By Jeremy Essig
By Jason Robinson
By Hans Morgenstern
By Joseph Hess
By Peter Gilstrap
By Julia Burch
By Jeremy Essig
By Nathan Smith
I wonder if you can talk a little bit about the last song on the record, "You Are the One." It's almost your simplest song in terms of construction, but it carries the most emotional weight on that album and in concert. What's the duality between that simple setup and a very potent result?
JJ: My wife will love this. [Laughs]There have been times where I've written songs and people have told me that it's a little close to the bone. My songwriting is pretty spontaneous — it's a result of whatever is rolling around up there. That particular song was the sort of thing where my wife said that there wasn't a song about her. Some people hear it and say it's kind of a bittersweet song, but it's not really. It more came out of, like, I really want to write a simple song and play it for you. But then when we started playing it in the practice room, and, live, it became a more emotional song. So many people talked to us afterward — live, I get more into it because I'm emotionally attached to that song. But in the studio, it wasn't captured. Even David, right off the bat, didn't see it being the big song on our record. We added more and more to it — it didn't have that emotion. When you're in the studio you have your headphones on and you're in front of a mic, and that's always been my biggest problem. That song came from a very simple place — writing a song for someone I care about.
That calls to mind the dichotomy between being a live band and being a recording band, wouldn't you say? Seeing you live, you are an emotional singer, and it's a visible experience to watch you sing, versus hearing it on record. As the frontman, with the focus on your words and your voice, is there something different about making that recording in a room versus in a club?
JJ: It's a wildly different experience. I am the least skilled musician in this band. When we play live, I get lost in it. We can play a set, and an hour feels like ten seconds. When we're onstage, over the course of four or five years, I've been able to command myself. I can let go and it can be this raw, off-the-hinges moment.