What: Jet Edison with The Heavy Pets
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Where: Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder, 303-443-3399
More info: foxtheatre.com
Our chat with Jet Edison's Phil Johnson wasn't mean to be a Q&A, but he explained it all so well that we just had to let him do the talking.
I hear you're working on a new album?
That's right. We've been writing for the last four or five months, and trying to balance that and playing tours and stuff like that. But our really good friend and sound engineer Michael Nuzum runs a studio near Black Hawk called Coyote Circle Studio. He's got this beautiful new-age log cabin up in the mountains with a big panorama of the Continental Divide. We did a demo with him a year and a half ago ... we went up there for a long weekend. It became the beginnings of our decision to make a full-fledged new LP there. We're looking to get into the studio sometime after our Southeast tour.
Can you tell me a little about the songwriting process? The band seems very exacting but you'd never guess it by how much fun you have.
I think it's a very unique style for a band like ours that sort of toes the line of a jam band. I think our musical influence is reflected in ... our high school years of listening to jam bands and going to shows, but also listening to stuff that's more exacting, like all the '90s songs that we grew up with, before that even the '80s rerun music videos on MTV.
I personally have a lot of songwriting inspiration from some of the greats out there, from Tom Waits lyricism, to Paul Simon melodies, to more Led Zeppelin kind of lead vocals. It's been a really fun ride for us to come up with songs that seem to reflect a lot of these different influences that I think, in other groups, you don't notice.
All of us write songs in the band, but we generally come to rehearsals with a scene, a melody, a chord progression, a verse or a chorus, and that's where the balancing process comes. It's actually a really tough but great process to go through, because you may talk to a lot of artists who have complete command over their songwriting process. The benefit for them, of course, is that it's very fluid for them. They don't have any feedback or filter, though. They don't have the band dynamic.
I think one of the problems around here is that you hear descriptors like "genre-bending fusion" so much that it stops meaning anything. Can you talk about Jet Edison's music in terms a little more technical than a press soundbite?
... I think a lot of artists don't want to be pigeonholed into a genre. I think we care less about the labeling and more about our own personal limits as to what we want to write. If all I wanted to write was folk songs, than I couldn't care less if someone wanted to call me a folk band. Our development as musicians and as songwriters has meant that we will write a funk song one day, something that's instrumental like a Soulive tune or Lettuce or something like that. We love that music, we love funky stuff, we love shameless dance party music, too, because it energizes the crowd.
When it comes to presenting a beautiful lyric -- how best to do that? Maybe it's over a rock/folk song, but maybe has a two-step back beat on it. So I think, for us, we prefer the term rock fusion' because it enables us to say, 'Hey there's no guarantee that all you're gonna hear is just funk at this show. There's no guarantee that you'll hear just bluegrass or jazz or just straight-ahead rock.'
I think the reasons we hear more and more of that is a reflection of our generation. Our parents could afford at best 1,000 records. We grew up with potentially millions and we grew up in the days of Napster ... We've all been exposed to all sorts of things, and I think our audience likes, at any given show, to be exposed to all types of music they could be listening to. Rather than just two hours of pop or jazz or folk, they get all of it. That goes into what you'll see with our shows this week. You'll see we're really trying to composite a real show. It has an ebb and flow to it...
It is frustrating because everyone wants you to sum up your band in one word, and to give them such an ambiguous term, or a term that's used in an ambiguous way, is a difficult thing for people to walk away feeling good about.
If you can't catch Jet Edison at the Fox on Saturday, look for them at Hodi's Half Note in Fort Collins tonight or at the Larimer Lounge in Denver on Friday night. More info at jetedison.com.