Smile Politely

Fall Semester Showdown profile: Jet W. Lee

“Hard Hats” by Jet W. Lee

More than a dozen local bands will be playing the Fall Semester showdown at the Canopy Club on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. In case you’re not familiar with some of them, we’ll be running capsule interviews with as many of them as would respond to our emails over the next few days.

Next up: Jet W. Lee, who will be playing on Thursday night as part of a five-band bill also featuring Empyrean Soul, Audiac Arrest, Arkansas Dogjaw, and Kilroy et al. Cover is $7, and the show starts at 10 p.m.

Smile Politely: How would you describe your sound to a person who you don’t think will like your music? Is there anything your music has been compared to that you don’t particularly agree with? Are there any non-musical influences that one might not expect?

Jet W. Lee: Hmm. I would say that we are definitely rock with a country tinge. If I knew someone didn’t like either rock or (non-pop/modern) country I’d just tell them that we play honest, fresh rock music that we genuinely love to play. Above all else, hopefully that shows through.

Lately I’ve been very influenced by the poet Paul Haines, but in general Pat and I are influenced by deliberately cheesy (hilarious) movies, people who never rest for fear of stagnation, Mark Rubel of Pogo Studio (who fits into that last category), and anyone who is passionate about being alive and pursuing that passion.

Smile Politely: What are the primary factors/influences/motivations that keep you doing what you’re doing?

Jet W. Lee: As anyone else would probably say we genuinely love to perform/play. To us there is nothing better than rocking so much that you are drained…. but it’s like the kind of drained after a refreshing morning run or accomplishing something (even if it’s a small piece of the puzzle).

Anytime a person responds to what we’re doing and offers encouragement it’s really like seeing the sunrise. Friends and Family are especially near and dear to us for this.

Lately after gigs Pat and I love to go to the Blind Pig and talk about ambitions over a $1 PBR and that is great too!

Smile Politely: What is the best (or worst) thing happening in music today (either local, national or international)?

Jet W. Lee: Hmm. The best thing is hard to pin down though I’d point to the great variety and ease of access in today’s world. Champaign/Urbana really is a great scene though. There is alot of music here and whenever that is appreciated I’d say it’s great! In regards to the best thing locally though I’d point towards you guys and Todd Hunter of WEFT.

The worst thing I’d say is when it seems no one cares about going to shows. There are alot of sources that can be blamed for bad shows but it just plain sucks when no one comes.

Smile Politely: Tell us about the worst show you have ever played.

Jet W. Lee: Oh man. I don’t even know. Pat has gigged more than me and he isn’t here to grab a great story from but I’d say one of my first gigs with my first non high school band was bad in that our drummer set up a show by lying about our draw and then it turned out we weren’t even confirmed to play. We drove a long time only to find out we weren’t on the bill and then when we asked the promoter about it he pointed out that no one had come to see us. Honesty is SO important.

Smile Politely: What do you have coming up on the horizon?

Jet W. Lee: We are releasing our debut LP WHO SHALL REMAIN SHAMELESS this January. There is a CD release show in Chicago Jan. 29th and at Mike n Molly’s here in Champaign Feb. 5th!!

Smile Politely: What can people expect from your live show that differs from what is available from your MySpace?

Jet W. Lee: Our live shows in general are faithful to our recordings but different in the aspect that we strive to inject as much intensity, passion, and spontaneity into our performances as humanly possible. This translates to different arrangements, improvised guitar solos, unreleased songs, and hopefully contagious energy!

And of course as we all know… live music is better!

PS. For this show we are playing an acoustic set that will highlight different versions of tracks from our album and at least a new song or two. It’ll be a stripped down, meat and bones presentation of the songs that we like alot.

Smile Politely: Anything else you want to emphasize or get off your chest?

Jet W. Lee: We will have FREE stickers and a limited supply of FREE sample CDs with a track from our soon to be released album.

Check out a Jet W. Lee video here.

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