Jackal Onasis Interview: “Exploding In Sound Is Like A Family”

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jackal onasis interview

Debut EP Big Deal Party  Out Now Via Exploding in Sound Records.

On their Facebook profile, the short description of New York based alternative rock trio Jackal Onasis is simply, “Meh”. However the band, who recently released their debut EP Big Deal Party via Exploding in Sound Records, is anything but uninspiring or unexceptional. The group is a supergroup of sorts consisting of Alex Molini (of Stove, Big Putts, and ex-Dirty Dishes), drummer Jordyn Blakey (Stove, ex-Butter the Children, and ex-Night Manager) and bassist Ghoul Man (of Sick Head). Together they create a brand of alternative rock that is often off kilter and angular, extremely fuzzy with an enormous bass sound, and, at times, sports some of most wonderfully sweet melodies courtesy of Jordyn Blakey.

Alex and Jordan had a chin wag with Overblown recently to discuss the odd manner in which the music was written, their love of their label Exploding in Sound, and their united fandom of Deftones.

Overblown: The band began when Alex and Jordyn started sending demos back and forth from LA to New York. You then formed your alt rock sound without playing in the same room together. Was this a new approach to songwriting for you compared to your other bands? How did it affect the songwriting?

Jordyn: This was the first time I’ve done something like this. Writing parts alone then sending a recording of your idea to the other is a slow process as opposed to being in the same room bouncing ideas off of each other until you both agree on something. All you have to work with is the recording of their ideas and an email with their notes. It makes everything you do feel more deliberate, a ‘final answer’, whereas my experiences with writing have usually been jamming with other people until something sticks- which we’ve started doing now too, so it’s liberating that we can use both methods.

Alex: Yeah, it really was different than the regular “band process.” Normally I’ll make my own part and then gradually find common ground with everyone else’s, but with writing in different places you start the process trying to match your bandmates right off the bat. Once we started playing together in the same room, it was fun to see how fast we could write because of this.

O: Your debut EP came out recently via Exploding in Sound Records. You’ve previously released music from your other projects via that label too. What drew you to Exploding in Sound initially, and why do you continue to work with them?

Jordyn: This was the first time I’ve released music with Exploding In Sound, and it’s been a great experience. Dan (Goldin) is professional but working with him doesn’t feel like work, it just feels like hanging out with your friend and talking about your band with him, which he’s essentially a part of. I’ve known Dan for a few years through shows and other bands I’ve played in. EIS is sort of like a family, so I feel lucky that Jackal Onasis can be a part of it.

Alex: For years, Dan was just always the guy at every show. As different bands I was in and also friends’ bands grew, so did his want and ability to help bands. It’s been nothing but a pleasure to work with him in every way and I can’t imagine working with anyone else. It’s also a priceless privilege to be able to joke around and be truly comfortable with your label. Not a lot of people are even aware that that’s a possibility.

O: I read that all of the tracks on the EP are inspired by cult tv show Party Down. What’s so good about Party Down? How did the show provide inspiration for the songs?

Jordyn: It’s actually the other way around, where we started writing everything but then later on thought it would be cool to use references from the show to title the songs. The first time we met we bonded over Party Down because it’s about people who are working at a catering service while they aspire towards their dream careers. It has a depressingly realistic representation of life but is still hilarious. The tone of the show sort of fits our songs; sarcastic, sad, but hopeful. So we borrow references to use as titles where they happen to fit, after they’re written.

Alex: It’s the show that never stops giving. Whether with quotable one liners or something to relate too when you’re doubting your career in any art form. Those 2 seasons are always there for ya.

O: In 2015, Alex relocated to New York and the band began gigging. Why did he relocate to New York? Why didn’t Jordyn relocate to L.A.?

Jordyn: It’s kind of a coincidence that we’ve been able to materialize what originally began as a writing project we started doing for fun. We each had our own thing going on in our respective cities, but I really loved working on these songs with Alex and I always hoped we could play for real someday. There were times I seriously considered moving to LA to pursue Jackal Onasis and start a new life overall, but he ended up moving to New York so I guess I’m stuck here now, haha.

Alex: LA sucks, I don’t plan on leaving the East Coast again for a long time. I played and made more music in the first year of living in New York than all 3 years of living in Los Angeles, and I mostly worked as a session musician out there. That’s unforgivable Los Angeles.

O: After writing the material largely online, was it unusual to play the songs together?

Jordyn: Yes, especially singing and drumming simultaneously, since we never really expected to play these live, the parts felt slightly impossible. Since everything was recorded so long ago over the span of many years, it was hard to remember what I had played before. If I just wing it, Alex will be like, “What about the fill you played on the recording? Do that again!” It feels strange to incorporate your playing from years ago into your playing in the current day, like combining two selves into one.

Alex: Like Jordyn said, it was especially hard to sing and play the parts at the same time. But the fun side was, that after just a few weeks, the songs started to have their own unique vibe live. Having the songs already exist to practice also made it much easier to find our own sound, compared to starting a band from scratch.

jackal onasis interview
Big Deal Party EP Artwork.

O: Who did the artwork for the EP. Why was it chosen for the EP?

Jordyn: Alex did it, and I did some of the smaller drawings on the tape inserts. We wanted something that looked cute but slightly disturbing, and dark. The little guy all alone at the party with an expressionless face kind of represents how we feel about being alive.

Alex: Yeah, the little person is just there. They’re not happy, but not too sad, just kinda blah. It’s also one of the only things I can draw that doesn’t look like a collection of crooked lines.

O: I read that both Alex and Jordyn are big Deftones fans. So are we here at Overblown. What are both of your favourite Deftones albums and why?

Jordyn: Yes!! Deftones are an old favorite that I recently rediscovered. I went to see them in high school without knowing who they were and was blown away. Not all of my favorite tracks are included on this album, but I think I have to go with White Pony. It was the only CD of theirs I had and played it over and over so I think I’m really attached to it.

Alex: Ugh, “big deftones fan” is an understatement. They’re one of the few bands that I can’t NOT sound like them when I write, their music is embedded into my psyche. Around the Fur was the first album that consumed me though. I remember obsessing over so many little details when I was in highschool. Particularly the guitars to Mascara, the open hi hat in Drive, and Chino’s last screamy chorus in Around the Fur. It’s hard to pick a total favorite album though, just too many hits. I can’t think of a band that’s so metal and pop at the same time.

O: What do you guys make of the rise of Donald Trump in the last year?

Jordyn: Everything that’s been going on concerning him keeps me up at night- I’m not even joking. Trump disrespects our values as a nation and endangers us, I think, by representing the U.S. with such racism, ignorance, and hate. Even though those mindsets have always existed and are just being further exposed, it hurts me to hear him speak out against immigrants, women, Muslims, and POC; basically every type of person who is not a wealthy, white male. It’s embarrassing, and I feel he’s really divided the country. I objectively tried to comprehend the support for Trump and attempt to see what people like in him, but I seriously doubt he holds any leadership skills that could guide us in an emergency, and he doesn’t have enough empathy for human beings to do what’s best for them. Sometimes the whole situation is so incredulous I wonder if he’s just trolling us all and secretly has a different plan, but that doesn’t make me feel any better. He’s caused a lot of damage already. I really don’t know what’s going to happen at this point and if he is elected I think we are all doomed.

Alex: He’s a dangerous, ignorant, chump. Turn off your TV please.

O: Any plans to come tour Europe in the future?

Jordyn: Unfortunately no plans right now. I wish, though! We’re working on the next album and trying to play some shows outside of NYC. I’ve heard touring there is amazing. All this talk of Donald Trump makes Europe more and more appealing, so I really hope we can come over soon.

Alex: True. If Trump gets elected, you can see us in Europe starting Jan 21, 2017.

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  • This is some heavy, intense rock with sweet melodies. Would love to catch them live.

    • Jamie Coughlan

      These peeps rule. Most bands on Exploding in Sound are really excellent. Dan, the chap that runs the label, has impeccable taste.