Interview: Dying Scene catches up with The Jukebox Romantics

jukebox-romanticsThe Jukebox Romantics are an incredibly busy band and if you haven’t seen this energetic ska-punk five-some yet, chances are you will soon.  Having recently released their debut full-length on Altercation Records, the band has been touring relentlessly, getting themselves featured in Amp Magazine along the way, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down.  They’ll be playing at SXSW soon and then joining the 2010 Warped Tour, but that’s not before they kick off their Lone Star Tour beginning today.  With so much activity we counted ourselves lucky to catch up the fellas for a little Q&A, but catch up with them we did and you can check it out here.

How did you guys all meet?

Malarky and Seth were in a band called The Zombie Pit Crew with Joe’s brother that needed a drummer, so cue Joe. That band lasted a few years before Joe’s brother got an offer he couldn’t refuse, so Malarky, Seth and Joe wanted to keep playing but not fake being in the same band because Joe’s brother was such an integral part of that band. They had known Terry from playing shows with his band, and Terry had just got back from touring the country on a visiting guitar spot and wanted to start a more permanent gig. Terry was friends with Chris who was a singer in a whole bunch of ska bands. It took about an hour to gel, and it’s been full steam ahead ever since.

Wow.  Not sure I followed all that, but moving on!  Congrats on being added to the 2010 Warped Tour.  What are you most looking forward to about the tour? What bands are a must see?

Being on Warped Tour is kind of mind-blowing because we grew up on that. We’re really excited to be in a new city every day and getting out west where we haven’t been yet.

As far as bands: Cobra Skulls, Left Alone, Face to Face, Far From Finished, Anti-Flag, Dropkick Murphys…the list goes on. Also, curious to see if the new Andrew W.K. lives up to the old standard. And maybe there’ll be more late additions (Rancid??)

Your debut album was released last fall on Altercation Records.  Was there anything specific about Altercation that drew you guys to the label?

They’re definitely a small but growing label, and we feel the timing was perfect – as we can grow as a band at the same time the label grows. We also like their style and work ethic. Very hands on with promotion and helping with booking which is great. Solid guys who care about music and building up the scene… they handle the music business in the brass tacks, rock star proof manner that it deserves.

Sounds like a good match.  If you weren’t a member of The Jukebox Romantics, where do you think you would be today career wise?

We haven’t really reached the point where the band is the career, so we all have our regular jobs that we’d probably put a lot more effort into if it wasn’t for the band. If the band wasn’t doing well though, or there was no Jukebox Romantics, we’d still want to all play music together, and still spend any extra money on music. It’s nice that we get to spend so much time doing this though — it makes work a lot easier to deal with.

So you guys have been crazy busy with touring, where would you say has been your favorite city and venue to play?  Where are you counting down the days until you get to play there again?

Chris grew up on Long Island, but the rest of us are from a little further north in NY, and up there, The Chance Theatre in Poughkeepsie was a place we used to see everybody growing up, so playing there was really great. Outside New York, Snapper Magee’s in Connecticut is like a second home for us. Filthy McNasty’s in Florida was a really great place, with an awesome staff, and Geno’s in Maine is a really great place to play and see a show.

We’re literally counting down the days till we hit the road no matter where it is. Can’t wait to get to Austin for SXSW and this sweet donut shop we heard about… and Arkansas for Valley of the Vapors. Logically, we’re psyched to get to California since music seems pretty hopping over there. We’d love to get to places like the Troc in Philly, and play almost anywhere in Chicago or San Francisco.

What’s you’re favorite song to play live?

As a band it’s a tough call, we probably would never agree. For Terry its Death Sentence or Untitled, for Mike its Kingpin…probably whatever song the crowd liked the most was the most fun to play because the crowd really decides what’s fun for us. If you want to ruin the ride home for the Jukebox Romantics, don’t have fun while we play.

Does your band have any rituals you do before every show?

We don’t have a specific ritual, but it never fails that before every show we argue about whether or not there’s going to be a set list and if we’re going to stick to it. And usually if we do write a set list and miraculously decide to stick to it, Terry will break a string, and we’ll have to improvise during the guitar change over.

Speaking of donut shops.  Do you have any favorite things to eat when you’re on the road?

Usually it’s whatever we brought in the van or whatever they gave us at the show because we generally don’t have a lot of money. But, it is awesome to indulge on some of the reputable fast food places that aren’t as common in New York like Sonic or 5 Guys… and nothing beats a diner that can make a solid omelet.

A lot of bands tend to play pranks on each other while on the road.  What’s the best prank a band member has pulled tour?

We’re not really pranksters at heart, so none of us has really pulled anything worth mentioning, but if u count the van as our 6th member, that bitch has pulled one too many on us.  It died in the rural plains of Benson, North Carolina, it died in the south Bronx, we got her a new transmission, a new alternator, a new starter, a new ignition… but I’ll be damned if we’re kicking her to the curb!

A faulty tour van seems to be a rite of passage for any self-respecting band.  At what point would you say you guys knew you made it as a band?

Don’t think we can really say we made it. We signed to a label that treats us great and wants us to succeed just as much as we want it for ourselves, and we’re all committed to making great music and playing as often and in as many places as we can manage if that counts. I guess two moments that really stick out as “made it” moments though would be having our own case of water on the stage or having enough money in the band fund to pay for gas. I assume that’s what rock stars really like to indulge in.

So it’s said if asked, you guys would say you fear nothing….is this true?

As Terry and Joe would say: fuck fear, drink beer. It should be noted however that Seth is terrified of most things, but majority rules, right?

Indeed.  Thanks, guys!  Check out The Jukebox Romantics’ Dying Scene Shows page for details on where you can catch them live.

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