Y’all, I’ve been wanting to start this series since the beginning of this blog. I’m PUMPED. Welcome to FEELS LIKE, our artist spotlight series where we introduce you to artists we love and talk about the way they process life through music, just like we do here!
And we’re starting off with some heavy hitters. Spectre Jones is an indie band based in Los Angeles, CA made up of friends Wilson (bass/vocals), Jake (guitar/keys), John (guitar), Brett (guitar/keys), and Alexa (drums). With a wide range of influences both contemporary and classic, they’ve established a catalogue of work ranging from intimate indie folk and harmonic dreamscapes. If something sounds familiar, you just might have caught one of their 24+ TV/Film placements with networks such as MTV and VH1. But me and Eden know them as some of our music-making pals!
Spectre Jones just released their debut album called Joy in the Morning and let me tell you, it is FILLED with bangers. I sent the band some questions via email as they were in the midst of releasing the album, read on to know what it feels like to be Spectre Jones.
Hi Spectre Jones! Eden and I go wayyy back with y’all (we’re talking college days) and we love y’all. I love the music you make because of the way I can make sense of life and find comfort in your words while still jamming to your tunes. I’m stoked to hype you up as you release your debut album.
Kelly: Tell us a little about who each of you are and what Spectre Jones is all about.
Spectre Jones: Well, each of us are humans, and a lot of Spectre Jones’ music is pretty much about just that—being human. As you mentioned, we’ve known each other and played music together since we were still in school. With graduation being about six years back now, we’ve had plenty of time to see both the good and the bad when it comes to each other’s humanity. Starting a band together and really showing up to collaborate can be a messy and vulnerable process, but we’ve learned time and again that a little love and mercy can go a long way, both in making music and in being human. So that’s what we’re about!
In case you wanted something more individually focused: Alexa has a deep love for snacks, Brett plays a lot of Rocket League, Jake is a sucker for some good mood lighting, John drives a Prius, and Wilson always appears the moment you start wondering to yourself where he went.
Who or what inspired you to pursue music?
This question warrants an incredibly complex response due to the diversity of influences across all five band members. To keep things brief, basically Paul and Linda McCartney released RAM fifty years ago, and we took that personally.
What is your favorite way to experience music?
Recently we’ve been enjoying a ton of live music together at different local shows around LA, and we’re all constantly sending each other new and old artists we’re discovering day-to-day. But really, our favorite way to experience music is just playing it together!
Your debut album Joy in the Morning is out now, how do you feel about releasing these songs into the world?
Beyond ecstatic! We’re over the moon about how all the songs turned out, and we’re so excited that people can finally listen through the album. This group of songs was produced, recorded and mixed by James Krausse, who made plenty of space for our ideas and really brought them to life without making the crucial creative decisions for us. James did a great job of pushing on weak spots in the songs, not because he wanted anything to better suit his taste, but because he knew what we were going for and could tell when we weren’t there yet. We’re grateful to James that he not only fulfilled but exceeded what was needed in that collaborative role. The guy’s a legend! Anyhow, we’re really proud of what we ended up with, and we hope all the folks out there will love listening to these tunes as much as we loved making them!
Y’all crowdfunded for this album release, what was that process like?
It felt pretty stressful while we were in the process of crowdfunding, but the people who donated totally blew us away with their generosity. In the end, we had what we needed, and we’re deeply grateful for that.
What were some of the major inspirations for the songs on this album?
Thematically, this group of songs was inspired by the isolation, grief, mental health struggles, and general sense of hopelessness that came knocking during lockdown in the early part of the pandemic. We wanted to deliver a little hope and joy in response to what we were feeling and saw others dealing with.
In terms of arrangements and sounds, we looked to the sunnier side of our collective taste, attempting to draw inspiration from the likes of The Band, The Beatles (including their other bands and solo work, of course), Fleetwood Mac (specifically their 1979 release, Tusk), Big Star, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Ween, Mike Viola, Dawes, and so many more.
So, for example, the music in “Standing” was heavily inspired by Springsteen and Dawes in the verses, whereas the choruses lean a little more towards The Band. “Way of Things” and “Trouble” are both built around a specific palm-muted acoustic feel that can be found on RAM by Paul and Linda McCartney. “On the Side” and “Control” are both unabashedly—some might even say irreverently—Beatlesque; however the second half of “On the Side” veers off into a blend of Flaming Lips and Tame Impala, whereas the second half of “Control” sounds like a wrestling match between Wings and Weezer. A lot of people will hear some Beatles influence in the title track (“Joy In the Morning”) as well, although our approach to creating the sound and sense of space in that song drew inspiration from Party by the the Beach Boys, as well as The Mollusk by Ween. “Let Yourself Go” and “Sisters & Brothers” both got the most exposure to sound and feel ideas we got from Tusk. In case you can’t tell, we love listening to music!
What’s your favorite song on the album and why?
There’s no way we could pick one favorite overall, but our favorite song to play live right now is probably “Let Yourself Go”. It’s just such a fun groove to get into!
What are some goals you have for Spectre Jones?
We mostly just want to keep making records and playing music for people! We have a lot to be grateful for in our band, so it’s important that we stay present to that reality and look out for each other. As long as that’s our approach, we already have more than we could have asked for. Other than that…it would be really cool to get the Wordle in one guess someday. That would be awesome.
Lastly, what song describes how each of you feel today?
“Where’d All The Time Go” by Dr. Dog feels like a good summation of how we feel both individually and as a group after the process of making and releasing this album. We’re having a blast getting to do what we love, and we couldn’t have done any of this without the love and support from all the friends and wonderful strangers out there who listen to Spectre Jones. Thanks for being on this journey with us, dear reader; if you’re joining in just now for the first time, welcome to the party! We’re so glad you made it.