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Tour De Force: Jukebox the Ghost

When did you guys start touring?
We booked our first tour on our own in 2005 — It was unbelievably bad.  Our manager, Seth, got us touring seriously in the summer of 2007, right after we all graduated college.  That was a lot better.
How often do you tour?
There hasn’t really been a pattern so far, but we’ve played over 250 shows since 2007, and no signs of stopping.
What’s your general mode of transportation?
Our E-150 Econoline van.
Who are some of the artists you’ve toured with?
Ben Folds, Via Audio, the XYZ Affair, The Winter Sounds, Pretty and Nice, Say Hi, Jenny Owens Young…..There’s more, but those are the ones we toured with the longest.
Are there any songs you only play live that you haven’t recorded?
Quite a few.  There were about ten new songs that didn’t make the record we just finished, some of which we played every night for awhile…Hopefully we’ll get the chance to record everything we’ve written at some point.
What are your favorite songs/bands to cover?
This year we’ve had a lot of fun covering “Temptation” by New Order.  We’ve used it a lot of times as our ‘hail mary pass’ if we’re not sure people are having a good time — Dance songs never fail.  At special shows in the last year or so we’ve also done a cover of the ending sequence from Abbey Road, which is always a blast.  We’ve covered a lot of artists in the past — The Cure, The Clash, Queen, Rage Against the Machine, Danny Elfman, They Might Be Giants, and the Smiths, just to name some off the top of my head.
What is your favorite region/city to play in?
The west coast is always exciting — The scenery is always exciting after being on the east coast for so long.  But as far as shows and fans are concerned, it’s hard to beat NYC and DC.  Our fans on the east coast are amazing.
Sketchiest hotel you’ve ever stayed in?
Sort of difficult to say, since we’ve stayed in dozens and dozens of gross motels all over the country.  We’ve had our share of strange-smelling rooms.
Which city has the most enthusiastic crowd?
DC, hands down.
Any crazy/funny tour stories you’d like to share?
Hm, so many to choose from…..The first one that comes to mind is tne time we went rock-climbing off the highway in some desert mountains in southern California only to be apprehended by the US border patrol — Apparently we were hiking around in a major drug trafficking spot on the Mexican border.  Whoops.

OSBlog02_TourDeForce_01Jukebox the Ghost has been compared to everyone from the Ben Folds Five to a “muted incarnation of Queen.” While these comparisons are both flattering and overall pretty accurate, the description NPR offers is spot on; “If School House Rock morphed into an actual band, it’d be Jukebox the Ghost.” Like School House Rock, their lyrics are witty and thought-provoking and the piano hooks and memorable melody lines prove that catchy and superficial don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. I mean who hasn’t had “Conjunction Junction” stuck in their head at least once in their lives.

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THE SOUNDS OF THE SILENT YEARS

l_6a41d37d2b5d402ab68d5376c2f0836cWhen you think of the latest sounds to appear out of Detroit, Eminem and The White Stripes are probably the first to come to mind. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that Detroit houses a thriving scene of indie music and art rock. At the forefront of this new music scene, you’ll find The Silent Years, one of the most diverse and unique indie groups to come around in a long time.

l_a1015bd4421d2c361cc5214ca7d34f2fArtists often get caught up in lyric writing, attempting to focus on their words as the driving force of the song. The Silent Years take a more music-centric approach. They start with driving hooks and powerful instrumentation changes. In other words, they seek to create a sonic representation of the theme of the song, before a word even hits your ear. Lead singer Josh Epstein describes his poetic approaches to adding words to music as being “drafted and redrafted”. He feels that the pure expression of musical emotion should take the focus, and he struggles to find the perfect words to compliment it. Even with the layered, experimental sounds of their recordings, you can’t miss their live set as the band brings these sounds to the stage in a unique and organic way.

l_b3a3930018c77e3afc965730d41f00f5With such an authentic approach to songwriting and performance, it’s no surprise that the band is being afforded some impressive career opportunities. Recently signed to SideCho Records, the band is starting to make waves in the online scene while also building a nice list of supportive press. Bob Boilen of NPR is the newest critic to join the droves of fans lining up behind the new album, The Globe. “After one listen, I may have found my summer pop record,” he said when the band was featured on NPR’s “Song of the Day.” Recently, The Silent Years has also been featured as the “Band of the Week” in Paste Magazine and an ABC News interview. We caught up with Epstein to get his reaction to his budding celebrity status and to get more insight on his unique and ear catching approach to his music. Click through to see what he had to say:

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Avast ye OurStage pirate playlist!

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We pillage, we plunder, we rifle, and loot,
Drink up, me ‘earties, yo ho.
We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot,
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.

We know pirates have been on everyone’s mind lately (both in the music industry and in the greater world). What does it all mean for national “Talk like a Pirate” day or our favorite Walt Disney World attraction?

Will fast food giant, Long John Silver’s close it’s doors or will the Jonas Brothers have to end their careers sooner than we expected? (Brian Unger, NPR).

The skulduggerous musicians of OurStage are here with some music to help you through these troubled, changing and scurvy riddled times. So, dust off your eyepatches and grab your parrot; this is a playlist that would bring even the oldest scoundrels back from the depths of Davy Jones’ Locker.

The top 5 ways I discover music

We all have our own ways of sifting through the immense amount of great music and finding what we like, and the OurStage editorial staff is no different. We’re collecting our favorite music discovery outlets and will be sharing them with you over the next few weeks. You’ll get to learn a little more about us, and discover some great new music along the way! If you and I don’t share the same music tastes don’t worry. We’re a diverse bunch and I’m sure you’ll find a blogger you agree with!

1) WERS

WERS is the independent radio station broadcasting from Emerson University in Boston. Their motto is “independent music for the independent mind” and they hold true to it. One of my favorite things about living in the Boston area is that I get WERS on the radio; they accompany me to and from work everyday and my exposure to new music is limitless because of it. Over the past few years they have delivered artists like Jose Gonzalez, Adele, Antje Duvekot, Tunng, and The Bird and the Bee straight to my ears. If you’re in the Boston area, you should definitely check out their 60th Anniversary Concert featuring Pete Yorn this weekend. If you’re not in the Boston area, you can still discover great new music by listening to WERS online.

2) Grey’s Anatomy

Cliché? Possibly. Does it tell you a little more about me then I’d really like to share? You bet. I have to come clean, though. I love Grey’s Anatomy and their 5 seasons of music programming has done a lot of good for my iPod! My favorite finds include Ingrid Michaelson, Emiliana Torrini, KT Tunstall, Roisin Murphy, Jamie Lidell and Lenka.

3) NPR: All Songs Considered

I don’t listen to it often, but when I do I always end up downloading something new. I can thank the good people at NPR for motivating me to add Beirut, Andrew Bird, Okkervil River, Devotchka and John Vanderslice to my music library. You can get the podcast version and take it with you on the go. This show is definitely worth checking out; they will introduce you to great new artists, give you inside information and offer a fresh perspective all at the same time!

4) Festivals

I’m lucky that my job takes me to lots of music festivals all over the country. In the past 2 years I’ve been to Noise Pop, Bumbershoot, Virgin Music Fest and Newport Folk and Jazz. I’ve walked away from each one with a new artist to add to my list of favorites including She and Him, Kristin Hersh, Xavier Rudd, The Dodos and The Mountain Goats.

5) OurStage Favorites

Working at OurStage, I spend a lot of time crawling through the site’s charts, talking to our members and sharing music finds with my co-workers. I’ve put together a playlist of my all-time favorites for you to enjoy and, hopefully, start your own music discovery journey:

 


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