AquaJones press on despite tech problems and paramours
Published: March 14, 2012
Last July, Austin-based funk-rock quartet AquaJones had a brush with fame, and the failure of the endeavor can be traced back to a bassist who took of with a girl. According to San Antonian guitarist Brent Merchant, 33, the band scored a gig at the legendary Whisky A Go-Go in West Hollywood, but technical difficulties cut their set short. After bassist Jason Schreiber split in April to be with a fan/love interest in Dallas, the group started using an iPad to run backing bass tracks onstage. But the iPad failed on the most important date of their tour. "I obviously wasn't too happy with [Schreiber]," Merchant said. "None of us were."
AquaJones finished 2011 as a trio, but brought on bass and sax savant Corey Isaaks in December. They also made nice with Schreiber after he offered to produce some flyers for a year-end show.
With that weird tour behind them, AquaJones is now throwing all their energy into producing two releases this year. The first is an EP with a May due date that was recorded in San Antonio's Dreamland Studios under the direction of Ken Branca. The second may be either an EP or LP due in September recorded in Merchant's garage studio. "You know, we just want to get it into peoples' ears," Merchant said. "We're just trying to make 'feel good' music."
On that, Merchant admits that AquaJones, with its marriage of positive universal messages and accessible hooks, joins a long tradition of bands who catch flack for merely attempting to light pleasure centers. Crowd-pleasing, cultish rockers like 311 and Galactic provide the groundwork for AquaJones' grunge-era vocals, '80s guitar solos, and jam-band sax vamps. Meanwhile, funk rhythms and nu-metal dynamics underscore their love for the visceral. They're as much for head-banging as booty-shaking, and that's all Merchant cares about. "All of my favorite bands — whether it's the Beatles or 311 — just put out a positive message," he said. "People need to hear something that tells them to keep their head up." •
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