley Madison
What is the best Hot Chicken in Nashville?
Andy: Hattie B’s
Kristyn: You gotta’ go with Prince’s. Prince’s is the O.G. of Hot Chicken.
Jared: For a vegan option, Graze does an awesome hot tempeh sandwich.
If you weren’t in this band, and played another genre of music, what would it be?
Jared: Boogie woogie.
Kristyn: 60s psych.
Andy: I’d be a soft rock drummer.
John or Paul?
Jared: John’s peace and love, but Paul’s veganism, kindness to animals, humanity, and pop sensibility.
Krysten: Kevin from Tame Impala.
Andy: Don Henley
Jared: Brian Wilson or Angus Young
Favorite childhood toy?
Jared: Mighty Max. It was sort of like Polly Pocket for boys.
Krystn: Easy Bake Oven
Andy: The big G.I. Joes
If NASA offered you a spot on the ship to terraform and colonize Mars would you go?
Andy: It’s a one-way ticket, right? I’d go.
Jared: I’d go, but only if she went, too.
Kristyn: Who would watch the animals?
Jared: Yeah, we’ve got ten pets. We couldn’t go.
Kristyn: Yeah, we’ve got five cats, three dogs, a bird and a horse.
Jared: We have these friends; this couple who act as caretakers while we’re on the road.
They get paid more than we do sometimes. [laughter]
Let’s talk about some of the music on your Spotify playlist: Surf Rock Candy and other artists who could potentially be.
Kristyn grew up learning harmonies by singing Beach Boys with her dad.
The Mamas & Papas
Clearly “California Dreamin.” What a gem that song is.
We saw them play at SXSW with Temples. That was a treat.
Our single coming out later this Summer was written as a response song to a Best Coast song. You’ll have to wait and see which one!
Our faves are “I Will”, “Norwegian Wood”, and “Here Comes The Sun”
Our producer recently turned us on to I’ve Got A Bike. We’re hooked.
One of Jared’s favorites. The three of us went together a few years ago to catch Arcade Fire at Bridgestone Arena.
Run The Jewels
Jared’s newest obsession!
So, your next album coming out this Fall is called Floral Canyon.
What’s the play on Laurel Canyon about?
As it’s grown over the years, East Nashville has subtly drawn a comparison or two to California’s creative mecca in the 60s, Laurel Canyon. We’ve always tended to agree – considering the sheer number of musicians and creatives in the area at one point in time, and the collaborations and events and relationships that form. Before we started recording our second album, Kristyn and I were listening to an audiobook about Laurel Canyon’s darker undertones (Manson, Doors drama, drug craziness), and felt like our experience has been more flowery and full of love than that of a community having to deal with that turbulence.
But it still has that reverby, harmony-heavy, roll the windows down feel of the 60’s California landscape.
You’ve said that Idiocracy inspired single “Plugged In.” Is this a reaction to the parallels of the film to U.S. politics in 2017?
We say: Educate yourself. Read books. Question everything. Love changes the world.
Escapism vs. Activism
One saves yourself. The other saves the world.
Importance of art and finding solace or meaning in music in 2017
Relating to one another and to another’s experience is what humans are looking for. Right?
Can you talk about the outfit/band uniform?
We always liked the idea of Andy and myself in the same uniform (Warholian/French Pop stripes for me, all-black for Andy) – and Kristyn can wear all the color, vintage, and sparkle that she wanted. We don’t dim her light.
Moments/series of moments that led to knowing you wanted to make music?
Jared: I was a musical theater kid at one point growing up in Phoenix. One summer I broke my foot and had to lay low, so I picked up my Dad’s guitar and realized I’d have a better chance with girls if I ditched theater and stuck with rock music.
Artist/band that can do no wrong in your book
Broncho, Tame Impala, Andy Shauf, French Pop (the genre).
Band, film, or book that we have to know about
Book: Don’t sleep on reading 1984 by George Orwell
Film: The documentary Mommy Dead & Dearest is absolutely crazy, also What The Health?
Who are you most excited to see at Forecastle?
Spoon, Cage the Elephant, and Beach Slang
Blue album or Pinkerton?
Blue Album. We do a cover of Surf Wax America, so we’re partial.
Sun Seeker, appearing at the shady Ocean Stage, beneath the overpass, beguiled the packed crowd with a spacey, off-kilter, and experimental long jam lasting over eight minutes. It was a gutsy move, and while there were some that left between the squelch of Sonic Youth-worthy feedback, all who stayed were treated to a slightly tighter mix of songs from the Nashville quartet’s Biddeford release. (For more on Sun Seeker, read my interview with the band here.)
The L.A. group just returned from a massive U.K. tour, but they still managed to keep the energy up, playing a lively, toe-tapping set of their classic guitar-heavy rock with a bright power pop sheen.
Is this Nashville artist a star in the making?
If Spotify skimmers heard James’ soulful take on Top 40 vocal pop, they might be asking the question. If they had seen his high energy performance at the Port Stage on Saturday, they definitely had their answer. While the crowd size was small at first, once the charismatic singer started belting a few bars of the radio-ready “Both Ways” with that big, booming baritone (with big range), he began melting hearts and drawing folks in.
All through his set supporting his latest EP, Unsaid, (including the excellent “Hand Grenade,” the Indiana native fed the audience what they didn’t know they were hungry for and in turn fed off the new fans’ reactions, showing more of that X factor as a natural performer, vamping and dancing. For fans of pop artists Sam Smith, Adele, or even Justin Timberlake, James has an easy audience. At a music festival featuring mostly bands in genres or sub-genres of rock music, his voice and music were a welcome exception. Tack on another win for Nashville.
Jeffrey James Interview
Can you talk about early influences? I hear some Joe Cocker, but what other soul singers and soulful pop singers set the bar for you?
Joe Cocker was huge for me. However, I grew up more on Chicago and the Doobie Brothers, thanks to my parents—so Michael McDonald played a huge role in my upbringing. Bill Withers was a favorite later in my musical discovery and really helped me see how a soulful baritone can make it in the pop game.
Whose career would you like to closely emulate?
I’d love to follow Jon Bellion’s path. He came out swinging with a killer album (and some sick mix tapes before that), having also written songs and hooks for other massive artists. And now, his fans sing every single word of every song along with him at his concerts. It’s pretty amazing to watch.
Who is your favorite 90’s male R&B singer?
Seal. All Day. Every day. Seal beats them all!!
Coffee or tea?
I know your family has music background, with your great uncle having penned the Hal Leonard guitar books, but besides that, how proud are they of you?
I have the most supportive family in the world. They’ve never questioned my career path. Freshman year of college, I told my parents I wanted to change my business major to music and they didn’t even blink. And my band knows well that if we have a gig within five hours of Brownsburg, IN (where my parents live), my parents will be there, in support. It’s pretty great. The best part? They’ve never had the “When are you gonna get a real job?” convo with me.
Not even when I was working two shitty side jobs to get by.
Was there more anxiety of releasing Walls vs Unsaid?
What changed between these two? Approach, philosophy, maturation, etc?
I always try to have a goal when I’m working on my next multi-song project. I try to find some way to limit myself during the creation period. When there are limits, I find I work harder to make something great. The Walls EP had one producer, Konrad Snyder. I brought him the songs, already written, and we built each track from scratch. Even going as far as making our own samples from old and abstract vinyl recordings. I knew I wanted this EP to set the standard for my sound and my brand. It was a very cathartic way of making a record. I loved it and I learned so much.
I went in a different creative direction with Unsaid. I wanted to see if I could create with multiple producers, pick the best songs, and make them all feel cohesive. The one connecting factor, being my ability to guide a producer to make each song feel like a “Jeffrey James” song while still feeling like it was made by that producer. So, I wrote/recorded maybe 30 songs that I ended up choosing from. The four I picked felt like they could stand on their own as singles, but also showed a distinct side of my artistry.
Let’s talk about tags and labels. You’ve gotten the “Alt R&B” tag. How do you feel about that?
Do you think it’s a good description of your music?
Have others in the genre who you would consider kindred spirits reached out?
Genres are a funny thing these days because most music now is a combination of so many other genres. I don’t think I’m fully Alt R&B because I have so many straightforward pop influences. But I love listening to the Alt R&B world. And I’m always happy to be included on lists with guys like Gallant, Kevin Garrett, and others. But, I think I have just as much in common with the Sam Smiths and James Arthurs of the world. Depending on the song.
One of the first songs of yours I heard was “All I Need is You” and I thought it was an instant classic. Raw, and beautiful.
Thank you. This was the first song I wrote completely alone that I was 100% satisfied with.
I tend to get in my head too much when I write by myself. However, “All I Need Is You” fell out of me so quickly I didn’t have time to question it. It was like the song was begging to be written.
The best soul music, be it in pop, r&b, rock, etc., is music of extremes. It can be heart-wrenching, sad, and make you want to break down and cry or it can be life-affirming and joyful and make you want to celebrate and dance. Are you comfortable with that and is that your aim with each new song or release?
It’s taken me awhile to be comfortable with being brutally honest in my songs.
It’s something I lacked when I first started writing music. After releasing many songs, I found that people connected most with the ones where I opened up and showed my heart.
Now, it’s my goal to be as honest as possible with every song I write. There’s too much music out there to be anything but real in my writing. People have plenty of shallow songs to pick from. Hopefully, what I can give them, is something deeper.
What are 3 songs in your life that completely destroy you in the best way?
Joy Vance: First of July
Gary Jules: Mad World (cover)
Three songs that set you right and build you back up?
Coldplay: Viva La Vida
Temptations: Papa Was a Rolling Stone
Bill Withers: Grandma’s Hands
These songs just feel really really good and put me in a great mood no matter how I was feeling before the song came on.
Uncommon or unlikely dream collaborations?
I’d love to collaborate with Lana Del Rey. I really love her vibe and think she always makes crazy unique and unexpected music.
How do you feel about your songs being featured in TV shows? Is it a good way for more people to discover you?
TV is a great way to get more direct exposure. Especially if you are a lesser known artist.
It’s one of the few ways you can yell above the “noise” and showcase your music without all the competition that you get from the usual discovery vehicles that are streaming services or blogs. I’ve had placements on MTV’s Finding Carter, CBS’s Criminal Minds, ABC’s Nashville and most recently, my song “Hand Grenade” was featured on the CW’s iZombie. They were all great looks that helped my music reach a larger audience quicker than I’m able to on my own.
Who are you most excited to see at Forecastle?
Phantogram. I’ve never seen them live before and I love their music!
Blue Album or Pinkerton?
Blue Album. If only for Buddy Holly. I know, it’s a bit obvious, but come on!
It’s such a killer meta-pop-culture song!
New Italian DJ trio, Falling Apart, are releasing a track, “Not Dead Yet,” this week (7/21) on which I’m the featured singer! I also co-wrote the top line that I’m singing on the track.
I’m also writing a bunch for myself again, getting ready for whatever I want to release next. Ideally I’ll put something new out in the fall – and I’m always working on getting new live shows. So stay tuned!
Jeffrey James’ Unsaid and Walls EP’s are available to order directly, here.
Ages and Ages
Cool, quirky world-influenced indie pop from Portland, Oregon. If you’ve read Chuck Klosterman or Dave Eggers, the chances are good that you will dig this band. Armed with a dry sense of humor and melodic and sonic know-how, perked up a lethargic afternoon crowd and got them nodding along (instead of nodding off).
Rollickng and rolling like a steam engine, Simpson’s musical musculature was an unexpected surprise. He can play guitar like a bad mutha’. Every song turned into the best kind of rock n roll jam filled with lots of welcome guitar solos and just going off like Jack White a la “Ball n Biscuit”)
He may have a country voice, but this Kentucky boy’s got a Rock n Roll soul.
Dressed like Angus Young, Beach Slang lead man, James Alex kicked out the jams like Paul Westerberg fronting the MC5. Proclaiming that he was drinking a Bloody Mary, so he could stay healthy while getting drunk and teasing the Santana (ft. Rob Thomas) hit, “Smooth” twice, Alex was hilarious between songs. With his rock showmanship on full display and the band’s live wire punk-edged rockers pleasing ears and pulverizing ear drums , Beach Slang were one of the most exciting acts of the fest.
After waiting 10+ years to see them live, I had no problem waiting a little longer to secure a closer spot to the stage. And I was in good company. For a band that released their breakout LP, Sound of Silver, 10 years ago and recognizable influences that span 77-81, there were a surprising number of young fans who knew all the words to every song. Lead singer and LCD main man, James Murphy channeled those influences, too. Effectively shifting from Morrissey-like croons, to David Byrne-esque shouts, the singer seemed pretty comfortable and right at home all night. Pulling out something for everyone from the band’s hot catalog of dance music that rocks or rock music you can dance to, the near-legendary NYC band flawlessly performed classics “Home,” “Daft Punk is Playing at My House,” “All My Friends,” “Yr City’s a Suckr,” new classics “Dance Yrself Clean,” and “I Can Change” and the latest soon-to-be-classic newest single “Call The Police.” Closing the night out with an unexpected encore (maybe most of all to James Murphy) of “Yeah” stretched to a near-record-breaking 20 minutes, the newly reunited LCD Soundsystem provided the best possible climax anyone at Forecastle could have ever expected or hoped for. Arguably, this was THE best performance of the weekend.