By Samuel Wigness
With influences varying from The White Stripes to Avail, Ben Harper to Robert Plant and Minneapolis to Chicago, rock and roll trio JONES promises range above all else with their EP “Are You Still Gonna Love Me Now That I’m Dead” set to release in April 2015.
The title track, released as a single, pierces the heart of rock and roll, featuring front man Clayton Hagen’s Jack White-meets-Robert Plant vocals and raw guitar licks. Even more impressive is the flawless timing exhibited by drummer Ian Tsan and bassist Nick Rush as the track jumps between whimpers and wails.
While timing is key to their music, it was more crucial in the formation of JONES.
Beginning in 2004, Hagen fronted Minneapolis band A Night in the Box, but after a seven year run the band drifted apart.
“For six months or so I tried a couple of solo projects and a couple bands, but nothing clicked,” Hagen said. “Ian and Nick urged me to keep playing music and suggested I bring my guitar next time I came to Chicago.”
In 2011, Hagen followed their advice, which led to a 10-hour jam session, two demo tracks and the formation of JONES.
Hagen made the trip from Minneapolis to Chicago 15 times in the band’s first year and continues to do on a less frequent basis. While the distance limits the ability to practice and perform, the band embraces this obstacle.
“The music itself has stayed super distilled and we’ve avoided wondering if we over-practiced and overthinking everything,” Hagen said.
Rush said he is always surprised at how easily stuff comes together, especially for having one member live 500 miles away and how rarely they practice. The trio insists on being unanimous for band decisions and finds it easy to agree on things.
Contributing to JONES’s ability to mesh is the longstanding friendship between Hagen and Rush. While growing up in the Minneapolis suburbs together the two were jamming since before they were teens. After drifting apart in middle school, Rush befriended the new kid in school, Ian Tsan.
Rush and Tsan founded Grape Juice Records while living together in San Francisco and later moved to Chicago. Tsan’s prior bands include Linus, Minneapolis Henrys, Rambos and Butcher’s Boy.
Before forming JONES, the three musicians bumped into each other in the Minneapolis and Chicago touring circuits, supporting each other when possible.
“On my very first your with my old band we had one of those shows where like eight people showed up,” Hagen said. “My old buddy Nick Rush walked in with like twenty people and asked if we wanted to play a show later on with more people at it. So we followed him and played for like two hundred people later that night.”
JONES can expect a warm welcome as they return to the Minneapolis music scene on October 17 with a free show at Memory Lanes. Hagen said fans can expect a high energy exhibiting songs from the unreleased EP.
That’s My Uncle, JONES and Old Desert Road
Friday, October 17th – 9pm – 21+