Interview: Andrew Low of the Jazz June

I discovered The Jazz June not in any conventional manner. I was a trainee at my college radio station assigned to a Frank Sinatra themed show. I told the host, Gilbert Gigliotti that I was into emo and he said he had some emo he could play. He then put on The Jazz June’s “Fight Like Sinatra” and I was hooked. A short time later I purchased The Medicine and was playing cuts like “Viva La Speed Metal” and “At The Artist’s Leisure Part 2” on my own radio show. As the Jazz June prepare to release their first album in 12 years, they also re-release The Medicine on vinyl. I got a chance to chat with Andrew Low about the re-issue, the new album, and recording with J. Robbins.

You are reissuing The Medicine. The album is considered by many to be your masterwork. Do you feel it is your best album?

It is hard to pick because The Medicine is the one that people seem to like the most and it was amazing working with J. Robbins, but I also really like Better off Without Air because I feel like it was the culmination of seven consecutive years of writing and touring. However, The Medicine was written during the period when we were most active; we all lived in the same town and there’s cohesion in how we played the songs that comes through on the record.

What are your fondest memories from recording The Medicine?

To be honest, we only had about four days to record the album so the whole thing is a blur. I remember getting to hang out with Don Zientara and J. Robbins at Inner Ear, which was ridiculous because I loved all the bands they recorded and played in since I was a teenager. I have a very vivid memory of driving from Kutztown in an enormous snowstorm on the first day of the session. The roads were pure ice but there was nothing that was going to stop us from getting to DC to record that record. We were so excited we would have died trying.

I assume you re-listened to the album before reissuing it. Was there anything new you noticed while re-listening?

Around the same time that we were finishing the writing for After the Earthquake I had to re learn a lot of the songs on The Medicine for a gig that we played in Philly. I hadn’t realized how many intricate time changes and tricky diversions we took in some of the songs. I think some of that leaked into the songs on ATE; I really like the unexpected turns in songs like Get On The Bus and wanted to replicate that.

Do you have a favourite song on The Medicine?

I really like “Viva La Speed Metal.” Bryan wrote it and I love the chord progressions he came up with. I have borrowed them for a few songs for other bands I have been in since The Jazz June. I also really like Motörhead’s Roadie for two reasons. First, because of how Dan and Justin play the rhythm parts. Second, because Motörhead’s ACTUAL roadie Dan Halen got in touch with me on MySpace a few years ago asking what the song was about. He heard it on an XBOX snowboarding game and invited me to a show in Birmingham. You can read all about it here

Next month you will release your first album in 12 years.  How did the idea of reuniting come about?

We had been talking about it for a few years after we did the benefit shows for Adam, our roadie who was diagnosed with a brain tumor, but we got busy, I moved to London and life got in the way. It wasn’t until Bryan moved to NC and really motivated us to start playing again that we actually put pen to paper.

Your new album is called After the Earthquake.  How does your new material compare to The Medicine?

I think the songs on After the Earthquake are more similar to The Medicine than Better Off Without Air. To me they sound like The Jazz June but it has been 12 years since we last recorded and I’m not into recycling old ideas from old albums. The new music reflects the experiences, ideas and influences we’ve collected over the past decade.

What is your favorite song from the new album to play live and why?

“Over Underground” has a guitar lead is really fun to play; it’s a real foot-on-monitor moment. I can also sing the vocals in several different ways depending on my mood. It is a fairly simply song, but it takes on a new dimension every time we play it so it never gets boring.

Finally, after the release of the new album what are the plans for the Jazz June?

So far the plan is to play the Brooklyn Vegan CMJ showcase, a FunFunFun Fest Nites show with Mineral and Knapsack (holy crap!) and then a Winter East Coast tour. We haven’t planned too much but there will definitely be more shows after that. I would also like to do a few split 7-inches with new bands that we really dig, like Beach Slang. I have also been harassing Angel Olsen to collaborate with us on a song, but so far she has ignored my tweets. I freaking love Burn Your Fire For No Witness.

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