In the summer of 2014 The Jaguar Club has reunited after four years. The original lineup of Yoichiro Fujita (bass), Jeremiah Joyce (drums), and Will Popadic (vocals/guitar) was born in Brooklyn NY in early 2006. The band played some 100 shows over the next four years, touring regularly throughout the Eastern U.S. and honing a razor sharp live show. Bills were shared with many fine bands including such notables as: Ash, Bear In Heaven, The Joy Formidable, Ra Ra Riot, The Duke Spirit, The Veils, A Sunny Day In Glasgow, Mobius Band, Pela, Teleman, etc.
The band spent the summer of 2014 in the studio with producer Nick Stumpf (French Kicks, Caveman. etc) to record their new six-track EP, titled Close, set for release on March 3 with distribution through INGrooves / Fontana.
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Popadic to discuss the effort. This is what he said about it.
When did you begin writing the material for Close?
Summer 2013 or so, about a year before we hit the studio. We got much more serious about it this past Spring though, which is also when we decided to make it a Jaguar Club record. We were originally going to make another Medals album (the project Yoi and I started working on when The Jaguar Club broke up in 2010) but having live drums and more guitar in the band took us in a different direction. The result is some combination of the old Jaguar Club sound and what we had been doing in Medals.
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome?
I wouldn’t describe any as too difficult. There was some 11th hour re-arranging of ‘Fall Apart’ in the studio, that was probably the closest. I lost my voice before we started recording so I ended up tracking my own vocals in my basement and emailing them to Nick for the mix. I was freaking out about it while we were win the studio, but it ended up being completely fine. I like recording my own singing parts, I can obsess in private.
Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?
Maybe ‘Stringer.’ The demo for that one was very synth pop, with a glitchy beat. I made the whole thing on this little keyboard. It became more of a rocker once we started working on it together. We ditched most of the sequenced elements in favor of live playing. But they all changed to some degree once the full band got involved. For this record all of the songs started with 1 or 2 people writing them, so when everyone else got their hands in there things changed and started to sound more like ‘us.’ Lots of riffs.
Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?
No, though Pat and Gavin both ended up singing on ‘Hard Cider’ which was a spur of the moment thing. A real childrens’ choir vibe.
Who produced the record? What input did that person have that changed the face of the record?
Nick Stumpf produced it, he was the singer in French Kicks and he’s been producing records as of late. He also recorded it and mixed it so he was pretty thoroughly involved. French Kicks were one of my favorite bands and we were all big fans of the Caveman albums he produced, so we were all pretty happy to link up with him.
Nick gave it all a nice cohesive sound, which was great since the songs have different singers and different primary writers behind them. Our last couple of records (the Medals stuff) was self produced and recorded. Put together in a lot of different places with whatever equipment was around, various makeshift studios, so it was tough to make it gel together as one record. He also had some nice arrangement input and encouraged us to not be afraid of emphasizing the pop aspect of the songs – really focusing on what the hooks were, doubling choruses, that kind of thing.
Is there an overarching concept behind your new album that ties the record together?
We set out to make a record that was sort of stripped back, more or less true to what they five of us sound like in a room. Which we stuck to – it was recorded live with very few overdubs – but it ended up sounding much more full and lush than we initially envisioned. Not that there were tons and tons of layers and tracks, more that we really tried to make each sound the best sound it could be rather than adding additional layers or parts.
This is your first recorded output in five years. Why so long?
We sort of never went anywhere. We originally broke up in 2010, and were in the midst of writing songs for a new album even as our drummer Jeremiah was slowly moving onto new things (we were a trio in those days.) Even as we knew we were breaking up Yoi and I just naturally kept writing and by the time The Jaguar Club (version 1) played its last show had a more or less finished album in the can.
We then made the hasty and ill-advised decision to release it as a new band called Medals, which grew to include Nadia and Pat. Medals put out an LP in 2011 and an EP in 2013. That material was much more electronic oriented so when Pat joined (on real drums replacing sequenced elements) we started to gradually come around to guitars again it seemed pretty natural to make it a Jaguar Club album. We brought Gavin back in (he played live guitar for a few years in the original lineup) and everything seemed to fall into place. It’s been fun playing the older songs again and re-working some Medals material with the full band.
Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?
We’ve been playing all of the songs from the new EP live, some more frequently than others. ‘Milk and Cookies,’ which Nadia sings, just got a rare airing the other night when we played an acoustic set. People tend to respond to the upbeat songs, as they should, so ‘Stringer,’ ‘Fall Apart,’ and ‘Heat Of The Sun’ have all been going over pretty well.
(Visit the band here: http://jaguarclubofnyc.net/.)