Smoke Break: a conversation with Jr. Jr.’s Josh Epstein

Paul Moses: I know you just got done with the sound check. You seem pretty calm — are there any last minute preparations y’all have to do before shows?
Josh Epstein: No. I mean especially right now… we’re not playing last, so it’s not our production. That’s usually the bulk of what we do. All of our stage stuff, our lights, projections… we’re doing that. It’s actually a lot less stressful to not be the last band.

PM: Do you prefer to be recording or out on the road?
JE: I would prefer to be recording. Not that I mind being out on the road, but I just like creating more.

PM: I’m sure being on the bus for however long has to kill you at some point.
JE: I don’t know — I think we’ve learned how to do it. The first time you get a bus, you kind of party, since you’re not driving. That makes the tour brutal. I think we’ve all found personal ways to do it. Me, I just can’t drink when I’m on tour. For others, they just need to have their video games with them. I have my dog with me… you know, little subtle things that make it alright.

PM: Does the dog do pretty well?
JE: Yeah, he’s great. Great.

PM: I read that your first album was recorded in someone’s basement.
JE: Yeah, Danny’s grandma’s basement.

PM: Have y’all kept doing that, or was that just for the first album?
JE: That’s how we work. We each have our own little crappy studios and just work on them. We go get together with our friend Ben West and make it sound a bit better at the end. I know sometimes we go work with him at the beginning, but yeah, we still record it and do everything ourselves.

PM: When you record an album, do you have a concept for the album already, or do you do individual songs and then put it together?
JE: The first album was just individual songs. But this time, we just have an idea. It’s not a concept, just an idea that we want to approach writing.

PM: Has it been harder to come up with more and more material as you’ve had more albums released?
JE: No, that’s never a challenge for us. I know a lot of bands have writer’s block and stuff, but for me, writing is what I do, and I would consider myself more of a writer than anything. I’ve just kind of developed tools to help myself always be productive. There’s never really a time when I don’t have an idea.

PM: Who have you not toured with that you’d like to?
JE: I’d like to tour with the Flaming Lips. I’ve just loved watching their show, it would be cool to watch that show every night. I’d love to tour with Broken Social Scene, honestly. I kind of miss the way they used to sound, and hope they get back out there. They were a band I grew up listening to.

PM: Do you have any life advice for college students in general?
JE: I have life advice for people who are younger than me in general. I’m in my early thirties, and been in a band since I was 21, so I would say just that it’s scary to me that I feel like we’ve arrived in a moment where we all need to realize that the present is our present. It’s not what’s happening on TV, it’s happening here. It’s a little scary to me that people still aren’t willing to get involved with things that are really important. By that I mean, certainly like politics right now. Fixing the system and making sure that it represents our voice, because the younger generation… race is way less of an issue for us. Gender identity, gender issues are less of a social discomfort for our generation, and we need to make that heard, and make our voices heard. Gay marriage shouldn’t be part of the election issues, it should just… be.

PM: What does the process for choosing tour locations? It seems like Tulsa gets a lot of better names than you’d probably expect for a city this size in the middle of Oklahoma.
JE: We’re not really in charge of that, but I think it’s generally just a routing issue. You know, where does it make sense to play after the next show. It’s a really big country, especially out west. On the east coast, it’s a little easier, because everything’s 4 hours apart. Tulsa’s right in the middle of a lot of things. We haven’t played here too much, but this seems like a nice place to play.

PM: Well, welcome to Tulsa.
JE: Thanks! Maybe somebody at the University of Tulsa can book us for Homecoming or something.

PM: That would be great.
JE: Yeah, it would be fun to play in a college.

Post Author: tucollegian

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