- Article by: Adrian Parrish | Photo Credit:
- Posted: 06/27/2012
Young Jesus is a Chicago-based band that has been cutting its teeth on the local and Midwestern scene for the last few years. Its particular blend of slow burning punk and pop rock paired with underlying dance beats has delighted crowds and won many loyal fans. While their lyrics tackle some serious themes, talking to lead singer John Rossiter and drummer Peter Martin quickly makes one realize that these guys don’t take themselves too seriously.
Brite Revolution: So where did the name Young Jesus come from?
John Rossiter: We were all meditating together in this one room holding hands. And Pete was staring into [bassist] Shawn's eyes and I was staring into [guitarist] Cody's eyes. At the time, Shawn had IBS so we were just meditating to overcome that...[Shawn] had a really big beard and long hair and I looked at him and I said ‘Young Jesus.’ And Cody said ‘That's a wonderful band name.’ And we held hands and confirmed it and it stuck.
Peter Martin: (laughing) Shawn did have long hair and a beard and people would call him that at parties. Cody and Shawn came up with that name. It was actually a project between those two before John and I joined the band.
BR: You refer to yourself as party-angst indie music. What do you mean by that?
PM: My friend...who manages us just started attaching that to emails [about us]. It kinda stuck because our music has a lot of depressing and angsty themes, but when we play live it's just like a big party. It's music you can dance to but also there's some pretty heavy stuff going on.
JR: And whenever we go to parties we just scowl the entire time.
PM: (laughing) Yeah, we're very angsty partiers.
BR: Your vocals, John, begs some comparisons to The National. Are they a big influence?
JR: I don't have that low of a voice really but I had been listening to a shit ton of The National and I realized that I could sing like that. Before that I was trying to sing like Brand New or Radiohead...and that just wasn't working for my voice and I was just like, ‘This is cool. Something that actually fits in my range.’ ... We were all listening to all The National albums and that just became a huge influence. And it became a good balance with some of the stuff we grew up on--faster pop-punk sorts of things. So to have that dynamic shift was cool.
BR: There are several other shout-outs on the title track of your new album Home, (i.e. Brand New, Arcade Fire, The Velvet Teen). Are those other major influences?
PM: Yeah, every shout-out in that song is definitely a big influence.
BR: Do you have any guilty pleasures when it comes to music you cover, whether that’s when you're fooling around or practicing?
PM: I have a lot of guilty pleasures...I’m a huge Coheed and Cambria fan...I always preface it by saying it’s a guilty pleasure unless other people are Coheed and Cambria fans.
JR: “Missing You”...is a really cheesy 80s song that we really dig. I heard Bon Iver’s cover of...an Outfield song, “Your Love”...and I thought that was amazing. That sort of stuff could be great to cover.
PM: I would love to cover "Head Over Heels" by Tears for Fears.
BR: What are some of the major themes on Home?
JR: Lyrically...if you were in my head then it's all a story [that] weaves into one semi-linear thing...The lyrics get kind of weird and surreal sometimes...but it's basically the story about a relationship in the middle of a bad scene with lots of drugs and alcohol...It's like half half me, half almost a journalistic type thing just observing the people who drop out of college or leave high school and end up living in a suburb like this...It's sort of trying to give a voice to those people that didn't take the standard path around here...going to a Big Ten or Ivy League school and then getting a really cushy job. Because if you want to pursue some sort of dream, you're going to have a lot of fuck-ups and you're going to have to deal with some temptations and a lot of pitfalls. So it's about trying to get through those.
BR: You currently have your album on Bandcamp for a "pay-what-you-want" price. Why offer that for something you've worked so hard on?
PM: The motivation for us right now is to just make our music as easy as possible to get into the hands of whoever wants it...If someone is not willing to pay $10 for an album, we're ok with that because a lot of the times, we aren't willing to do that [either].
BR: What's next for Young Jesus?
PM: We're going on tour for three weeks and then we're going to try and record another record when we're home. We're not sure whether it's going to be a long EP or a full length but...whatever we get done and whatever feels right.
JR: It’d be great if we were super prolific and had an EP and an LP by the end of the summer. That might be wishful thinking but it’s good to set big goals -- (pauses and laughs) -- in life and in music.
Young Jesus - "Chicago Alone Pt. 2"