Monday, February 13, 2012

JSB On His Own Terms

JSB: I think Jason (Stollsteimer)'s ready to get back into the swing of things...

Jesse Shepherd-Bates, local songwriter and perennial performer/collaborator, music-function facilitator, a familiar face...  just joined the Hounds Below (fronted by Stollsteimer), in time for the recording of that band's first full length, at Big Sky Studios in Ann Arbor, with Geoff Michael.

Credits include: *Co-founding the Satin Peaches (who, if you haven't forgotten by now, released a 7" single back in December 2010 and left yet another would-be-recording unfinished before breaking up last year)... *Leading a band of inherently fluctuating-membership called the JSB Squad (which reached a zenith at Blowout 2011, with about 30-ish some-odd-people on one stage) and, most recently... *Writing and performing with fellow former-Peaches in Jesse & The Gnome

His birthday's in six weeks. I've known him for one-fifth of his life and he's always had long hair, jet-black curly locks. 

No longer. And that's just one change. 

Milo: What are you ...ready for?

JSB: I have no idea... I've gone through some... ...I don't even know what the word would be... My views on music-making have evolved. I've evolved... ...I chopped off all my hair, (so), there's that much at least.

Milo: Tom (Bahorski - who also has a birthday in six weeks) said you were "....stepping...back."

JSB: I'm glad he put it that way. Everyone on Facebook was asking what was up with me retiring...

But all he'd said was he didn't want to play in bars anymore...'s that perennial ceiling that local musicians hit - what's beyond and how to get to it?

JSB: The day Jason called me, I was just about to follow up on an audition to play bass in a party cover-song band, like a Black-Eyed-Peas-type of music band...

Milo: Not a moment too soon, then...

JSB: And he asked me if I wanted to go to, I figured that's a side of music I haven't explored yet.

So then... Jesse Shepherd Bates has now joined the Hounds Below and, essentially, put his most-recent project, - & The Gnome, on some kind of hiatus. 

We should say: The exciting news here being that, if he's "retiring," he's going out with a blast - he'll be hosting a Birthday show for himself and Bahorski April 6th - featuring 16 bands (list below) playing 15 minute sets, blurred together, inside PJ's Lager House, on April 6th...

But back to the harder stuff... Suffice it to say that Bates came to that ton o' bricks realization that he'd put certain personal components of his life on hold for the chase of... 

JSB: "...this 'dream,' if you will, thinking about the friends I've lost, the people I've ignored, the family I got detached from...I thought about when I was making music before, before I joined a band, with just me on a computer, that's really the last time it's been pure, and not tainted by money or alcohol or anything.

Singer/songwriter Steve McCauley admitted that he felt his newest band The Walking Beat, might be "his last band..." It's not uncommon for artists to take these turns, to take hard, eye-opening evaluations of their creative situations...but Bates, just like McCauley, will never stop writing and recording on his own... Both assure that they'll be continuing in that realm, even if its just them, a guitar and a tape recorder... (...or a lap top... posting updates on YouTube or busking out at ornate cafes). 

JSB: This is just, like, taking control of my life again. The whole 'Peaches thing...
(In 2007, the barely-out-of-high-school band toured Europe, only a short time after Bates left the band...-though he would return again in late 2009). 
...Almost getting there, getting the boot in the band right before all the fun stuff started, watching all that get going, and seeing that fall apart--then getting back in the band, trying to get that going again and then having it fall apart (again). Getting that close makes me think, that, what-?--do I have to try twice as hard or something? Really, it was more blind luck...

Bates said that his band, the Gnome, having gone through a series of spirited sets covering Radiohead, sufficiently messed with the grasp he thought he had on his own motivation - Their Halloween set at the Crofoot was, he said, the most fun he's ever had playing music - leaving him with this confusing (and he repeats the word later, confusing) deflated feeling, in the weeks after. 

And then he comes to it... Not that this should sound as dark as it might be sounding, or ominous or bitter or jaded... No... he's quick to assure:

JSB: I still love everybody around here, I still am involved, I book shows now at Simon's downriver. This time away, I hope, is a way to bring people together that wouldn't normally be together...

That would be on a basis that isn't dependent on the 10:30-pm-ish schedule of a Friday or a Saturday in AnyBar, Detroit. 

But, he comes to it... as any musician does, sometimes long after they turn 25... making music on your own terms. He uses the word "trapped..." and wanting to avoid that happening to one's musical pursuits, to avoid feeling like you're on a track in life. And to be wary of that gamble, that mad high musicians can get enchanted by, -really, the ticket-tearing, eye-bulging, sweat-beaded gamble...of "chasing that, if you will, 'dream...'" And whatever the hell that dream is...or is it some kind of answer?  

JSB: Like you said, I should do it on my own terms. And it's cool to be in somebody else's band, this isn't my band. Jason is a ball of energy and these new songs sound great - no longer a 50's thing, very Two-Thousand-and-Twelve-ish...

In the end it's a positive JSB sees it... 
JSB: I'm still stuck being completely in love with music.

Sweet 16 - April 6th - PJ's Lager House

Ungrateful Daughter
Sound and Fury
Pewter Cub
Ronny Tibbs and the 305's
Patrick Davy and the Ghosts
Citizen Smile
 Phantom Cats
 The Kickstand Band
 The Hounds Below
 The Ashleys
 Lightning Love
 Jesse and The Gnome
The Handgrenades
Good Cop/Good Cop

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