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Endless Jags interview

Interview by Kevin Steeves.

“It’s just a fuckin’ star-spangled tried and true regular rock’n’roll band which happens to have six people from the local scene in it. If that’s the criteria for a supergroup, most bands in this town would probably qualify. We wish we were the Traveling Wilburys, that would rule.”

photo by Jessie Northgraves

It’s difficult to not argue with Endless Jags about that point — not counting the annual 48 Hour Music Festival at SPACE, Portland is home to a number of somewhat incestious lineups.

There are the more prolific groups like last year’s breakout Sunset Hearts which features former and current members of Huak, Satellite Lot and Marie Stella. And the newest “supergroup” of the city, glitch-rockers Mr.NEET which also features Joel Glidden of the recently disbanded post-punk flagbearers Huak and Nigel Stevens of Movie Knight.

But what Endless Jags do have up on the other so-called supergroups of Portland is that it features five members who are each members of bands that have released some of the most well-received albums in recent years. Since 2010, Tyler Jackson and the rest of the rotating Foam Castles lineup released three phenomenal records including this year’s Bonanza which received unanimous critical praise; DJ Moore from Brenda who released 2010’s sleeper-hit Silver Tower; guitarist Oscar Romero, who is currently touring with national hip-hop star Astronautalis, is joined by fellow Gully member Jonas Eule; Derek Gierhan of the criminally underheard Portland noise pop duo Haru Bangs; and The Goose fills out the lineup of Jags.

And that tension-filled five way combination of sometimes mismatched styles and influence is what makes the self-titled debut from Endless Jags so exciting to finally hear — the almost year long wait for its release didn’t help either.

“It took about ten months for the EP to get done for a lot of reasons. We recorded it in Boston and New Hampshire over the course of about three months,” said the Jags when HillyTown recently caught up with the Portland quintet shortly after their eponymous debut hit the web. “We tracked and re-tracked a lot of guitar, vocal, and bass. The original Squire Fender bass tone straight into the computer didn’t really cut the mustard. The sessions were always really fun and intense — It’s just hard to organize them and it costs money.”

Aside from the high costs and logistics of arranging five of Portland’s most prolific musicians into one recording studio, there is also the countless commitments that all of the members have had with their other musical projects — other releases and touring has allowed the Jags to only play one show last year at Geno’s. But as far as they are concerned, the project is just like any other group and they don’t see it as any less important or a potential “one off” side project.

“Not to stress this bromance bullshit, but we all really do respect each other’s time and commitments. We’re all trying to play music as individuals and as this band,” said the Jags. “There is never a sense of division or prioritization because everyone’s shit takes precedence. It would be completely amazing if we could all play music both together and separately whenever we wanted to, but that’s not our reality.”
While their debut EP has been receiving nearly critical acclaim from local publications like The Bollard and internationally-read music blogs after being available online for less than a month, there isn’t any shortage of new material waiting in the wings to be recorded as the Jags. Once again, however, it’s up to schedules and planetary alignment to work in their favor before any of it sees the light of day. “In terms of new material, we have a fair amount of it and will be recording with the abominable guru Shaun Curran again this winter,” said the Jags.

Regardless of the actual release schedule for any new material, the band just announced their first show since the EP’s release as they will be taking over 442 St. John St. at a house show TONIGHT featuring Neon Piss, Athabasca, and No Sir, I Won’t. And there are plans in the works for the Jags to play an album release party with The RattleSnakes who are currently working on new material to follow last year’s phenomenal release Spine.

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