Indianapolis Jones, comprised of Tim Smith (Jellyfish, Noel Gallagher and the High-Flying Birds, Umajets, The Producers), Nicholas Niespodziani (Y-O-U, Limozeen, Yacht Rock Revue, Please PleaseRock Me), and Jason Nackers (Second Shift, Constellations), are a psychedelic pop supergroup Having flown with the high-flying birds and swam with the jellyfish, they let go of their obsession with y-o-u and summoned the courage to journey from their privileged limozeens and yachts into the salty waters of analogue synthesizers, guitar echo and self-reflection. There they uncovered ancient lyrics of life and loss and what comes after written in the stars, secret codes they deciphered in the second shift of the constellations.
Ghettoblaster recently spoke with Niespodziani about their forthcoming EP. This is what he told us.
When did you begin writing the material for the EP?
When we disbanded Y O U at the end of 2009, I was feeling very angsty about the meteoric rise of the Yacht Rock – our accidental tribute band came out of nowhere and blew up the vibe of the group that meant everything to me for the last eight years. I needed an escape to provide some creative balance.
I had met Tim recently and I was a huge fan of Jellyfish. I was intimidated to ask him to come over to write songs, but we hit it off. He had just finished a run with Sheryl Crow and we were both ready to stretch out and try some really weird stuff. The first few things we wrote together were very strange, but the vibe really started to come together when I invited Jason to write with us, that was maybe a year later. Jason had written so many great pop songs for Second Shift, and the three of us started to write the tunes that would form the basis for the EP.
We started to gain some momentum, but then Tim flew off with Noel Gallagher for a year and a half. When he got back last year, I had just moved into my house and built my studio so we started in earnest and it all came together in the last nine months.
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome? Were any of these songs at one time considered for Yacht Rock Revue?
“Not Ghosts Yet” was a real challenge because it was one of the first tunes we had written together, a cool collaboration where Nackers came in with the riff and the verse and I wrote a chorus pretty quickly. Then Tim had the idea to move the chorus to a different key and that really opened it up. We’d done a demo we all loved early on, and since we had heard the demo so many times it became difficult to settle for the different (and far superior) sounds when we started recording for real.
Right when we were starting to feel comfortable, we sent it off to Kris Sampson (mixing engineer, Ponderosa guitarist) and he blew it up in a totally different way – he went for a very modern sound. It was super-cool, but we had to meet him half way with some of the retro vibe we’d had in our heads all along.
I threw that tune by the Yacht Rock guys when we were considering tunes for our EP, but it was too weird, I think And also it’s fairly dark – both thematically and musically – which is the antithesis of yachty.
My sister is a video artist and animator who has done some amazing work – she and I collaborated on a video for “Not Ghosts Yet” – and we’re inspired by similar themes. We’re both generally very happy people, but our art deals with a lot of spirits and destruction and the end of the world. What we realized is that we favor gleeful optimism in the face of certain destruction.
Which of the songs on the EP is most different from your original concept for the song?
Tim had the basis of “Miracle Mile” before he and I started working together, and he had always viewed it as a pop song we should finish and pitch to a pop artist. I was all for that idea, but I don’t have any pop artist connections and I thought it was a great tune. So I helped him finish the lyric and I started recording a demo with ?Mark Cobb (the drummer from Y O U and Yacht Rock Revue, the only other guy to appear on the EP) that was all drums with no cymbals and fuzz bass. I was convinced we could take the sweet melody of the song and lo-fi it out into something cool and poppy.
Was this always intended to be an EP? Or are there more songs waiting in the wings?
One of our best songs didn’t make the EP – the recording just spanned too many different genres in the course of one song. It has this undeniable electro-pop chorus that I hope will be on a commercial someday. (It’s about people who can’t stop, everyone repeating and moving backwards.) We’ll definitely record it for the next one. We have a bunch of songs that weren’t finished in time for the EP, and many of them will be a part of the live show.
Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?
?Mark played drums on a couple of tunes – the rest is all us.
Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?
We played a couple of gigs very early on, but this version of the band is completely new. We’re having to figure out how to perform them live, since we all played various instruments on the record. We’ve got ?Mark on drums for the show, and started working with Adam and Matt from the Shadowboxers (a fantastic ATL band if you’ve somehow missed them) to play on the show and help us make these big orchestrations happen.
(Indianapolis Jones celebrates the release of their self-titled debut EP at the Goat Farm in Atlanta on May 2 with special guest Yip Deceiver. Joining them for the May 2 show will be Mark Cobb (Y-O-U, Limozeen, Yacht Rock Revue, Please PleaseRock Me), Adam Hoffman (Shadowboxers) and Matt Lipkins (Shadowboxers).)