CMJ has the exclusive download of the Jay Vons’ unreleased track “Night (Was Stealing From The Sun).” Grab it here, and stream below.
CMJ Exclusive: Jay Vons – Night (Was Stealing From The Sun) by CMJ Network
The “about” section on the Jay Von’s Facebook page contains one phrase, a slogan of sorts: “Clean cut – groomed hair – neat.” Certainly the tagline describes both the band’s sound and, for the most part, its look as well: jeans, maybe some long hair, button-up shirts—not the kind of band with parental warning stickers on their albums. As fitting as the slogan may be, however, the band laughs at the mention of it. “Most of that is taken off the back of a Wailers’ record,” drummer Mikey Post explains, referring to the slogan and the band’s alleged bio as it appears on Facebook. The band’s proper tagline, he says, would be similar. “We’re just four guys that all like the same kind of music,” says Post. “Just four like minds that all play in the same band together.”
Next to “clean-cut” and “neat,” the Jay Vons is simple, unpretentious and easygoing. The simplicity of a rock/soul band made up of four guys one might regularly have a beer with adds to the romance of its old-school sound, the kind of music recorded onto vinyl records some 40 or 50 years ago. The members of the Jay Vons also play in other bands that harken back to an earlier decade: soul/funk group Naomi Shelton And The Gospel Queens, blues-y old school rock outfit Reigning Sound, and upbeat Grateful Dead-ish ’60s garage troupe Robbers On High Street.
The band’s old school sound, humble and approachable vibe, and straightforward, uncomplicated appearance aren’t exactly the active ingredients in what makes a band rocket to instant stardom via today’s hype circle. In fact, the very nature of the Jay Vons is antithetical to all that which makes the hype circle go round: flash, shameless self-promotion, trendiness, parental warning stickers. “We’re not trying to be obscure on any level, that’s just what we kind of fell into,” Post explains as his bandmates nod and chuckle in agreement. With all of the members’ different projects and casual attitude, the Jay Vons isn’t about hype, theatrical get-ups, and inflammatory lyrics or behavior.
The bandmates can’t quite agree on exactly when the Jay Vons formed, but they settle on about two years ago. Post and Jay Vons’ guitarist Mike Cantanese began playing together at age 17, when they frequented hardcore shows around their native Long Island. “The shows we were going to, we didn’t really want to sound like those bands,” Post says. After hooking up with Benny Trokan on bass and Dave Amels on the organ, Post says he and Cantanese finally found what they wanted to do musically. “We were in a band when we were younger that was nothing like this, but since then we’ve been trying to get closer to what would be the ideal-sounding band for us—and this is finally it,” Post says.
Sounding ideal is certainly a concern for the Jay Vons, for some members more than others. While many listeners settle for low-quality mp3 files, Amels in particular is a connoisseur of sound. Instead of digitally altering music in the recording studio and doing a bunch of different takes, the Jay Vons record live and right onto a tape. “We’re all on the same page sound-wise, so it’s easy for us to go into a room and for it to go right onto the tape without having to overdub a bunch of stuff,” Hamel explains. According to Post, who cares less about the details of audio quality, “it’s just the way we’re comfortable doing it and the way we think it sounds best.” In any case, the gropu is currently in the process of making a record that the members hope will be finished in September.
The Jay Vons also hopes to tour more extensively than the four-day stints the group has done in the past. As it stands, the Jay Vons perform mostly in its home base of Brooklyn, but the members admit they’re not a huge part of Brooklyn’s vast music scene. “There’s so much [in Brooklyn], I don’t think we’re really involved in it,” Post says. “We’re just trying to fit in where we can. We kind of just wanted to play shows with our friends.”