Phoenix Band Joan Of Arkansas Started Late And Can't Stop Now

Phoenix Band Joan Of Arkansas Started Late And Can't Stop Now
Like many new bands, Joan of Arkansas was "forged in the fire of Covid," says singer Kayla Long. But you also have to give credit to social media.
“EP [Bradley] and I met through Tinder in 2019,” she says. “In February 2021, he posted an ad on Craigslist where he found Joshua [Lynch, bassist] and Zach [Bird, guitarist]. Then the EP switched to guitar, so we had to find a drummer. Sean [Harris] was an old friend of Jack's and brought him up in May 2022."

Rest, they say, is history.

"Our sound and where we come from [came] when we added a second guitar and our own drummer," Long explains. "That's when we were able to really embody the sound we were going for."

The essay is definitely successful. For one year, roughly from August 2021 to November 2022, Arkansas jeans were extremely prolific.

"We released 18 songs in the band's first year," says Long. Each was recorded at AudioConfusion Studios with producer Jalipaz Nelson. "But we only recorded 25 to 30."

So why such a reliable release schedule? Long is responsible for the privacy of this group.

"We're all old, sick kids in our 30s and 40s," says Long. "We have a nurse, a high school history teacher, a contractor, and then me, a full-time sociology student at ASU, and a project manager at a construction company."

This means that their main focus is composition and performance. But for Long in particular, Joa was an opportunity to resist aging and reignite her passion for creativity.

"I loved musical theater as a kid," says Long. "I did musical theater, tap dance. But then I grew up and got a real job and worked 9 to 5”.

Long believes their ages and lifestyles help each other grow musically. For example, Bradley is more influenced by Pixies, Archers of Loaf and noise pop, while Bird leans more towards indie pop.

"And then they bring in each other's stuff and it becomes a little more like Jeanne from Arkansas," Long says.

JoA has become the perfect medium to not only create things, but to do it in a more tangible and organic way. This is a lesson in what it's really like to grow old as a creative type.

"When I was 21, the main thing was to have perfect hair and perfect makeup, do a full vocal warm-up and try to sound my best," says Long. "Now I finally have eyelashes on my face, sweat and vomit after five minutes."

Long and perhaps the rest of the group think of their art as a direct and intuitive means of interaction.

"I like Tim Harington from Les Savvy Faves and Mia Zapata from The Geats," says Long. "They have completely evolved on stage. This show: We want people to remember not only how we played, but also how we performed and what kind of physical structure we had. I don't know if that's good or bad, but I think it's both."

As such, their live performances are a big part of JoA's endeavours. Perhaps more important than their many singles and EPs.

"I think there's a lot to be said for seeing and experiencing live music," Long said. "It's a very small piece of the pie that you hear and see [on tape] compared to what you see from us on the show."

They attribute their collaboration with Nelson to the same cohesion and emphasis on live performances.

"He said, 'I don't want to put techno beats and all kinds of craziness on your record. I want you to be as close and believable as you feel live,'" Long said.

It's harder to focus on live performances when JoA was a band. Growing up can mean a wiser approach, but it also means facing an ever-changing landscape.
"For example, when we first formed our band, we faced a very difficult challenge: 75% of the venues we played were apartments, malls, or whatever," Long said.

They have eclectic sounds. He makes great tunes, but it's not always easy when it comes to orders.

"I think another thing that's been a blessing and a curse is that we're not punk enough to be in a punk band," Long said. "We're not popular enough to be in a popular line-up. We are not pretty or young enough to be part of the cobblers. We had to create our own little quirks."

Thus, the group befriended other local acts, including Black Caesar Soul Club and Goodbye Ranger. This relationship wasn't just an upcoming "kids tour," but a validation of their sonic approach to making music.

"We've found that by adding different genres to our music, we want to satisfy every need," says Long. "It's opened a lot of doors for us and allowed us to make really good friends in the industry with some great local bands."

They also like to be weak in a scene like Phoenix, which is very strange and surprisingly friendly.

"There's no room for selfishness in this," Long said. "I think people are very quick to tell people off if they walk into this room with that attitude and bring it down to earth."

All these experiences and lessons led JoA to their debut album "Imperfectionist", consisting of 13 songs. It's a slightly ironic name given the band's creative process.

"Some of the songs on this album we've already written and they were some of the first songs we wrote as a band, but they weren't ready to come out of the oven yet." says Long.

The whole approach - nothing works until it works - began with their 2021 EP, Make It Uglier. - and includes a commitment to continuously develop JoA.

Our mantra was: 'More distortion. More amps. Turn them up to 11," he says. "Our goal was to push everyone out of their comfort zone. But we will never force anyone to do something they are not comfortable with. Long mentions a song that was nixed because it was "too much like an Eve 6 song that we had to change."
However, successful execution does not mean safe and perfect creation.

"I think it has to do with the aging of the group," says Long. "Exactly, this is very good. It does not need to be sanded or polished, this is not the main thing. We have the ability to throw up our hands and say, "It's not done," or "I'm not this or that, so we're not ready for anything. We're not going to bring that to the table."

It took a while to achieve this cohesion. Ultimately, it was about finding better ways to communicate with each other.

"So learning five different ways with five different people and finding their musical language is really important," she says. “And it took a while; There have been some disappointments and disagreements. Finally, we came to a consensus: "It sounds more like a pixie" or something like that, and find out what our musical language is.

But the end result is undeniable, especially considering how modern Zoa has become these days.

“We booked two days with [Nelson]. We recorded almost the whole album on the first day," says Long. "The second day it was like, 'Do you want to record more songs?'

The album itself reflects many of these experiences and values. From "Sweet Pop Bomb" "Peck" to "Super Dirty and Doomy" "Super Dirty and Doomy" "Final Girl Semifinalist", JoA has definitely dominated the sonic spectrum. But writing also has immediacy; It doesn't quite match their vomit-inducing fast pace, but it's certainly moving no matter what. These are the efforts of people who have something to say, as well as the experience and desire to shout as loud as possible.
Oh, and that's just the beginning.

"I think we have about eight to 10 new songs," Long said. “We don't have an off button, which is sometimes a good thing and sometimes a bad thing. For us this is not a homework. We don't make money with this."

This attitude of doing for love also communicates JoA's larger goals and objectives. For example, they want to play the Bisbee Sidepony Express Music Festival again and do a "really cool opening act" somewhere. However, it's not just about staying humble or setting achievable goals; JoA understands her unique career path and what really matters in terms of success.

"I think we worked differently than a lot of other bands that got lucky the first time," Long said. “They release something and it's their biggest hit and then they have to live forever. I don't think we've had our biggest hit yet. Quote; What we want more and what we want more. Maybe it'll show up on the next album, or maybe it's not finished yet."

That goal, that dream of a great song that explains why they sacrificed and achieved so much to get here, that's what matters. It is about what Long called "doing something" and absolutely nothing else.

"We really want to have fun and play good music that we believe in, believe in and enjoy," Long said. "Once this is no longer fun for either of us, the road is over."

The Imperfectionist release show is scheduled for Saturday, July 1st at the Yucca Tap Room, 29 West Southern Avenue in Tempe. The free show starts at 8 p.m. Check here for more information.

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