Wednesday, February 09, 2005
Conversations with . . .
Jet Noise is breaking NRV's rock sound barrier
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Strolling down the streets of Blacksburg at night, you'll probably happen upon the sound of an old-time fiddle jam or a mellow jazz trio. Maybe Karaoke karaoke. If you're looking for rock, you'll probably hear some canned mainstream pumping through the open doors of a bar.
In the midst of an apparent live rock void, a few bands are managing to get some gigs. Jet Noise, for one, has a comfortable seat as one of Blacksburg's most popular rock outfits. The four-piece band recently took a moment to reflect on where they are and where they'd like to go.
How did you get started playing together?
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Ross Costanza (vocals and guitar): I did my own thing for awhile a while, and Mike used to do Web design for my old band, and me and him got together after we broke up and we started jamming. I’d write songs on acoustic, and he’d come home on breaks and put drums to them. And he knew Brent, so we jammed with him on and off. So we were a trio for awhile a while, and we actually ended up playing a show with Ryan’s band — like our second show, at this coffee house coffeehouse . . . and Mike ran across Ryan on campus one day, and invited him to come jam with us because we were looking for another guitarist.
Who are your influences?
RC: Every other band that I kind of get influenced by is quote-unquote indie rock . . . a lot of acoustic stuff lately, but I think as far as the stuff we play, a lot of Thursday, stuff like that.
Brent Myers (bass): Jimmy Eat World.
Mike Bulman (drums): Offspring used to be my favorite band, when I was like 14, but obviously I grew out of that, but that was my last favorite band.
RC: I can’t really say that we sound like anybody in particular.
Ryan Lee (guitar and vocals): I don’t think we sound like the Beatles, but I’m a huge Beatles fan.
BM: Rush and Iron Maiden; I have a lot of influence and respect for them.
That’s a good eclectic mix. Do you play all originals or do you play some covers?
RC: We played Death Cab for Cutie’s "The New Year" twice.
Did you start on covers to get gigs?
RC: No, we started with originals.
RL: And it evolved a lot.
MB: It used to be a lot more laid back laid-back.
How heavy would you describe your sound?
MB: I think it’s a good mix. I think it’s accessible for a lot of people. It’s not as heavy as some people might like it, but it’s heavy enough . . . and we've got some softer songs that we play that can pull other people in.
So kinda melodic and heavy, but not stupid heavy?
RL: Powerful, but we try to keep away from screaming.
General thoughts on where you’re going or where you are?
RL: Well, we’re pretty confident about where we are. Me and Mike are still in school at (Virginia) [Virginia] Tech, and Ross and Brent are still in school at New River (Community College) [Community College], so we’re trying to play as many shows as we can and write and still attend school. But we’re gonna go 100 percent as soon as we graduate.
So what kind of songs do you write? Lyrically speaking, what are they about?
RC: I write most of the lyrics, and there’s a couple of songs that Ryan sings that he wrote the lyrics to. I don’t really mess with his, and he doesn’t really mess with mine. I try to write about personal experiences, things that are happening or have happened, things like that. I don’t like the idea of being fake. I try, but I’m not as good a lyricist as I should be at this point. Still working on it.
What do you write about? Chicks? Art?
RC: Definitely not art. Probably chicks.
RL: One of my favorite songs we wrote was about a trip. We were supposed to go play in Virginia Beach with two of our favorite bands, and our van broke down. The radiator broke. And so we wrote this song about the radiator.
RC: We wrote it while we were stuck behind an Exxon actually . . . We all got poison oak.
RL: We spent the whole day at Exxon and wrote a song.
Where do your songs start from? On the guitar, or with vocals?
RC: Generally I’ll be playing with an idea on the acoustic guitar and it goes from there.
BM: It’s usually a group collaboration. We'll be working on an idea . . . and Mike will get a drum idea of what he wants, and we just try to jam on it . . . We've actually taken a step back, and we write acoustically now.
So you start out acoustic, low-level?
RC: Yeah, more so now than ever before. We just actually finished writing our first song like that. I think it turned out really well — it's a completely different way of writing for us.
Check out more about the band at www.jetnoise.net, and more about other bands and local shows at www.getrockedout.com. The Jet Noise five-song EP "Angel With a Black Heart" is available at the website Web site and at shows.
Read the The New River Valley Current.