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On a recent trip to Southern California, Jonathon Linaberry did the one thing he knows best: he wrote music. That it happened to be during his honeymoon mattered little to the New York-based musician. "I feel like I'm always writing," the artist who performs as The Bones of J.R. Jones says with a laugh. "I feel ever more confident in the sound I'm trying to create."
In many ways, Linaberry is a victim of his own creativity. Where some musicians lock themselves away in a studio to create an album or a concrete collection of songs, Linaberry can't help but write whenever inspiration strikes. The blues singer and multi- instrumentalist, who incorporates elements of old-time folk into the all-encompassing persona of The Bones of J.R. Jones, describes his songwriting as "a continuing evolution." Nonetheless, he admits he often wishes his ever-wandering creative spirit would settle down. "I would jump at the chance to have the flexibility where I can have six months locked away in a room and focus on one solid cohesive theme for a record," Linaberry says. "But unfortunately with my schedule I try to cram these songs into the spaces of my life where I can fit them."
Thankfully, within these delicate cracks of life, Linaberry is able to strike musical gold: The Bones of J.R. Jones' latest album, Spirit's Furnace, a crisp nine-track effort that bubbles with barroom dust and hard-won wisdom, finds the musician expanding the scope of his musical vision while stripping away the excess. "I'm a little clearer on the message that I'm trying to put out into the world," says the singer who has effectively blurred the line between his own life and The Bones J.R. Jones character; he draws evermore from his personal life on his songs, most notably the tender, banjo-plucked "Wedding Song" written day's before his own nuptials.
"It's definitely a balance," Linaberry says of expanding beyond his self-created alter ego. "I try to inhabit this character... whoever it may be. But obviously a huge influence on that is what's going on at that time in my life. And then I'll twist it through the spectrum of The Bones of J.R. Jones. It usually gets a lot darker after but they both inform each other."
While 2014's Dark Was The Yearling hinted at an artist grappling with his influences, albeit still carving out his own existence, the new Bones of J.R. Jones LP instead "feels a little sharper, a little more defined" to Linaberry. "On this album I'm more confident in my choices and feel better about the performances."
Linaberry remains a disciple of early 20th-century blues and folk artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lightnin' Hopkins, both of whom the singer discovered in his teenage years. Still, he readily admits more contemporary influences are beginning to creep into his musical oeuvre. "I like to think I'm casting a wider net," Linaberry says, citing opening Spirit's Furnace track "13 Kinds" and "I'm Your Broken Dog" as "major departures" for him, what with their heavy folk influences and electric guitar as opposed to his earlier more traditional blues numbers. "I definitely still listen to the folk and blues
stuff, but I really try to make a conscious effort to listen to music outside that box — whether it be bands like Sylvan Esso or more pop-influenced stuff," he adds. "Sometimes you have to find out what the kids are listening to!"
Part of his current challenge, he explains, is paying homage to his influences while still making his own mark. "I am hyperaware of the history that a lot of the music I play brings with it," he says. "I'm trying my damnedest not to reinvent the wheel but carve out my own voice. It's very tough to create something in this day and age with everything being a tap away without having a little history involved in it. But it's about finding that balance where the music does feel fresh and new but also familiar at the same time."
What has continued to define The Bones of J.R. Jones is the musician's hypnotic live show. He operates as a one-man band — playing guitar, drums, and singing in unison, creating the feeling of a raucous blues band with more immediacy. However, as a result of his new album's size and scope there has emerged a stirring impulse in him to bring other musicians onstage.. "These songs are big enough that if I wanted to have another drummer up there with me it would make sense," he explains. "I'm trying to evolve the live show and the space it lives in.
"Anytime I think about my live show I try to view it from one of my audience member's perspective," he concludes. "I do a lot up there. I cover a lot of ground sonically. I'm trying to give myself room to grow."
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SeepeopleS is an American four piece psychedelic indie rock band formed in Allston, MA by Will Bradford, Dan Ingenthron and Tim Haney, former members of the Allston-based jam band Cosmic Dilemma. SeepeopleS are now located in Asheville, NC. SeepeopleS is proud to announce the release of their long-awaited 4th full length album, Apocalypse Cow Vol. II. Over two and half years in the making, the release is a landmark in the evolution of SeepeopleS' unique sound and a return to the hybrid rock and electronica sound that made their second album, The Corn Syrup Conspiracy, a true underground classic. The album is being released FOR FREE beginning September 4th @ SeepeopleS dot com, as a musical financial bailout (you're welcome America). The twelve track version of the album will be available for download for six full months until the hard copy 17 track version is released in early Spring 2010, in time for the band's 10 year anniversary. While SeepeopleS has undergone numerous line up changes over the years, the sound has always remained the focused vision of songwriter Will Bradford. The current members Will Bradford, Matt McDonald (formerly of Perpetual Groove), Ben Wells, and Adam Chase (formerly of the Phish cover band Strange Design and pop act Black Eyed Susan) are a heavy hitting lineup, replacing Peter Pisarcyzk, now in Lynyrd Skynrd, Tim Haney, who is currently touring with Stephanie's Id, and Dan Ingenthron (Inchworm). Apocalypse Cow Vol. II was co-produced by Will Holland at Chillhouse studios in Boston, MA. Holland is best know for his work with the Pixies, Dead Can Dance and Fall Out Boy, as well as producing Earl "Chinna" Smith and Kiddus-I. While touring of late has been light to concentrate on the album, the band's legendary performance at All Good Music Festival ensured that music fans are just as hungry as ever for more SeepeopleS. The band will be announcing their full tour in the coming months, but in the meantime, they are playing select CD release dates (Asheville, Athens, Boone, Knoxville), as well as co-headlining the Green Mountain Eco Festival September 25th-26th, in Eldridge, Missouri, alongside the Itals, Particle, DJ Logic and the Ozric Tentacles. SeepeopleS will be playing 2 sets on Friday and Saturday and will be debuting much of the new material from APC2. For those who are virgins to the band's live show, a SeepeopleS show is a multi-media psychedlic experience, complete with moving lights, video screens and explosive visuals. - - - Often referred to as a jam band, this inaccurate reputation was born more out of association with the jam band scene rather than the actual music that SeepeopleS plays; the band typically offers concise rock or pop songs with a psychedelic edge. Media and fans refer to SeepeopleS as a political or anarchist band, but the artists tend to refer to themselves as "conscious." This assessment is based on the band's lyrical content, which often can recall the anger or social commentary of bands like Radiohead, Rage Against The Machine or Jane's Addiction. Musically, the band is most often compared to Smashing Pumpkins, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, The Beta Band and The Verve. SeepeopleS have released three albums on the band's own imprint, Rascalz Recordz, owned by SeepeopleS, LLC. They are set to digitally release their fourth album "Apocalypse Cow Vol. II" in September of 2009, followed by a hard-copy release in early 2010. In 2002, the band released "For The Good Of The Nation," a 7 song EP that featured ex-Morphine baritone saxophone player Dana Colley on two tracks, "View From Here" and "Out Here On Our Own." SeepeopleS met Colley in Boston during the band's early days through their former manager, Brendan Rice. Will Bradford, lead singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, often cites Morphine as a major influence on his music. After releasing their third album, SeepeopleS would become known amongst fans for the provocative cover art used for their albums; For The Good Of The Nation featured cover artwork by Erin VanCott, depicting images of a man taking a roller coaster ride into a flaming mouth, shielding his eyes from dollar bills and the American Flag. SeepeopleS released The Corn Syrup Conspiracy in 2004, after the band's original lineup took a two-year hiatus from each other. Just after the release of For The Good Of The Nation, bassist/vocalist Dan Ingenthron and drummer Tim Haney left the band for personal reasons. During this time, Ingenthron would work with Chapel Hill, NC based indie rock act Three Torches and Haney joined forces with New England prog rock outfit Dreadnaught. Will Bradford chose to keep the SeepeopleS name and continue touring with an interim lineup that included a handful of players that rotated throughout the years. Sometimes referred to within the SeepeopleS organization as "the dark years," this period of time allowed Bradford to conceive, write and produce the music for The Corn Syrup Conspiracy, which the band released in October of 2004. In 2003, Bradford met future manager Victoria Karol in New York City at one of the band's shows at the famous NYC night club The Lion's Den. Karol worked with the band until 2009. Also in 2003, Bradford and his family, along with his manager, relocated the band to Asheville, NC. The release of The Corn Syrup Conspiracy coincided with two significant events in the evolution of SeepeopleS. First, the release marked the reunion of Dan Ingenthron and Tim Haney with Will Bradford, reuniting the band's original lineup. Bradford, Ingenthron and Haney came together to tour behind the new album (on which Ingenthron and Haney do not appear), essentially renewing their friendship along with their working relationship. During this time, as well, Bradford invited keyboardist Peter Keys to join the band on tour. Bradford had met Keys backstage at a Northeast festival called Puffinfest in 2002; Peter was there playing with George Clinton outfit P-Funk, whom Keys still tours with today. Peter missed his ride to the airport after P-Funk's set had concluded, and Bradford offered him a ride, during which they became fast friends. In the years leading up to the release of The Corn Syrup Conspiracy, Bradford and Peter remained close, and he is the only other current member of SeepeopleS whose work appears on The Corn Syrup Conspiracy. Peter's keyboard work on The Corn Syrup Conspiracy would later come to characterize the band's sound, and after touring with the band in 2004, Peter Keys soon became a full time member of SeepeopleS' lineup, and an essential piece of the band's live and recorded formula. Additionally, The Corn Syrup Conspiracy featured cameo performances on various tracks by Dave Matthews collaborator Tim Reynolds, Spearhead guitarist Dave Shul, and once again featured Dana Colley. In addition, Parliament Funkadelic's Ray Davis (best known for his "bow wow wow yippy yay" vocal) performs two vocal tracks on the album, and to the best knowledge of SeepeopleS, is the last known recording that Davis performed on prior to his death in 2005. When Corn Syrup was initially released, it languished in the band's hands for a few months before being discovered by The Homegrown Music Network, a small specialty music distributor based out of Raleigh, NC. The distributor picked the album up, along with Nation, and added it to its catalogue, essentially giving SeepeopleS' the nudge they needed to be seen by a wider audience. Corn Syrup, with its extremely dark thematic elements, drug references and highly political lyrics, mobilized new fans to start "following" the band, bolstering SeepeopleS' live draw, record sales and overall popularity, especially in the Southeast US. Corn Syrup's cover art featured the "corn syrup girl," who would later become an iconic image intrinsically associated with SeepeopleS. Taken from public domain artwork from the 1950's, Corn Syrup's cover art depicted a young girl looking ravenously at a piece of bread with jam being spread on it. Corn Syrup's cover art was compiled and laid out by Nelson Holland, wife of the band's producer Will Holland who produced all three of SeepeopleS' records and is considered the "fifth member" of SeepeopleS. Holland is the proprietor of Chillhouse Studios in Cambridge, MA, where SeepeopleS has done all of their recording to date. Holland is also a prolific songwriter and guitar player, working with Tons of Chill, Overclock Orchestra and other New England bands. Having worked on production with acts such as The Pixies and Devo, Holland is an industry veteran whose production skills make up a significant portion of SeepeopleS' sound. For their third album, SeepeopleS took the current lineup of Bradford, Ingenthron, Haney and Keys into Chillhouse Studios with Will Holland to create Apocalypse Cow Vol. I, the first half of a two part release that includes Apocalypse Cow Vol. II. Apocalypse Cow Vol. I is a tighter, more concise collection of mostly pop/rock songs that did away with the looser, more improvisational-feeling elements that characterized Corn Syrup. The title track, "Apocalypse Cow," spawned a video featuring the members of SeepeopleS playing a concert to nobody in an empty venue using cardboard instruments. Likely their most successful single to date, "Apocalypse Cow" became popular via internet channels such as YouTube, MySpace and Rhapsody. Apocalypse Cow Vol. I was released in April of 2007, and featured cover art based on World War II propaganda by Asheville, NC based artist and musician Jenny Greer. In late 2008, Peter Keys left SeepeopleS and Matt McDonald, formerly of Perpetual Groove, took his place as the keyboardist for SeepeopleS'. McDonald has played a handful of shows with SeepeopleS as well as playing with Bradford's other band, the electronic big beat act, Freepeoples Frequency. Matt is joining the band as a permanent part of the renewed sound that made SeepeopleS what it is today. SeepeopleS tour the United States throughout the year, focusing on the Southeast, Northeast, Midwest and Colorado. The band's live show is a very focused effort based on showmanship and the creation of lush sonic soundscapes. SeepeopleS brings a lighting rig on the road with them, manned by Lighting Director Dave Champagne, who also used to be the percussionist for Cosmic Dilemma. Additionally, the band shows homemade videos on a large video screen during the show, that feature imagery that focuses on the themes of politics, social commentary and dinosaurs, among other things, and is often intended to be humorous and complement the band's intense stage presence. Most of SeepeopleS' videos and content for the live show is created and edited by Patrick Haney, drummer Tim Haney's older brother. SeepeopleS is also unique in that they have one of the industry's few female sound engineers, Brooke Binion, who joined the band on the road in 2007. SeepeopleS fans are referred to as the ARME, an acronym that stands for Anarchy and Revolution for Mother Earth. The phrase and community name were conceived by Bradford in the earliest days of the band, and is the best indication that the typically politically-tight lipped Bradford has offered regarding his views on politics, outside of SeepeopleS' lyrics.