The many musical chairs of Burque's most exciting new jazz troupe
By Neelam Mehta
If you really want to understand what it's like talking with the members of Jetpack Rental, just find the nearest 10 year old and give him a Red Bull, a candy bar and a twisted appreciation for music that borders on insanity.
"This is what happens when you're a full-time musician," explains keyboardist Paul Fowler, bouncing around in his seat and animating his words with a variety of wild gestures. "It's all you do all the time; it's all you're thinking about. I can't listen to music and not see it on the page in my head."
Together with drummer Joel Fadness and bassist Justin Bransford, Fowler is feeding this obsession through Jetpack Rental's improvised, jazz/drum- and bass-hybrid sound—a sound he simply describes as "groove-based impermanence." And as far as categorization goes, that's about as close as anyone is going to get.
"What's cool about Jetpack Rental is because we have a lack of agenda, no tune and no form, we are forced to listen to each other and share our musical ideas in a naked light," Bransford says.
Why exactly would a band want to throw themselves into such an unpredictable musical environment? Fadness makes it sound like the only logical thing to do.
"We get to do whatever we want," he says, excitement bubbling in his voice. "We have complete license. Like the next song, if Paul starts it, he has a minute to show us the direction. Whoever's ego is feeling it will make a change happen. Listen and react--that's all we can do."
"To use the pop term, it's 'music in the now,'" Fowler says. "We've chosen this project because it's an experiment to examine each other's musical personalities and inspiration."
"Without a lead singer or guitarist," Fadness adds.
"We are teetering between the jazz and jam band scene. We're trying to make it sound composed, rehearsed and toured immediately on the spot."
Fadness started Jetpack Rental about seven months ago, but like all good stories, his own had humble beginnings.
"I had four years of classical piano, and I played French horn for a week," Fadness remembers of his early musical endeavors. "Then my older brother had a drum set in the house, and I started playing Rush and The Police. I learned how to play all The Police songs right-handed, and after that, I learned how to play them all left-handed."
Now that's just plain cool.
Bransford also played the piano and the guitar before picking up a bass at age 19.
"All my education has been studying one-on-one with other musicians," he says. "No college degree or anything."
As far as backgrounds are concerned, this makes for a nice contrast to Fowler's degrees in voice performance, composition and theater.
"I've been playing the piano since I was 17. I developed as a pianist specifically in the jazz medium. In a way, it was the alternative to being in school--I never studied jazz in school."
Their constant fidgeting and random peals of maniacal laughter aside, these guys have a clear talent and, more importantly, a clear motive to share it.
If you really want to understand what it's like to listen to some good, ol' fashioned groove-based impermanence, check out Jetpack Rental at Pearl's Dive on Saturday, Dec. 3, at 9 p.m.
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