When news arrived that Milwaukee's own Jaill had inked a deal with Sub Pop Records, I bet more than a few were a little jealous. After all, it's Sub Pop, the label that launched the careers of Nirvana, The Postal Service and The Shins – and a host of other great bands in between.
Indeed, Jaill and Sub Pop seem like a perfect marriage. Jaill makes melodic, no frills, guitar-fueled pop look easy and Sub Pop is perfectly placed to get that music to just the right audience across the globe. Add in that Jaill has always had eye-catching sleeve art and Sub Pop wraps every release in a gorgeous physical package and it seems even more like a match made in musical heaven.
Now, Jaill's second Sub Pop release, "Traps," is here, and like its predecessor, 2010's "That's How We Burn," it's laced with twitchy, catchy slices of guitar pop.
We asked drummer Austin Dutmer about working with Sub Pop, recording "Traps" at home and more.
OnMilwaukee.com: Looking back now, how was the first experience with Sub Pop? Was it what you expected in terms of distribution, exposure, tour support?
Austin Dutmer: Our first dealings with Sub Pop were pretty unbelievable to say the least. Other than getting Paypal'd $12 for a record from someone with a SubPop email address in 2010, we had no idea they'd even ever heard of us. But we played a show in Seattle later that year, and when we heard through the promoter before the show that they bought a handful of tickets and were coming out, it was like a weird dream started playing itself out in front of us.
They had us to the office the next day, where there's like awesome, grunge-y memorabilia all over the place. Polaroids of Sebadoh and Sonic Youth and posters of all the best bands. Everyone there is super nice and excited just to be working there. They bought us pizza and threw armloads of CDs and records in our van. After 10 years of obscurity, and never even a hint of a record deal, it was like, "what the hell is happening...?"
I'd say our expectations, since we've never in fact had any, have been vastly exceeded.
OMC: Do have more records/options on our deal with Sub Pop? Do you feel any pressure in terms of keeping them happy?
AD: Ha! Never has anyone at Sub Pop given us any pressure, other than to create what it is we truly want to create. Like I said, I feel like, with the record industry these days being so volatile at best, everyone there seems just happy at all to be working there, let alone at such an accomplished and storied company.
OMC: Why did you guys decide to record at home this time around?
AD: We were looking to return to the process we had become most used to over the years. The first Jaill thing ever, back when it was Jail, was me and Vinnie (Kircher; Andrew Harris is the third member of the band) recording a handful of his songs in the basement of the Riverwest four-unit he and I both lived at. Four of those songs became out first 7" EP "Semaine de Quatre Juedis" that we self-released before we even had a band. Some friends were added to flesh out the sound when we started playing live, but for a healthy amount of time the band has existed for the most part as a recording project.
We've recorded and self-released two albums and three EPs, with a couple singles thrown in there, some never even released at all. "That's How we Burn" really was the anomaly – us going formally into a studio and devoting a set amount of time and resources to the completion of something. Besides that, everything else we've done has been real loosie-goosie, and often laid down in either a cramped, 200-degree attic, or a wet 50-degree basement, pipes dripping on us as we worked.
OMC: Did you miss having an external voice – like Justin Perkins' last time – around offering ideas and advice?
AD: We certainly miss his expertise! He's an accomplished and incredibly efficient engineer. We could say we'd wanna do something and in no time he'd have it set up and ready to try. In terms of external voice I'd say Justin was very aware of where we were coming from and especially how seriously we took our own production. It wasn't like he was ever in there saying "do it this way," "do it that way."
It's part of his charm and skill that he knows when and where to encourage and where to allow artists the space to come into their own ideas. Working with Justin was a fantastic experience and we learned a ton from it. It was never a conscious effort to separate ourselves from that. I think it was just more important with this album for us to work without timetables or budgets, and let the work flow from that place, like a wide open canvas. And it certainly did, we took over a year from start to finish shaping it into what it is now. And unless you're on some big-money deal, the only way to do that is at home on your own.
OMC: Tell us a bit about the release party. Bay View Bowl is an unexpected venue. Is it true you're taking on all challengers on the boards?
AD: Look, I bowl like a 76 so I can pretty much guarantee I won't be taking on much. Unless you want to throw those bumper pads for preschoolers in the gutters, I can pretty much assure most people that they can crush me on the lanes. But we're super psyched! Its gonna be a great time. Battlecry is pulling out all the stops. We really wanted a release that was less like a show, and more like a weird party. We were like, "where can we do it where there's pinball and spinning blacklights?" The choice was obvious.
OMC: I see you're hitting the road with King Tuff soon. Do you expect more touring after that or a return to the studio?
AD: We'll be making the rounds. We're so excited for this trip with KT. He's one of our most favorite artists of forever. It's a thrill to be sharing the stage with him night after night. I guess we'll keep our fingers crossed for more tours with our heroes. Beyonce, your next. If you're out there, give us a call.
Jaill officially releases "Traps," with an all-ages record release show at Bay View Bowl, 2416 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Friday, June 8. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 on the day of the show. Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 9. For tickets and more info, go see Battlecry online.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.