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INTERVIEW: JONATHAN JOURDAN of TO WHOM IT MAY – December 2018

| 4 January 2019 | Reply

 

According to a recent press release: “With an increasing number of up-and-coming rock bands becoming easier to categorize, the Galveston, Texas-based trio, To Whom It May, serves as a much-welcomed arrival – as heard throughout their recently-released full-length debut, The Great Filter (G4L Records), which has already charted on iTunes Metal at #10 and Billboard Heatseekers at #10. Are they prog-rock? Are they melodic-rock? Are they hard rock? As evidenced throughout the ten-track album, the answer is…a little bit of each. Comprised of members Jonathan Jourdan – vocals/guitar, Robb Mars – bass, and Dexas Villarreal – drums, TWIM bridges the gap between complexity and groove, while creating a fresh, new sound. And the band are hard-working road warriors – with upcoming shows with the likes of Drowning Pool and 10 Years, and 2019 shows soon to be announced with Candlebox.” We get Jonathan to discuss new music, touring, and much more…

Jonathan: How are you doing?

ToddStar: Awesome. Thank you so much for taking the time out for us Jonathan.

Jonathan: Yeah. No, thanks for having me.

ToddStar: Let’s talk about what’s going on for To Whom It May. You guys got some good stuff going on. You wrapped up some dates with 10 Years, you did some stuff with Drowning Pool this year. What’s it like for you guys to be out with your fellow Texans, Drowning Pool?

Jonathan: It was awesome, man. It’s cool to go on the road with all these bands that we’ve been lucky enough to head out with recently, and with those guys especially because, like you said, they’re from Texas, and they’re kind of historical around this part of town because they’ve been doing it for, I guess, almost 20 years now, and it’s cool to go out with guys that have done it before, and kind of grown up in the scene when the record industry was still strong, and so there’d been a lot of guidance and a lot of advice. It’s good to take that in like a sponge. But it’s also cool to meet these guys that have done this and they’re all humble and they’re all real cool to go on the road with.

ToddStar: That’s awesome. Recently you guys dropped a new album – The Great Filter. Everybody’s trying to kind of pigeon hole this album. You know, there’s so many genres of rock out there these days. Where do you guys kind of place it?

Jonathan: You know, that’s the thing with this record, the biggest goal is that we wanted each song to kind of fit into its own place. But it all makes sense as an album. And I feel like the common thread between each tune is probably hard rock and progressive vibes, but also we’re not trying to outsmart anyone, I guess. I don’t know if that makes sense. We want it to be individual. I want to push boundaries for people, but I don’t want to confuse the listener. It’s all about the grooves. I think that’s the biggest thing for us. And going back to Texas Band, one of the biggest grooves, hard rock, metal bands of all time in my opinion is Pantera. And we try to pull that a little bit. Not the Pantera sound, but just that vibe of never losing the groove.

ToddStar: You guys put 10 tracks out there. And based on what I’ve read, it took you guys quite a while to put this album together.

Jonathan: Yeah, it was a bit of a process. And a lot of that was, we were kind of figuring out who we wanted to be, you know? This project was the band and our first go at being a three piece. It was my first go at being a vocalist. And a lot of it was finding my place in that and figuring out what kind of band we wanted to be. We were all coming out of the ashes of a previous project. We wanted to fix the things that we felt were mistakes. We wanted to make the right, what we felt at that time at least, was the right business decisions. I feel like taking that time kind of let the dust settle on the writing process for the album. We were able to come of it with a record that we really enjoy and I think that was the goal, writing a record that we wanted to listen to.

ToddStar: You guys dropped a track and the video for “Calculate.” What is it about that track that stands out to you right now, and makes it relevant, not only for you and the band, but for the rock world and for music?

Jonathan: For that song, it really felt like the right song to lead with because it’s got elements of, I think, everything we’re trying to bring to the table with this record. It’s got moments of progressive rhythms, but it’s also got moments of like a sing along kind of chorus. Trying to fit all those pieces into one tune, it felt like just the right thing to lead with. We love heavy music, but we also love melody and melodic choruses and things like that. So it felt like the right move to make. And we were working with a company called Light Trick Productions and they had a great concept for the video and that. We started talking about all that, it felt like all the pieces were falling into place.

ToddStar: In looking back at the ten tracks on The Great Filter, what song or couple songs do you remember struggling with the most, from the writing to the recording to the mastering? What song just really kind of fought you guys tooth and nail?

Jonathan: That’s a great question. I would say on that album, it was interesting doing “Take What I Can,” which is the last track on the album. And it’s kind of the more aggressive of all the songs. And I remember doing that vocal take in one take for that tune. And I was just kind of overly aggressive with it and I remember throwing my voice out in the studio, so I had a day off after that day. Luckily it was the last vocal we did. But that was definitely a bit of a tough one at the time. And kind of just reaching and hoping that all the tunes, like that one, for instance, kind of fit in. I think was probably one of the more tough ones.

ToddStar: You guys have been out touring this, like we talked about – the dates with Drowning Pool, you’ve got some dates coming up in the new year with Candlebox, when you guys are putting together the set list, what song or two from this really just kind of still turns you inside to where when you know it’s coming in the set, it gives you that little extra kick of adrenaline?

Jonathan: Ah, man, probably “Ghost,” for me personally. I feel like that tune, when it hits rhythmically, like after we get through build and the verse and the first choruses, once the rhythm hit, it feels like the room kind of, the walls are closing in and everybody’s a little closer. And the vibe of the rhythm mixed with it coming in and out of the chorus, it just feels right. It feels like that moment is what To Whom It May is kind of to me and trying to get that moment and expand it throughout the set is the goal. I feel like Ghost is kind of like that. That moment that we are really looking forward to in the set.

ToddStar: I mentioned Candlebox, you guys are doing some dates with them and you’ve got a fan in Kevin Martin. So you’re out rubbing elbows with all these rock stars, but when is the last time you remember, Jonathan, really being star struck?

Jonathan: Oh, wow. Well, the first run we have with Candlebox was definitely one of those moments because I grew up listening to those guys and one of the weirdest things was we played a show in Dallas with Candlebox and this was probably last December, a year ago. And after the show, we played in Dallas, we played a House of Blues, or something like that. We went to this little dive bar, piano bar, and I got to watch Kevin Martin get on stage and then some guy from Steely Dan that just happened to be there and they just ran through a version of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.” And Kevin just killed it, he was amazing and I was just watching this guy who’s been a vocalist for 25 years now and just on top of his game and to see something like that was really inspiring. It was a moment for me because I was like, “Wow, this guy, not only is the idea of him is huge, but he actually pulls it off.” So that was a big moment for me.

ToddStar: How about when you were able to work with him – he’s the A&R guy at your label, what was it like for you to know that you were going to get a little bit of guidance and a steering hand from one of those guys that you looked up to?

Jonathan: That was huge, man. That’s one thing that I think as an artist you really long for, that input from people that you respect in the industry. And for him to be, not only involved, but also be into the music, just with some of the things he was saying about the band, it makes you take a step back. It’s really surreal for us. We started to work on this record, as cliché as it is, we were just like, “Let’s just write a record for us. Let’s forget everything else. Let’s just write a record that we want to hear at the end of the day.” And that, luckily has turned into a good decision because people like Kevin are responding and like I said, it’s really surreal to have their hand in the mix now.

ToddStar: What do you see is the next step for you guys? You did something that most bands don’t do, and that’s take a really long time to cut that first album once you’re in the process. A lot of guys, they say you have your whole life to write that first record, but you guys literally took your time in cultivating an album that you guys wanted. How do you see the next steps progressing for you guys?

Jonathan: Well, I think what we’re going to do is in 2019, we’re going to hit the road with 10 Years again, we’re going to hit the road with Candlebox again. We’re going to be out in California for a little while for the NAMM Convention, where basically all these music outlets get there and show off their new stuff. We’re going to go hang out with some of our endorsers. And then after that, we’re going to continue hitting the road. We’re going to try to make, pretty much the first half, first three quarters of 2019 busy as far as dates go. But we’ve already started working on new stuff. I’ve got a laundry list of songs that I’ve been compiling for the new record, so our biggest goal is that we don’t want to take another three, four years obviously, for that record. That definitely was a one-time thing. I think it was good because we got to iron some of the kinks out. But we’ve been writing, we’ve been staying busy outside of touring. When we’re not doing that, we’re really just cranking away. So I’m hoping that 2019, what we’ll be able to do is take The Great Filter, get it to as many new listeners as possible, go play as many new stages as possible and in the downtime between all that, we’ll definitely be getting to work on the music to come.

ToddStar: Looking back, again, big debut album, three years in the making, as we said, but looking back is there any step along the way from inception to now, that you kind of view as a misstep that, even if it didn’t change, you’d like another shot at?

Jonathan: I definitely think that there’s always things that you would like to go back and maybe over analyze or maybe readjust here or there, but honestly, where we’re at right now feels so right, I would be afraid to change anything, honestly, because I feel like sometimes those mistakes are growing pains that you have to go through. I think for us, our previous projects with bands that we were in before To Whom It May, that was the question we asked ourselves when we started this band, was like, “What would we change? What would we do different?” That’s kind of where the taking three years on the record came from. It was like, we were in no rush to put out an album. Nobody’s waiting for it. You know? You know, that’s the big thing for us, it was like, “Nobody knows who we are right now, let’s make this record something special to us and then hopefully it will catch on and maybe the second record, there will be a bit of a pool of people waiting, you know?” Luckily, I think that we’ve made some decisions I feel that have put us in the situation we are in today. I think maybe, if we could go back to change anything, make things move a little faster, maybe take two years instead of three years, but what can you do?

ToddStar: Before we cut you loose Jonathan, I wanted to know if you could go back in time and be part of any one album that really influenced you, what album would that be and why?

Jonathan: Man it would probably be something by Pink Floyd. I would probably say Animals from Pink Floyd, just because I fell in love with albums as a kid. I’m one of the worst ones to get on the page of the new games, singles and EP’s because I love records. I love vinyl records, I love listening to an album from start to finish. You listen to a Pink Floyd album from start to finish because you want to be engulfed in it and to sit in the studio with one of those kinds of bands would be amazing, just to see the process and just kind of be a fly on the wall.

ToddStar: You can’t beat that answer. Well, listen Jonathan, we wish you well with the dates you got coming up and in the new year. We wish you the best of luck with the album in getting it out there to the fans. It looks like you guys have a date in about the middle of February where you guys are going to roll through Detroit and rock the Fillmore with Candlebox, hope to be there and dig the vibe that you guys bring.

Jonathan: Awesome, man. We look forward to having you. Let us know, we’d love to have a beer with you, man.

ToddStar: Sounds good.

Jonathan: Awesome, Todd. Well thank you for having me, man. Like you said, we’ll be in Detroit with Candlebox in February and after that, we’ll be coming back sooner than later. We’ve got some cool things in the works, man and we can’t wait to get up there, man.

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Todd ‘ToddStar’ Jolicoeur

Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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