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THERE ARE BANDS THAT FIND THEIR NICHE in the local music scene, and then there are bands that create one of their own. Jungol is an example o the latter, having forged their own path in Atlanta and beyond. Since the inception of Jungol ten years ago, the band has steadily created a buzz by consistently making solid music that garnered the attention through word of mouth, gleaned acknowledgement and attracted a strong, devoted fanbase. With an impressive following, including many of the fellow musicians in the city, Jungol’s reputation grew organically.
Much of the respect for Jungol by the Atlanta music community comes from the sheer originality of their songwriting, as well as their impressive technically-skilled experimental style. All this is created by only three men through a variety of instruments, including drums, guitars, bass, synth, keyboards, synth bass, glockenspiel, and live samples. The guys are grateful for the support they’ve received from fans and other musicians, saying, “It certainly is humbling to have the support of our musical peers there at the shows. Supporting local music is a really important thing to us. The scene is full of so many talented people and we’ve been fortunate enough to have formed some amazing friendships with a lot of the bands in Atlanta.
We’ve never really taken too long of a break since we’ve started and think that’s shown people that we aren’t going away.” The group, including brothers Josh (bass, lead vox, synth, keys, guitar) and Graham (guitar, vocals, sampler) Yoder and Jason Monseur (drums, percussion) have become an influential musical entity in Atlanta, even after averting any one niche, mostly by embracing the movement of their sound in compelling new directions and placing attention on both unconventional, electronic sounds, as well as raw, simplistic elements. Though the band has never been able to fit in with any specific music scene, they see a common thread between their sound and that found in the current wave of indie music. Emphasizing the trend of electronic elements in newer music, Jungol explains, “There is the electronic aspect of our music that I feel is a real prevalent thing these days with indie music. Actually, music in all scenes and genres, pop or not are embracing electronic music in new ways. There’s also a whole new wave of bands out to make people dance. That has always been something that has underlined what we do as well. Funk music is the real backbone to what we do. And it’s great seeing bands explore dance music in new ways. Other than the electronic element, I’m not sure where we fit exactly.”
Jungol’s sound is drawn from various eclectic musical influences, as well as inspired by films. Growing up in the 90s, the guys were heavily influenced by the music of that time, including Primus and Red Hot Chili Peppers, as well as music outside of that generation, such as P-Funk, Miles Davis, Frank Zappa and King Crimson. More current influences include St. Vincent, David Bowie’s Outside, Fever Ray, John Kaada, Animal Collective, Mike Patton, Squarepusher, Prefuse 73, Erykah Badu, and of course Bjork. Josh likens musical influences to a crush on a girl, stating “Everything we get into seems to influence our musical direction in some way. It’s just hard for us not to be affected. Discovering something new and exciting is like meeting an amazingly beautiful and clever girl for the first time. I just feel compelled to want to know everything I can about her. That discovery of new music is always inspirational within itself.” Josh describes the inspiration he also finds through films. Bladerunner along with the works of David Lynch have directly influenced the songs on their newest album. According to Josh, “[David Lynch] movies have always been a sort of portal back into my dreams. I love how Lynch can evoke such deranged and intense emotions from one simple scene. I guess I wish I could just do the same with a song.”
The realization of the newest album, Over the Sun and Under the Radar, came after having lost fellow band member Zack Varner last year. The release of their last album, Places, marked the last time the band would include Varner, and without getting used to playing as a three-piece, the band hit the road touring in support of Places. Of taking off on tour with no transition, Jungol says, “Getting thrown into that situation so quickly was really the best thing for us. The reality of becoming a three piece actually wasn’t too foreign to us. Josh and I had played that way all throughout high school with different drummers. And Jason has been with us for nearly 6 years, so our musical bond was stronger than ever. Our sound definitely changed when Zack left the band, but it was something we were ready to embrace. All in all we are a band who embraces change and we thrive off the struggle it might bring.” It was on tour that year that most of the songs from their 2010 release, Over the Sun and Under the Radar (OTSAUTR) were written.
The title of the new album “refers to the idea of reaching out beyond your limitations while trying to remain honest in your actions,” divulges Josh. The theme of the record revolves around leading double lives, schizophrenia, as well as the energy of progress and change. Jungol elaborates, “There’s actually a loose story that runs throughout the album. I’m not going to get detailed at all about it because that’s just one perspective. I’d prefer people to connect the dots in their own way and paint their own pictures of the songs in their heads. At the core, it’s just a classic good vs. evil story.” The band clarifies on the concept of inevitable change, “That’s something that’s hard for us to escape, since we are sort of obsessed with the creative process and the idea of always trying to move forward. It just seems pointless and almost rude to have the gift of making music but not embracing the creative process to its fullest. I’d hate to stay in one place and just repeat myself over and over again.”
Over the Sun and Under the Radar deviates from the prog-like, complex note arrangements on Places. An electronic essence was merely touched upon on the last album, whereas OTSAUTR is heavily influenced by electronic music, and the band’s focus shifts to emphasizing vocal melodies, texture, and unconventional sounds. Describing the evolution of the band’s sound since 2009′s Places, Jungol reveals, “We still love incorporating odd time signatures and unconventional arrangements but it’s just become more interesting to simplify certain elements and allow the raw emotion of the songs to really shine through.” Graham created samples of car keys, birds, water and other ambient sounds to work into sections of the album.
You won’t find any real strings, piano, or horns on OTSAUTR, and instead of using a real bass, many of the songs feature Josh on the synth bass. Josh commented on the new dynamic in the band, which led to the fresh sound on the new record, “I’ve gotten really into using synth bass and nasty unconventional synth sounds instead of a real bass. I’m also doing double duty on some tunes, playing keys while playing real bass. Graham also has double duty these days, incorporating a sampler into several songs. This change in roles has really opened up a lot of doors for us, and at this point we feel incredibly comfortable getting all of these different sounds out there as a three-piece.”
This year, the band hopes to leave behind their DIY style of functioning as they search for a good fit in the industry. The band is set to hit the road again in support of OTSAUTR, and this tour will add to the four east coast tours and one tour out to California already under their belt.
“We are really pumped about the new visual ideas for the upcoming tour. We have a really good relationship with our audience, some people dance their asses off, and some people just take in the sights and sounds. I have seen some folks mosh, too. I think everyone can have a unique experience. We just feel very blessed that our music is connecting with people and that people feel free to enjoy it however they want.”
Photographer: Christy Parry