Photo credit: Sixteen Jackies
Philadelphia band Sixteen Jackies have created a captivating introduction with their newly released EP “Movie Was Bad” that’s an atmospheric, glam rock experience. This substantial EP takes you to another place with five resonating, beautiful tracks that reside in your mind long after the last song. We sat down with band members; lead singer Joey Demarco, Bassist Tim Davis, Drummer Ian Staley and Guitarist and Keys player Jeremiah Bull to talk about the record, Philadelphia’s scene and what’s coming next.
Sounding Board: How’d you guys come together and what is behind the name Sixteen Jackies?
Jeremiah: I started playing music with Tim in elementary school, right? Or in middle school maybe?
Tim: Middle school, yeah, sixth or seventh grade.
Jeremiah: We were in our first band back then.
Jeremiah: Overtone, yeah.
Tim: Awful seventh grade band name.
Jeremiah: garage rock, we were loud and obnoxious and Ian played with Joey.
Joey: Yeah in a band in 2012 called Teenage Mysticism.
Jeremiah: Then I stole Ian, for my band The Plums and then..
Joey: Then last year, I moved to Philly to start a band with Ian, then Tim and Jeremiah immediately fell into place, like as soon as we got here.
“Sixteen Jackies” is a Warhol painting of all the pictures of Jackie Onassis that were in the newspapers after Kennedy got assassinated and the first month or so I was in Philly, I went to the art museum and was on the hunt for band names. That one really stuck out for me and I really like The Velvet Underground, stuff like that. There’s a long history of bands’ naming their shit after Warhol stuff.
Sounding Board: Yeah, that’s pretty cool. You have already kinda touched on this, but what were your relationships like growing up with music and what kinds of artists did you find yourselves drawn to?
Joey: Well, I grew up listening to very much listening to a lot of classic rock til I was like fifteen or sixteen, like Alice Cooper haha and a bunch of stuff like that, but also like a lot of weird, old country that my dad liked. Then um, once I hit high school, Bright Eyes was my turning point and Tilly and The Wall, all the cutesy, Saddle Creek things. It kinda went downhill from there.
Jeremiah: I think we are all pretty different concerning musical tastes and backgrounds, it makes a cool collab or synergy, I guess you would say.
Joey: A huge part of what inspires Sixteen Jackies is late seventies, like B-52’s, Cramps, weirder David Bowie, Talking Heads, Brian Eno, that whole pop songwriting with like, really strange overtones.
Tim: But like a lot of modern stuff too, like Girl band.
Joey: Parquet Courts too.
Sounding Board: So you guys draw on a variety of artists within that psych-pop type of realm, nice. Your EP just came out pretty much late last month, how’d the writing and production work for “Movie Was Bad” ?
Joey: Well for the writing part, we just pulled together a set of songs that we knew at that point, but most of the songs, probably eighty percent of the songs, were fully written before I even moved to Philadelphia. So we learned a handful of them every couple months for a long time.
Then making the actual record, was like..I don’t know haha.
Jeremiah: When did we record it? In March?
Ian: It was really fucking cold, haha.
Joey: was it? Yeah, I don’t know, It took about six, seven or eight months..to get everything together and we were in New York, or like Johnson City, New York.
Tim: yeah, that wasn’t fun, it was pretty cold. It took a while to mix it and go through the whole process, the artwork took a while. Our friend Colin did it, he’s in a group called Attic Tapes and our friend greg helped with the layout, he’s in a band called Slomo Sapiens and we play with both bands a lot, more with Slomo. So we got our friends to help us out a lot and it was cool, but yeah it took a while.
Sounding Board: It’s a cool record though, what’s your favorite track off the EP and which one was the most difficult to record?
Joey: Personally, my favorite to record was “VHS #1 (A Body)”, um like doing my vocal part and stuff, Hunter really went wild with the delay and he would be twisting knobs, while I was singing and getting some really cool effects. I feel like that one came out the easiest, weren’t many hang ups on that one really.
In my opinion, “Movie Was Bad” and “In Here” were the same level of difficulty to record because we demoed them before and we had an idea of what we wanted it to sound like. It was just so hard to recreate something, then it is to organically make something in the moment. “Movie Was Bad” compared to the demo, at the time, it felt very sparse and less stuff was happening, but then we kinda filled in some space around the edges and feel now, it’s way better than the demo version.
Tim: “Movie Was Bad” is hard cause we always save it for the end of our sets typically because there is a lot of energy to it and it’s really fun, people start dancing. It’s harder though to translate that live energy onto a recording and I think we were struggling with that for a little while, to get that live energy and plus we had a reference point, that we liked the original demo a lot, so that was definitely hard,
As far as recording process, we did the whole thing in about two days. We went up Friday night, set every up and checked levels and Saturday, we got all five songs done in a few takes, maybe like two to three per song. So the first day, we knocked out all the songs and the second day, Joey sang them and we did a little bit of overdubbing. We are excited for our next EP because we are going to spend a few more days on it and be a little more experimental, adding overdubs and trying some stuff. We were pretty efficient with our time on the first one though and Hunter, our producer is great.
Ian: Hunter was great, he has a cool studio with a great vibe with old vintage gear and stuff with huge kick drums.
Jeremiah: He really gets what we were trying to do, which was cool.
Tim: We like to be in the same room together, do it live and I guess some people like to be in separate rooms and do it to a click track, but we find we are pretty good when we are in the same space. You know, just like practice or playing a show, that’s what we like to do honestly. He was good about making that sound great, so it was pretty cool.
Sounding Board: Well it sounds really good and it’s a pretty fluid album.
Tim: He also ran everything through tape, so he runs like eight tracks on tape and then runs that back through his computer. That was my first time working with tape and doing that, I feel gave it a little more analog, warn type of sound. We definity liked that too.
Sounding Board: You guys have played with a lot of awesome bands, especially from here in Philly, how would you describe the music scene here?
Jeremiah: It’s Hot! It’s Hoppin.
Tim: Yeah, Philly is awesome, especially right now! A lot great bands right now and a lot of shows I wanna go see. We like playing with Slomo Sapiens, we just played a show with this band called MINKA, which was really fun. The Vernes are also great, Ceramic Animal are awesome, they actually played here at our house last weekend.
Ian: Rexedog are also really great as well, sweet guys.
Tim: Our friend Hayden Sammak, he goes by Deadfellow and we are playing a show with him soon at Johnny Brenda’s at the end of this month.
Jeremiah: November 24th! Black Friday!
Tim: Sheer Mag are great, I like a lot of the bigger Philly bands too.
Joey: My personal favorites are, well number, one hands down, would be Palm, a band they actually just went on tour with and I saw them at Pharmacy, when I first moved here is Palberta, they are really good. It’s three girls, super out of tune and super wonky, all sing and things are changing every thirty seconds and it’s just awesome!
Sounding Board: Yeah, Philly has so many great bands right now and doing some really cool things. Are you guys gonna be taking your EP on the road or are you going to wait til you put out more material?
Joey: I think the plan is to wait until we release a second thing, then they might be fused together for a full length, maybe with an EP on either side for a vinyl. Right now, it’s only been a couple weeks since the first one came out, but we are about to start demoing all the songs for the second one. Then I think probably start recording around January-ish time or maybe next month even.
Sounding Board: When you go on the road, do have already in mind what cities you wanna play in?
Jeremiah: Probably start off with the places where we know some people.
Joey: Yeah, we have kinda mapped out where we could go where we have a bunch of friends, then just like target cities in general like hit New York City. I’m from Virginia and I was in a few bands in Richmond before moving to Philly, so I feel like we could get a really great show set up there.
Ian: I think Baltimore, Pittsburgh, DC- I’m not that familiar with the scene there, but it’s on the way for an East coast run. Like play at the 9:30 club or something like that.
Sounding Board: And what bands would you like to tour with someday?
Joey: Perfume Genius, Whitney would be cool, Porches, the same guy that recorded us, did their record and Frankie Cosmos.
Tim: I don’t know if this would be the best fit, but I think opening for King Lizard and The Gizzard Wizard would be awesome, their shows are so fun. Girl Band too, would be good.
Sounding Board: yeah, all those would make for some really awesome shows! Is there anything else people should be on the look out for from you guys?
Joey: Well we have one good show in the works for January, then hopefully have the next EP out by Spring.
Tim: Also, I think we should have a music video out by spring to support a single, maybe like March. We have a video series that we are recording in December with Swell Tone Sessions, which is kinda like Sofar.
Joey: They get real artsy and conceptualize each one, different things for each one. It’s almost like they are filming a music video, but it’s a live session and they use real film. Some of them are done with like black and white film or there’s one at Graffiti Pier or in a grocery store.
Sounding Board: That’s awesome guys, can’t to to see it and will have my eyes peeled. Thanks for sitting down with us and can’t wait to hear the new material!
You can listen to “Movie Was Bad” EP here:
And find out more about their upcoming show at Johnny Brenda’s on 11/24 here: