Monday, June 6, 2011

Chicago label Bloodshot Records signs Chicago band J.C. Brooks & the Uptown Sound



By ERIC SCHELKOPF

It's always good to report when a local band does good.

In this case, the news is doubly good. Chicago band JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound has signed with Chicago-based record label Bloodshot Records.

The band will release its Bloodshot debut, "Want More," in the fall. But if you want to catch the band's infectious energy for yourself, J.C. Brooks & the Uptown Sound will open for Robert Plant & the Band of Joy on June 16 at Ravinia in Highland Park, and will also perform on June 18 at the Taste of Randolph Street.

More dates can be found on the band's website.

I had the pleasure earlier this year of interviewing frontman JC Brooks about how the band got its start and its plans for the future.

Q - You guys seem to be a good word-of-mouth band. Do you think your live shows really sell the band?

I do. And a lot of people said about our first album ("Beat of Our Own Drum") that it's kind of missing that rawness, that energy, that feel you get at the live shows. So we're working on that for the second one.



Q - So you want to release an album that better represents your live shows?

It will have a more live feel to it. Our live shows are what really sell us. People seem to really love the live show.

It will have more of a rawness. They're finished songs, but we're just trying to capture a live energy and a raw sound.

Q - And the band's cover of Wilco's "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" has received a lot of buzz. What was your thinking in covering the song? What did you want to do with the song?


Our guitarist, Bill Bungeroth, and our bassist, Ben Taylor, had seen Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings a couple years ago perform a cover of Janet Jackson's "What Have You Done For Me Lately."

The idea had kind of sprung from that, taking a song and turning it on its head, making it sound completely different from the original. At the same time, we wanted to make people think maybe this was an older song.

Q - You guys met in an unconventional way, through Craigslist.

I thought that would be the most conventional way. Everything happens on Craigslist now.

Q - Yeah, maybe it's not so crazy anymore.

It was kind of surprising, because I found one other band through Craigslist and auditioned for a few others besides that. They all kind of had a weird, odd vibe. None of them had a vibe that I was all right with.

Q - But did you guys start to gel right away?

Pretty much. We got together and jammed out a little bit. It was a good vibe, and then we hung out for a couple of hours after we put down our instruments.

Q - I understand you don't really think the term neo soul is appropriate for the band. You kind of shy away from that term.

Yeah, I wouldn't say neo soul. It's been called a lot of things. In my mind, it's indie soul.

But it's been called Maximum R&B, along with punk and funk. So far, I haven't heard a description that I didn't like.

Q - Why would you describe it as indie soul rather than neo soul?

Just because we are blending in more of a rock element. To me, neo soul has more of a jazz blend with it.

We're really trying to get a garage rock sound with the band.

Q - Soul music seems to have such a long shelf life. Why do you think it has such lasting power?

I don't know. There was a lot going on when soul music was first made. It was just a really tumultuous time, and I think the environment inspired that sound. It's touching, it's deep. That's why people are still listening to it.

I'm trying to describe it without using the word soul. But it is something that touches your soul. Not that other things can't, but it seems like a type of music that is designed to get in and do that.

Q - Growing up, what music did you listen to?

I've listened to a lot of different stuff over the years. My favorite band for the past 10 years has been Steely Dan.

Q - Why's that?

Good songwriting. Unexpected chord changes and great lyrics. And it's also catchy.

I wouldn't trade my band for anything, but I love how they recorded. I would love to go through the archive of every studio performance of a Steely Dan song.

Q - Some people might say you are obsessed.

Well, I love the music. I really do. Beyond Steely Dan, I like a lot of music from the '70s. I really connect a lot to songwriters from then.

Q - Any short term, long term goals for the band?

Right now, short term is just finishing up this album and to get it sounding good.

There's a lot of stuff. There's a wish list. It is time to take another step forward in terms of how we are pushing ourselves, how we are presenting ourselves.

I figure each new album is a rebirth for the band.