INTERVIEW BY CHRIS SUAREZ
PHOTOS BY M. KROPF PHOTOGRAPHY AND BRANDON HAMBRIGHT
Formerly known as TOMORROWS, brothers Jim and Jack Ivins, or THE IVINS, are making noise under a brand new moniker with a new slew of songs that will be released on their debut album The Code Duello later this year. THE IVINS play anthemic alternative rock and roll meant to invade your radio and brainwaves. According to the brothers, the sky is the limit. As TOMORROWS, they had their music featured on the radio, television and elsewhere. Now writing new music with a renewed sense of wisdom and experience, they hope to make it big.
Who are THE IVINS?
Jim: My brother Jack and I have been playing together in various bands for about six or seven years now. For a while, we were just THE JIM IVINS BAND. That was a kind of acoustic pop-rock band. We were that for a while, then briefly changed the name to TOMORROWS in 2012. Then we became THE IVINS last year when we started recording our upcoming album. We figured that, while we liked the name TOMORROWS, it was pretty generic; so it was difficult to find us. If you Googled our name, we wouldn’t show up ‘til about page six. We hadn’t made a big dent yet as TOMORROWS, so we thought it was safe to change the name again.
Jim: In high school, I played in a pop punk band called BUSTED WIRE. At one point, it was very known in the pop punk and pop-rock scene. I did that for four years then started getting more into singer-songwriter music, so that’s where JIM IVINS BAND came from. Our band, THE IVINS, now is kind of reactionary to a lack of rock music in mainstream culture. You turn on rock radio, and it’s a lot of dance music and lo-fi acoustic stuff. That’s kind of baffles me. We’ve been listening to rock and roll since we were born, so we’re all about riffs. We wanted to find a way to use our love, [as well as] rock and roll and riffs and try to modernize that into something that’s progressive and successful in today’s music world.
Jack: Jim and I have been playing together our whole lives, always jamming and whatever. I had a band in high school that was sort of like a funk band. I played with various groups. The Dominion Collective actually just did a feature with another band I play in called BURN THE BALLROOM.
Tell me about your influences. What are some of the new bands that you draw influence from? Are there any old acts you used to love that still influence you?
Jim: I listen to a lot of rock music that comes out of England. In my opinion, England and the U.K. still get rock music that’s really great. I’m really inspired by bands like OASIS and STEREOPHONICS. There’s also bands from the U.S. like GARBAGE and 30 SECONDS TO MARS. There’s definitely vibes and parts of their sounds that I really want to incorporate into our sound, sort of like a gumbo. We want to really base our songs on riffs. Going over the whole spectrum, we also look at hair metal bands like MOTLEY CRÜE and FIREHOUSE. You could also talk about LED ZEPPELIN. We also idolized them; who hasn’t?
As TOMORROWS, you had your music featured on television channels like MTV and Fox Sports. What was it like to be a burgeoning band to have your music featured on such a large platform with so much exposure?
Jim: It was crazy and such a trip. Some of those songs were tracks that even haven’t come out yet, but it got used to underscore a montage of racing scenes for some NASCAR brand of sports racing. It was pretty surreal to be featured on that. We’ve [also] gotten some songs on MTV’s The Real World. As a band on any level, it’s always crazy to hear your music on TV or the radio. Recently, we gave a song to be used on this really popular app [called Soundtracking] and got featured as song of the week. We got something like 3 million impressions. We’re just trying to make the most of any opportunity possible. The market is really over saturated right now, so opportunities that put the spotlight on you is important in the development of a band. We do it any way possible.
You said there seems to be a void for good rock and roll in the mainstream. Are there any bands out there that are actually holding it down for the genre and getting big attention?
Jim: ARCTIC MONKEYS released a bunch of songs from their new album that’s really good. A song like “Do You Want to Know” is so weird for a mainstream single to get really big, so that was pretty cool. There’s [also] that BLEACHERS record that I thought was really great. What’s interesting to see in what’s going on in the culture is that country music has kind of filled the void for rock music right now. It’s going more in a rock direction, so people seem to be getting their fill for rock music by listening to country on the radio.
Jack: I don’t think any of those bands are filling the rock void. While country music is getting a bit away from what it used to be, I don’t know if I’d say that. I’d say that maybe it’s taking more of its airspace.
Jim: I guess Jack and I have different opinions on this issue, but I’d say bands like FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE is doing it. That record by ERIC CHURCH is pretty rocking. Jack told me he saw MIRANDA LAMBERT not long ago — we know their bass player — and Jack said it was a pretty big rock show.
Jack: Yeah, while she is a really twangy country singer, they did a cover of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Hoochie Koo;” that was so awesome. That was really incredibly rocking. I can’t believe I forgot about that. This might be indicative of old stuff we listened to, but BRING ME THE HORIZON has really changed.
Jim: Yeah, they’re on the top 20 for Billboard right now. It rocks, and it’s really cool to see that.
Jack: Yeah, I know about how their singer was really messed up on drugs and got into rehab. He got out and decided he didn’t want to scream anymore because he’s not pissed off and mad anymore. Their new single is pretty much all singing. It’s mainstream accessible, but I know it’s polarizing for a lot of their fans.
Jim: I think it’s great that a band like them can break out of the underground and finally get their due after putting in for so many years, even if they have to change their style. I think it’s great.
If rock is to ever have a resurgence in mainstream radio, what will it take? What will rock sound like if it becomes popular again?
Jack: In the states, pop reigns, but if you go to Europe, rock is everywhere. They love rock in Europe.
Jim: What I think it will take, and this might sound corny, but it just comes down to songs. A really good song will always win out. An artist like ADELE is the proof in the pudding. It was only three years ago, but you had this overweight, white British singer who sounds absolutely nothing like anything on the radio and goes off to sell 25 million albums. It’s because she has really good songs. I think it’s entirely possible for rock to make a comeback, but it’s going to come down to great songs and tapping into a feeling that listeners are feeling deprived of listening to the radio. What that is? I don’t know. NIRVANA tapped into that when they got big. It just happens, but no one knows how it will happen. I think a good riff, chorus, and/or lyrics make it possible for rock to come back. I think it will come back. Hopefully we can contribute to that.
What are you guys hoping to achieve with your band?
Jim: We want to be the biggest band in the world. It’s weird and maybe it’s my own paranoia at play, but it’s become unfashionable lately to want to be successful. You hear a lot of artist say, “I just want to make music that I like; I don’t care if anyone listens or likes it,” but we’re about getting our music out to as many people as humanely possible. When U2 did that huge tour with the big claw thing in stadiums with MUSE, I saw that and thought it’d be really fun to do something like that. We want as much exposure as possible and start a movement with our music. I think that’s what every artist should want.
Jack: That was well said. If you want to be a musician that makes a career out of it and you love the music you’re playing, you’ll have people who like it. There’s some people who might not like it, but I’d certainly love to be on the same level of the FOO FIGHTERS who make great music and get to travel the world where they want and when they want. I can’t think of a better arrangement than that.
INTERVIEW BY JOE FITZPATRICK
PHOTOS BY SAM HOLDEN AND MARK SILVA
Recently, Jones and his band performed at the bi-annual Vintage Virginia Wine Festival at Bull Run Park in Centreville, and we had the opportunity to catch their performance. After being entranced by Jones and his band, we were determined to get an interview with this talented musician.southern soul, blues, and rock
Born in Rawley Springs, VA, which is a small town just outside Harrisonburg, JUSTIN JONES is the epitome of true American rock and roll. Though he may not be African American or live in the Deep South, Jones has a true connection to blues and soul music, which is coursing through his veins with each strum of his guitar and the hum of his voice. Raised since he was a boy on southern soul, blues, and rock, Jones has been captivating audiences all over Virginia and across the country for more than 10 years, and recently, he has taken time away from the road to focus on his new band THE DEADMEN with some of his friends and fellow songwriters, as well as to be with his wife and children.
We spoke with Jones about how his music career began and some of the highlights that got him to where he is today, his signature “quintessentially American” sound that resonates through each of his songs, as well as how he plans to balance his time between THE DEADMEN and the JUSTIN JONES band going forward.
According to your story on your website, you see yourself as a 68-year-old black guy named Luther black guy with one green eye and a couple gold teeth, and you play harmonica in a blues band that plays at a dump in the ghetto. Can you tell me how this perception originally came about?
Well, that was sort of a stream of consciousness. It’s not wholly accurate with how I perceive myself and my music.
Ok then. So how would you describe your sound?
I was actually talking about this with someone recently, and I like to think it’s more about how grew up in my hometown outside of Harrisonburg.
When did you move to Arlington?
I have lived in the DC area for the past 13 years, and in July of last year, I moved from Southern Maryland to Arlington with my wife.
Your musical career spans over a decade. How did you get started playing music?
I started playing guitar when I was pretty young, and I started writing when I was pretty young. When I turned 21, I started going out to open mic nights, and I really enjoyed the attention because it fed my ego.
How did you meet the rest of your band?
The band has expanded over the years through meeting new people, people leaving, and people getting replaced. It’s not like I met them all at a bar one night and that was that. Two of the guys I met through friends have been playing with me for four years. You meet people slowly. Another two of the guys have been in my touring band for years. Now if someone can’t go on tour, I’ll just have another guy fill in. It’s always changing.
What has been some of your proudest accomplishments as a musician?
I’m not really sure. As a musician, I have played some great gigs and toured around the country, but it’s a disappointing business. Even if you think you are making it, you are quickly brought back down to earth. I sang background for LUCINDA WILLIAMS at Merriweather [Post Pavilion] with my daughter in my arms. That was two years ago with her, myself, and DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS.
Additionally, in your story, you describe your music as “quintessentially American”, but what are the specific characteristics of your music that embody this genre?
To me, the content is so derived from my environment and my experiences from traveling around the country. It’s not about Chevy trucks or the Fourth of July, but it captures the real America. Not white picket fences and manicured front lawns, but a rusted Pontiac Firebird sitting in the driveway.
Tell me about your other band THE DEADMEN. How did you get involved with that project?
I have been buddies with the guys for a while. We had talked for a while about doing a band together for a couple years, and we finally made it happen. We have been playing some gigs, and it’s been fun getting to play with some of my favorite people. I love being able to sing in the background on other people’s music and play my songs as well.
Do you feel comfortable giving up the spotlight to be more of a supporting band member rather than the lead role?
I’m not stepping out of the spotlight necessarily, but it is shared. We all sing and play guitar and write songs, so we rotate who leads each song. I like it because it lessens the importance of me. When you are the band leader, every decision is yours to be made, whether it will be where you will eat dinner while you are on tour or what the track order for your record will be. There are some band stuff that I would rather let someone else do that hasn’t done it 100 times like I have and be excited about doing it for the first time.
I read on your website that you are taking more time with them than with your own band. What motivated that decision?
I have really pushed the JUSTIN JONES moniker really hard for a long time, and we have not been growing enough recently in a tangible way to justify me being away from home for six or seven months per year. I feel like we have plateaued, and now is a good time to take a step away from it. I have worked very hard on it, but the experience of me playing can no longer be a reward for me. THE DEADMEN is about writing good music and playing shows occasionally. I tried to make a business out of music, which made me not enjoy it as much, and it’s exciting to take that step back.
Since you won’t be doing music full-time, what do you plan to do as a career?
I have been bartending at the 9:30 Club for the past nine years. It’s not much of a career, but I make a decent amount of money to support myself and my family. I have lots of ideas about potential careers, but I’m not sure yet what will make sense for me.
What does the future have in store for the JUSTIN JONES band? Will it co-exist with THE DEADMEN?
It has to co-exist. I can’t give up on this thing that I have put 10+ years into. Honestly, I’d like to record an acoustic album for my next project. I recorded acoustic for my first album, and I would really like to do that again.
For more updates on JUSTIN JONES, be sure to visit his website, “like” his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter, subscribe to his YouTube channel, and download his sampler 8 Years in 11 Songs on Noisetrade.
INTERVIEWED BY MARIANNA CAMPANO
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY THE SOUTHERN BELLES AND MARK PETERSON
Members of THE SOUTHERN BELLES may be relatively young in age, but they are more steeped in the Richmond music scene than some of the oldest veterans. Together, the band consists of guitarist Adrian Ciucci, bassist Andrew Carper , drummer Raphael Katchinoff, and keyboardist Tommy Booker, and each member contributes to the vocal duties. They are unquestionably serious when it comes to music and define themselves as a psychedelic, American, Rock & Roll band, but ultimately, they are a group of down-to-earth guys who wholeheartedly love, not only what they are doing, but doing it together.
When did THE SOUTHERN BELLES come to be, and how? Are the current members all original? How long have you all been together?
THE [SOUTHERN] BELLES have been around—give or take—for the past three years but have all known each other pretty much our entire lives. We’ve all played in different bands around Richmond since we were teenagers including: PEOPLE’S BLUES OF RICHMOND, ANTERO, BAD NOISE, GOOD DOG, SILO EFFECT, THE MILKSTAINS, and many others.
The band came about as a need for live music for a friend’s Halloween engagement party, and it took off from there. At the time, there were only three members, with Adrian now being the only original member of that first show. We’ve recently welcomed a new bass player, Andrew Carper to the band.
Where did the name THE SOUTHERN BELLES come from?
Adrian came up with the name as an ironic joke to get three bearded guys to dress in drag for the Halloween party. They never got around to getting in drag, but the joke stuck. We still disappoint venues we’ve never played before when a bunch of grungy dudes show up instead of prim and proper southern women.
How would you describe your musical style/sound?
We draw from a large melting pot of influences and try to portray that in a genuine and authentic manner that, at the same time, we can give props to a lot of heroes of ours who have paved the way musically before us.
What did you all grow up listening to? What is your favorite music to listen to now? Who would you say are your biggest influences?
We all grew up listening to different styles of music, but we enjoy taking in each other’s different [taste]. It ranges everywhere from old country and honky-tonk to progressive jazz, to grunge to bluegrass, reggae to psychedelic rock and everything in between. We’re all pretty voracious when it comes to listening to music; we all try to keep our ears to the ground on new as well as older stuff. For biggest influences right now, a lot of us listen to SNARKY PUPPY, MY MORNING JACKET, WHITE DENIM, GOGOL BORDELLO and AQUARIUM RESCUE UNIT. Although, right now a lot of us like to listen to local stuff which includes: NO BS BRASS BAND, JACKASS FLATS, BUTCHER BROWN, SPORTS BAR, THE NORTHERNERS, THE GREEN BOYS, NAVI, MEKONG EXPRESS, NERVOUS TICKS, THE TRILLIONS, THE SHACK BAND and PEOPLE’S BLUES OF RICHMOND. The list goes on, but we love all of those guys!
What was your first out-of-Richmond gig? What was that like? What is the farthest gig you’ve had?
One of our first out-of-town gig was in Charlottesville at Coupes de Ville; it was fun to finally get out and play all these songs we had been working on. It’s one thing to sit in a practice spot and rehearse tunes [versus] actually going out and playing them live. The past year saw us go the furthest we’ve ever been when we went on tour up in Burlington, Vermont.
Do you have a favorite venue and/or a specific show that was particularly memorable?
We have a few venues we really enjoy playing in; we have been holding a few once a month residencies here in Richmond and Charlottesville. In Charlottesville, there’s our Wednesday [shows] at Rapture, where we can play and try new things out of town, in front of an awesome crowd, and with an amazing sound system provided by Bullock Sound. In Richmond there’s Cary Street Café, where we really cut out teeth when we used to play there almost twice a month on Wednesdays. But our favorite is definitely our First Friday residency at The Camel where we were lucky to have been asked to take. A few of our favorite shows happened there. We got members of THE BIG PAY BACK to sit in, and we performed a set of SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE songs, or when we did an entire GRAM PARSONS set with our good buddies from JACKASS FLATS.
What do you all do when you aren’t playing shows or practicing?
We’re usually pretty busy booking upcoming shows or preparing to go on tours. A few of us still play in other bands around town as well, in SILO EFFECT, THE MILKSTAINS and BANDREW.
What was the first original SOUTHERN BELLES song?
“Shotgun,” which is also the first song off of our debut album
What is the best part of being in a band?
Getting to travel around the country, seeing new places, and meeting new people. But definitely getting to share a musical bond with each other when were on stage.
Where do you all hope to be in ten years?
Hopefully if it all goes well, we’ll still be trekking across the world playing music!
Who is a local band/musician/DJ etc. that you think deserves more recognition?
Richmond is chock full of amazing people and musicians. I think as a whole, RVA is starting to get the respect the scene totally deserves. Go out support your friends and the art and sounds they make. Go see live music!
For more updates on THE SOUTHERN BELLES, please be sure to “like” their Facebook page and check out their website.
INTERVIEW BY JOE FITZPATRICK
PHOTOS BY CHESBAY 360
Ever since Jeremy Harrell could pick up a guitar, he has always had a passion for music and expressing himself through passionate, heartfelt lyrics. Combining his soulful musical background of his youth with a little bit of country and a little bit of rock and roll, the members of CORBIN DALLAS have crafted something special that has caused fans to connect with their music on a very personal, intimate level. I was fortunate enough to talk to Harrell about his band’s humble beginnings, recording with Lucas Borza of HONOUR CREST, and their too be released debut record.
How did you originally get into playing country music?
Honestly, it just kinda fell together like that. I started off playing acoustic by myself and I eventually added in my band members over time. My drummer and bassist have played together over the years, and our guitarist played bass with me before, but we thought he would be a better guitarist for us. They are really great guys, and we wouldn’t be the same band without them.
What is the meaning behind the name CORBIN DALLAS?
I am a pretty big Bruce Willis fan, and in the movie The Fifth Element that is the name of his character. When I saw it, I thought that would be a great name for a band, and it just stuck.
What do you think sets your music apart from other country bands in the area?
Well as cliché as it sounds it’s a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll. We never sought out to write strictly country music. I grew up listening to Motown and the blues. When I write, I am not trying to write about the birds and the bees. I just let it come out, the music takes on a life of its own.
What are some common themes of the songs you write?
Relationships, happiness, the good stuff, the bad stuff, heartbreak, and the road behind. Basically memories. I don’t really like to write the “partying stuff”. I prefer the “passionate stuff”. I just hope people can relate to the music and take it they want to take it.
Recently, you have been recording with Lucas Borza of HONOUR CREST. How did you go about selecting him to produce your music?
Lucas and our drummer have been long time friends, and we started recording with him when he was just starting out and looking for experience. We were basically his guinea pig band. We set up in our drummer’s living room like a bunch of nerds. Now he and his band are joining Rise Records, and we are really happy to have him be a part of what we are doing.
I saw on your band’s Facebook page that you reached 500 followers yesterday. How supportive have your fans been since you formed CORBIN DALLAS?
Pretty good. The number of fans we have has been growing rapidly and coming out of nowhere. I wish I could step outside of myself to hear what they are hearin’, but its growing really fast. We’ve been really lucky with it lately.
I also noticed you will be performing at this year’s Vets Fest. How important is it to you and your band to support our nation’s military veterans and active duty armed forces?
It’s very important to us. We approached the coordinator Faith Conlon about playing, and she was more than happy to add us to the lineup. We really wanted to be a part of it to pay our tribute to the veterans, and we are honored that we get the chance to play it.
What are some other bands from Virginia that inspire you that others should listen to?
HONOUR CREST first and foremost. They are out there doing what they do best and doing it very well. Also, REVERY from Virginia Beach. Our manager is in that band, and they are a great group of guys. People should also check out THE STEPGODS from Virginia Beach on Sacrifice Records. They are more experimental and “earthy”.
How soon do you expect your debut record to be released, and what can your fans expect from that album?
We have been talking back and forth to Sacrifice Records, and we are possibly going that way. If we do, the record, which may be named after our song “Let’s Ride”, will be out around January. We only have three more songs to record until we are finished all 10 that will be on the album.