In the spotlight – the Jobs

In the spotlight – the Jobs

For this week’s spotlight I’m running away with the Jobs. The Jobs are a feel good indie alt rock band based in Cleveland (USA). Trevor (vocals, guitar) took me on a trip into the band’s history, their influences and the upcoming EP ‘Sailing Upon the Times’.

Who are the Jobs? How and when did you meet?

“Tom (guitar) and I played in rival bands in high school with our bands immersed in completely different types of music. Tom played in a ska band called The Ska-ker-Moms and I played in an alternative rock band called The New York Stock Exchange. The two of us have been friends since we were kids and share a love for all things music. We started collaborating whenever we could through our college years, but it came with difficulty as Tom went to school in Valparaiso, IN and I went to school in Columbus, OH. We started writing all kinds of acoustic songs together and sending files back and forth and playing together whenever budgets would allow. Shortly after graduate school, I moved back to Ohio from California and not long after Tom and I started playing songs in a more sincere and purposeful manner. My cousin Jon got behind the drums, joined us in the coming weeks and in this way The Jobs became a living entity. We started out as a 3-piece band and went through a year or two that way. For a few years, we had different bass players filling in here and there, but never quite found someone that was locked in, so to speak. Eventually we met Marc Barone, Tom’s cousin’s husband, and our close friend. Marc plays in a metal band as well, but has been kind enough to jump on the indie rock train and go full steam ahead with us. The four of us gelled immediately and started playing the local circuit until COVID-19 hit. From there, we set our sights on recording. We managed to complete our first EP as a full band titled ‘Sailing Upon the Times’ which is available everywhere January 8, 2021.”

What bands have influenced your sound?

“That’s a great question, Lean! So, if I could build a time machine and travel to any particular musical scene, it would probably be Manchester, England in the mid and late 80s through the mid 90s. Collectively, there was just so much changing at that time, and I would have to say that is where I draw the majority of my songwriting influences from, at least, audio-wise. I have an affinity for British rock music and model a lot of my guitar playing after that era. Some of the founding pillars like The Stone Roses, Ride, The La’s, The Smiths, Oasis, and New Order have been a major foundation of my songwriting. When it comes to lyrics; by and large, I am drawn to storytellers like Jim James, Townes Van Zandt and Bruce Springsteen.”

“Tom is a huge classic/vintage rock fan. He also has an affection and ear for early emo and college rock which translates nicely into our music. You can hear a lot of this on our first single, ‘Transmission Radio’ as well as in our upcoming song ‘If You Have No One’ as part of our EP.

“Marc brings a wide array of influence to the band from the far reaches of metal to The Beatles. His versatility and technical skill impact our songs heavily and fit perfectly for the vibe that we are trying to get across in each song.

“Jon is versed in punk, alternative rock, classic rock, and psychedelia. He brings a lot of energy not only into his drumming but into our live shows by extending the intensity of our sound with fills, dynamics, and layers.”

What can we expect from your upcoming EP ‘Sailing upon the Times’? Is there a sense of excitement or panic for the release?

“After a long journey, we are absolutely thrilled for ‘Sailing Upon the Times’ to plant it’s feet in the sand! The songs are bound by being one comprehensive voyage, despite each song having its own thematic element and challenge. ‘Sailing Upon the Times’ is eclectic, metaphorical, and dynamic. There is something in there for everyone. Listeners can expect a commitment to pop melodies, atmospheric synthesizers, reverb drenched guitars and punchy drumming filled with ardor. We are not nervous at this point, we have made sure to set realistic expectations, and realize that we are a speck of sand in the indie sphere. Still, we are excited to share the EP as we have forged a lot of strong relationships on Twitter and Instagram. It’s cathartic to share your music with music fans, because they tend to listen more objectively and even if just one person genuinely feels that they can relate to a song, you feel a sense of accomplishment as a band.”

If I remember correctly your bass player drew the artwork? Is there a story behind the artwork?

“You are close! It was actually our drummer, Jon, that drew the artwork. We were torn on whether to go with a more serious EP title or something more comedic, but eventually we all settled on a nautical theme to symbolize the odyssey we’ve encountered together as a band. After we debated on EP names and voted on ‘Sailing Upon the Times’, Jon being the talented guy he is, came up with most of the drawing from sheer imagination. We are blown away by it and think it symbolizes the eclectic nature of the EP.”

You’ve released an EP in 2015 and then released three singles in 2020. Why did it take five years to release new music?

“Five years is a long time, isn’t it? So, the first EP ‘Cleveland’ is composed entirely of home recordings. We were just starting out as a band and largely learning recording on the go. To be frank, we had little to no idea what we were doing, but the passion was there. We really wanted to put something out there and we had a myriad of songs in the hopper; but we had no idea how to project manage, let alone ask ourselves some of the most fundamental questions about our goals, and what it is we really wanted out of the EP. Between 2015 and 2020 a lot of changes happened within our families as they expanded, some of us traveled, and others moved away entirely. We still gigged when we could, but the conditions, commitment, and focus required for recording weren’t firing on congruent cylinders.”

“So, at the beginning of 2020, Tom and I decided that we were really going to give it a go. We concluded that we would dedicate more time and effort to the band and push the envelope. Mark and Jon jumped on board, we found a studio in Cleveland, inked recording dates and focused on a more process-driven approach to keep ourselves on track. We even got out the spreadsheets, started constructing charts, and writing email templates/drafting pitches, etc. For the first time in 2020, it feels as if we are more than just a ‘your friends band’ so to speak; not that being ‘your friends band’ is a bad thing, it’s just a hard distinction to move beyond. More polished recordings have definitely helped us with that leap. We’re still working on tapping into that secret sauce to market/promote more effectively.”

One of the singles you released this year was ‘La Serena‘, which is currently in our chart. Am I correct you named it after the city La Serena in Chile? Can you tell me what inspired you to write the song?

“Great question, thank you for asking. In addition to music, another affection of mine is travel. I simply wouldn’t be who I am or write the music I do without it. ‘La Serena’ began in May of this year at the peak of lockdown. I was fumbling around with analog pedals when I started uncovering a guitar tone that I had been hunting for since the dawn of my songwriting life. I knew that I wanted to write something that was a marriage of some of my favorite subgenres of surf rock, shoegaze and 90s alt rock and began to carve out something expansive in space, yet still tightly knit around guitar hooks and pop sensibility. It is indeed named after La Serena, Chile as I was slated to visit there this year prior to COVID-19. Lyrically, the song is in part about the wanderlust of feeling situated and settled that collides with a constant state of transience. Behind those layers, it is about pain rationalization, internalizing lockdown, and managing a continuous mental oscillation between cynicism and optimism.”

What are you most proud of to date?

“I would have to say finding a harmony between life’s many arms that can often pull us in different directions.”

I always love hearing about the creative process, so I was wondering if you could give me a glimpse into that. What inspires you most?

“Such a great question! I also love hearing about this from other artists as it helps you understand them beyond simply pushing the play button. I am the main songwriter of the band and bring a lot of the introductory ideas. Tom, Marc and Jon help a ton with arrangement, refining and helping to get songs sounding as complete as possible. I draw a lot from British rock, shoegaze, new wave, punk, and alternative country; a mixed bag similar to a pack of starburst if you will. Sometimes an idea starts with a guitar progression, other times, a melody will enter my purview when I am on a run or driving home from work. It is rarely planned; it’s just not how my brain works. So, when an idea comes, I quickly reach for my phone to try and record a piece of the melody before it leaves me. I probably end up chucking 90% of the ideas I have anyway.”

“Part of why I love creating art is because you can take audio influences and wind them together with personal reactions to art, travel, fantasy, history and self-reflection. For example, I might use a seascape, how a painting made me feel, or how the sun went down on a particular day as the nerve center of a guitar part or lyrical inspiration. I am a highly sensory person, who is enamored by human behavior. As a writer, there’s a lot to gain by tapping into a deeper consciousness that humans share between the internal and external world. I exist largely in a state of transience and do my best to soak up the world’s unique fixtures through different lenses. Coupled with that, there is usually a stinging, sense of critical self-reflection that exists in my writing. I try not to make every song about myself because frankly it’s boring and there are far more enthralling things to write about. Still, there’s a certain vulnerability in writing autobiographically that is relatable. This balance can be heard largely in ‘The Sunrise Over the Hill’ and ‘Transmission Radio’. Sometimes I tie my personal experiences into a song that is actually largely about something else and other times, I do not. To me, there is a conscious artistry in seeing the world through the lens of another completely independent of yourself. This is exemplified in a fictional sense in ‘On a Holiday’ which is about the struggle of a young woman to get back on her feet. It can also be heard in a non-fictional sense in ‘If You Have No One’ which is actually about the turning point battle during the Hundred Years War as told from Joan of Arc’s perspective.”

What’s your favorite song to perform?

“Oh, how we miss performing! We haven’t gotten to perform ‘La Serena’ yet due to COVID-19, but I envision that one will have a lot of energy and will get the crowd moving. I honestly think it’s my best song I’ve ever written, so I am itching to play it. ‘Transmission Radio‘ has a really strong bass and percussive element, and people really seem to gravitate to it. The guys in the band love to play that one too. I personally really enjoy ‘The Sunrise Over the Hill’, because of the guitar leads, the synth, the bridge, the overall build, and the sort of film reel type of feel of the song. It’s an unbridled release of energy that seems to catch on at live shows.”

What are your plans for 2021?

“We are settling down a bit for the end of the year and finalizing preparations to promote our EP upon its arrival on January 8. We are discussing the idea of an album, or potentially releasing a series of new singles. I look forward to focusing on writing a bit more as I have been promoting our band for the last 5 months pretty steadily. I also am working on a solo side project, more to come on that later. We will continue to navigate the uncertainty of COVID-19 the best we can. Live shows are still very much up in the air and if we are unable to do them, we will definitely be performing via live stream and finding additional ways to connect with music fans all over the world. We plan on continuing to be an active part of The Hambone’s Open Mic as well. Check that out, if you have not already done so. We also plan to continue supporting local venues through the save our stages initiative. We have been so fortunate to find such a warm, welcoming, and supportive community on Twitter. We plan to continue to network there and help build mutually beneficial relationships. There are so many talented artists we interact with and we wish them all good health, happiness and success.”

What’s your favourite song in the Cool 20?

“Currently, I have to go with ‘All for Show’ from our Welsh friends across the pond, The Unknown Brothers. Incredibly nice guys and phenomenal songwriters. We feel our music floats in a similar space. Sophie Dorsten’s ‘Sea Salt’ is one of the best songs around and we think she’s going to be a star. We’re also huge fans of Skylar Nevaeh’s reverb heavy, chill wave track, ‘Not Lost’ and Pepe and The Bandit’s infectious new track, ‘Sold My Soul‘.”

We will be adding a new feature to the Cool Top 20, a bonus track picked by the artist or band in the spotlight. What song would you like to add as a bonus track and why?

“There are so many wonderful songs at the moment, but one song that has really stood out to us is ‘Karma’ by Leigh Thomas. It has got a really cool reflective intro and a strong melody throughout. A really powerful song.”

Is there anything else you want us to know?

“We want to thank you so much for your kindness, the invitation and such thought-provoking questions. It’s so nice to be able to discuss these sorts of things in a one-on-one setting. I love the Cool Top 20 playlist and I stream it daily! We are very humbled to be on the list and among such incredible indie talent!”

The Jobs are looking forward to their upcoming EP, ‘Sailing Upon The Times’ that will drop everywhere January 8, 2021. You can pre-save the EP and stream it on January 8 here. The EP will also be available for purchase on their Bandcamp page, where you can set your own price.

More on the Jobs: