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Jukebox The Ghost on festivals, wistfulness, mail

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Jukebox the Ghost - SHERVIN LAINEZ
  • Shervin Lainez
  • Jukebox the Ghost
It's summertime and to us, that means it's festival season. One band frequent to several festivals this summer is Jukebox the Ghost. The indie pop band from Brooklyn changed their name in 2005 from the Sunday Mail to Jukebox the Ghost. The band has hit some major milestones in their career and they aren't slowing down anytime soon.

I had the chance to have Ben Thornewill, vocalist and pianist of the band, answer some questions about the band and their new third album, Safe Travels. The album was released this summer on June 12. Jukebox the Ghost will be playing the Earth House this Saturday.

NUVO: Where are you right now?

Thornewill: Back at my childhood home in Ken. for the 4th of July.

NUVO: What's playing on your iPod these days?

Thornewill: I've been listening to a lot of Jacques Brel.

NUVO: You guys recently played Bonnaroo. How was the experience? How did it compare to playing Lollapalooza?

Thornewill: Bonnaroo was spectacular -- a whole different breed of festival than Lollapalooza. Lolla is in a metropolitan center where you get to go home and sleep well. At the 'roo everyone is dusty, dirty, sleepless, totally fried and all in it together. It's like tea with the Queen vs. beer at the Bush Ranch.

NUVO: Do you prefer playing venues or festivals?

Thornewill: Both have their magic, certainly. We play festivals so much less frequently than venues that the novelty of a festival show brings a new sort of energy and excitement.

NUVO: How does this third album Safe Travels compare to your other two albums? How was your experience recording in the studio this time compared to previous times?

Thornewill: We are so immensely proud of this record. The key differences for me were working with a producer who knew us personally and deeply understood the band and also having the luxury of time. The ethos for this record was "Work until it is done -- not until we are out of time." So we ended up with a record where everything is purposeful, nothing done in haste and we can stand by every line, take and arrangement choice.

NUVO: I first heard "Somebody" when it was released before your album and it's probably my favorite. What's the inspiration behind the song? Why did you choose to release it first?

Thornewill: "Somebody" was born in Austin, Texas in 2011 during SXSW when I saw this girl's eyes over a guy's shoulder looking wistfully into the sky and I thought, "What if she was looking for me?" The image stuck with me for months and eventually materialized into this song. We released it first because it seemed the most emblematic of what we are best at doing; it is pop music with depth and melancholy and a bit of heartache but still manages to be uplifting and exciting.

NUVO: What's one song on the new album that you feel most connected to or want your fans to connect with?

Thornewill: I am most proud of the song "Adulthood." Emotionally it hits me the most on the record and the message that you can survive childhood and adolescence but "from adulthood, no one survives" resonates with me and I hope it does with the fans as well. But again, not in a fatalistic way, but in a "This is life, sometimes stuff happens" sort of a way.

NUVO: On your website, you all have started a project called "Home Is Where Our Fans Are." Can you tell me what it is and what brought about this idea?

Thornewill: We wanted to pay homage to our fans, let them know that we feel a sense of true community when we tour because of them and wanted to put together a space that was all of their photos and important bits of their lives compiled into one place.

NUVO: Do you have any favorite pictures yet?

Thornewill: There is one of a girl holding a sign that says she is trapped. Makes me laugh every time.

NUVO: You guys have had many great experiences as a band so far like playing Lolla, being on the Dave Letterman Show and touring with Ben Folds. What would you want the next step to be?

Thornewill: The sky is the limit. We are hoping for more late night shows and bigger tours nationally and internationally. I just find that if you work hard and wait, good things happen.

NUVO: Your band name used to be The Sunday Mail but you changed it to Jukebox the Ghost. Why the name change?

Thornewill: So that the headline of a bad review could never read "The Sunday Mail fails to deliver"

"Schizophrenia" by Jukebox the Ghost from their second album Everything Under the Sun

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