“Don’t think about your instrument, think about the song.”
That’s the advice Fray producer Aaron Johnson gave Greensboro sextet Jonas Sees In Color while helping record their eponymous debut LP of elemental pop-rock. “It’s a good way of looking at music as a whole,” vocalist Ryan Downing, 24, says. “You don’t want to focus on the individual you want to focus on the end product and the band as a group.”
JSIC also features guitarists Jonathan Owens and Jonathan Albright, keyboardist Meagan Plummer, bassist Michael Deming, and drummer John Chester. Three of their tracks, “Luck and Love,” “Stand Tall” and “I Own These Streets,” have been featured on the hit MTV reality show “Jersey Shore.” But as big as music licensing has been for emerging artists in recent years, Downing feels that’s changing.
“I think it’s coming back to live shows,” he says. “We are living human beings and this is the sound we make. To be as good as your record sounds, I think that’s getting rarer, and I think those bands are getting more and more respect.”
I read you guys were getting electrical shocks when a storm hit an outdoor show JSIC were playing in Mississippi.
I think that every band has to go through those kinds of experiences to prove that they really want it. I think we went through more than our fair share. (Laughs.) If we can make that show good and make people enjoy that show there, what else do we have to worry about…besides dying. (Laughs.)
Your band’s name was inspired by Lois Lowry’s book “The Giver.” What’s the last great book you read?
I would say “The Windup Bird Chronicle” by Haruki Murakami. That’s the last book I’ve finished, and right now I’m re-reading “Cather in the Rye” for the 4 millionth time.
What do you love about “Catcher in the Rye?”
I think it’s one of the universal books for teenage angst. It’s rebellious but universal at the same time, kind of like rock ‘n’ roll.
What singers inspire you the most these days?
I’ve been a Rolling Stones fan since I was like three, so Mick Jagger is always my number one. The Band is a massive influence on me too. As far as more modern singers go, I think Chris Robinson from The Black Crowes is incredible. I think the lead singer from Band of Horses (Ben Bridwell) is incredible.
You have six people in your group. What aspects of band life are made easier by having that many members and which become more complicated?
It takes us forever to shower. (Laughs.) It’s six people in the van doing a 14-hour drive, that’s pretty cramped, but I’ve known them all forever. They’re my best friends in the whole world so I’d want to have them with me anyway. Everyone does their share of the work and we all get along. Luckily.
What are some of those tasks you share?
I do our video blogs while someone else is following up with a radio promo while someone else is talking to our fans on Facebook, while someone is cleaning up the van.
What’s next for Jonas Sees In Color?
We’ll be touring from April until the end of time.
Jonas Sees In Color plays The Handlebar at 8 p.m. April 3 (with Parmalee, Modern Day Slave and This Twilight City). Tickets are $8. For more information, call 864-233-6173 or visit www.myspace.com/jonasseesincolor.