I'm almost two weeks late posting this interview/concert review of Jukebox the Ghost. My slackness has led to the spreading of misinformation. What's the best way to deal with rumors and get to the truth? That's right, it's time for "FACT or FICTION". Let's dive right in:
Fact or Fiction: After interviewing Jukebox the Ghost I fell in love with the band and I'm now unable to objectively review the show.
Answer: Fiction. Yes, I enjoyed meeting Tommy and Jesse. Did I follow up with numerous emails, a candy gram, and many, many threatening voice mails? Did I hide naked outside their house? Of course I did. It's perfectly normal. I'm hardly the only nude blogger-stalker out there.
Fact or Fiction: I massaged their balls.
Answer: Fiction. The band has a strict no touching policy.
Fact or Fiction: I am a "highbrow music critic".
Answer: Fiction. Please see previous answers.
Fact or Fiction: Jukebox the Ghost plays rock music for dorks.
Answer: This is trick question. The answer is both Fact AND Fiction because the music is for dorks and non-dorks alike. While only my fellow geeks and I may like the They Might Be Giants covers, everyone can agree that "Hold It In" and "Good Day" are great songs.
Fact or Fiction: I like playing Magic: The Gathering.
Answer: That's a FACT, Jack! It's awesome. You haven't truly lived until you've gone on a Magic binge for 37 straight hours. It's a rush like no other. And don't get me started on the Duelists' Convocation International last year. It was in-sannnnnne! I'm hoping to go pro next year. I have crazy Mana (that's magical energy for you non-planeswalkers out there).
Fact or Fiction: I'm trying to freak the shit out of Jukebox's manager with this review, thereby banning Rock Club from ever speaking to band again.
Now that we've addressed the misinformation let's examine what I learned from my interview. Since I wasn't able to record the interview, I'm not using direct quotes. If that's the type of interview you prefer (i.e. a professional interview), go here. Trust me, it's better than the crap you're about to read. Seriously, go. Leave already...
Okay, glad we got rid of them. On to the Rock Club Band Profile. This is all the info I could gather before the restraining order took effect:
Names: Ben Thornewill on Piano/Vocals, Tommy Siegel plays Guitar/Vocals, Jesse Kristin on the drums.
Age: The guys started the band almost four years ago after meeting at GW (that's George Washington University in Washington, DC for our international readers). Seeing the crowd at the Rock & Roll Hotel show, it's clear they built quite a following while at school. The evening had more of a college feel than any other show we've attended this year.
Former Name: Originally, they were The Sunday Mail before opting for the Googletastic name Jukebox the Ghost. Why Jukebox the Ghost? I don't know because I didn't ask them. That's the lamest question you can ask a band. Rock Club is better than that (for the answer go here).
Influences: When I ask about influences and bands they sound like, the guys mention the Flaming Lips, Queen, Elvis Costello, and They Might Be Giants. I thought the Queen reference was odd but after seeing them live I now understand what they meant. The band has a flair and showmanship that Freddy and the boys would be proud of.
Bands I think they sound like: I agree with the They Might Be Giants comparison. It's most obvious when Tommy is singing on "Matter of Time". The music also reminds me of The Unicorns (if you swap keyboards for a piano) and the fun-loving, quirky work of Cake. Throw in a little Man Man with a pinch of the Violent Femmes and you have Jukebox the Ghost.
Discography: In May they released a five song EP to very positive reviews. Over the summer they recorded their first LP at Low Watt Recording in Raleigh, NC with Ted Comerford. The album, Let Live and Live Ghosts, is scheduled for release on January 26th. To celebrate the band is headlining a show at the Black Cat that very night. Judging by the early and long lines before the Rock & Roll Hotel show, the band could use the additional space of the Black Cat.
Touring: They have played CMJ, had a residency at Piano's in NYC, toured the Southeast and the Northeast. If they haven't been to your town yet, it must mean they don't love you. Well, maybe that's a little harsh. Let's say they just don't love you yet.
Radio Love:: I was impressed Jukebox got so much air time on indie music's best radio station, WOXY in Cincinnati. "Hold It In", "Good Day" and their cover of Danny Elfman's "What's This" from The Nightmare Before Christmas all get a lot of play. When I asked how they got the attention of such a big station they credited their manager and the listeners. The manager sent in the music and the requests took over from there.
The exposure on WOXY continues as Jukebox the Ghost is the featured artist on the next Lounge Act on January 10th. They'll play live on the air at 2:00 PM so be sure to tune in. If you can't catch the show live be sure to download the podcast.
They enjoy...: Making people dance, writing catchy pop melodies, Bran Muffins
They could do without...: Being called "D&D motherfuckers" (you hear that Jimbromski?), Bass Players, Pants
What's Jukebox The Ghost like in concert:
This was the third time Jukebox had played the R&R Hotel, having previously opened for Tokyo Police Club and Travis Morrison (not too shabby opening slots). The crowd was filled with chatty fans who shouted the refrains and clapped their hands at all the right times. I especially enjoyed the use of the hand clap. Done right, it's one of my favorite musical gimmicks (the rarely used air horn still being my favorite followed by the the cowbell).
The band sensed the participatory (and still chatty) nature of the crowd and tried to seize on it by playing a new song. They instructed the crowd to shout "Give me a D...Give me a C" when prompted. It actually worked well after a suspect beginning. Getting crowds that involved is a rare thing in DC and you have to give a lot of credit to Jukebox for that. It reminded me of The Dismemberment Plan concerts back in the day when people would really let loose.
The cover of They Might Be Giants' "Birdhouse in Your Soul" generated the most interesting response of the evening. Was it a little nerdy? Sure, but everyone knows geek is the new chic. If the Today Show says it's so, it must be true. I personally enjoyed the cover (I owned the Flood album growing up) but I know other members of Rock Club could have done without.
While I got into songs like "Lighting Myself on Fire", the real highlights were "Hold It It" and "Good Day". Seems like the obvious choices but what can I say? I really enjoy those songs. The provided for a really strong finish after a milder middle part of the show.
My only real gripe: I could have done without some of the people talking throughout the set. That's hardly the band's fault though. The evening didn't have the usual concert feel. It seemed more like a scene, the place to be on that night. That can be fun but it also takes attention away from the music.
Overall, I had fun and it seemed like most of the crowd did as well. I give the show a Rock Club Rating of 7.0.
Now I leave you with Jukebox the Ghost playing at the Black Cat back in May:
EP Release show at the Black Cat on May 5th