Sunday, August 22, 2010

Baker's Dozen: Interview with Jumpiter

Quick movie pitch. A vengeful God kills a guy's girlfriend. He decides that He likes it enough to reincarnate her and do it again. And then again. And again. This is the concept behind Jumpiter's new album, his third, Bad God. Jumpiter came to my attention through "Eyes of the Trucks" (a track off his second album Trucks) which I included on my July Condiment Crime Spree Mix. Recently I had the chance to interview, via email, Jumpiter (whose real name is Sean Schuyler). We talked the new album, DIY releases and album art amongst other things. This is the thirteenth installment of our Baker's Dozen Interview Series.

B: What is Jumpiter's back story?
Jumpiter: I played drums in several bands in high school & eventually learned guitar. I wrote some songs with a bassist friend of mine. We'd record bass & drums on my 4-Track, then overdub guitars, vocals, keyboards, etc. We'd play these songs out, having 2 friends handle the guitar duties. I loved playing live but was always more interested in recording. When I went away to college, I continued writing "solo" material. One of my earliest compositions, "The Basement", was written as a one-off song. But I realized another track, "Alone", had similar themes & imagery, so I thought maybe I could expand these two songs into a larger work. Eventually that became my first album, Alone. Similarly, "CCSP" and "Tricycle" from Trucks were totally unrelated but I decided to combine them & write songs to tie them together. These songs/albums have been in my head for years & I decided it was finally time to sit down & record them in full.

TB: Where did the band name come from?
Jumpiter: Since most people have trouble pronouncing my last name (it sounds like "Skyler", FYI), I decided a "band name" was the best approach. I don't remember how I came up with Jumpiter. Obviously it's a combo of "jump" and "Jupiter", there's no deeper meaning. I also like that it sounds like "jump at her", but not in a scary mugger kinda way, more like a jump-out-your-seat-and-talk-to-that-girl kinda way.
TB: How would you describe your music to someone who had never heard it before?
Jumpiter: Hard rock meets psychedelic pop, I guess? I don't describe it as "lo-fi" because if I could afford to make my records sound like Physical Graffiti or Nevermind, I would.
TB: You list some of your influences as Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, the Who, the Zombies, the Beach Boys, Weezer and Teenage Fanclub. How do these bands influence you?
Jumpiter: I like riff-heavy rock and I like pop songs with catchy melodies and harmonies. Led Zeppelin is simply the best band ever and not only did they write great songs, they made great albums, start-to-finish, no filler. Same with the Who, they made brilliant pop/rock songs & released several classic LPs (including 2 rock operas). All of these bands made amazing albums and songs that ranged from light to heavy (even the Beach Boys dabbled in hard rock on "Heroes and Villains"). I was a teen in the '90s so those latter bands and the overall '90s sound had a big influence on me.
TB: On July 26th you released Bad God. Tell us about the album.
Jumpiter: Bad God is another concept album. It tells the story of a vengeful God who repeatedly kills off a guy's girlfriend over the course of multiple lives. He keeps reincarnating the same couple only to have them meet & fall in love, then she dies horribly. Emotionally, it was inspired by Hitchcock's Vertigo. That film obviously has nothing to do with the wrath of an angry God, but it has similar themes of love & loss.
TB: You've also put out two other full lengths this year, Trucks and Alone, on your own label Jumpiter Records. What is the advantage of self releasing your own music? Any drawbacks?
Jumpiter: The biggest advantage is that no one can interfere with song length or track order, I have final cut so to speak. The drawback is that I do everything myself, the recording, mixing, design, "promotion" (if you can call it that), etc. It can be exhausting & frustrating, but at the end of the day, I make albums that I like listening to. If other people enjoy them too, well that's great!
TB: You offer all your albums for free download. Why do you do this? Do you see there ever being a point where you would no longer do this?
Jumpiter: Do people still pay for music? In a world of leaked albums where you can get pretty much every record for free if you look hard enough, how is some nobody like me going to make any money selling my record that no one's ever heard of? I literally spent no money & recorded these albums in my apartment, so I have no problem giving them away for free. If I ever shelled out money to record in an actual studio with quality equipment, hell yeah I'd charge for it!
TB: Your Facebook page displays pictures of your album covers and inserts. Trucks contains pictures that have something to do with each song with lyrics written in front, while Alone seems to detail a trip through a house in the middle of the woods. Do you do these inserts yourself? Photography or drawing? What is the process you go through in order to make the insert?
Jumpiter: The photos all come from Google Image and I use Photoshop to manipulate them. Sometimes it's just a matter of cropping & adjusting the color. With Trucks I had to do some serious work on the front & back covers. I fret over the covers a lot, but the interiors are usually done in the last few days.
TB: I don't see much information about Jumpiter live shows. Do you have an opportunity to perform live often? If so, what are those affairs like?
Jumpiter: I recruited some friends to be my backing band & we played a few rehearsals but it never went anywhere. Someday soon I'll focus on that again, but for now I'm still in a recording frenzy.
TB: A lot seems to be happening, musically speaking, in Brooklyn. What is the Brooklyn music scene like from your perspective? Do you find any benefits to living in a place that seems to embrace indie artists?
Jumpiter: Brooklyn's an excellent place to see bands and meet musicians. Seeing live music is always inspiring in sort of a kick-in-the-ass type way, but since the "live band" thing hasn't gotten off the ground yet, I haven't seen any personal benefits yet, other than the immediate association people seem to have of Brooklyn with face-meltingly awesome music.
TB: Now that Bad God is out, what's next?
Jumpiter: Album #4, of course!
TB: Do you get to do much cooking? Any special recipes you care to share?
Jumpiter: I love food and I'm obsessed with a couple cooking shows, but sadly I'm not much of a chef. One of these days I'll pick up a cookbook, I swear. I make a damn good sandwich though.
TB: Anything else you'd like to say?
Jumpiter: Thanks for listening!

"My Empty Heart" and "Susannah" come from Bad God. You can download the entire album here.