Jubilo Drive produced the kind of sound on their 2015 debut, Taqueria, to instantly strike a nerve in Southern California music scene, and to their credit, it seems like they did. Less than a year removed from the release of that album, the band is already planning on releasing a followup EP and have been touring steadily. I had the chance to talk with lead singer, bass player and occasional part-time saxophonist Hayden Vaughn, and guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist Jordan Kleinman, about life after Taqueria, and the direction they’re going on their new EP.
Did you guys get to do everything you wanted to do with Taqueria? For those that don’t know, that was a Kickstarter and knowing the struggle and process that goes into a band making their first full length release, I always find it interesting to listen to it and take it with a grain of salt. You say “This is someone’s record, and I know how easy it is to make music these days” so you have muted expectations. The songs are good, the ideas are there, if only they had a million dollars to make it in the exact capacity that they want to. Did you guys feel satisfied with Taqueria in that sense? Do people like the record.
Hayden Vaughn: That’s an interesting question and I’m glad you asked it because I think about it from time to time. Honestly the best way I can say it is like this: I love Taqueria in the way a parent loves a troublesome child. What I mean is, I’m really proud that it exists, and I’m really proud that we made it happen, but there are things I know I would want to do differently. Considering that we went into it from the front end with no budget, and very little equipment, we still managed to make it ourselves and the end result was that we could have an actual CD with a proper booklet in it, and we could give it away to our friends and those people DID come out and support us. It’s definitely not a perfect album and there are things I would want to fix about it, but in spite of all that, it’s perfect.
Jordan Kleinman: I would add that, in terms of knowing what I did before we even set out to borrow some equipment and when we had even considered doing some recording, vs. where I’m at now, it’s incredible what we were able to accomplish. We were able to get thousands of dollars worth of gear, and people we knew gave us a literal thousand dollars to make an album, and because of those things we were able to rent a space next to the Echoplex and Lollipop Records and pack the house and become accepted into the LA scene rather quickly. We’re not fucking playing everyone’s residency or headlining the Echo, but we were quickly able to like, get a gig at the Satellite, and make this new EP happen. So ultimately I couldn’t have asked for a better result. We recorded some shit in a garage, we had no idea what we were getting into.
It feels like a weird thing, and this isn’t always true if we had to go back into the annals of rock history, but bands now put out those first records simply so they can get to the next record. Like the guy from Car Seat Headrest put out all those albums on Bandcamp that he recorded, kind of like you recorded Taqueria, and then Matador noticed him and now he can put out albums on a big label. You had so much content online, were you just prepping for the moment when someone was willing to give you some money to do everything you had initially wanted to do?
HV: I think that’s our goal. We wanted Taqueria, and recorded it in the garage and everything, in part because we wanted to make it feel like a live album. I think we were successful in that way, in that now people are experiencing that we CAN play live, and we could make something great with some resources.
JK: Especially with getting to the next record. By the time we released Taqueria, we had been playing a lot of those songs for almost 4 years. And it was like “sweet, this has been our set for almost four years but now we have all these other songs”, and we had so much stuff in our back pockets that finally we can put even more of it out there.
Now that you guys are in a position to really step back and analyze the kind of musical sound you’d like to emulate, whether that’s a song or a band or a scene, are the influences still the same as they were when you were initially writing Taqueria?
JK: We still listen to the things that we used to listen to, but I think we put more attention towards what we WANT to sound like than WHO we want to sound like. I’ve read a lot of books about writing music, and young people like to make what they’re surrounded by. So if you’re looking at a lot of Picasso’s or van Gogh’s, you might get a bit of “The Starry Night” with some weird shapes (in your art). We learned to take note of elements in music, whether it be widely received things or moments that in particular resonate with us, and put those things into the music with our own flair.
HV: We wanted it to be harder to tell who we listen to. Whatever our influences were in Orange County, that was our most common ground (as a band) to make music with. Now that we’ve played together for four years, and we’ve played as many shows and written as many songs as we have, it’s given us an opportunity to step back from our common ground and try to mix things up more. We’re trying to steal it and appropriate it, not copy it.
JK: We’ve enjoyed getting good reactions to our music regardless of genre, that’s been great. People will say “Oh I wasn’t expecting that,” and I think I’ve heard that more than I’ve heard people say something like, “Oh you sound like grunge music” or any other label. I mean those things have been applied but they’re more in adjectives than in genres. The other night, someone had said “Oh I loved that you guys added some punk-y stuff there”, but not like “oh you’re a punk band.”
Well with that all that said, tell me about the new EP.
JK: It’s going to be a little four tracker.
HV: We’re still in the process of laying down all the groundwork and we haven’t yet entered the studio, but we know which four songs we’re going to record and which producer we’re going to work with and we’re really excited about how its going to work. Right now that’s the best way we can put it.
These aren’t leftovers from Taqueria then? These are songs specifically constructed for an EP?
HV: It’s a little of both. We’ve written these songs over a much longer amount of time since Taqueria. Some of its new. The songs we wrote since leaving Orange (to move to LA) have grown a lot. It’s still fresh material in the sense that it’s going to be much more ‘now’ than ‘then,’ but some of it goes back that far.
JK: Some of them are still from that era.
HV: One of them is very new. One of them we’ve only been playing this year. Two of them are from our Orange days.
Sonically you guys must be much more evolved than you were in Orange, given the fact you’re playing so many higher profile gigs and are a part of more of a scene in LA, like you mentioned. Has your thought process? Is it musically going to see a shift?
HV: Oh 100% From one angle, we’re working from a completely different position than we were with Taqueria. Now we’re going to start from the top with a producer to work with us for the recordings, specifically so the technical aspects can be out of our hands and we can focus on the music. I’m still going to work with him on the production, but it won’t be the four of us hunched over a computer with me swearing because I can’t figure out Ableton. We’re going to let someone else who is pretty experience and has some solid credits do the work for us rather than force ourselves to do it. That will help a lot.
JK: The space itself too will be a huge step up.
HV: Yeah Taqueria was recorded in a garage and in a dining room with lots of concrete walls and it sounds like that. This will be an opportunity to really change things up.
JK: This is a real studio, with a choice of drums and snares and AC and a piano, etc. Now we have an opportunity to simply do more than before.
HV: It’ll allow for us to do more and really explore the sonic shifts we’re interested in moving towards. I’ll also be playing more sax on these records.