Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Jet Black Sunrise Interview with Jay Schneider (vocals, double and electric bass, acoustic guitar)

I had the chance to briefly speak with Jay Schneider, of Boston based rock group Jet Black Sunrise, regarding their latest release "Falling." For information on the band, check out the following sites:  website (, bandcamp page ( for album streaming, and itunes album (

Who are some artists/bands that you have looked up to in the past regarding stage presence/live performance?A few of us come from punk rock backgrounds, so growing up, stage presence was all about energy and movement. Band’s like MxPx, Hot Water Music and The Bouncing Souls always put on great shows. I think if you asked Nick (vocals/guitar), he’d say something more like Guster/Counting Crows and if you asked Matt C (vocals/keyboards) he’d say Radiohead. I think the bottom line is if you captivate your audience, we look up to you.
For people that haven't seen your live performance before, what can they expect when they come to one of your shows?
We’re goofy. That’s kind of the way we act on stage. The only thing we love more than playing each other’s songs is playing them for an audience full of drunken friends and fans. So any time we can have fun on stage while interacting with people in the crowd we do. There’s always a fair amount of poking fun at each other, too. At the end of the day, we just don’t like to take ourselves too seriously. We know a lot of bands that go kind of crazy with lights and equipment, but we kind of like to just keep it really straightforward- play our songs and have plenty of quality banter with the audience.
"Falling" is a beautiful album, would you consider it to be a conceptional record?
Thanks for the compliment! That’s a tough question. So many bands call something a “concept” album when the album just has a coherent theme, when in reality, a concept album (to me) tells a narrative. Our LP is really just a cohesive album with a central theme. Falling was the culmination of a lot of writing and band lineup changes. We introduced Matt C to the band early last year, and one of the biggest challenges was fitting his songs into JBS, which had already established a style of its own. I think at the end of the day, Falling came together with more of an emotional theme. The idea of “Falling” isn’t negative. It’s an ironic perspective that if you fall (i.e. take risks, put it all out there, make mistakes), something great will come of it. The title track refers more to relationship-based themes, whereas “All Away”, refers more generally to knowing that big things lie ahead. Our bio puts this theme a bit more eloquently, but you get the idea.
How has the reception of the album been thus far?
Great! We did a very small pressing and have been relying more on digital sales. We actually had to do a second pressing because we ran out. I think the key here is word-of-mouth. We’re still a really young band, and it’s been awesome to see how many people have picked up the album (or just the single), because their friends did. It’s also refreshing that we’ve received some reviews that have pointed out the fact that they liked our ability to merge the three songwriters into one cohesive sound. We’ve been really pleased.
What would you like for people to take away from listening to "Falling?"
I think I alluded to this a bit in your previous questions, but the whole point is that life is about risks. Whether you’re getting into a new relationship, starting a new job or moving across the country, you have to go for it. As people, one of the worst things you can do is avoid an opportunity because you’re afraid of it. JBS has had had to deal with a lot of adversity (both in personal lives and as a band), with changing lineups and trying to fight through the “noise” in these New England music scenes, but we’re really excited with the music we’ve written and the goals we’ve reached. We could never have done that without the risk of failure. So, we wanted to get that into the album, and I think it comes across pretty well.
Any recording/album plans in the near future?
Because it took us so long to finish Falling we’re torn between letting it go forward with the current momentum, or working on a new release with all the material we’ve written during promotion. I’d like to think we’ll start planning for a shorter EP later this year, maybe for release in early 2012? But that’s really up in there air. What I can say is that the next release will be a much more collaborative effort, and you’ll hear a truly cohesive JBS sound.
How does the writing process normally pan out for you? Several of you are avid songwriters, correct?
That’s right, we have 3 writers in the group, Nick, Matt C and me. We all write differently. Matt and I are both classically-trained composers so we tend to write with those concepts in mind. Matt is truly a “chordsmith”, and always starts with awesome progressions. I usually start with an instrumental hook (usually a cool acoustic guitar part or something) and build around that, while Nick is very narrative. He usually writes words and melodies, and builds chords around that. As a band it’s more on a case-by-case basis. We’ll usually send each other demos, talk about them, and come up with the song’s form before we settle on actually parts. It makes for a really productive arrangement process. We arranged “Call Me Crazy”, “The Fire Escape” and “You’re Still My Love” during one rehearsal in under half an hour. We’re proud of that.
Do you write continuously? Or are you more periodic writers?
A little of both. I think Matt C and Nick write constantly. For me, it comes more in waves (based almost solely on all the other stuff going on in my life). I usually write songs to relax. So, if I have a lot of time to relax, I write a lot of songs.
Are there any artists/bands that you are really into right now?
Death Cab, for sure. I think that’s the one band that all of us truly agree on. They are one of our influences and we look up to their songwriting and production a lot. It doesn’t hurt that they just released a new album (which is great by the way, particularly the last 5 or 6 songs).Other than that, I’m on a huge folk kick lately. Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons is a great album. I’m also really into Joe Pug and The Tallest Man on Earth.
How important is social networking for artists like yourself?
I think it’s important for everyone (businesses and artists alike). Twitter in particular has been a huge success for me on the publicity front. I’ve connected with a lot of people on there and actually found a lot of blogs and websites that are now my go-to’s. It’s great for interacting with new fans. I think Twitter has found a way to bridge the gap between artists/actors/celebrities and their fans. It really helps make a connection.
Driving in you car on a perfect day with the windows down, what are you listening to?
I can only really speak for me. Lately it’s been Death Cab For Cutie and Mute Math. They are really great bands for driving around. Of course, if I had to choose a type of music I always go for on a summer day, it’s Ska. One of my top 3 favorite albums is Hell Rockview by Less Than Jake. I know it’s a little “High School” of me, but I love all those bands. There’s just something about that energy that makes my drive just that much better.
Any local tour dates coming up in the near future?
Sure thing! We’ve got a really busy summer, and I’m sure it’ll be a busy fall too. You can check out our tour dates at Here are the ones we have coming up:
Jul 3, 2011Sunday 8:00 PM Knitting Factory Brooklyn, NY
Jul 15, 2011 Friday 9:00 PM AS220 Providence, RI
Jul 16, 2011Saturday 8:00 PM Church Boston, MA
Jul 17, 2011 Sunday 7:00 PM Milly's Tavern Manchester, NH
Jul 30, 2011Saturday 9:00 PM 3G's Sports Pub Worcester, MA
Sep 16, 2011Friday 7:30 PM Berklee College of Music - Cafe 939 Boston, MA

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