Jazz band johnnycola (lowercase for the aesthetics) shock up the New Brunswick basement show scene last fall with the release of his EP “Unbind,” an upbeat jazz album set to pop melodies that stood alone from the typical pop-punk band sound. After a few semesters playing local shows and promoting that first release, John Colaiacovo III is preparing to stir up the music scene again with a second summer release.
Johnnycola is fronted by Colaiacovo, a Mason Gross School of the Arts senior, who also writes all of the music and lyrics for the band. The next album, which is currently not named, in addition to being written by Colaiacovo will also be completely recorded by him in the basement of the jhouse, a diy venue he also runs.
The last EP was recorded in the show house with the help of Jeff Linden, of Jeff Linden and The Black Spot Society, but Colaiacovo explained the benefits of being in control of the entire process.
“It’s hard for me to work with other people sometimes… (in terms of) trying to share the same things you want to hear sonically. (It) is always interesting, but a lot harder to achieve (your goal) than you would think so this time I’m trying to capture just what I’ve been imaging,” Colaiacovo said.
This will be more important than ever because Colaiacovo’s imagine for the next album is much different from “Unbind.” New themes are being written about and there are new musical influences coming into play like Bossa Nova (and Latin Jazz in general) as well as the Mild High Club and Hank Mobley, working in synthesis with his studies at Mason Gross.
Johnnycola’s music is written by Colaiacovo and then added to by the five other band members, some of who also study music.
“I come to them with a frame, and then they do what they want within that frame,” Colaicovo said, “I’ll imply like maybe a feel, but I won’t write it all out.”
Drummer Evan Tsioni described his role as filling in the color of the songs. And the result is unique sound and fresh take on modern jazz.
About one month ago, johnnycola released the latest demo for the new album “Just Like Me” on soundcloud, a song about the NoBanNoWall civil liberties controversy.
“I found it hard to not write about what was happening,” Colaiacovo said, “I couldn’t write about like a girl or something… It just wasn’t what I was thinking about. And just in general I find it less important to write about what I’m going through. I try to reflect upon what is happening (in the world) instead.”
This is large contrast from “Unbind,” which can be listened to as a breakup album but definitely a step toward more mature music lyrically.
The unnamed album is planned to be released toward the end of the Spring Semester, but timelines aren’t relevant to johnnycola’s musical process.
“I’m just going to (keep releasing) a bunch of singles at random times, totally un-announced,” Colaiacovo said. “But after a while I’m going to announce (the official) album, and I want to record it all myself… I don’t have a date. I don’t work like that.”
Several songs are all almost complete and others at least somewhere in the recording process. Colaiacovo’s main focus now is getting the tracks to work together in synthesis with each other so the album can be experienced as a whole, which involves narrowing in on a central theme.
“I can’t think of how that’s going to happen yet, which is the biggest problem,” Colaiacovo said, “But it’ll happen.”