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THURSDAY INTERVIEW | Lessons: Humbling metal force

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Tomorrow night, Lessons will headline THE GARAGE, the first in three days of shows for the Marcell, MN metal band (3/16 North Star Area, 3/17 YFC Alexandria). GARAGE MUSIC NEWS was lucky enough to interview Lessons vocalist JJ this week. JJ gave us a lot of insight not only into Lessons today, but also from whence the band came.

This is one of the most honest interviews we’ve had here at GARAGE MUSIC NEWS. Fans of Lessons will leave with a deeper understanding of the band and fans of rock/metal will see a bit of themselves. JJ reminds us music is a so complex that, even with a music degree or decades of playing experience, many of its secrets still escape explanation.

Keep track of Lessons on Facebook and their official website. Listen to two outstanding tracks, “Five Points” and “Divisions,” here.

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THE GARAGE: Name, instrument?

JJ, Vocals

THE GARAGE: What’s your brand of rock and who are the artists that influence Lessons?

JJ:  I would say we definitely fall into the hardcore/metal category. But we would also say that we try to pull some of our sound and influence from the metal core bands that we listened to in the early 2000’s.  I think each of us have some pretty vague musical influences that we listen to on a day-to-day basis. I think we can say anything from Bon Iver to The Chariot to Everclear to Ascend the Hill. But if I were to talk about what bands were influential to us years ago, that’d probably give you a better idea of where our writing process comes from. I would say bands like Poison the Well, Norma Jean (Scogin style), Zao, Foreknown, Comeback Kid, etc. were definitely artists that influenced our writing style. Even some of the current bands that are both awesome artists and fantastic musicians like A Plea for Purging, The Ghost Inside, and ABR.

THE GARAGE: What should the audience expect from your performance this weekend at THE GARAGE? And is there a particular song you’re most excited to play? Why?

JJ:  My favorite song we play is titled “The Allies and the Axis.”  Definitely a fun, fast song with circle pit opportunity and a couple heavy chugs to rock to.  I’m never one to boast about our band since we probably aren’t all that much better than the next, but we do want everyone to come out, support ALL the bands, and get ready to have a good time with tons of energy.

THE GARAGE: What makes a song good? What song do you consider perfect or which one comes closest?

JJ:  This is by far the hardest question to answer.  Personally, I have no background in music theory or anything of the sorts.  Just another guy who likes listening to music and playing music with my friends.  I watched an interview with Freddie Mercury awhile back about how they wrote Bohemian Rhapsody.  It has time changes, key changes and quirky lyrics.  Basically was written with no thought of trying to write the perfect song.  Queen never knew it would become one of the greatest songs of all time.

Some people would say the structure of a song is what makes it good.  Some say the recording or production.  Maybe it’s the lyrical content.  I don’t know.  I say it probably has something to do with heart or passion that’s exuded into/or through the music.   Music in so many ways is just another form of creative self-expression.  So perfect is going to look and sound different to everyone.

THE GARAGE: What do your practices look like?

JJ:  I don’t know if our fans will like reading this but we pretty much never practice together as a full band.  We all live about 200 miles apart from each other making it very difficult to get together for practice.  So for the most part, we send files back and forth via email and are responsible for our own positions in the band.  It works out good haha.

THE GARAGE: Excluding THE GARAGE, what’s your favorite venue to play? Why?

JJ:  We haven’t played too many shows thus far in our career.  I think one of my favorites has been in my hometown of Grand Rapids at a venue called The Ground Floor.  It’s home for me and its family.  Nothings better than that.

THE GARAGE: This is a different direction, but is there a piece of technology that’s indispensable to you (aside from the obvious, like mics, amps, etc.)?

JJ:  No man! I’m such a technology nerd.  I’m always on my iPhone or always on my computer. I hate to be that guy. And honestly if I could get away from a microphone, I would. Not my favorite thing. I’m more of a drum guy; all organic, and all acoustic.

THE GARAGE: Besides you, what local artist deserves more attention?

JJ:  Oh man there are so many local bands better than us that we would need to mention.  I feel even so humbled having bands open for us when we should be the ones opening!  I’ve made a ton of friends being in the music scene for all these years and so have the other guys being in bands like Children 18:3 and Take Cover. So for us, we have so many friends in bands right now that you should  check out. Too many to name. And I can’t be biased.

THE GARAGE: What are you listening to right now?

JJ:  This is going to totally ruin my metal cred but I’ve been into a lot of radio pop hits stuff lately like Bruno Mars, Ellie Goulding, Tayor Swift, etc…  I gotta pay homage to some of the fabs like U2 and The Police.  They’ve been takin over my radio lately as well.

THE GARAGE: Do you have any advice for a fan who wants to start a band?

JJ:  Do it. Nothing’s stopping you but yourself.

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