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You guys choose your band name, 77 Jefferson based on the location where you had your first band practice. Was this name chosen because you guys couldn’t think of any other name? If you had a chance to re-name the band would you do it? What name would you choose?

Joel: I thought that 77 Jefferson was pretty catchy and we were also considering Jefferson Sessions as well as a few others that went along with that but we went with 77…. If I could change it now I would probably call us something with the word midget in it.

Miles: Over all I think 77 Jefferson does well for us, it doesn't scream out what type of music we are, but that's not really a bad thing coming from KC

I love the acoustic jams in “Rarities,” it has a much more mellow tone than your previous album, “Sledgehammer.”  What made you decide to go this route?
Joel: Thank you…. Well we had been recording a full length album with 20 plus songs already underway but we wanted to put something different out to kind of get the people ready and we started working on this… "Here in KC there are old school reggae fans, and people that are scared of the word reggae. The old schoolers around here have a hard time excepting a newer sound to there favorite genre, but they've come around." I look at it like a compilation album having a few special guests on the album like Grant Melady & Josh Heinrichs both formerly of Jah Roots… We got together with some beers & and just did this on our spare time. We had friends comin’ over giving us feedback and it was just fun, and I feel that this album best expresses how I want 77 to sound. Laid back and fun. You know family, friends, beers and some good smoke.

How has your style changed or grown from your first E.P “Songs for Selene,” to your latest acoustic release, “Rarities”?
Joel: Shoooot… Songs for Selene was literally put together in the first two months of us being a group. Its killer but it was quick and just a few jams and old songs some of which we had already written before 77 was even a thing. Rarities to me is on a whole different level. In the past few years I have started listening to way more of a mixture of reggae artists as well as styles and I feel my vocal delivery is on a whole new level too… I don’t know I guess It’s like a fine wine in that sense.

Miles: I think with each release that we've had we've got a little closer to exactly what it is that we want to be. Rarities so far is the best though.

How has the success of your new album, “Rarities” compared with the success of your first full-length album, “Sledgehammer”?
Miles: Well... When Sledgehammer came out we did some massive touring. Probably around 200 shows in 20 states, which was great to sell those discs on the road. We haven't been touring with the release of Rarities but the online sales are GREAT! That probably comes from our fans that we made from touring with the first album. So... it's different success, but good as well. It's good to know that we accomplished something when we were on the road for so long.

77jefferson-2How difficult was it to emerge from the Midwest as a reggae band, which is usually a style of music associated with the beach?
Joel: Not hard at all I would say… My parents listened to reggae and island music off the chain growing up and I grew up with family in the Hawaiian Islands which is where I stay now and so when it came to writing reggae music it’s really a matter of what I know and have been around since I can remember. It seems like people just feel it and I’m alright with that.

Miles: It was different to say the least. Here in KC there are old school reggae fans, and people that are scared of the word reggae. The old schoolers around here have a hard time excepting a newer sound to there favorite genre, but they've come around. Then there's a lot of people that dig the sound, probably have some old Sublime CD's laying around in there collection, but wear some tighter jeans now. These people get a little scared of the word reggae, like they're not supposed to be listening to it these days. Gotta love KC.... That's probably why we went out of town so much.

You guys have played a lot of music festivals, including Tulsa Reggae Fest, Jah Roots 420 Reggae Festival and KC Crossroads Music Festival, which one, out of all the festivals you’ve performed at, was your favorite and why?

Joel: I would say Tulsa Reggae Fest, cuz we just partied all day in the sun with a bunch of free beer and awesome people and when we started playing a nutty ass storm came out of nowhere. We had to take everything and pack it up quick, and people we’re freakin’ out about their equipment. Later on after taking the party to the van for an hour or so, we took the show to a bar around the corner that let us and Jah Roots and Ossie Dellimore play there. Everyone was soaked. Luckily no one got electrocuted.

Miles: I think that the first Jah Roots 420 fest was my favorite. It was the biggest show we had played at the time and it introduced us to some bands such as Part One Tribe,and Cas Haley, that we linked up with in later days. Most importantly, it started a long time tour with our boys Jah Roots. We hit up a lot of cities with those guys (and had a lot of fun).

You guys have shared the stage with impressive artists, such as Lee “Scratch” Perry, have you guys experienced any feelings of being ”star-struck” with any of the artists you’ve performed with?

Joel: I would say Sugar Minott was killer to meet. Sugar is one of my favorites and he produced one of my favorite albums of all-time “Lots of Loving”, who by Ranking Dread who by the way was the most gangsta DJ ever. My brother walked right up to him and started singing some Ranking Dread and he started singing right along with it without skippin’ a beat. It was sick!

Miles: Hmmm, probably have to say Luciano. That guy puts on an AMAZING performance. We got to kick it with him in the green room for a bit, i felt like a little kid asking him for a picture together.

If you could go on tour, or even just play one show, with any artist or musician today, who would you choose and why?
Joel: I would choose the Chilli Peppers cuz they are why I wanted to ever play music in a band. The feeling of seeing those dudes live was intense and I wanted to make people feel that way. It’s not the same genre, I know but regardless it would be awesome.

Miles: Right now I would have to say that a tour with John Browns Body would be right up my alley. I'm diggin those dudes a lot right now. Very fresh, very sick.

What’s the craziest show you’ve ever played?
Joel: I would say in Waynesville Missouri at this place called Chicken Bones. This dude paid us super fat, got us hotel rooms, had us play for like maybe 35 minutes, then got us ripped up and took us to his stip club… Fuckin’ nuts!

Miles: I'm gonna go with a St. Louis show with Jah Roots. The venue is a indoor /outdoor place, and it started pouring rain. The stage was covered but the water ran off right in front of us. The crowed was amazing! They were all standing in a foot of water, but it didn't phase them at all, they were dancing their asses off. It was a sold out show and it stayed that way until the last song. GOOD FOR YOU ST. LOUIS!!! Also, I think that was the show Joel almost crapped his pants onstage. He told the crowed we had to shit and ran to the White Castle next door while I have to attempt to sing a tune. "I think with each release that we've had we've got a little closer to exactly what it is that we want to be. Rarities so far is the best though."

What are some interesting, unknown facts about the band or the individual members that fans would love to hear about?
Joel: Well besides the fact that none of us are related and all have matching birthmarks. Miles dreads his pubes.

Can we expect to see 77 Jefferson in any festivals, shows or tours coming up in 2010?
Miles: OH HELL YEAH! We've got some Hawaii shows in the works for March, and then its back to the main land. We're gonna set up a Midwest tour, finish up an album that is already in the works, and then tour massive all over the US. Definitely stoked to promote our new music

Tell us about any upcoming projects the band has.
Miles: We were working on a full length album (yet to be named) before the idea for Rarities. We decided to put it on the back burner to get something a little different out (Rarities), but we are now working to finish it. It's full band, kinda like a perfected juiced up Sledgehammer. In my opinion the tunes blow away anything we've already done. Were gonna try some new stuff for sure. More keys, more horns, MORE SICK!


77 Jefferson Links


Interview Conducted by Contributor Stephanie Morgan


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