Houston Music

Artist of the Week: Jim Jones Jamboree

Each Wednesday, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to [email protected].

We saw Jim Jones Jamboree live when we headed out to the White Swan a few weeks ago, and, quite simply, they kicked ass. There were several other metal bands playing that night, but JJJ was the only one we saw incite a mosh pit. We knew we were gonna to feature them as the Artist of the Week at that point. Also, they gave us their CD and a kinda cool sticker for free. That helped too.

Houston Press: First and foremost, what's the story behind the name? Is it an homage to the mass-suicide guy, or are you all just big fans of the "Ballin'" rapper? And if it is a reference to the mass-suicide guy, what the hell is wrong with you all?

Ryan Jaeger (bass): The name is more of a satirical reference to the James Warren "Jim" Jones of Jonestown fame. It just came along one day while we were in the studio sipping our Kool-Aid...

HP: Very clever.

RJ: We in no way endorse the philosophy or teachings of Jim Jones, nor the incident that occurred at Jonestown. The only thing wrong with us, is that we happen to be human.

Jim Jones Jamboree live at the White Swan Photo by Larami Culbertson

HP: Well, yeah, that, and the fact that you named your band after The Mass Suicide Guy. When we saw you guys, Matt [singer Mejia] was like a monster stalking around the stage. How do you make your voice all monsterish like that, and are there any side effects to performing like that? Also, was the guitarist on stage barefoot? Did we see that right?

Matt: The secret is Jim Beam on ice, and the only side effect is being hot and sweaty.

Stuart Wedemeyer (guitar): You saw me correctly, that's just how I roll. I like to feel the stage rumbling when I'm playing.

HP: Matt, as soon as the show was over you just stormed off the stage and out the back door of the White Swan - completely ignoring us, we might add. What's up with that? Why'd you burn off so fast?

M: After a performance like that, there is no need to say anything.

HP: Yeah, probably not. J.P. [drummer Lopez], you were notably impressive at the show. That's not really a question, we just thought we'd mention it.

J.P. Lopez: It must be because of my "30 Lb. Arm."

HP: That’s kinda gross. One thing that made you all stand out from the other bands, to us anyway, was that there seemed to be an almost heavy funk influence. It was more melodic or drum-and-bass driven then a lot of your contemporaries. Is that on purpose? Have you all noticed that? Or do we sound like a total ass right now?

JPL: Well, me and Stuart have been working together in many bands, with trial and error over the years, and Ryan also came from a similar background. We all just come from rhythmic and groove-oriented bands, and that's just how the pieces fell together.

HP: What is the driving force behind y'all's sound? Where does the inspiration come from?

S: We just want people to feel excited and energized when they hear our music.

HP: There’s definitely that...

RJ: There are many things that are inspirational to me when it comes to making music. Listening to a wide variety of genres, typically stuff that is out of my comfort zone, opens my head to new ideas. Art can also play a big role in finding inspiration to conceptualize a song's mood or theme as well. It’d be nice if art could bang out riffs for me, though. If my head is cluttered I'll read the news, watch a movie, or go play some games.

HP: You know what’s good for a cluttered head? Cutting in line at the grocery store. It’s surprisingly cathartic. Just walk up behind someone and be all, “Excuse me, sir. You dropped your wallet.” When they look down jump in front of them in line and say, “Dummy.” You’d be surprised how good that makes you feel.

RJ: To paraphrase Office Space, "No. No, man. Shit, no, man. I believe you'd get your ass kicked doin' something like that, man."

JPL: For me the inspiration is in the actual playing. I love to play live shows and I love the rush. When the music comes together, it is powerful, and demands attention. I also enjoy being able to create something original that I can be proud of.

HP: At your show, a small mosh pit broke out and this immediately popped into our head: Hypothetically speaking, let's say someone was crushed to death in a mosh pit at one of your concerts. How would a group such as yours feel? Is that, like, the ultimate compliment, or would you just feel like a dick?

JPL: You never want anyone to get hurt, but pits are a part of metal culture, and most of the time people play by the rules. I try not to think about anyone getting hurt, just happy fans letting their aggressions out.

RJ: I'd be upset if something like would happen, but I wouldn't feel like a dick. People should come to shows to have fun, not to be out looking for blood. If you come to a show, understand common sense etiquette, and that it's not a fight. If you hit someone, shake their hand, or pat them on the back and apologize. If someone falls down pick their ass up, always. - Shea Serrano

Keep track of these mad metal prophets on jimjonesjamboree.com or the group's MySpace page.

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Shea Serrano