A Chat with Johnny Whitney [Jaguar Love – The Blood Brothers]

Thanks to our good friends at Nasty Little Man PR and Nylon Magazine, we were lucky enough to meet up with one of the masterminds behind both Jaguar Love and The Blood Brothers – Johnny Whitney. His frantic lyrical style, indescribable voice, erratic stage performance, and overall personality is that of scene legends. His music style has gone from artpunk to now, a dance/electronica laden rock act and all without breaking a sweat. To say I was excited for this opportunity would be an understatement, I was ecstatic.


UTG: So Johnny, how’s the Nylon Music Tour been for you [the band is opening for Plasticines, Living Things, and Patrick Wolf]?

JW: It’s been going really well. It’s a bit odd for us to be on this tour. I mean, Patrick [Wolf] does a bit of electronic stuff in his set, but the other bands….eh…yea, they’re not too much like us, but you know, they’re all cool people.

UTG: You’re record, Take Me To The Sea, has been on shelves since August, have you found that the people coming to shows since then has been more new fans or holdovers from The Blood Brothers?

JW: I would say it’s a little bit of both. On this tour, I think it’s more people coming out to support Nylon magazine, but in the long run it’ll be good for us. It’s a lot of exposure to those who may not normally check out our music.

UTG: A lot has changed since that record came out, the group went from 5 to 2 people.

JW: Yea, well 2 of the other members were kind of on loan from Head Automatica, so that was a lot of scheduling things. Jay, who was one of the founding members…that just didn’t work out. There’s a whole long and complicated story behind that. We may add another member from now on for touring, but Cody and I are really happy writing as a two piece.

UTG: You guys parted ways with Matador Records a little while ago as well, have you made any progress towards having a new label, that is, if you even want one?

JW: We’re just in the middle of signing to another label, but I can’t give you too many details because it’s not all wrapped up yet. We’re planning on recording in a month and a half or two months and hopefully get it out by January 2010.

UTG: With the change in members and member amounts, do you see a drastic change in the sound of the next record?

JW: Yea, totally. We’re a lot different now. It’s a lot more electronica sounding now and much less classic rock sounding. We’re basically like…dance music. When we started the band, we didn’t know what direction we wanted to go, we just knew we wanted to be a band. We wrote most of the debut before the band even started. It came from Cody and I and the songs we didn’t use for Blood Brothers. Now that we’re here, we want to try it as a two piece because we’ve always really been into electronica music and when you use samples, I’ve found it’s better to not fake band members, but do something that you couldn’t recreate with a band. Something more like a dj or something would use.

UTG: Now that there is a second record in the works, do you think you’re slipping away from the mantra of “oh, those were the guys in Blood Brothers”?

JW: I think we’ll see really. The people who are putting it out are going to do a better job than Matador did I think in terms of promoting. Also, I think this company is really into putting us out there as our own thing. I mean, I see how people can think the debut sounds like The Blood Brothers because it has some of the elements, but it’s like a more rock thing. The new stuff doesn’t sound anything like The Blood Brothers except for maybe one song. It would be cool though for this to be like an island of itself. So that we aren’t like “hey, we were in this band, check us out now.” It’s definitely a mixed blessing to have people come to shows because they liked your old bands, but a lot of the time it’s people who wish it was your old band. I’m not complaining though. We were a band for 10 years and that’s not going to away and I’m okay with that because it was a great part of my life.

UTG: In terms of writing for the new record, have you found in themes or anything in what’s come out thus far?

JW: The new record, the lyrics, well I haven’t finished them all really yet. What we’ve been doing live has been very rough draft forms of the lyrics. However, for the record I’m going to make it kind of like a concept album. All the songs will be linked through similar threads. Kind of like the movie Crash where everything fits together, but in kind of obscure ways. It’s going to read like a weird, fractured story. A mosaic. Not a story like a plot, but more like highlighting the interconnectedness of things. It’s going to be hard. It’s hard going from 2 singers to one. I could write a lot more lyrics when there were 2 sets of lungs to sing them. I have had to make myself be less bombastic because it’s hard to sing. It’s hard to sing a short story’s worth of lyrics in one song so I’m trying to cut it down a bit. I’ve definitely simplified with this record. By simplified, I mean in the sense where we’re using a lot of repetition. It’s like, in the Blood Brothers I wrote a short story and now I’m trying to write haikus. Being spare, but poignant.

UTG: Well, we don’t believe in last questions, only closing statements. What’s been on your mind outside of Jaguar Love?

JW: Well, since it is Father’s Day and I have a 3 month old baby at home. So this is my first Father’s Day. It’s awesome.

*Written By: James Shotwell*

James Shotwell
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