In our recent interview, we sat down with Jonas Sees in Color, a 4-piece rock band from Greensboro, North Carolina. he band, consisting of John (drums), Ryan (vocals), Mikey (bass), and Owens (guitar), have 2 albums and an EP under their belts, along with a Battle of the Bands win. After playing Vans Warped Tour in 2013, they’ve been on a regular touring schedule in the Carolinas and surrounding areas. We caught them in Columbia, South Carolina as they opened up for American Idol winner Caleb Johnson.
AMBY: Hey guys, we’re here with Jonas Sees in Color! How are you guys?
JSIC (Owens): Awful.
JSIC (Ryan): We’re stuck here eating burritos with you. *all laugh*
AMBY: How has touring been? You’ve been doing it for quite a while, so how does it treat you?
JSIC (Mikey): It’s part of the week we look forward to.
JSIC (Ryan): It’s really cool. We get to play all kinds of different venues. Normally we have a string of shows at venues that are all bigger or all smaller, and now we’re bouncing back in forth while we’re touring, which is really awesome. Like, the sound of the shows is totally different. Some days we’re playing in a five-foot tiny stage venue and the next we’re playing huge stages. It’s fun for us because it’s a really diverse variety of shows.
AMBY: You guys are pretty well-known for bringing powerful and energetic performances to the Carolinas, do you put extra effort into your stages, or is it all in the moment; going with the flow?
JSIC (Mikey): It’s just kinda how it happens. We don’t really choreograph anything necessarily, but it’s definitely the same type of thing every time. We’re just catching the spirit.
JSIC (Ryan): It depends on the show. It’s not like we don’t know completely what’s coming, but we write a setlist right before we play so it’s not in the same order. But at the same time, we don’t know what’s going to happen on stage-which is the fun part. You have to be very very aware of what’s going on onstage otherwise you could slam into someone. But it keeps it fresh for us! *all laugh*
AMBY: When you are performing, there’s a huge lack of electronic equipment that’s usually used nowadays. Why is that?
JSIC (Owens): We like to rely on each other for our sound. Only kind of relying on that human element allows us to have an expansive set. Where we don’t have to be locked into something. We can make whatever set we want happen. We could change our minds mid-song if we want to.
JSIC (Mikey): Too much electronics turns it into a karaoke show instead of a performance.
JSIC (Ryan): All my favorite songs are played by real people not computers. I guess that’s an old-school view now, which is kinda sad. Playing instruments is really important.
AMBY: Bringing that back around, do you think that digital music is creating a void between bands and fans?
JSIC (Ryan): On some levels, yes. It’s harder to make money via selling music, so there might be fans living further away, and now it’s a lot harder to get to them because you can’t pay for gas. But also, The internet has allowed independent music to become so widespread so quickly, that you get to meet people and show people your music who wouldn’t otherwise have heard of it-like people on the other side of the world. So I think that’s kinda worth the trade. I know everyone’s kinda scared with what’s happening in the music industry, but I kinda like it.
JSIC (Owens): The accessibility has grown exponentially, and you can get anything anywhere now.
JSIC (Ryan): I don’t want someone to be able to have one of our songs because they can’t afford it-that’s a sad reason to not be able to have music you like.
AMBY: Between the two medias, do you guys prefer CDs/digital files or vinyls?
JSIC (Ryan): Vinyl.
JSIC (Owens): Definitely Vinyls because we all like listening to vinyls personally.
JSIC (Mikey): CDs are a little easier for the van rides though *all laugh*, but for home, definitely the vinyl.
JSIC (Ryan): That’s the thing. It’s not that digital files and CDs are bad-they make it so convenient so it’s great-its just that when you have the choice to listen to a vinyl, you’re making a higher quality choice.
JSIC (Mikey): We don’t have enough suspension in the van to have a turntable *laughs*
JSIC (Ryan): It’s a little bit about nostalgia too. There’s nothing like pulling the sleeve off the shelf and holding that big thing of artwork.
AMBY: You are really close with your fans, how important do you think a deep personal connection with your fans is?
JSIC (Mikey): It’s the most important. If you’re not doing it for them, who are you doing it for?
JSIC (Owens): I think when you make a personal connection with your music, you also tend to do that in a personal manner with fans. It’s all two-sided.
JSIC (Ryan): As you’ve said, you’ve met people because you showed up for a concert and they happened to be the other person in line, music just naturally and organically connects people so often. It’s only natural for a band to really establish a connection with their fans. They’re the people you’re going to see the most and most likely, going to be the people who think most like you in the world. They’re going to be your best friends if you let them.
AMBY: Your music videos are quite different from the standard performance videos, is this from you guys putting your personalities into them, or is it just inspired directly by the song?
JSIC (Ryan): A little bit of both. And what’s different about us from a lot of bands is that we make our own music videos. So, this means that there’s nothing that’s off the table-no matter how crazy the idea is. If we think of it, we’re gonna go for it.
JSIC (Owens): Usually the weirder the idea is, the better. Putting us in powder blue tuxes that don’t fit and everyone is just like ‘Yes that’s what I want!’
JSIC (Ryan): If you could be a fly on the wall when we bring up the video ideas, when we say ‘We all need to be in tuxedos and doing shoo-bop dancing, and then we’re going to build a forest in a storage unit and somebody’s going to swing on chains through it!’ It sounds like the craziest shit in the world.
JSIC (Owens): We know how to clean up messes like nobody’s business.
JSIC (Mikey): It’s always fun.
AMBY: Which one of your music videos was most fun to make/shoot? Do you have any funny stories from the sets?
JSIC (Mikey): I think that All My Friends was a fun one.
JSIC (Ryan): I thought that the Help! Help! video was great. We built this giant set, and for the last shot, we blasted Break On Through by The Doors and just smashed everything. Literally everything. We took everything off the walls and just destroyed it. That was one of the most fun experiences I have ever had.
JSIC (Owens): Give Me Mine was fun too. We were out throwing a bunch of colored powder around in the middle of the woods and the cops rolled up on us and they were not happy.
JSIC (Mikey): They were like ‘You guys are all half-naked in tie-dye, what are you doing?!’ *all laugh*
AMBY: When you’re writing music, do you guys do what you want, or do you focus on what’s popular in the industry?
JSIC (Mikey): We write for the-well not even really for-the album. Just however we feel. Sometimes we write all of our left-field songs first and then bring it around into the middle, or we’ll have a core of songs that we really need to expand.
JSIC (Owens): Music can be cohesive without sounding the same. You just have to make it happen.
JSIC (Ryan): I think that, it’s never cool to try to be cool. So if you’re trying to follow a trend, you’re already too late to get on. So there’s just no point. Plus we’ve just never been cool, so we’ve accepted that-Which sounds like a negative thing, but it lets us have more freedom. We’re not really worried about anybody judging us and the choices we make. Musically or otherwise.
AMBY: How do you all write? Do you all go off on your own and write whatever and then converge and work on it, or do you all sit down together and bust out songs?
JSIC (Owens): Sit down together and just go. We might bring in a riff or something to work on to see what it expands to, but it never comes out how you want or think it will. Once everyone else starts putting their flavor in it, it changes immensely.
JSIC (Ryan): And when you do, this happens a lot (someone bringing a piece of an idea), it never ends where you think it’s going to end. I’ve had lyrics in my head and thought ‘Oh it’s going to sound just like this!’ and then 2 hours later, it’s a completely different song. We like letting our songs grow organically.
AMBY: What artists do you think helped to shape your sound? Or even just your outlook on music in general?
JSIC (Owens): It’s a massively wide variety.
JSIC (Mikey): A lot of those old guys. At least we like how their instruments sound.
JSIC (Ryan): Yeah, a lot of 70s records were a huge influence for us. It was when sound recording quality made a huge jump and everything started to sound better and you could hear more clearly what everyone was doing, not just the singer. But also at the same time, it wasn’t as developed as it is now, where you can use computers and fix things, so you still had to truly master an instrument. I think that’s why most of those 70s rock & roll records are so great to listen to. You’re listening to someone who plays all day so you’re hearing a master of that instrument. But there was also shitty music just like there’s shitty music now. People try to act like there wasn’t shitty music, but that’s not true.
JSIC (Mikey): That’s kinda just how it goes. There’s some fantastic music coming out now.
AMBY: Alright, that just about wraps it up! Thank you guys so much for coming out!
JSIC: No problem! Thank you!
Thank you Jonas Sees in Color, for giving us your answers!
Interview by Emilie Weinerman | @awarrenwriting