Jawbones is a kraut-psych rock band who just released their first record High and Low and Low and High in January 2017. Frontman Leonard Kaage previously played with The Blue Angel Lounge, Tess Parks, Anton Newcombe, Tracy Bryant among others. The band is based in Berlin and mixed with members from France, Sweden, the USA and Germany. These incredibly talented musicians occasionally change instruments mid-set and produce their own DIY videos. We got to ask them our questions before their concert at Espace B, organized by l’asso Hidden Frequencies.
Introduce yourselves. Who plays what and where are you all from?
Leonard: I play guitar and sing. I’m from Sweden.
Fabien: I play bass and sing backup vocals. I’m from France.
Maryna: I play organ and synth. I’m from the USA.
Fabian S: I play drums. I’m from Germany.
Nick: I’m Nick and I play guitar and sing backup vocals. I’m also from France
Tell us about the birth of Jawbones. How did you all come together to form this project?
Leonard: We all met about two years ago in Berlin. It was my idea to start a project. I had been playing drums in a few bands before, but I wanted to start this band to be more creatively involved and write my own songs. I started doing demos in my studio. I met Nick first, we had a different bass player at that time. I met Fabien at 8MM bar, which is also the label we released our record on. We all met at that bar. Two years later it’s starting to take off, we’re now on our first tour and we’ve just released our first record.
Where did the name Jawbones come from?
Leonard: Oh you know, you got to pick one, it’s hard (laughs).
Fabien: There’s this band called The Band, they were Bob Dylan’s backing band for some time. They have a song called Jawbone, singular.
Leonard: It’s also a musical instrument, like when you play on a donkey’s jaw, and that’s cool.
How would you describe your music?
Leonard: I would say we play mostly psych-rock, garage-rock, but we try to push it further. We have a lot of influences in our music.
Jawbones just released an epic debut album High and Low and Low and High. In what context was this album created? How did you come to release the album with 8MM Records?
Leonard: It was made as a full-on concept album. We recorded the whole album in two days, with just live recordings. After we decided we needed to develop it further, so we recorded four more songs.
Nick: We started doing this concept album and by the end it wasn’t as progressive and defined as we wanted, so we ended up writing more songs that fit better than our original idea. That’s how it all sort of happened, but all the songs were recorded live in with the same procedure, with some overdubs in the studio.
Leonard: The label is based in Berlin. 8MM is the label of the bar where we all met. The bar has been around for about 14 years and the label has existed since 2006. It has a red line of playing this kind of music that we’re into and there aren’t that many places in Berlin that are doing this genre. So it was the first go-to for us when we finished the record.
The songs « High and Low » and « Music for a car chase » sound like film soundtrack music. What sort of scene did you have in mind?
Nick: That’s spot on what we were going for!
Leonard: « Music for a car chase » is like a 60s French police drama car chase on cocaine.
Fabien: But still funny and light.
Maryna: A car chase after someone stole a packet of gum and took it too far. Like being chased down by the police just over a packet of gum, isn’t it?
Nick: I had something more badass in mind, like after someone had stolen a car or robbed a bank and the person is getting away with it.
What is the story behind the clip for « Rain »? It looks like a drunk 60s mod dancing in her room, while being secretly filmed.
Nick: Right on, that’s impressive! You don’t have to even ask us any questions (laughs).
Maryna: It’s just someone doing what they do when they’re alone and kind of going crazy.
Leonard: The song itself is catchy but kind of dark too, so it worked well with the video. We make all our videos ourselves, with no budget. Morina filmed it and I edited it with iMovie. The second clip « Love Should Be » was filmed with a better camera.
Memory of your first gig?
Fabian: Before, the band had another drummer, who was sick for this gig so he couldn’t play. The day before the gig they asked me to play drums. We had one and a half rehearsals together. It was at a small festival in Berlin called Fever Creek. It went really well!
What bands have you been listening to in the van?
Fabien: A lot of Dungen, it’s this really good Swedish band. You should check them out, they’re amazing!
Maryna: We’ve been listening to a lot of Wand.
Who are some of your favorite Berlin-based bands?
Everyone: Suns of Time, Camera. Classic German krautrock bands, NEU! Tangerine Dream, Can, Amon Düül.
Any side projects?
Fabien, Fabian et Nick: Perilymph
Leonard: I work with other bands, but I’m not really a part of another band. I worked with The Underground Youth on their last record, Tracy Bryant… many different projects.
What’s next for Jawbones?
Leonard: Hopefully play more shows and try to record more things, there’s no stress or anything. Keeping creative.
Maryna: Maybe a summer tour and not a January tour (laughs). We got stuck in a snowstorm for three hours in Switzerland.
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