After reviewing their new vinyl EP “Economy Class Ego Trip”, we wanted to know more about JJ & The REAL JERKS. JJ answered our questions…
Can you tell us a bit about the band’s history? What have you released so far?
The band started in mid 2009, essentially as a recording project just to get some ideas out. Eventually when we had enough material, we started playing out live and releasing records. So far we’ve put out 3 seven inch singles, and one 12 inch EP, and currently working on a new recording now.
You played your first show opening for MICHAEL MONROE, how was it and how did it happen?
That was an amazing night! It was at a small 200 person venue in Redondo Beach, right under the pier. It was one of Michael Monroe’s first shows with his new band, before their record was even out. We kind of just got lucky to get on that bill, it was a Sunday night and we got in front of a good amount of people. I think we only rehearsed once and played like 5 songs, it was loose to say the least, but really fun! Michael Monroe ruled, and it was pretty great to get that opportunity to see him perform right in my neighborhood!
How did you get to work with Rankoutsider Records?
I’ve been friends with Pat Todd’s rhythm guitarist Kevin Keller for a few years now. He got us an opening slot with The Rankoutsiders a couple years ago, and Pat was there to see our set. I gave him a few of our older recordings, and through that the relationship with the label began. We’ve released ‘The Wringer’ 7” single, as well as the latest ‘Economy Class Ego Trip’ EP on Rankoutsider. I also had the opportunity to play sax on two songs on their new record that will be out this year.
Greg Kuehn (The JONESES/TSOL) appears on the EP. How did you meet? When did you hear The JONESES and TSOL for the first time?
I met Greg when my old band got to play with Prima Donna & The Joneses at a club in West LA back in 2008 or so. Around that time, Full Breach Kicks had just re-issued a few of the Joneses records, and the band was starting to play shows around town again. TSOL I had been familiar with just through being into the early LA and OC punk rock stuff. Greg’s an amazing musician, and when we were looking for those real rollicking ‘ham-fisted’ piano parts, he was more than willing to lay down some tracks for us!
You probably get a lot of comparisons with The HANGMEN. Your opinion about the band?
I think they’re great! I’ve gotten to catch them a few times. One of the best shows I saw was them along with the Zeros (the original Zeros from Chula Vista) on New Year’s eve a few years back at a tiny bar in downtown LA.
J.J., you also play sax in WALTER LURE’s West Coast backing band, right?
Yes, since about 2009. I met Joey Pinter (The Waldos lead guitarist who played on the Rent Party record) through Real Jerks bassist Hiroshi Yamazaki. Walter wanted to line up a few SoCal shows, and Joey basically put the backing band together. They were looking for a sax player and through Hiroshi I got the gig. Since then, Walter has come out to LA about three times. We actually just played a show a few weeks ago put together by Roy J. Morgan, it was the fourth annual Johnny Thunders tribute show that he does. It was a blast. Close to 400 people came out, and just about every good rock n’ roll band from L.A. was on the bill!
Do you only release your records on vinyl? It seems like this format is getting more popular than the CDs nowadays…
All of the releases have come out on vinyl & digital so far. Usually 300-500 copies pressed on colored wax. I’ve always been a big record collector, so it just seemed natural to release the music on this format. It’s definitely not the cheapest route, but it’s been a great experience and I’ve learned a lot. The pressing plant we use is local here in LA, and I’ve gotten to know them pretty well over the years. Also it seems like people will pay a little more attention to a vinyl release. It’s more likely to get reviewed, airplay on radio stations etc.
Do you feel like a new American rock’n’roll scene is rising from the underground with bands like PRIMA DONNA or The BITERS?
It’s definitely still an underground ‘niche’ thing, but what’s really cool is to see more and more younger guys and girls showing up at the gigs, and maybe even forming bands of their own. There seem to be a lot of younger groups that are looking to bands like the Dolls, Stooges, MC5 etc as an influence, and still putting a modern spin on it.
What are the last live bands you’ve enjoyed?
The Night Marchers, The Hives, Fidlar, The Zeros, Crazy Squeeze, Dirty Eyes, Telephone Lovers, Black Mambas,
Aside from doing JJ & The Real Jerks, I play bass in The Legendary Swagger, which is a five piece straight ahead rock n’ roll/punk band. A few of the guys in that band Geoff Yeaton, Skot Pollok and Richie Mendez play in the Real Jerks too. They’ve been around for a while, I loved their band so much they were one of the major influences on me forming The Real Jerks. Eventually I got a couple of those guys to agree to play in my band, and in turn, they let me join their band as the bass player!! We play out a couple times a year.