BRANDON WURTZ - JESUS SONS
Imagine you’ve scored yourself a ride on the back of a motorcycle through the American desert. Your leather is soaking up the sun and the wind is balancing out any mild discomfort; you’re entirely free but a little bit sweaty. This feeling pretty much sums up the sound of five men who are trying their best to pretend it’s not actually 2014. Fresh out of California, Jesus Sons are bringing us some feel good garage rock with a strong hint of blues.
We caught up with lead singer Brandon Wurtz on the lead up to the release of their debut LP out January 28 via MOCK Records. If you’re partial to rye whiskey and don’t mind a bit of Bo Diddley - you should probably do yourself a favour and read on.
Basically we know very little and we want to know more. How did Jesus Sons come about?
I was playing in a band called The Spyrals for a while in San Francisco. Shannon Dean and I met at a show in late 2011. We talked about our mutual love for rye whiskey, and started talking bands and music - Velvet Underground and Bo Diddley specifically. We got together and started writing songs and then met some other dudes that wanted in. We played with Rob Good on bass and Ian McBrayer on drums in the beginning. We recorded our album at Fuzz City in Oakland with those two before we moved down to Los Angeles. Both of those dudes later joined Warm Soda as we started the move down to LA. We picked up my good friends Bert Hoover on slide guitar, Erik Lake on bass and Chance Welton on drums right when we got to LA in April and re-formed with the new lineup.
What do you think is different now (in 2014 as compared to fifty years ago) about the genre of music you’re putting out?
I think it is tough to ignore a lot of the bad music that has been made since the late 1970’s. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of cheesy music before then, and a lot of incredible music after as well. But in our genre of more traditional garage, rhythm and blues and rock and roll, it’s tough to ignore all of the trash that we’ve all been force fed for decades. For us, we focused in on what we loved about our favourite eras of music and what influenced that.
The music is very well layered. What’s the advantage to having five of you in the band?
Thank you, you’re too sweet. There can be an advantage to five people in a band, but it can easily get too chaotic and noisy. My last band was a three piece and it was a hell of a lot easier to write and find where everything should have space, or not. Five people in the band makes it more challenging to give the songs clarity, but once we find the groove it’s easy figure out when to pull back a little during certain parts. Bert is our layering wizard. I mean he’s a wizard anyways, but he’s a layering wizard specifically in our band. He’s the dude playing a slide guitar part, then picking up a shaker and singing a chorus. Erik is a bass wizard now, and he sings backup too. Chance is definitely a drum wizard. I guess it’s tough to call myself a wizard, but Shannon is definitely a guitar wizard. We should have named our band ‘Wizard Sons’.
Who produced the new album? Can you tell us a little more about the recording process?
Rob Good recorded and produced our record at Fuzz City (Matt Melton and Rob Good of Warm Soda run that place) in Oakland, California. We helped tweak things with him, but he’s the man. Rob Good is God to us. We crammed all of our instruments into this tiny room with the Fuzz City Tascam 388 and recorded the record live to ¼" reel to reel tape. There were a fair amount of bottles of various things consumed during the recording and we essentially just threw a four person party while we recorded the live takes and then layered percussion tracks and vocals. We probably had too much fun while we recorded it but I think that comes out in the record. It feels natural 'cause it was.
It’s clear that you have been influenced by an older generation of sound. Who are some current bands that you are digging at the moment?
There’s a ton of great bands out there right now. Spindrift, Black Angels (of course), Night Beats, Natural Child, Tame Impala, Black Bananas, Fuzz, Diane Coffee, White Fence, Those Darlins, The Picturebooks… I can play this game forever.
There’s been a bit of hype around you guys in the US. What can we expect from the forthcoming LP?
Everyone can expect us to keep having a really good time and writing songs about that and everything in between. We’re headed out on tour as much as we can this year in the states, and we’re gonna ride motorcycles and shake our ass and pretend it’s not 2014.
Finally, what’s the one message you’d like to push with your music? Other than 'have a fucking good time’ (because that’s what people at your gigs seem to be doing)…
We’re part of a huge group of bands trying to take back a music scene that was bought and sold by the man. Having a good fucking time is what music has been about forever. Even the old blues guys were out drinking the blues away and trying to get chicks up and dancing back in the 40’s and earlier. That’s what we’re about too.