In front of a packed house at Radio Radio last Saturday, local five-piece outfit jascha.—a self-described indie rock/alt-country band—had fans on their feet and singing along during the release show for their latest studio recording.
“We just had a blast,” guitarist Jordan Updike said. “My favorite thing is having people you don’t know show up and they’re singing along to your songs.”
Fans weren’t just singing. They were singing, dancing, shaking, squeezing in between the high tables and chrome barstools and buying jascha.’s latest EP “At the Mouth of the Well of the Twister Serpent/Indianapolis: The Paris of the Midwest.”
The four-song EP, which runs just 12 and a half minutes, was a collaboration between jascha. and local singer/songwriter Kate Lamont. She’s featured on every track of recording, which reflects the bands indie rock side.
“It was originally supposed to be half rock and half alt-country, but we couldn’t get the rock songs down to just two,” Updike said.
While a country effort will follow, the rock EP came first, released as a 7-inch vinyl album along with a CD. It might seem a little old school, but jascha. is just one of many bands getting back on the vinyl bandwagon. Nielsen Soundscan announced that vinyl sales increased 33 percent from 2008 to 2009.
“As more people just download music, people want something more special, more organic [than a CD],” drummer Bryan Unruh said. “We’re rebelling against the digital takeover.”
Not only do fans appreciate the touch, they ask for it.
“At our last CD release show, people wanted to buy the album, but only on vinyl,” said Jascha, the band’s namesake and lead singer/songwriter.
But Jascha, who prefers to go without his last name, hasn’t always had a stable lineup behind him.
He started as a solo artist about six years ago in Indianapolis and would play by himself or with anyone that was available.
“Jascha would call like 20 friends and invite anyone who could make it to play with him,” Updike said. “One time we played with 12 people on stage.”
Updike was one of those friends playing with Jascha and it was after a show that Updike and friendLauren Moore approached him about something more permanent.
“I told Jascha, ‘Look, you’re a great artist but a terrible business man, let me help you,’” Updike said.
They started looking for serious band members and found Nathan Lucas and Unruh two weeks before recording on their first album started.
Listening to “There’s Nothing Like Love for Making you Miserable,” you can’t even tell that Lucas, formerly a guitarist, learned the bass in those two weeks and Unruh was learning the songs and writing the scratch tracks in the studio. And by studio, they really mean a room in Jascha’s duplex—with walls lined with mattresses.
“Neighbors moved in [the other half of the duplex] the day we were supposed to start recording,” Updike said. “Jascha baked them cookies; they never said a word!”
The CD was well received and got buzz within the local music scene, including a positive review from local music site My Old Kentucky Blog last September, but they still had to make a name for themselves, playing any shows they could.
“We were even playing open mics,” Updike said, “[We were] just trying to get people excited about the music [we] were playing.”
Since then, jascha. has played shows with national acts Those Darlins and The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band.
It recently signed with Standard Recording and has Uptown Locals handling their promotion and booking. While Moore took her leave, she has been succeeded by newest member Katie Purifoy who joined just a few weeks ago.
Things seem to finally be coming together as jascha. prepares for their first tour as a band.
The two-week tour of the Midwest kicks off Friday in Chicago. jascha. will make its rounds before heading back to Indianapolis to play at ORANJE on Sept. 18.
“We might play shows on the tour for 20 people,” Jascha said, “but it’s still a good time.
“On our last tour we played on a street corner between shows, and we probably will again. We’re not above that.”
So whether you run into them on the streets—in which case be sure to throw a buck or two their way—or make it one of their shows, don’t be afraid to sing along.