The Jaguar Club
With members split between New York City and the small town of Beverly Massachusetts, The Jaguar Club have been making indie rock with post punk and electronic leanings since 2006, adding band members after a 5-year break. They are releasing their final album, Memory Moon, on June 9th, followed by a tour of the East coast before their amicable split. Their video for the song Hard Cider has been featured in our A/V section.
Josette spoke with the members of The Jaguar Club about their final album, their time with the band, and what the future holds. As a special treat, they are giving us the exclusive premiere of their song Gizmo.
Memory Moon is the band's 5th release, and the 2nd since it reunited with a new lineup 5 years after its initial run. The band's second act has been an eventful one. Festival dates, finally touring the UK and the West Coast, and playing the largest rooms of their career. But the end is once again nigh, as for many reasons The Jaguar Club will break up (presumably for the last time) this summer. Memory Moon sounds almost nothing like The Jaguar Club's first releases from a decade ago. There are drones and ambient sections, but they bookend the band's most straight forward pop songwriting yet. Guitars and synths weave among each other. The lyrics grapple with memory, aging, and domesticity. The sonic touchstones range from Simple Minds to The Heartbreakers. As lovingly-crafted as the record is, The Jaguar Club tends to shine the brightest live and the band can't wait to perform the new songs. They will bow out with a brief tour of favorite East Coast cities in June.
Will Popadic (vocals, guitar, synths):
Perhaps my favorite thing about recording the songs that became Memory Moon was that we made the album at my house outside of Boston. After years of traveling to New York for all band activities, it was a pretty enjoyable change to host the others up here for a few weekends of writing and recording. I've built up a decent little studio in my basement over the last few years and it ended up working out really well to record The Jaguar Club here. Plus we could have fires at night and I think it helped our creativity and focus to have our own space and let the others check out from normal life for a bit. Gavin and I engineered everything and the results were better than we'd hoped.
My primary contributions musically tend to happen at the start and end of the process. I often write the initial basic song, which the others kind of run off with and it changes over time. Then I sort of take over again while I finalize the vocal melody and lyrics, which may result in a but of re-arranging. I usually forget how to play what I wrote during the months (or years!) long gap between these two phases. 'Last of Night' and 'Sky Ride' were written like that. And 'Young Heart' is one I wrote about 3 years ago which is finally seeing the light of day on Memory Moon. On 'Gizmo' the others worked up an arrangement of a song of Gavins down in Brooklyn, to which I later added the vocal melody and lyrics. 'Holidaydream' started with a riff I had and then went elsewhere during a late night of jamming in my basement studio. I also act as our manager, which can be pretty time-consuming.
Yoi and I (along with our first drummer Jeremiah) started the band back in January of 2006, so it's been a pretty long ride for us. Even during the years the band was on 'hiatus' it was just so Yoi and I could start a different band. So for me the strangest part of the band breaking up will be not working with him. We've had some fantastic adventures and made some records i'm really proud of, so no regrets, but I admit to being kind of disillusioned with the indie rock world at this point. We never quite took the step to the next level that we needed to, which has been frustrating. I am constantly recording music at home and have piles and piles of the stuff that I have never released or done much with, it tends to either be electronic or really folky stuff. So in the coming months I plan on digging through that and trying to finally put together a personal record of some kind. But, primarily, I have been re-focusing my creative energy on film and animation projects. I've always really enjoyed making videos for the band, sometimes more than making the music. I have a few short animated films in various stages of completion. I have also recently re-discovered my childhood love of drawing comics and am part way through a YA graphic novel. And next I'd really like to do a semi-memoir comic about my years of low budget budget touring, there are certainly some great stories to be told.
Yoichiro Fujita (bass, sometimes vocals):
I played all the bass on the album. Did some initial drum programming and percussion on Holidaydream. I also contributed many, many late-night email fever dreams about the album which went largely ignored by the rest of the band.
The Jaguar Club has been a huge part of my life since I was 24. From the beginning of the band as a trio in 2006, to extensive touring as a quartet, a few years' hiatus as we explored our Medals project, all the way through to its current quintet lineup, the Jaguar Club has grown up and changed as much as I have.
Though my immediate future will be taking me to Japan and away from the Jaguar Club, I foresee the band existing in some form or another going forward.
Gavin Dunaway (guitar):
For Memory Moon, I created a few of the "concept riffs" that songs eventually were built around, but mainly I played wanker guitar with way too many effects pedals. I might have been more helpful on the other side of recording as I mixed the album. I've mixed a lot of friends' projects that were more of the guitar-rock variety, so it was a challenge to take on something with a lot of synthetic textures and synchronized tracks. But as we were listening to the bare tracks, I was struck by how gorgeous it sounded without any studio magic. It's probably the prettiest music I've ever been a part of, and mixing the album was daunting. In the end I'm thoroughly satisfied, and honestly kind of amazed that we did it. We must be artists or something.
Technically, I've been in and out of this band for about 8 (!!!) years, and what a crazy time it's been. I actually knew the band before I moved to NYC (my DC pals and I were enamored), and I remember being floored by an unreleased "And We Wake Up Slowly." My musical roots are in glam, prog rock and DC-style post-hardcore, but I always had a soft spot in my heart for the new wave and Britpop that influenced JC. It was such a release to finally indulge in this hidden passion (many close friends were shocked when I joined the band), but at the same time it was clear Jaguar Club was forging its own path with rustic guitars and moody, driving rhythms.
My days in The Jaguar Club include some of my best (and worst) memories from touring. I don't think I've ever played in more of a "band" band, with larger-than-life personalities that occasionally (often?) rubbed each other raw. Still camaraderie has proved thick over the years, with hard feelings subsiding as we joined together to expand the sound. I've also earned the nickname "Dadvin" for my tendency to get goofy while enjoying the wacky tobacky (that's a total Dad thing to say... Sigh.)
The future? Mixing tunes for The Jaguar Club has taught me a lot about "the art," and it's really built up my confidence. I'm taking on more projects and attempting to be more ambitious in what I put out. I've found my time JC has greatly (and positively) affected my personal songwriting—I think other bands I play with have benefited from my JC experience, which really allowed me to experiment with how the guitar fits into pop music.
Pat Eager (drums):
I tried to fit in any space made available--both literally and figuratively--by the rest of the band. I say that slightly in jest, though we did write a lot of this record with me on a Roland drum pad tucked under a desk in Will's tiny studio--think Dr. Evil and a burlap bag--so there is a kernel of truth there. They also moved at a rapid pace when we got to writing and recording so I tried to sit by and take it all in and add my contributions where needed. The four of them had so many good ideas so it was actually a pretty cushy job for me.
I quit music for a long time, went to grad school and sort of fell back into music after I moved to NYC for a job. My cousin Jeremiah Joyce was the original drummer for the band and introduced me to the rest of the band a while after he left, so there's a little shady nepotism going on which has turned out really great for me, as it usually does. Since I joined the band we've played a festival in the UK, toured all across the US and played with some awesome bands (Idlewild, Teleman, etc.), which is way more than I was anticipating, so I'm super happy with my time with these yokels.
We're winding down our time as a band, which is kinda sad, but it's also invigorating in that it's creating a unique vibe where we're approaching the last record and shows with a different kind of energy. I like to think that it's evident in the finished product and I wouldn't be surprised at all if a lot of other people noticed too.
Nadia Brittingham (synths/guitars):
I've been in some kind of iteration of The Jaguar Club since its first hiatus as Medals, where Will and Yoi asked me to come play synths for them in a strictly non creative fashion. At some point, they decided that I was worthy of helping write the second Medals album "Long Distance." Since then I've become both a synth and guitar player in the band, and this album probably showcases the most original Nadia parts of my JC/Medals career.
I finally went and bought an actual synthesizer (a confusing German one albeit) for this album, and I think it's pretty apparent when compared to the last EP "Close." I had a pretty fun time twiddling knobs and whatnot on Holidaydream, which is probably my personal fave on the album. But the close second is Gizmo, where I finally got to rage at the end and am maybe even playing first guitar over Gavin? What a way to end a career! This may have been my favorite recording experience, since we were able to take our time working together in Will's basement without the added pressure of timing/finances. The second Medals album was also self recorded in the basement, but there were only three of us then, so no one was there to prevent group writing maybe some of the cheesiest lyrics I have ever heard.
It's a little bit sad that the band is calling it quits just when (after roughly 6 or 7 years) I finally feel confident in my skills as a musician. It was daunting at times to play with these guys, since they are all extremely talented and seasoned musicians. But I have learned a lot from all of them, and will think fondly of them for forever. Even despite having some of the worst tour experiences possible. I never knew I would one day have 4 husbands, or 4 sister-wives, or however you want to classify them.
For now, I am taking a break from music and focusing on my career/other writing pursuits. I will probably tinker around with music on my own. Done with bands for now, but somewhat curious about playing with other female identified musicians one day. You know, just for a change.