UNCLE EINAR’S JON PETRY—ROOTS AND SPACE
Interview by Josh Medsker
Ok, so tell me about the roots of Uncle Einar. What was driving the birth of the band? And who else is in the group besides you? From what we were discussing before, you write the music and lyrics, correct?
After my first band, Rows, fizzled out I felt like there was hole in my life. And it wasn’t even that long of a period in between Rows and Uncle Einar. It’s just that the old band meant so much to me, and it felt really good to be in a band with my friends and we had something that connected us. It felt good to be creating something with other people. I think Uncle Einar was my answer to losing the creative opportunity that I had, and starting Uncle Einar was a way for me to show myself how to not be afraid to go it alone. My friend Rich Samartin who was in the old band with me is still playing drums for Uncle Einar. Richie is very in tune with his instrument and I can bring anything new to him and he is able to interpret new material very quickly and intuitively, and no matter what, everything I present to him ends up coming out okay. I write the music, and I write the lyrics. Richie brings in the percussion and everything just falls into place.
I understand you’ve been playing gigs in Jersey quite a bit these days. What has the crowd reaction been like?
We’re still a fledging duo. We still need to build a following. We’ve been trying to keep things a little closer to home at the moment in the hopes that someday we might be able to pack a decent sized hometown venue. But even that is proving to be hard. Really hard. Any audience that we have had the pleasure playing to has always been fairly receptive of us. We’ve received compliments that we have a cool sound and we’ve been likened to Nirvana. Which to me is a huge compliment… an honor. Most of the shows we’ve played as of late have been small with an intimate feel. That’s what I would really love to do, play in a small venue with everyone packed up close together.
I was listening to some of your previous work… Get Thee to Nod, and so on, and I noticed a very pronounced blues and garage-rock influence. Is roots music a big influence on you? Also, how would you say your work is evolving, from your previous songs, to the new record, Line? I’m hearing… Nirvana in a guitar-fight with My Morning Jacket… with Pink Floyd taking notes on the sidelines. Heh. Very ethereal and shoegazey, but still grounded in… traditional folk-ish song-craft.
Compared to earlier songs from Uncle Einar, the new material is starting to take a more concrete, and solid structure. A couple of songs that were on Get Thee to Nod make another appearance in Line. Where I kind of threw a bunch of things together in Nod, it’s what I would describe as Cubism but in musical form. That album wasn’t for people to listen and say, “this is nice.” I think Nod was born to be jarring and a little strange. I finished Nod and then fell into a deep depression. But thank you for the compliments. Nirvana is one of my favorite bands, and I’ve seen My Morning Jacket live and they put on a great show. And as far as blues or a roots music influence, I’ve always loved the image of a guitar player up on a stage in a very dimly lit room with smoke in the air. And the image continued takes you outside and there’s street lights and a light mist and you’re smoking a cigarette talking to strangers and you can still hear the player inside as he doesn’t show any care for anything else other than the guitar.
Take us through your creative process… from the germ of a song idea to playing it live. What’s your work method like? Do you have a set time that you write songs, or do you jot notes down while stopped at a traffic light… ?
For me what happens is a song will end up writing itself. It’s very difficult for me to force anything. If I happen to stumble on a progression, or melody that creates any kind of imagery in my head, then I just try to explore it and see what happens. That’s what’s happening with Line. There’s a feeling of being out by yourself late at night. Just by yourself wandering down a street lit up with neon signs and there’s a bit of a fog. I think for me Line is about learning how to be comfortable with yourself… It’s about facing your darker side and letting it out. Because that’s what happens, we hide so much of ourselves from the world that such a repression of self becomes torturous and you feel stuck and can’t move anywhere in life without leaving more and more of yourself behind. Line is about searching, and looking back to where you once were while missing opportunities you once had and remembering them fondly.
What’s next on the agenda for Uncle Einar? And where can we download, stream, and or purchase your music?
Right now we’re just trying to play shows as they come up. I hope that we’ll be able to have our own show sometime soon. We’ve been hopping on the bill for shows that need an extra band. Right now the focus is to just share what have and to share what we’re working on in the hopes that people will hop on board and believe in our music. Right now we are still exploring Line and are still mix-matching and shuffling songs around until the right combination reveals itself. You can download Line right now via Bandcamp or stream it on Soundcloud. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Find Uncle Einar on FB: www.facebook.com/uncleeinar/