The New Dudes on the Block: An Interview with Just Neighbors
The Gainesville-based math rock band took the stage at High Dive this past Saturday to deliver their first headline performance. Hoping to break through non-prog audiences, the group performed most of their newly recorded tracks off of their self-titled debut album, released only a few weeks ago.
The band is composed of guitarists Dan Lohr, and Justice Diamond, with Jack Yankopolus on drums, and Jarrett Haines on keys. The group recently departed with bassist, Brooks Hammer, with the show acting as a bitter-sweet goodbye as he joined them on the stage for one last performance.
As for the show: a tasty, 4-piece band by the name of Fast Talkers (Tampa) opened up for the Neighbors with some locked-in, mellow grooves that warmed up the the crowd’s ears for some more instrumental-based songs. Positive attitudes of camaraderie really encompassed the stage as Just Neighbors began to play their medleys.
The math-rock band’s music can be characterized by its driving, interlaced guitar and drum parts. While the voicing can sound a bit busy at first because of their continual switches, the forward-driving instrumentals really give the music its signature sound. The songs definitely have depth; to the active listener, multiple catchy melodies can be found within every track. It seems to be the right blend of laid-back grooving mixed with intricate instrumental work, but in a compartmentalized fashion.
Much like a good neighbor, it takes some time to warm-up to these tracks, but I assure any listeners that after some quality time spent with the album, they’ll find a reliable comfort in the familiar melodies.
I had a moment to sit down with three of the four members of the band over some wings at Mother’s this week to talk about their music, writing process and favorite wing flavors.
So how did you all meet?
Dan Lohr: “Well, Justice and I about two years ago started writing songs together…”
Justice Diamond: “…it was maybe a year and a half ago, I feel like we were playing together, but not necessarily writing yet.”
DL: “Yeah, about sophomore year we started actually writing.”
JD: “Right, but then I started jamming with Jarrett and Dan Wigley, our old singer, and brought Dan one day to meet them and that was about it.”
How did Jack get thrown into the mix then?
Jack Yankopolus: “Me and Jarrett were a three piece called Mike’s Secret Stuff, like Space Jam, some sweet math rock stuff. But we broke up and Justice hit me up one day and that was that.”
Do you guys have any problem with being labeled math rock in any way?
JY: “I think so, Dan might but…”
JY: *laughing* “No no, we come from a jazz background and Dan comes from a reggae background, so we take influences from everything.”
DL: “Yeah, I’ve played a lot of different styles, I don’t think labels mean anything. The point is we all listen and play different shit. We’re a hodgepodge.”
What are some of your personal favorite artists?
DL: “I like Monet and Van Gogh.”
JY: *laughing* “The Fall of Troy.”
How much does your writing process vary when creating songs?
JD: “So Dan and I will come up with a bunch of parts and string them together, so by the time we have practice..”
DL: “..we’ll bring our parts to Jack and Jarrett and they find a way to tie it all together.”
JD: “Or Dan and I will write a song all the way through and then another member will write a complementary part. And that’s normally when we’ll go to Jack and Jarrett.”
DL: “For instance in ‘End You Can Depend On’ Justice wrote the main part.”
JY: “We write in layers. I don’t even play guitar, but like for writing ‘Jackoriah!’ I came to Dan with just the base idea and he ran with it from there.”
Since we’re sitting down here at Mother’s, what’re your guys favorite wing flavors?
DL: “Sweet chile, but I get extra garlic like an asshole.”
JD: “Mike’s Secret Stuff, but just the sauce.”
JY: “Teriyaki/Hot Garlic hybrid.”
All Photos Courtesy of: Ana Gabriela Teran.