Here’s the transcription of my interview with Matt. It gives a great account of how the band was formed, how they feel about their music, what’s next, and other interesting topics.
BL: How did you guys go from Jazz to what you play now? I know you were all jazz studies majors at Eastman, so I’m interested in the transformation…
MB: I guess we just needed an release. At school, we were playing jazz 100% of the time, however all of us listened to all different types of music. It was almost an outlet, like, ok, we’re playing jazz all day at school, but we want to play these other types of music. So we put this band together and all of our influences growing up, like I said, anything from Metallica to Pearl Jam, started to come out. And over the course of 11 years, again, because of the instrumentation, it just kept honing itself down and now it seems like a pretty small package of it’s own…well, we came up with our own genre and it’s called Lungcore.
BL: When you guys put the band together, did you have a specific instrumentation in mind? Or were you all friends that wanted to play together?
MB: Well, it’s interesting because when we formed the band, it was not going to be a long-term thing. Ed, the other tenor saxophone player, his father, well he’s from New Jersey, and his father for some reason just booked some gigs for Ed. He booked like 4 or 5 gigs. Ed was like, ok, I can go down to Jersey and play jazz standards with a quartet or I can put a band together. So, he just called us up and said hey, we’ve got these 5 shows, I’m gunna write some music, if you guys have music bring it in. We’ll play it, we’ll rehearse, and we’ll bring it down and play a show. So, we got together for like 2 weeks. Ed had written some music and a couple of other guys in the band had written some music, um, so we rehearsed it, and we were thinking, we’re gunna play these 5 shows and that’ll be it. But we played these shows and you could feel the chemistry there, musically. And we’ve been together ever since.
BL: Do you write music as a group? Together? Or does each person bring in separate ideas?
MB: Well for the first few years of the band, people would bring in 8 to 16 bar chunks of music and we would write songs as a group. But over the years, because we have less and less rehearsal time, because some people have gotten married, some people have kids, you know everybody’s working, there’s less and less rehearsal time. So, what happened naturally was we just started composing songs entirely individually and then bringing them in and playing them. So believe it or not, Beast Wedding was not written by the group, it was written by individuals in the group and brought in. Yeah, that’s what I mean…we’ve been together for so long, and we really know the sound we’re going for. Um…so, anybody in the band can write a piece and, uh, it fits in.
BL: When you guys go in to the studio, how much time would you say it takes to get tunes? I feel like, every track is so unbelievably tight. How much time of that is retake after retake…I’ve seen your live shows and those are all extremely tight. So I’m wondering how much time it takes to put together something so precise.
MB: Beast Wedding is a good example. Every time we go into the studio, we try to play it live. We try to do as little editing as possible. Um, I don’t know if you’re familiar with our live record, Lung Punch Fantasy, for people who don’t believe that we’re not editing in the studio, they can just listen to that album, and of course there’s mistakes on that album but you can tell that we’re not bullshitting people when we go into the studio. Yeah, we do a lot of takes…we’re pretty good at this point in terms of individual preparation, so that when we get into the studio, we’re not wasting a lot of time rehearsing. And I would say we do as little editing as possible. I would put it that way. Anything that we do is basically, ya know, if we wanna record one section like, out in the hallway to get a specific reverb, and then the next section we want a really tight reverb, that we would record in an actual room in the studio, we’d edit those 2 together. But in term of editing wrong notes and fixing entrances, or something like that, we do very very little. We’d just go back and redo the whole thing.
BL: You don’t use music for live shows, right?
MB: No we don’t
BL: Do you use music in the studio at all?
MB: Usually we only do if it’s a new song that we haven’t played out yet. Whenever you memorize something, it takes it to the next level in terms of performance.
BL: As a band, do you have any plans for the future? Or are you just going to continue what you’re doing? Are you guys making it?
MB: I guess it depends on your definition of “making it”. So it’s an interesting question…If you had come up to me in 1999 and said, “in 10 years you guys are still gunna be together, you’re gunna have 6 albums out, you’re gunna have toured Europe a few times, toured the country a lot”, I would have been like, “oh shit that’s amazing. That’s exactly what we want” And it is what we want, and I’m thankful for everything. But from our standpoint, it’s like, we play, I would say, 1 show a month…maybe 1 show every other month. We tour Europe 1-2 times a year, which is always awesome. And we try to put out a record once a year. So, in terms of making it, from a musical standpoint, it’s definitely extremely fulfilling. From a financial standpoint, ya know, we cover our costs and when we go to Europe, each of us come home with some money, which is nice. But it’s certainly not, quit your day job and do Jerseyband fulltime. I don’t think it ever will be…the music is so…it hasn’t hit mainstream enough…especially not to support everyone financially. It’s a big band.
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I’ve started transcribing the Jerseyband song that I want to put together…and it is not easy. I’ve found that although there is a good amount of repetition, the constant change from section to section makes for very difficult transcription. I’m constantly struggling with harmony, rhythm, time signature, and my first time transcribing drums.
My next post will be a short excerpt of my transcription so you can get an idea of what I’m talking about.
I did it! I made contact with Matt Blanchard, one of the two tenor sax players in Jerseyband. He was on his way to Europe to play some shows with Jerseyband, but managed to find time to give me a short interview while waiting in the ATL airport.
I’m still in the process of transcribing the interview…which I will post here on my blog, but in the meantime, he’s a few random facts from what I found:
More to come soon!
I find myself constantly thumbing through my iPod, searching for the next thing to listen to, something new and exciting that will capture my attention. Could it be some Clifford Brown? Maybe some Dr. Dre? Would Stevie Wonder do it for me? Nah…none of them seem as though they’ll be a good soundtrack for my walk home. It always seems as though I end up in the J section, trying to figure out which Jerseyband album to listen to.
I’ve been soaking in Jerseyband for the past 2 weeks, trying to figure out what song to transcribe and tear apart for this project. I seem to be leaning towards The Glad Hand, the opening track on Beastwedding, but with so many options, it’s hard to pick just one.
I’ve also been trying to contact members of the band so I could have a short interview. So far, Matt Blanchard, the tenor player, is the only one who’s information I’ve found. Here’s to hoping he responds soon…
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Oh…here’s “Prelude to Beast Wedding” if you wanted to give the whole track a listen.
This isn’t the piece I will be transcribing for this inquiry project, but I think it’s pretty awesome.
The music, the tone.
This short excerpt of “Prelude to Beast Wedding” provides a glance within the mindset of the group, Jerseyband, musically and personally. Their instrumental prowess & amazingly complex rhythmic grooves are shown here, along with their penchant for nonsense.
I find it incredible that although the music is so complex, and seemingly always in a state flux, the band is always perfectly together and grooving hard.
With the use of in-studio and post-production techniques, it’s much easier to make a sloppy band sound tight, and help a timid band find their voice. Jerseyband seems as though they could definitely be one of these bands, with a killer album, but zero ability to perform their craft live. I’m extremely happy to say that this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Their live performances manage to excede the energy infusing their albums without any sacrifice in accuracy.
Jerseyband makes music. Complex music. Thrillingly complex music. And it grooves.