Jets To Brazil
There’s a lot of fuss over Jets to Brazil right now, fuss that seems initially based more on who’s in the band than what they sound like. With members from Jawbreaker (Blake Schwarzenbach), Texas is the Reason (Chris Daly), Handsome (Jeremy Chatelain), and (just recently) the Van Pelt (Brian Maryansky), that’s understandable, but it’s also getting off on the wrong foot as far as what to expect from them. The only recognizable element of their past bands exists in Blake’s lyrics and vocals, although the guitars could perhaps be linked to quieter songs off Jawbreaker’s Dear You. In comparison to Jawbreaker, though, the sound is cleaner and more subdued; the live show however proved the potential for rock was definitely there. Ultimately, these four veteran musicians are stepping out in a refreshing new direction. It’s a direction that may not please people expecting to hear revised sounds from past bands, but it’s obvious that pleasing others was the last thing Jets to Brazil was worried about. These songs were written from a need for an outlet, from a need to create good songs, and, most importantly, from the heart… Forget your preconceptions and take a listen to their new full-length Orange Rhyming Dictionary on Jade Tree.
This interview took place before Jets to Brazil’s recent show with the Promise Ring, Far, and Tugboat Annie on October 28 at the Sapphire Supper Club in Orlando. I was tipped off beforehand that Jets to Brazil have been doing tons of interviews and were tired of the ex-this band ex-that band questions, so I avoided those subjects and kept it brief.
You just did a tour of Europe without an album out. What was that like?
Blake: For me it was kind of like when I had toured Europe with three albums out. It was the same thing. People don’t know anyway, so if you play well I think it’s good.
You mean, the word doesn’t get out much over there?
So is Jade Tree not as well-known over in Europe, then?
Blake: As in the States? Oh, I don’ t think so. I don’t think there’s a lot of great European interest in American music the way there was ten years ago. People have this impression that American bands go over and are huge in Europe, but it’s really just the shitty American bands that are really big in Europe. Would you agree with that?
Brian: Yeah, I totally agree.
Blake: It used to be this paradise where bands would just go and make tons of money and be really insanely popular, but I don’t think that’s the case anymore. They’ve got their own bands.
Coming from past bands, you kind of have an audience already established. I’m sure you wouldn’t trade that in for anything, but do you find it’s a double-edged sword, where you’re not really sure if you’re being judged on what you’re doing now?
Blake: Yeah. Absolutely. It’s worked both ways on this tour, I think. I don’t think we’ve ever had an audience turn on the Jets entirely that was a disenfranchised pre-Jets audience, but it can be a little difficult. You have to prove… you have to bring them to something else.
Okay, this is different…
Blake: It’s very different.
… and it’s still good.
Oh, I’m not asking — I’ve heard it, but is that kind of what you have to prove?
Blake: Yeah, I think that’s the idea.
Brian: We have people saying, “Oh, I didn’t think I was going to like it, but it was really good.”
That’s kind of a weird compliment.
Blake: A lot of back-handed compliments like that.
Brian: Yeah, a lot of things like that.
Jade Tree seems to be the hip indie/emo label. How would you describe yourselves?
Blake: Based on my understanding of the term “emo,” I think we would disappoint a fan of that, but I think it’s pretty emotional music, but working in a different way. It’s preying on a different set of emotions.
Brian: I think most good music is emotional. I think that term is really narrow.
So how would you describe yourself?
Blake: They’re songs.
What’s the most interesting description that you’ve gotten from other people?
Blake: Of how we sound? Um, entertaining? That was another backhanded one that I kind of enjoyed. “You guys were entertaining.” That’s what someone said.
What are you currently listening to?
Blake: What were we listening to today? We listened to Pavement and we listened to…
Brian: Belle and Sebastian.
Having been on tour before, it must be kind of nice knowing the interesting places to go. You must know what to do in different towns…
Blake: Well, between us and the Promise Ring I think we have every real food place.
Brian: Everyone’s been to one of the cities and knows a place to go. Except here. Nobody’s really been here, it seems like.
What do you typically do on your days off?
Blake: We’ve had so few on this tour, it’s nice not to have to think about it.
Brian: You kind of lose your mind. Wish you were playing that night. There’s nothing to really do, you know? You get in the habit of driving and playing, driving and playing, then when you don’t have to do that it’s like, what am I supposed to do in a town I don’t know, or in between two towns?
How long is this tour?
Blake: Six weeks.
I heard you’re doing a Halloween show with costumes and prizes?
Blake: Oh yeah.
Are you guys dressing up?
Blake: Yeah, we have to. It’s a label requirement.
What are you dressing up as?
Blake: We’re going as priests. The Brotherhood of Brazil.
What’s you’re favorite Halloween costume you’ve ever had?
Blake: My dad made me a Jaws costume. He made the head like in the poster, with the head coming up with the teeth bared with a woman swimming over the top. Just straight off the poster. So I had a giant head and a gray suit.
Brian: I was Ozzy Osbourne once.
Who does the Web page?
Blake: Well, there are a few actually. There’s one by a guy named Mark Roach.
The one I saw was kind of blue… ?
Blake: That’s Adam Newton from Chicago. There are a couple, and they’re linked together, but they just took it upon themselves to make Web pages. Unsolicited Web pages.
Do you approve?
Blake: Very much so. Yeah, they’re really nice.
Do you think that’s helped out a lot?
Blake: People know, like where the shows are and stuff. I think part of it’s due to that. I go in there to find out what we’re doing, like who’s in our band and stuff.
For further information: http://www.jadetree.com/band-jets.html; http://gladstone.uoregon.edu/~anewton/index.html; http://pages.nyu.edu/~cam204/ • Jade Tree, 2310 Kennwynn Rd., Wilmington, DE 19810 • firstname.lastname@example.org