Jaill photo by Renate Winter
Nearly a year ago Milwaukee’s own Jaill was preparing to release its second Sub Pop Records release, Traps, before hitting the road for a well-timed summer tour in support of its decidedly breezy brand of stripped-down indie rock. Since Jaill’s unforgettable Bay View Bowl release show last June, the outfit enjoyed lucrative local opening slots for The Hives and Titus Andronicus, won some hardware from 88Nine Radio Milwaukee voters and WAMI (not to mention Milwaukee Magazine “Best Of” attention!). However, the band lineup also changed dramatically, leaving founding member Vinnie Kircher as the only remaining Jaill inmate who was present when Traps was recorded.
With the new-look, good-as-ever Jaill anchoring a rock solid evening’s entertainment at the Saturday portion of the four-night-long Foster Fest this weekend, we thought it was a great chance to sit down with Kircher to discuss his new counterparts, plans for this summer, the progress on a new album and why he likes Hotel Foster.
In the past year, your band is virtually new. I know that you had Mike [Skorcz] and John [Mayer] before as sort of touring help, but now they’re in the band officially, right?
Yeah. When Andy [Harris] and Austin [Dutmer] and I made Traps, we decided we wanted to flesh out the band larger for touring. I think John’s been playing with us for a couple of years now and Mike soon after, by the time the album came out and we were starting to tour—he joined at the record release show. So a year and a half and a year, respectively.
And now you have Josh [Evert] on the drums…
Yeah, I guess it’s surprising to say they’ve only been in there for that long because we’ve played like a hundred shows together now. I’m definitely very comfortable playing with Mike and John, and I feel like I’ve been playing with them for a long time. That amount of show playing stretches a lot of years of other members. That number of shows caught them up in my head in terms of solidly playing together really quickly.
And Josh entered after the brunt of the touring in support of Traps. With him joining, we were able to do more touring in the offseason. So we’ve been doing short stints throughout 2013 already.
What are the differences that each bring? What do they offer?
The off part is that they’re all talented lead singers of their own band. It’s a really nice thing to be working with people that have that sort of organization and talent and ability to lead on their own. It doesn’t feel like anybody needs to be prompted as to what’s working good. Everyone seems to be diligently thinking about how to make things better and in touring, having a lot of fun but also staying within reason on tour. There’s a fine balance.
John is overly musical and has a great voice. His ability to improvise bass lines and sing high harmonies is amazing. Mike was a position in the band that throughout the band’s history, we’ve always wanted somebody that could be playing sythy, noisy parts. To find a guy who can do that stuff without sounding overbearing is a wonderful add. Josh, we call him “Young Thor” because he’s just a beast back behind the drums. He’s really amped up the energy and the fun. It’s working very well.
Your last album came out roughly a year ago. Are there any plans for a new album? Have you been writing any new stuff?
Yeah, we’ve been doing really short, five-six day tours. Every time we go out, we’ve been trying to make sure we’ve got one to two new songs to play out to people. We’ve played some, we’ve shelved some, we’re working on some new ones. There’s a collection of songs to choose from that are done and demoed. We’ll start to demo more in the coming weeks and start to think about the process of making the next album. There’s no solid plan, but it’s in the works.
On to this weekend, why did you want to get involved with Foster Fest?
Mark [Goldstein, local promoter] had contacted me really early on, excited that the Generationals were coming to town this weekend. I’d met them once or twice and really wanted to get on the show. He said they had support. And I’m friends with Colleen Green, who was looking for shows in Milwaukee around the same time. It just seemed to match up. John [Revord], one of the owners of Foster, and Mark and I were sitting at Boone & Crockett drinking and Mark and I were talking about the shows lining up really well. John was serving drinks and getting excited about Marks idea to start a festival. They got excited real quick and starting working out the details of it. I just wanted to be a part of it.
I like playing at Foster. I played at The Globe a long time ago and Foster has the same vibe, but is a little bit more elegant. It’s a good place to play and the lineup for our show is one of the best we’ve been a part of for a while. I’ve wanted to play with Rio Turbo for a while and I go to every Fatties show. They’re amazing. Josh is probably the best front man in Milwaukee.
In celebration of Hotel Foster’s second birthday, Jaill will headline Foster Fest’s Saturday show, which also features Colleen Green, Rio Turbo and The Fatty Acids. The show begins at 8 p.m. and costs $10. For more information on Foster Fest (May 2-5), go to the Hotel Foster website.