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reassurance

Hey. i just thought i would say hello, as we are making our final preparations for the shows next week. First of all, thanks to everyone for being so completely cool and understanding about sam’s departure. you guys rock. i don’t want to dwell on it too much over the next month and a half, but i think it would be odd to write a journal now without at least addressing it. it wasn’t an easy decision for him, and it’s not going to be easy on any of us. but one of the most important things in life is happiness. as a friend, i would rather see him happy doing something else, then merely content or discontent in this band. even if it means that i see him less. know that it’s something we’ve all known about for a long time. we are all happy for him and will support him, wherever our lives may lead.

i can reassure you that July For Kings, albeit in a different incarnation, will continue making music. in fact, myself, trav, and t have never felt better about the future than we do right now.

in case you missed it, the big big big big show is August 29th at the frog in cincinnati. please come. that day, we’re having a picnic. I said we would have a picnic, and now we really are. we’re going to have hotdogs and frisbees and park things. check out www.JFKArmy.com for more information.

lastly, i would like to extend a HUGE thank you to the people who have visited the “tip the band” section of the site. we really had no expectations in putting that up here, so thank you for surprising us and making things just a little bit easier right now. we haven’t been contacting anyone, mainly because we have no idea what to say. but we do know who you are, and you are awesome.

make sure and check out the video clip in the music section. the sound quality isn’t great–it was recorded right onto the camera, but there is some cool footage.

we’ll write from pennsylvania.
oohhh i almost forgot to tell you–we got a new digital camera! so they’ll be even more photos on the journal and on the site.

see ‘ya.joe

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The Homestretch

Hey guys. No easy way to break this. I’m leaving the band come the end of August.  I will be going on the PA trip coming up, but Aug 29th at the Mad Frog is going to be my last show. Clear yer calendars.

Sorry to everyone who keeps asking me about this; I’m sure there are a lot of rumors running around. I didn’t want to talk about it because the band decided it would be better to announce it on the website. Also, this gives me a chance to stop any rumors before they start.

I don’t really know what the best way is to address the misconceptions/rumors I’ve heard, so I’ll just say everything that comes to mind.

I decided to leave about two months ago, although the decision has been building up for quite some time. It started coming when my grandfather died this winter, and was almost a certainty by the beginning of summer. It has
nothing to do with any personal problems with any of the guys, and it has nothing to do with any depression/manic feelings I’m having. I’m fine, and the guys are fine. It’s just my time to move along.

These guys are my bestest buddies in the whole world, and always will be. Hell, you’ll probably see me at a lot of the shows they have around here. If I can get time off school/work, I’ll probably beg them to take me on a road trip every once in a while. It’s not as if I’m going to disappear. Every once in a great while, I’m sure you’ll all get to see my pretty face again.

I’m also not leaving because of the success or failures the band has endured. People ask me if the band is going to break up after I’m gone. The answer is EHN-OE. The guys have been talking to labels recently, and some are showing serious interest. I have no doubt that they’re going to sign another deal rather soon, have the record readied rather soon, and drop it like it’s hot. Hell…I should know. I’ve heard and help write most of the new songs and I know how good they are.

So no, the band is not going to stop. We’re auditioning replacements for me right now. This all goes without saying that if you’re a good drummer, send me an e-mail at sam@julyforkings.com. As silly as it sounds, I am the best person to talk to if you want to replace me. I’m supremely confident that we’ll find a replacement, and a good one at that. Oh I know, I know…he won’t be as funny, as short, or as bald as me. He won’t be left-handed. He won’t curse on-air when we’re doing a radio interview, and that will surely suck fucking balls. But we’re going to find someone who you’ll like just as much, and who is a slammin’ drummer. I promise.

A lot of people have also asked me what I’m going to do after August 29th. For starters…I’m going to go back to school. One of the dreams I’ve had my whole life is to graduate from college and to do some graduate work. But this is just one of the dreams I have outside of the band. I want to write, I want to try stand-up comedy, I want to run a marathon with my mom and cousins, I want to become a doctor, I want to get married and have kids and own a pretty house with a picket fence. I want to buy an Alfa Romeo Spider someday. I want to teach my kids to read and write and drum. I want to have a driveway with a basketball hoop, just like the one I grew up in. I was to save someone’s life. There are those and a hundred other things that if I don’t get to steppin’ now, I’m never going to get done. I probably won’t get all of them done in my lifetime, but if I do even half as well out of this band as I’ve done in it….well shit, I’ll have lived two lifetimes.

I’ve thought a lot of whether what I’m doing is right or not. Would it be more right for me to stay in this band instead of follow my other dreams, pursue other goals? Or should I stick it out, and see if I’m happier in another year? Even if our next record is out and sells eight bazillion copies, I can’t see myself being more satisfied with what I and we have accomplished than I am now. I have done everything I want to do with this band, and now I want to split. Everytime I think about it my brain comes back to the same scene. It’s the same dumb movie, the same dumb line. It’s from “Shawshank Redemtion” and Andy Dufresne is talking to Red…and he’s explaining that he’s got to break out.

“You either get busy living, or get busy dying.”

Well shit. I guess it’s my time to live.

I love you guys a bunch. I’ll write again before I’m done.Love nonchalantly,
S

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Report

Hey. It is very late. And i am up, as usual, working on a thousand projects at once. I am either in a “manic” period, or i actually do have a ton of shit to do. I can never tell anymore. I stole the band’s scanner back from Travis, so I will be scanning some pictures from the UC show and putting them up soon, assuming the driver I am currently downloading actually makes it work (the last one didn’t). This will make it possible for you to submit photos for the site in person, at shows, instead of just through e-mail. Neat.

I am behind on e-mail this week. Approximately fifty e-mails behind, so if i haven’t got back with ‘ya yet, i will eventually.

The shows over the weekend were fun. The weather for UC shaped up to be pretty awesome, and that’s always fun. I didn’t do my usual pre-show vocal warm up for the first time in months, and I was reminded of why I usually do… But I figured two shows in a day, with a cough i’m still trying to shake, it wouldn’t make too much of a difference. We played the set kinda backwards, just for the hell of it. We’re really making an attempt to rework the live show a little. I think that’s a good thing for everyone. After the show, we ate sandwiches. Did you know–the sandwich is named after the British fourth Earl of Sandwich, who supposedly instructed his servant to fetch him some meat, in between two pieces of bread. That was still absolutely crazy in the 18th century. After eating sandwiches, we went to Urban Outfitters to look for clothes, cuz we’re urban like that (and T told Sam they had cool shoes on sale), and then to Travis’s brothers house to clean up. Thanks Dan & friends. Why I was compelled to shower before getting sweaty again, i do not know. It just feels better to walk on a stage when you’re clean. One of those things. It’s like having a date with music. You don’t want to show up all stinky and make the songs angry. Or the people directly in front of the stage. At The Mad Frog, we had a good crowd, thankfully. The last show we did there was on a couple days notice, and the show before that was on Valentine’s Day, in the middle of an torrential blizzard. It was good to have a show under normal conditions. I tried to explain this on stage, but it probably came out more like “blahblah blah, blah blah”. My good friend said it seemed as if i hadn’t been getting out much… i suppose that’s true. I am cooped up in garages and basements making music and art and websites for a month, then all the sudden i’m in front of a few hundred people with a microphone. It’s often difficult to self-edit. Despite all that, it was cool to play acoustic. The first time we played at The Mad Frog, it was acoustic. And we really haven’t played there like that in a long time. I’ve always felt like it’s a good way to play new material, because it’s easier to get a sense of a song for what it is, not how loud it is or how much we’re running around the stage. Thanks to Oddfellows Temple and Corbit for playing with us and being cool to us.

Backtracking a little. speaking of getting out more–let’s have a party! A big unbirthday party. Parties are fun. There was some stuff on the JFKArmy board a little while back about a picnic somewhere. I still want to do that. In June sometime. I grilled out some hot dogs the other night, and it was awesome. Let’s all get together and make hot dogs and play frisbee. I’ll let you know.

take care

joe

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OSU

Hey.
it’s nearing 3am. I just got home from the show at OSU. I am going to bed very shortly. i am still sick, recovering from a week-long cold/cough/sore-throat thing. And no, it’s not SARS. At least, i don’t think so. But it sure sucks.
Despite my being sick, the show today went well. It was muggy, and a little hot, but that didn’t seem to bother anyone much. We still have friends in Columbus! That’s great news. We haven’t done a show up there in so long, that we didn’t really know what to expect. The turnout was great, and the other bands were great too. It was extremely muggy, but it was nice seeing our old friends Kill Hannah, and having the opportunity to meet some cool Columbus bands. We played about an hour, so we were able to debut “Perfect World”. I actually wrote it a couple weeks ago, but we just worked it up as a band on wednesday. I am totally in love with T’s cello part. I think it’s some of his best work. And it felt really good on stage. It’s one thing to be in a barn or garage or basement playing a new song, but only when you perform in front of a crowd does that song become alive. Sometimes songs don’t want to be anything. But i think this one felt good tonight, and i think we’ll be keeping her. still needs some minor adjustments, of course.
time for soup and sleep. thanks to everyone at OSU for making us feel so welcome. go bucks!

joe

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Derivative

Just wanting to make sure you know we’re still alive. T has skipped town for the last couple weeks, and we’re in the middle of moving our rehearsal space. So that’s what’s going on here. Not too exciting, eh? Oh, and i’ve been writing some songs. Most notably, “perfectly world” and “pilot”, both of which, i hope we have the opportunity to play sometime in May.

Last week, i went to a Pearl Jam concert in Lexington. I know, “that’s SO nineties”. But you’ve got to pay homage to your founding fathers. Alt rockers must attend Pearl Jam shows. To be honest, i had never seen them before, and it was always one of those things that i thought i should do. Now, when i’m 80, i’ll tell my grandkids i saw pearl jam, and they’ll be impressed. I would bet, that PJ is one of few bands that will actually be remembered in fifty years. And with good reason.

The show was exactly what you would expect from rock veterans with dozens of hits under their belts. They played for two and a half hours, around 75% singles, which is pretty damn impressive in and of itself. I was half expecting to hear mostly album tracks from their recent releases, but like everyone else in attendance, i was excited to have the chance to hear old grunge anthems like “Jeremy”, “Black”, “Daughter”, etc., and perhaps my favorite song “Immortality”. The crowd was electric, and the band genuinely seemed to be having fun, which must be slightly challenging, knowing your audience may be a little more concerned with all the stuff you were doing ten years ago.

Pearl Jam is one of those bands that all critics must compare other, newer bands to, if they sound anything remotely like them. Or even if they don’t. Bush, Creed, Staind, Nickelback, a thousand others, and even us occasionally, get the “derivative of Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and the early nineties grunge sound” slap. When Pearl Jam came out, they got The Stones and The Doors (“a band whose music is Zep/Stones- derivative at best”), and Soundgarden, and all the other bands from that time, and now they’re getting Neil Young and Tom Petty. Once critics accepted Creed as a viable group, based solely on record sales, they began comparing all new bands to Creed. And soon enough they’ll be another band that everyone is compared to. I guess that’s your job when you’re a music critic. But to be a band that everyone else is derivative of, is the mark of a group that will stand the test of time.

Isn’t the stigma attached to the very word derivative kind of funny? What is music, and what is art, if it isn’t building on and reinventing the past? Are we so naive as a culture, to think that musicians and artists are living in caves, snatching ideas completely out of thin air? What are you, if not a product of your environment–the things you see, the things you’re taught to believe, and of course, the things you hear. As a writer, i think your subconscious holds more power over you than anything else. It is unforgivable indeed to sit down and say “man i love that STP song. i’m going to try and rip it off. i’m also going to sing just like that guy”. But to write, play, and sing from your heart, but end up creating something new that echoes songs or sounds from the past, is simply part of it all.

With that said, of course there’s room for innovation in music. That’s part of a songwriter’s job. It’s okay to be a little derivative, as long as you’re putting enough of yourself into what you’re doing, and you’re not afraid to take chances with your art.

More than anything, Rock and Roll is a tradition in America. Just like baseball, or church, or anything else. It’s ingrained into the culture, and reflects the concerns, loves, and philosophies of every generation. Sure, the format changes slightly with every passing year–the guitar solos are longer, shorter, longer again, the voices are high, low, scratchy, clean, but it’s all the same song–i am. i feel.

I won’t say i’m not derivative. couldn’t say that about Pearl Jam, or anything other band either. To exist is to be derivative. And i wouldn’t expect artists to begin apologizing for their existence any time soon.

rock and roll is king

joe

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Westward Expansion

Yesterday, we decided to go to the St. Louis Arch on our way out of town. When you’re in another city, it seems logical to do the things you feel like you’re supposed to do. And if you’re in St. Louis, you might as well go the arch. Had we known it was going to take two hours, we might have reconsidered. The St. Louis Arch is mainly a grueling shuffle from line to line, waiting and waiting. During your first half-hour of waiting, you’re expected to visit the Museum of Westward Expansion. St. Louis has often been called the gateway to the west, and the Gateway Arch was built as a monument to the spirit of western pioneers. I have a very small amount of Crow indian in me, and my European ancestors were homesteaders, so i’ve always had an affinity for the history and culture of the Wild West. But let me be cynical and no-fun for a moment. The main ideas of the Museum of Westweard Expansion, as far as i can tell are a.) wow, the pioneers sure did slaughter lots of Buffalo and b.) wow, the pioneers sure did slaughter lots of Native Americans (bear with me, more rock and roll is on the way). When my trek through the museum was complete, i had serious doubts about the motives behind building the Arch, and whether “Westward Expansion” is really something we, as Americans, should be celebrating. I’ve been thinking much about it since, and i suppose there’s something to be said for “discovering” this great country of ours, and the toils and perils the settlers faced, but i still have mixed feelings about the Arch, and what the builders’ main intentions were. If it was entirely clear that it was to mourn the Native Americans’ loss of lives, land, and culture, cool. But in a round about way, it seems as if it’s a celebration of those things, and i find that hard to wrap my head around. i admit that in high school, i became awfully weary of hearing about the plight of the native americans. but it’s just one of those things…you don’t want to think about it, you’ve heard it all before, but it is a big deal, and demands rememberance.

With all that said, it must be noted that the Arch is a magnificent, wonderous sight, and i enjoyed it for what it is (an amazingly large metal structure) tremendously. It’s extremely graceful. At the top, if you hold real still, you can feel it swaying in the wind, like some ancient tree, alive and tired of the earth. That was by far the coolest part of the experience.

Those are my thoughts for today.

Before you fall asleep, here’s the shot of us with Ryan and Andrew from Greenwheel after the show:

We sure do like some unhappy dudes next to them. Thanks to Jennifer for taking pictures. You’ll see more of her shots from the show in a new
JulyForKings.com gallery, or at her site, http://aatm.port5.com, soon.

we’re home now, rehearsing for Allentown and Cleveland. today, i’m having a picnic.

later.

joe

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back in Vegas

T and i are back in Las Vegas, after a wonderful show with The Counting Crows in Phoenix, AZ. We received a wonderful introduction from a couple new friends at The Zone, phoenix’s coolest raadio station, and at sunset, played for a few thousand people. The crowd was fun. And plenty of people were singing along to Normal Life, thanks to The Zone’s continued support of the song. We had a blast on stage; i think it has gone down as one of our most fun performances.

A friend from Syracuse just sent me some awesome photos from a show we played with SR-71. Here’s one:

Cool photos from Rebecca Clark!
To check out the rest, click here.

I just blew a bunch of money (well a bunch to me) on slots and blackjack. T was trying to teach me how to play…gambling is not exactly my thing. I would rather throw pennies in a wishing well all day. Probably have better chances of coming out on top.

We’ve got one more day to kill here before an acoustic show for Mix 94.1, and then we’re headed to Memphis. Three exciting cities in a row. T said to me the other day “i like to travel”. I just laughed and said “it’s a good thing”. We talked about how our interests and lifestyles were always condusive to this sort of job, before we were in a band or on the road. Like we were just naturally cut out for it or something…shortly after, we came to the conclusion that most everyone likes to travel, stay up late, and rock. (well maybe not EVERYONE likes to rock…)

anyway, i’m going to try and find something to do that doeesn’t involve throwing my money on green tables.
take care.

joe

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