If you’re not familiar with Jucifer, it’s hard to describe their sound without attempting to sing their riffs out loud. They are a devastatingly low and hard live band that manages to demonstrate a bizarre and eclectic range of talent on their albums. Although the band consists of only two people, they loathe the new buzz terms such as “duo” and would roll their eyes at any mention of the fact that they are the even more oh-so-marketable male-female duo. Since their creation in the early 1990’s, Jucifer has been one of the most innovative and interesting bands to hit any subgenre of rock in the last ten years. With their ridiculous work ethic and insane tour schedule they’ve made a name for themselves the old fashioned way, ironic eh?
It’s another bitterly cold “autumn” night in Buffalo as Frank Napolski and I reach our destination at Mohawk Place. Amber (Guitar and Vocals) is just finishing up her sound check, and for Jucifer this is no easy task. There is literally a wall of speakers behind her including cabinets from Heartkey, Ampeg, and Marshall that were being powered by some of the loudest amps in the business, such as Sunn and Earth. Edgar (Drums) is helping out tour companion John set up their light show, which somehow manages to add to the live experience rather than cheapen it. Amber sat with us and discussed everything from her dogs to her opinions on musical trends.
You’re constantly on tour… considering the way you play, isn’t that damaging?
It’s…(Laughs) probably. We’ve gotten used to it because we’ve been out for a while and, actually, in some ways, because the loading [of the equipment] is so ridiculous… all that stuff weighs about 3,000 pounds. So doing that two times a day is a lot easier then doing it for a month and then take a month off and then go back
So you have to stay in shape for tour?
Totally, and it’s like that with our live show too. We had a week off out west and we were in the desert and we had found a cheap place to camp which was awesome, but we knew we had to stay in shape. So we were like, running in the sand and riding our bikes, all these things that should
keep you in shape… but the next show we played we were both exhausted and fighting for air. (Laughs) Apparently, there’s like nothing cardiovascular-wise that we found other than playing a show that’s
When you guys practice do you play with all your equip…
Well, we don’t practice because we’re on tour all the time. (Laughs) So we just play all the time basically…
When do you write new material then?
Um, in the RV when we’re driving. It’s pretty much in our heads, we work
on it together.
We just finished an EP which was written almost entirely while we were driving.
I heard you had three members
Well, that guy who was originally playing drums actually split within a month of us getting together. So after that for awhile we looked for other members, but never stopped playing and we finally just gave up on finding someone else. We kinda realized we got to the point that we were really happy with our band the way it was.
So has the main principal of your band maintained since?
Yeah, basically the first time we played together. Me, Ed, and the other guy, they had learned a bunch of my songs because I gave them a tape, I was playing out by myself at that time. The very first time that we practiced, Ed and I had this chemistry that was undeniable. It’s really cool when you can play guitar with another guitar player or bass player and like.. you can just completely jam with each other. You haven’t talked about anything and you’re not saying “oh we’re going to this key or that key” but you just do stuff and it comes very naturally. We had that right away.
Because you are a female-male duo do you feel that you are cast into a genre
I think it’s funny because to see the trends come and go and see how we get hooked into whatever trend is happening. We have been a so-called “duo” for eleven years now and duos have become hip in what… the last two years maybe? So it’s going to be funny to see what happens after duos… because before that it was like any band with a girl in it. Whether they were ridiculously unlike us or not. We also got called an all girl band a lot… (Laughter) Some poor research I guess?
I see that you get compared to PJ Harvey a lot, and before reading that I would have never came to that conclusion myself.
Yeah, I never listened to a lot of PJ Harvey myself. Actually when she got kinda big I didn’t want to listen to it because I was afraid that it was going to be similar to what I was doing. That four track demo or whatever… because I was doing and recording a lot of stuff on my own. And when I finally listened to that record years later I was like “Holy shit, this was nothing like what I was doing!” Except for the fact that it was… strong? Like a female being aggressive and assertive rather then singing all pretty and cute about butterflies. But that was the only link I saw, that’s only what I can guess why people relate our stuff to her stuff, because there is a female who isn’t a shrinking violet, who is involved. I mean… they’ve called us Riot Girl and even an Emo group. (Laughter) it’s pretty funny.
From your first release Calling All Cars on the Vegas Strip and the difference between that and your second release The Lambs EP I found the EP to be much more devastating and hard while Calling All Cars had a much more eclectic range. On your third release I Name You Destroyer you return to the more studio based album, musically where does your next album take you?
Um, well we kinda have a thing where we’ve been hampered by circumstances as far as putting out records and we’ve already planned far ahead of what we’ve actually released. For example the Calling All Cars record was mostly songs written before 1993 and the record was released across the country finally in thousand. So there’s a seven year drag right there just in the material. But we actually recorded the Destroyer record before the Lambs EP… but what we wanted to do with that EP was one record that didn’t deviate so much with what our live show was like, which what our full lengths tend to do. We do have a new EP which should be coming out at the beginning of the year which similarly everything but the vocals were recorded entirely live. It’s defiantly overall …heavy but there’s also a song with just banjo and singing…
Were you ever critized for putting a release out featuring songs that you can’t play live? Because you have several acoustic songs and I don’t want to say electronic-y but they’re…
But it does approach… yeah like someone once said we had some dance-y stuff and I was like “Yeah there is some dance music”. If you listen to all the records we did dabble in stuff that couldn’t be duplicated live, at least with two people. By the time that record was done and out for awhile and we had a chance to live with it and be a band for awhile we realized we didn’t want to be limited at all by whether or not we could do something live. That’s not what being a musician is about for us, it’s more about making the music and less about trying to prove something by making it sound exactly like the record when we play a show. We feel those are totally different experiences for the person who’s a spectator for the music, and it is for us. We don’t want to just… I can only play guitar and he can only play drums because we both play a lot of other instruments and we both can play each other’s instruments. So we want to be able to enjoy that… you know? And when we’re playing live we don’t want to mess around with samples or telling other musicians what to play.
Following the interview the band played one of the loudest and most passionate sets that you’ll see a live act ever pull off. Jucifer just might be the saviors of rock and roll.
Their future EP discussed in the interview is called War Bird and will be released in early February. The other three releases are available from their website, www.jucifer.com.