Milwaukee band poised for big year
On the heels of the release of "Traps," TCD sat down with Jaill at the Exclusive Company to discuss the album, Sub Pop Records, and taco-fueled release shows.
What’s the measurement for making it in the music business in 2012? Signing with a trendsetting record label? Critically celebrated albums and live performances? A growing and dedicated international fan base?
Locally adored and nationally renown indie rock group Jaill lays claim to all of the aforementioned benchmarks of “making it.” It’s an ambition not known to many operating out of “Smallwaukee.” On the heels of the release of third LP Traps, Vinnie Kircher, Andy Harris, and Austin Dutmer are poised for a big summer.
We’re not talking barbecues and boat tie-ups either. These guys are shifting into the next gear to promote their efforts.
“Basically we’ve been doing the cycle of making albums and touring pretty cyclically since 2009,” said frontman and guitarist Vinnie Kircher.
After an in-store performance at the east side Exclusive Company, Kircher sat down with TCD to discuss all things Jaill—gigging across the U.S. and Europe, signing with Sub Pop, and of course the new album, which hit shelves on June 12.
Traps fuses psych-pop with the band’s trademark grunge elements. The album was recorded in Kircher’s basement—a common practice for the band—over the span of eight months.
“The only record we recorded in the studio was That’s How We Burn,” said Kircher. “That was fun but it also felt like we were more comfortable being at home in the basement with lots of time.”
Making the case for “all great things take time,” Traps is a collection of crisp, methodical instrumental compositions punctuated with abrasively sentimental lyrics.
Out of the gate the album pulls listeners into its eerily catchy soundscape with opening cuts “Waste A Lot Of Things” and “Perfect Ten.” Jaill showcases an evolution in musicianship through super-tight arrangements and execution on “Everyone’s A Bitch” and “House With Haunting.”
Neither a significant departure nor continuation of past releases, Traps plays as a perfect testament to where the band is in 2012. Personalization during the recording process is what elevates Traps to the next level.
“I guess it’s the process of pretending you’re an engineer or producer that’s kind of fun,” said Kircher. “Working with an engineer or producer, they seem to have ideas of how things are done best. Therefore the trial and error gets stripped out a little because you generally trust what they’re doing.”
Both comforting and bizarre, Traps can easily play both as evening wind down album or genuine party starter. Whichever direction it takes you, it seems the guys have gotten home recording down to a (weird) science.
Working with Sub Pop
If a plethora of production time is what helps Jaill turn out solid albums, it’s a good thing their boss abides.
“Sub Pop was cool with us taking our time to get it in.” said Kircher. “They just wanted us to do it how we wanted.”
In 2009 Jaill (then Jail) signed with Seattle-based Sub Pop Records padding an already hugely talented group of represented musicians. The move expontially expanded their potential audience, escalating the group from local to national notability.
“It’s been crazy, really,” said Kircher. “A blast when I think about it. But it’s been surprising too.”
In 2010 they released their first studio recorded album That’s How We Burn. Within months, the group slated East and West Coast performances along with an extensive European leg. After years of nose-to-the-grindstone in the local scene, Jaill had the backing force to propel its reputation.
“They (Sub Pop) are like a well-oiled machine,” said Kircher. “It’s been fun to see how they push records. They have a lot of bands doing really awesome, so it’s been cool. A lot of Sub Pop bands are in movies and I see them on TV. It’s pretty exciting.”
Made in Milwaukee
Jaill began with Kircher and Dutmer in the early 2000s, when they were Marquette and UWM undergrads messing around with arrangements and lo-fi recordings in a band called The Detectives.
“When we got towards the end of college we started a new band called Jail.” said Kircher. “We had a few different lineups and made a few home recordings.”
The arrival of bassist Andy Harris in 2006 changed the group’s ambitions. More extensive touring and serious recording led to Jail’s first LP release There Is No Sky (Oh My My) in 2009.
To promote the release, the band would have to tour locally and regionally. Bound by a seriously tight budget, the trio found a little help from their hometown.
“Milwaukee’s great because it’s relatively cheap to live here and there’s lots of places to play,” Kircher explaned. “You can get out on tour easily hitting good stops. [Touring is] really super tiring. Usually being that tired makes you pretty giddy though, so we have a good time.”
Somewhere along the way, a copy of There Is No Sky (Oh My My) landed on the desk of a Sub Pop shot caller, and the band was signed to the legendary label in December, 2009.
The Road Ahead
So how will Jaill maintain this momentum? They began with an album release show at the eclectic Bay View Bowl, featuring glowball, dancing furrys, and illusive tacos.
“Playing Milwaukee is the best. We have a blast and we try and do a little bit extra.” said Kircher. “We had free passes for the first 100 people. I saw a lot of those people eating tacos really quick. It made for some bad breath and stinky farts but it was worth it.”
Up next is an opening set for The Hives on the Summerfest Rock Stage on Friday, June 29. Jaill hits the road after the Big Gig playing at 80/35 Music Festival in Des Moines, Iowa. Then the real touring begins. The band heads west backed by fellow Sub Pop artist King Tuff for a series of stops along the West Coast. Still in the works is an East Coast and European tour at Summer’s end.
It sounds like a lot of work because it is but Jaill’s members understand the necessity.
“All this album stuff was a lot of work and stress and now that it’s out we’ll try and promote it as best we can.” said Kircher. “It’s starting to happen now.”
See the photo gallery below with 20 photos from the Exclusive Company in-store performance and the album release show at Bay View Bowl, or view the full set on TCD’s flickr page.