Interview and photo by Gabriella Parsons | Seeds Entertainment
This band is more than the seven guys who decided it’d be fun to jam out together, even if that’s exactly what they are.
The harmonized collaboration of Jeazlepeats, including lead vocalist and guitarist Steven DeLair; Brandon Elwell and Collin McCarthy on guitar and backing vocals; Hunter Maude on bass; Brad Clevinger on drums; Joel Morrow on keys and Kyle Brunner on sax; have created a sound that is just as inviting as their personalities.
The young and innovative line-up was nearly made from scratch, as Maude is the only original member of the Jeazlepeats that formed five years ago. DeLair joined the band after Maude, and they remained close even when it fell apart. The new faces of this band have helped reinvent what Maude and DeLair were once part of. The new Jeazlepeats have only been playing on stage for two short months, but it feels like they’ve been together much longer.
Their momentum is hitting the Lincoln music scene with repetitive force. After playing seven different shows in the past two months, the Jeazlepeats are turning heads quick–and they don’t have plans to slow down. Their manager, Aaron Lee, has already booked five shows between March and April. The next one is Mar. 2 at Vega with Twinsmith and Gordon.
The most engaging part about Jeazlepeats is their ability to have a good time together, whether they’re playing music or not. These guys don’t just see each other as band members; they’re best friends. And that alone creates an energy at their live shows that is authentic and harmonious, despite how critical they are of their sound.
This energy carries over into everything they do off stage, too, even in the tiny bedroom we all squeezed in to conduct this interview. The way I felt when I left that room is the same feeling I get when I leave their shows. This feeling, which could be described as euphoric, has given me hope for their future as musicians.
When I asked what it’s like to be in a band with some of your best friends, Elwell described it as, “the best fucking feeling in the world.”
“I think music is a powerful thing,” DeLair added. “When you share your music and ideas and arrange and write songs with your friends, it brings you together in a different way and creates a different bond than most friendships.”
It’s not always easy. They all admit to getting frustrated at practice sometimes, even if they are friends, but Maude and DeLair see few complications in the new line-up compared to old times when personalities would clash.
The biggest problem this group faces is getting their schedules to align. With seven completely different schedules, it can be difficult to find a time to practice that works for everyone. Still, this problem is minimal and can be easily solved through good communication.
Most of the members had their musical roots planted by their parents.
DeLair attributes his love for music to simply having listened to it. “My dad showed me Elvis and the Beatles when I was in the second grade. And I just remember listening to it and being fascinated,” said DeLair.
Brunner also gave credit to his father for showing him the saxophone. “My dad played the sax when he was in the army. Actually, he might have been in the navy. I don’t remember. Basically, I picked it up and continued to play in high school jazz band,” said Brunner.
However, some say that it wasn’t until they involved themselves in music that they realized it was something they really wanted to do.
“I grew up around music, too. My dad was always on the piano just fuckin’ jamming his ass off. But I didn’t really enjoy music at all until Academy of Rock, an after school music program for kids,” said Morrow.
“Honestly, I didn’t really appreciate music a whole lot until I was in a band,” said Maude.
And while all of these things led them to where they are now, they still have a long way to go to get where they want to be, which is on tour and chasing what Morrow calls ‘the dream.’
“We just have an unbelievable amount of work to do,” Clevinger said. They have fun, but when it comes to the music, they’re very serious about their pursuits.
“Steven is one of the most critical people on himself. He’ll get off stage and say ‘That sucked’ even when it was a good set,” said Lee.
DeLair expanded on this. “I don’t think we’ve had a very good show yet,” said DeLair. “We haven’t had a show where we’ve been able to play all of the songs comfortably. We haven’t gotten to know the music all that well yet. We’ve written this music, but we haven’t spent that much time with it. There’s a lot of potential in this music, so now we’re at this point of playing it as much as we can and practicing over and over again. That’s what we’re starting to do to really get down to it and fix what needs to be fixed. Our shows have just been kind of discombobulated, I suppose.”
Having the ear for mistakes and corrections is crucial to becoming successful, and the band knows this. “Mordor” is a favorite song by both the band and myself as a listener. McCarthy said his favorite song is “the new one,” which no one but the band has yet heard.
DeLair has written all of the new songs with the help of his band members.
One song in particular means a lot to the band. “Pioneer Lie” was inspired by their good friend, Charlie Tauzin, who was on his penny board at Pioneers Park when he crashed, fractured his skull, had a contusion in his left frontal lobe and a broken wrist. DeLair, Brunner and Elwell were there when it happened and they had no idea if he was going to be okay or not. Thankfully he was, but DeLair ended up writing some lyrics that illustrated the situation and how it made them feel to see their friend’s life at stake.
The song starts as an acapella four-part harmony with the lyrics: “Suicidal pain, crawlin’ through your brain, while the blood in your head is leakin’ on your bed. Metal staples hold your skull that reinvent your soul, and the scars on your skin will forever be within.”
If one Jeazlepeats song epitomizes them in their purest state, it’s “Pioneer Lie.” It shows that the band is a group of friends who find meaning in whatever life throws their way and then is able to turn it into something beautiful. Whether it’s a lyric inspired by tragedy or the simplicity they find in doing what they love, Jeazlepeats have captured the heart of Lincoln’s music scene. The only place to go from here is wherever they want to go, because at this rate, ‘the dream’ isn’t too far off from reality.