A reverence for the smooth grooves of the past, elegantly and intelligently channeled through Durand Jones.
Your debut record, Durand Jones & The Indications, received some well-earned high praise. What was going on to bring these songs together? Had they been on your mind for a long time or are they fairly recent creations?
They were all new creations. People often gain the misconception that I had planned to be a singer in a soul band. That was just my fate, never the intention. I moved to Indiana from Louisiana to study classical music. What gave this album its soul or essence was the collab between Blake Rhein (guitar), Aaron Frazer (drums and lead vox on 'Is It Any Wonder'), and I. We were writing soul tunes for fun on Sunday's in Aaron's basement. Songwriting was a totally new experience for me, and I had two amazing friends leading me into the realm of it all.
You studied music in college at Indiana. How did your scholastic experience push you in the direction to create the kind of music you're making now?
I was very lucky to be given the chance to work with the IU Soul Revue as a part of my assistantship with the African American Arts Institute at Indiana University. I was the horn coach, so I wrote the horn charts and coached the players. That particular year we were short on guys, the director knew I sang in bands in Louisiana--- so he asked me to sing and I reluctantly said yes. That's where Blake heard me sing; Blake was the student sound engineer for the soul revue during my time with them. He heard me and asked me if I wanted to jam sometime with him and listen to records. That's how this all really started.
How were you influenced by your youth in Louisiana?
It's so funny because as a kid I really wanted to just run away from this place and get out and see this world for what it really is. And now as I write this I wonder what I can do to save my home from disappearing like so many other rural towns across America. Hillaryville, Louisiana has shaped me into the person I am. The more I see of America, the more I understand how rare the setting is in which I was raised. I take influence from the legacy of former slaves that created this place that I call home. I just want to keep moving forward for them. More than anything else.
Making a career out of music always seemed like your goal and desire having pursued a college degree in the matter. How did you decide to go this route and what were your dreams and aspirations when you first started?
I dreamed of being a woodwind instructor and still do to this day. In high school I had an amazing experience in band; my high school band director also happened to be a saxophonist. He played a big role in me pursuing music academically. When we put out this record with Colemine, we all mutually agreed that it was because we loved the music, and nothing else. When we sold out of the record before the street release date, was when I realized there was an opportunity here. Blake, Aaron, and I still to this day can attest that Terry Cole believed in it more than we did. So I caught the wave and been riding it since.
Can you explain what the Indiana University Soul Revue is and how it impacted your creativity and career?
IU soul revue is a class unlike any other. I never heard of a soul music class where the students actually perform the music they learn about. Soul revue has everything to do with putting this band together. After all, Blake and I were both soul aficionados when we met. I think our first record really hit the topics we discussed most in Soul Revue: love, social/political consciousness, and 'the party'.
What's the band dynamic as far as songwriting and recording goes? How did the Indications come together?
Blake, Aaron, and I all write the tunes for the band. Of course I'm biased, but it's really the most organic music writing process I have been a part of. And the most beautiful part of it all is that it's a simple process. Someone will come up with a riff or melody and we collectively go with it and see where it takes us. The rhythm section works so well constructively. Before the indications were even a thing, Blake and Aaron were in a rock and roll band called Charlie Patton's War, along with musicians Kyle Houpt (guitar, bass) and Justin Hubler (keys). I really do feel like that's where we get our raw soul sound from, and they were all also recording engineer students!
What was the recording process like for the Indications' first record?
Very DIY, we recorded most of it straight to tape in Aaron's basement or Blake's spot. It was a laid back, no pressure situation. Lots of whiskey and Miller High Life involved.
I must admit, I was initially allured by the album art and was then captivated by the tunes on the record. What was the art direction for the cover? It's so timeless and classic!
I really gotta give Blake and Terry all the credit for putting it together. Cheyenne Raduha took some stellar photos of a show we did-- Blake got a hold of them, and Terry came up with the font. The picture inside the album cover is actually some of the Bloomington skyline (if you'd call it that). It was taken by Kayla Schmidt.
For soul musicians, the live performance has always engaged audiences in a special way. What's your live show and were you influenced by any legendary live performers?
Our live show is raw, and unabashedly honest. I really do believe that. We will never be as tight and crisp as the Dap-Kings or the Expressions per say--- that's not what we are aiming for. We embrace that essence that makes us stand apart. Of course we take take a lot of inspiration from Sam (especially in his time with the Soul Stirrers), Curtis, Otis, Marvin, Al, JB, Smokey, and Ray. But mostly we take from the amazing lesser known artists like Sunny Ozuna, The Brothers of Soul, The T.S.U. Tornadoes, Out of Sights, Darrell Banks, Kool Blues, and the Dramatics and so many more. The deep cuts is where it's really at man.
Puchase Durand Jones & the Indications debut record on Colemine Records. Find the band's tour dates here.