Jared and Kimberly Collins of Atlanta's no wave outfit Jock Gang detail the new band lineup, touring with Deerhunter, and being included in a mixtape by Danger Mouse.
The band has recently reformed with some new members. How does the new lineup impact the sound of Jock Gang?
Jared: Kimberly and I started the band in 2015, and this is the thirteenth combination of musicians to contribute to the sound of Jock Gang with us. We connected with Gavin Caffery Perez-Canto (drums) and Hayes Hoey (guitar) here in Atlanta. They were both in local projects and had seen us play a lot so when there was an opening it was a really easy transition. Change is necessary and beautiful and we kind of thrive in a little bit of chaos. The new lineup brings a certain strange and curious seriousness to the sound as a whole, and we’re honored to be playing with friends and artists that see things similarly.
Kimberly: Abandoning the notion that Jock Gang will have absolute membership has freed us up to explore and evolve the sound that Jock Gang can achieve together. Being able to collaborate with various artists through Jock Gang has been one of the most rewarding aspects of playing in the band, but honestly, I think this is my favorite lineup and I'm excited for what's coming next.
How did you get involved with Deerhunter to open up for them on part of their East Coast run? Was it an outside booking deal or are you close with the band?
Jared: It’s sort of the type of unbelievable story you used to hear on VH1 Behind the Music. We were just playing locally with no real intention of touring anytime soon, and happened to be the final band playing at a show at Mammal Gallery in Atlanta. Bradford came to the show, bought a tape, watched the bands, and a couple days later we were offered 21 dates with Deerhunter. We did that run last fall with them and Aldous Harding, and all of us became closer over that time. We grew relationships with the band and management team. When booking our upcoming tour, we saw they were ending their May run in NYC so we asked if we could join them for that last night, mostly for the fun of it. A few days after we announced our full tour dates we were asked to provide direct support May 18 in Charlotte. We’re thrilled also to be playing with Aldous Harding this summer in Atlanta.
You’re based in Atlanta, GA. What’s the music scene like there and where do you guys fit in? What makes it a good place for a band to reside and create music?
Kimberly: Atlanta has a massive, eclectic, genre-spanning music scene, and we’re appreciative of the sense of community and camaraderie we feel in Atlanta. It’s hard to see the forest for the trees and know where we fit into the grand scheme of things, but we’re incredibly grateful for individuals like Kyle Swick (Irrelevant Music) and Josh Feigert (State Laughter) who are dedicating their time to promoting, organizing and releasing fresh music. If you dig deep enough in any city you’re going to find a core group of people that are literally making things happen, keeping things going, and that’s where the glue is coming from that holds it all together. Atlanta is like that and we’re lucky and thankful to be here. Keep an eye out for Pallas, DiCaprio, Mutual Jerk, Nu Depth, Background, 10th Letter, and Saira Raza - bands/artists that are all worth checking out.
Your single “Tell Me About It” was selected by Danger Mouse for a compilation record he put together. Did this take you by surprise? How did the single reach him? Has that notoriety helped springboard the band to a more substantial place professionally, or just provided a nice motivation to keep writing?
Kimberly: "Tell Me About It" was the first song I ever helped write and was one of our earliest recordings, thanks to Joel Hatstat, an engineer in Athens. We had just barely started Jock Gang and were doing the Athens thing where you just play all the time and see what sticks. We played three shows in one weekend during a now-defunct Athens music festival and at the last show, there were maybe 15 people in the crowd because Wavves was doing a DJ set next door. It turned out that one of those people happened to be Brian Burton (Danger Mouse). Andrew Rieger (Elf Power, Orange Twin) had stopped in to check our set out and brought him along. A few weeks later we had an offer from his label for the track to go on the 30th Century compilation. It was a bit of a surprise but a welcomed one. The entire compilation was built around innovative guitar playing, according to them, so yeah, that was cool. I wouldn’t call the experience a springboard, but it definitely provided motivation early on to keep going with Jock Gang because we felt like people were getting it and that was encouraging.
Currently the band has an EP on bandcamp from 2016. Are you guys working on a new record? Can you share any details on it?
Kimberly: We recently sequestered ourselves for a few days with Kevin Barnes (of Montreal) at Apollinaire Rave studio in Athens and recorded some songs that may appear in the future. We are working on some recordings ourselves that are likely to be released prior to that material. The free form nature of the song structures is in part what makes recording our music difficult, but we are not actually bothered by that. During our fall 2016 tour we shared a limited edition self-released tape of 5 versions of one song, with custom hand-painted artwork, and you we'll probably release more things like that in the future if we feel like it.
Jock Gang will be playing at Hopscotch Music Festival in 2017. Will this be the band’s first festival appearance? Any shows you’re most excited for that weekend?
Kimberly: Jock Gang has played a few local festivals in the past but this will be our first time at Hopscotch. You can find me in the crowd at Solange. I’m also thankful to see Hopscotch taking the recent sexual assault allegations against PWR BTTM seriously, and removing them from the lineup.
Jared: I would really like to punish myself by attempting to see every band, but I will absolutely not be missing Yves Tumor, Aldous Harding, Mannequin Pussy, Preoccupations or Boy Harsher.
You accurately describe your sound as harsh art rock. What are the influences behind your sound?
Jared: It becomes a really convoluted conversation to start rambling off bands and genres to try and describe something like that. The obvious references like Women, Velvet Underground, and the No Wave movement are definitely factors in making us approachable, but I am more heavily influenced in my writing by visual art than bands. Arshile Gorky’s whole life is something I think about a lot, the thought-impact that a distorted image or re-imagined object creates, noise and pop literally physically fighting. To me, it's not hard or even engaging to listen to music and be influenced. I’d rather assign the music to the subconscious as a tool of expression and let the driving influence be more abstract than deliberate.
Kimberly: I don’t know that I’ve ever used the words “harsh art rock” so much as having been welcoming of others finding something they feel comfortable using to describe us. I believe an artist can choose to limit what is influencing their art or they can allow the art to just come through, and with us it’s just coming through. That feels more harsh than something that has a very controlled release mechanism because it’s more raw and expressive than deliberately refined.
Were you in any other bands prior to Jock Gang? How have your experiences in other groups helped develop what we’re currently hearing as Jock Gang?
Kimberly: Yes, there have been other bands and other projects. We have all lived our entire lives prior to Jock Gang and all of those experiences collectively have helped develop what we’re currently hearing as Jock Gang. I hear elements of all of the things we listen to, read, write, say, eat, watch, and feel coming through in the music, and the lack of a desire to channel the artistic impulses into a definable goal is what allows us to express ourselves more freely than if we were attempting to “do” a certain thing. When we play, I think about our contributions as individuals that comprise the whole, and there’s just so much driving those contributions that really can’t be separated and analyzed. Jock Gang is just a part of our ecosystem.