1) For the viewers of this blog who would not know you, What would you tell about JENNY to introduce yourselves? How long are you guys together as a band? Who is playing what instrument in the band nowadays? Can you explain the choice of the band's name.
My name is Justin Maurer and since I was 15 years old I've toured and released records with bands like Maurice's Little Bastards, Deadly Weapons, Red Dons, Clorox Girls, Suspect Parts, Mano De Mono, LA Drugz, and Maniac. When I was playing guitar and singing in Maniac I wrote some songs that were in more of a 60s power-pop vibe that didn't really fit in with what Maniac was doing. James "Jimmy" Carman (who played drums in LA Drugz and Maniac) and I recorded some songs in his home studio in Carson, California that I dubbed "Carson Drift Studios". The recordings turned out pretty damn good. We play well and sing well together. I played guitar and bass and sang lead vocals. Jimmy played drums and sang backing vocals. We had a lot of great harmonies.
My little brother moved to Texas, and I drove out there from Los Angeles to visit last year for Christmas. L.A. to Dallas, Texas is about a 24 hour drive. On the way, my good friend Cezar Mora and I did a mini-tour playing country music covers and originals. This project is called Cezar & Justin. The last show of our mini-tour was in Tucson, Arizona. We stayed with Matt Rendon from the killer band, The Resonars. He showed us his analog home studio called Midtown Island Studios which he has in a shed in his backyard. The studio was incredible. All of the Resonars records he made there sounded fucking fantastic. I began jonesing to record there. On the long drive back from Texas after Christmas, I made a pit stop in Tucson and recorded some songs with Matty. I sang and played guitar and Matt played drums, bass, lead guitar, and sang backing vocals. The Carson Drift and Midtown Island recordings became the JENNY EP. When I was thinking about what to call this project my good friend Jenny Messer (who frequently roadies for The Spits and the King Khan & BBQ Show) said that the best name in the world for a band would be JENNY. I thought about it and agreed with her. Jenny Angellio from the band Neighborhood Brats thinks the band is named after her. Matt Rendon thinks I named the band after a girl named Jenny from Tucson. My sister's name is Jenny. And I do love the Tommy Tutone song. But the name actually comes from Jenny Messer's suggestion. Thanks Jenny. After the pandemic dies down (we're still at around 1000 new cases of Covid daily in Los Angeles), I plan to form a full band and do some more recording and touring as JENNY.
2) About the HALF length record (as opposed to FULL length, ha ha), what can you tell about the recording process? Was this a "live" in the studio recording or a track by track recording with lots of overdubs? And why only 5 songs? What happened to the 5 other ones?
The recording was live, with guitar/vocals/and drums recorded at the same time. If I didn't like the vocal take, I'd do it again, but some of the first takes ended up working out great. We overdubbed bass. lead guitar, backing vocals and sometimes extra percussion and handclaps. I have lots more songs, but I had the idea to make a one-sided 12" record that could play on 45 RPM speed. I love 12" records on 45 speed. I believe one side of a 12" has to be 15 minutes or under to play on 45 RPM, so that's why you only have 5 songs. I'm looking forward to recording a full length as soon as we can.
3) Do you use the nowadays digital recording technology or do you guys only work with analog machines in analog studios?
I always prefer analog studios and have done most of my records at fantastic analog studios like Egg Studios in Seattle, Stationhouse in Los Angeles, Smail Shock's Studio B in Berlin, Estudios Tigruss in Gandia, Spain and most recently Midtown Island Studio in Tucson, Arizona. James Carman's home studio in Carson, California was digital, that's where we did the first 3 songs of the JENNY EP. And the last 2 songs are analog, at Matt Rendon's Midtown Island. Where analog tape recordings are most noticeably "warmer" for me are in the drums and the vocals. However, some digital recordings can sound pretty good too, it just depends on the recording technique, the microphones used, the placement of the mics, and the equipment. It's an analog guitar played through an analog amp, recorded with an analog mic that goes into a digital recording setup. The first 3 songs on the EP which are digital sound pretty fucking great. And of course the last 2 on analog sound great too. I'm a purist and always prefer analog, but sometimes it can be cost-prohibitive and it can be much cheaper to do digital. That said, if bands want an authentic old school sound, go with an analog engineer and an analog setup.
4) How come that Helen Santiago in on the BACK cover? Commercially speaking would it not have been a smarter move to put her on the FRONT? I mean no disrespect, but it is a general admitted fact that a girl on the front cover of a record is always good for the sales of a record.
The cover is a two sided one. There is no back cover. It's a double A Side. The Helen Santiago photo is a great shot by Vicky Vicks, a photographer from Madrid, that's why we used it. I wanted people to think that Helen was "JENNY" and the other guys on the other side are the backing band. It seems to have worked to some degree.
5) You are the composer of all the tunes on this record. What is your favorite topic/topic that comes easily when you write a new song?
Most of my songs are personal. The first song "Stupid Band" is about playing in touring punk bands for 20 years, the second song "Rose City" is how heartbreaking it was to move away from Portland, Oregon and how I still miss my friends dearly. The third tune "Cockroach Tea" is about moving into my new apartment in Pico Union, Los Angeles about four years ago and drinking a cup of tea. I set the mug down and saw a cockroach crawl out of it. "Don't mind me I'm just sitting here drinking cockroach tea". "Alright WIth Me" is about the end of my last relationship. We got divorced. "Song For Sadie" is about my ex-girlfriend Sadie. Nearly every song on the three Clorox Girls LPs is about her. She had a tragic event in her life, and when she told me, it broke my heart and I wrote the song for her.
6) To what kind of music did you listen to as teenagers and does it still influence your today work? What were your favorite bands as a teenager? Name 3 bands that you consider still have a influence on your own work today.
When I was a teenager and got into music, I was living in a small town near Seattle called Bainbridge Island. The local punk scene was very healthy at that point and some of the first records I owned were by local bands like PUD, The Rickets and The Displacements as well as a bunch of Seattle punk and 70's and 80's Californian punk. My dad had a surfer friend from Morro Bay, California named Fran. He would mail me tapes of his local blues radio show. Bluesmen like Lightnin' Hopkins, Howlin' Wolf, and Muddy Waters were on there as well as old country music like Lefty Frizell and Hank Williams. One of my favorite movies as a teenager was "La Bamba",the biopic about 50s rock legend Ritchie Valens. I also had lots of respect for early rock n roll like Little Richard, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, and James Brown. I moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1994 and still remember the songs which were played on the local alternative radio station 107.7 The End. Weezer's Blue Album, Nirvana's Unplugged in New York, the first Foo Fighters album with the ray gun on the cover. My favorite band as a teenager was probably The Germs. I have a Germs tattoo and still love the Germs. I also have a Richie Valens tattoo. So there's 2 that still have an influence on me today: The Germs and Ritchie Valens. One more? Buddy Holly.
7) Do you have a new video on youtube featuring a track from the LP?
No, not yet. I'm still bugging Andrew "Le Capitan" Zappin to make one for us.
8) What can concert goers expect at a JENNY concert? Are you playing any famous cover songs during the gig?
Hopefully in 2021 we can tour again, right? I believe Americans are currently banned from entering Europe due to our government's complete and utter failure to contain the Coronavirus. Famous cover songs? We'll see... it wouldn't be a surprise if I told you in this interview.
9) Are there any bands in The USA today you consider yourself close to, musically speaking?
I like the Reflectors outta Long Beach, California. I also dig More Kicks out of London, England. I haven't heard any other bands that sound anything like us except my old bands Suspect Parts or LA Drugz maybe.
10) How would You describe the music you're playing?
Power Pop/Punk with a strong 60s influence. Catchy, warm, nice harmonies. Many power pop bands really lack on the POWER end of things. (I can only agree with that! Eric) It's an art to balance both the pop and the power. It's something I always strive for. You gotta sweeten em up then kick em in the balls.
11) What are the plans for the rest of 2020 and for 2021 as far as JENNY is concerned?
I'd like to record a full length record then tour in 2021 as soon as we can. Releasing another record, touring the west coast of the US and Europe would be fantastic.
12) Are you willing to talk about your youth as a CODA or do you believe this as no concern at all with JENNY?
Sure. I'm a CODA which means child of a deaf adult. My mom, aunt, and stepdad are all Deaf. My first language was American Sign Language. When I grew up, I was the oldest in my family so I was the one that my mom relied on to interpret for her for most of my childhood and teenage years. My parents were divorced when I was really young. In my family we had a lot of alcohol and drug abuse on both sides as well as some history of sexual abuse. For me, music was an outlet that kept me sane. A lot of my friends and family members got hit with drug and alcohol addiction, and I'm fortunate that music kept me motivated and out of that kind of trouble. I saw music as an escape out of a small town and began recording and touring when I was 15 years old. I love performing and playing music, and am very grateful to have had the opportunity to play all over North and South America and Europe with my bands. Sign Language is a different form of communication that's visual. Music is also a form of communication. When I'm communicating well in any language it provides me with a catharsis, a release, that has really helped me out in life, and I think it has helped many other people too. Great songwriting is great storytelling and I try to tell a story with my songs.
13) Anything you wanna add?
Thanks for listening! The JENNY 12" is available in Europe through Wanda Records and in the US through Dirt Cult Records in Portland, Oregon. We're available for private events, weddings and bar mitzvahs. If there's any European festivals in 2021, JENNY would love to play! By the way, for you German record collectors, the first pressing of the JENNY 12" is 300 copies, on blue vinyl, with a beautiful screenprint on the B side of the vinyl. There's full color art, a great thick sleeve, and a download code of the album included. We're really happy with how it turned out, Monster at Wanda Records did an amazing job!
Order the JENNY EP in Europe here: https://mailorder.wandarecords.de/
Order the JENNY EP in North America here: https://dirt-cult-records.myshopify.com/products/jenny-s-t-12
Stream the JENNY EP here: https://jenny2020.bandcamp.com/album/jenny
See Justin's music, writing, and ASL Interpreting here: www.justin-maurer.com