Want to know what life is like on tour for your favorite band? Want to hear what the musicians have to say about your favorite festival? How about getting an idea of what is going through the mind of a front man when he is looking back at you from the stage? If you want to get inside the mindset of the musician, we’ve got you covered! This week L4LM Direct Connect delves into the world of Jimkata lead vocalist and guitarist Evan Friedell.
With their stellar new album Die Digital out now, Jimkata has just embarked on a massive Winter tour which includes a five night Colorado run and Snoe.Down. Evan gives us a glimpse into the not so normal world of road life as well as sharing his thoughts on the healing/bonding power of music.
I have found that there is no American experience as bizarrely uniform as continental breakfast. Waking up a couple hours before check out, wandering down the thin walled, wacky carpeted halls–carpet which by the way cannot be found anywhere else in America–and wafting into the burning waffle-maker, polyethylene food display. I hover over the glossy particle board counters… Waxy fruit, waffle liquid, “I just need coffee” coffee, mini-yogurt fridge, egg juice meat puck sandwich, mass-produced hard boiled egg jar. Ah, of course, good old trusty cereal in rotating dispenser with Styrofoam bowl. I’ll visit the mini-yogurt fridge, maybe a bagel through bagel slicer with cream cheese container.
I select a table. Fox news or CNN plays on the television in the upper right corner of the room. Latest story: “How will politician’s dog affect campaign?” Now lets go to more opinion about abstinence only, traffic, and Bieber fever. Which celebrity crashed a car after fucking another celebrity in a car? I crunch Raisin Bran and look at others looking at the television.
There is guy getting ready for a presentation. Khakis, solid blue button down, laptop open, third cup of coffee and ready to “not fail”. There is Bob and Betsy, both wearing shorts and blouses, clean minus deodorant stains. They have both keys to turn into the front desk before they head to the silver 4-door car with rounded edges in the sunny sea of parking lot close to the highway. And there I am wondering, “Am I the weirdo or is this just as weird?”
It’s the repetition that makes it odd, really. It’s the fact that every night at 4am our haggard gang of dudes topple into another cheap hotel, sleeping bags in hand, just in time to catch Adult Swim on Cartoon Network and fall asleep. This, only to wake up in the most normal looking place, with the most normal looking people, functioning in the most normal of hours. And by normal, I mean it just looks like everything else in every other “side of the highway hotel” in America. It is cheaply and quickly put up. Quality is secondary right down to the food they offer for you to shove into your gullet before you get out. It is a “box made out of ticky tacky” as folk genius Pete Seeger would sing (Malvina Reynolds originally, I Googled).
But I think our infrastructure has fooled us. We’ve spent so much time in the last century coming up with a definition of what looks like and is normal and yet we’re all made up of experiences entirely unique to us. Including this very band that I am in.
When I was nine years old, my brother Russ (now our Manager) and I witnessed the death of our younger brother in a terrible accident. Neither of us knew how to handle this until we were much older. In fact, I was probably still learning how to deal with the effects of that when Aaron [Gorsch] lost both his only sister and his mother in a period of three years when this band was just beginning to grow. But these losses strengthened the bond between us and inspired us to continue on. Music is really one of the only things left that’s not mass produced. It inspires true feeling and emotion in everyone. It heals people. It takes us away from anything mundane. It makes us get drunk, jump up and down and fall over with laughter with our friends.
For me, James Taylor and Paul Simon were incredibly healing as a kid following our brother’s death. My parents listened to them a lot, and as flowers, food, and condolences poured in along with a confounding feeling of loss, I recall hearing “Fire and Rain” and “Sweet Baby James” on the stereo often and trying not to cry. There was something about his words and the way he sang that made me feel he understood the immense spectrum of emotions we go through in losing someone we love. At the same time he was saying, “Listen, its gonna be alright. Life goes on.” I remember Saturday afternoons with Graceland and Michael Jackson on the stereo. At once, life could be fun again, exuberant and celebratory while still acknowledging the trials of life. And as I got older, I learned from Phish that music could say all of these things even without words. A man or woman can speak just as much to the emotional highs and lows of life with only an instrument.
It was in gaining this appreciation that I began to play the guitar endlessly. Even if I couldn’t articulate it then, I wanted to create music that reached people in their unique lives the same way my idols reached me. Now, as a performer, I’ve realized that I still can’t understand the reaches and depths that my music travels . I don’t have any tattoos, but someone has one of my lyrics. A man who survived cancer custom decorated a guitar and gave it to us out of appreciation for what he felt was the healing power of our music. We once played a completely brand new song and had such an impact that someone wrote me an email explaining how it defined the difficult last year of her life and the loss of her father. We were somewhere we’ve never played before and a young man thanked me for the song “Release” getting him through rehab. People tell me their young children sing and dance to some of our songs on the living room floor, a moment of such innocent joy, I can’t help but beam at the thought. And not to mention all of the people–usually some degree of drunk, sweaty, and excited (don’t worry I get there all the time)–that tell me how “fucking sick” a show was or how the album hasn’t left their car.
When I sit in the morning eating gritty Raisin Bran at Super 8, smelling the milk, I’ll admit, I’m not thinking about these wonderful people. I’m laughing in my head about how comically monotonous these places are and how, as we drive across the country, falling asleep and waking up near another strip mall, sometimes you feel as though you’ve just mentally lost it. Like, “Oh wow! Look, there’s Subway again”. “I need socks. There’s another Wal-Mart.” But when I get to a venue or the true heart of a town and meet people and share the experience of live music, I realize that music might be one of the only mediums we have that can address our collective experiences in a way that feels deeply personal. An ad for clothing, or a sexy new energy drink can’t do that. Whether its a billboard in Times Square or an ad on Pandora, no one can reach the soul like music. And its not at continental breakfast and its not at the strip mall. So go out, join your fellow unique humans at a concert and celebrate life. Its the best thing we got in America. Its the truest thing in the world.
– by Evan Friedell
Watch Jimkata perform “Place of Dreams” live at the Fillmore:
Watch Jimkata perform “Roll With the Punches”:
New York area Die Digital Winter tour stops include:
1.18 – Albany, NY – Red Square
1.24 – Providence, RI – The Spot
1.26 – Nyack, NY – Olive’s
1.31 – Buffalo, NY – Duke’s
3.21 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bowl
3.23 – Syracuse, NY – The Westcott Theater
Jimkata just announced a full Winter tour, for additional tour information or to purchase the album please visit www.Jimkata.com