Alibi V.17 No.43 • Oct 23-29, 2008 

Show Up!

Jaguar Love

It’s drivin’ me mad, it’s makin’ me crazy

Jaguar Love, from left: J. Clark (ex-Pretty Girls Make Graves), Johnny Whitney and Cody Votolato (both ex-The Blood Brothers)
Jaguar Love, from left: J. Clark (ex-Pretty Girls Make Graves), Johnny Whitney and Cody Votolato (both ex-The Blood Brothers)
Michael Lavine

Soon after Pretty Girls Make Graves and The Blood Brothers dissolved, Jaguar Love was formed.

“We’ve spent 10 to 15 years touring and recording and being musicians,” says drummer and former PGMG guitarist J. Clark. “When our bands broke up, there was a lot of motivation to get back on the horse.”

Jaguar Love is a post-rock supergroup of sorts, with Clark joined by guitarist Cody Votolato (younger brother of Rocky) and singer Johnny Whitney of the art-punk band The Blood Brothers. The band teamed up in August of ’07, was signed by Matador Records a month later and began touring three months after that. With a new album and two more tours under its belt, Jaguar Love is slowly distancing itself from its members’ previous projects. “It will take at least a year, year and a half to feel like people just look at this band as being this band, instead of an offshoot,” Clark says. “It'll happen at the right pace as we develop what we're doing.”

The early stages of Jaguar Love’s evolution are promising. Its debut record, Take Me to the Sea, is eccentric glam with a knack for fruitful exploration. Frantic keyboard, pummeling guitar and feisty, active drumming fuse into a tempered pandemonium with a solid, clear-cut foundation. Whitney’s ultra-high-pitched voice stomps around wherever it wants. Falsetto vocals are not altogether unusual, but Whitney’s fearlessness is.

“They have a lot of rabid, insane fans.”

Clark got to know his bandmate’s singing style well while producing the album. “I've developed an intimate relationship with his voice,” Clark says. “I've never heard anyone else sing like that. He's got a lot of soul.”

Clark acknowledges there are still those who remain unconverted. At every show, there are a couple fans who express warmer sentiments for The Blood Brothers than for the new project. “The other day we had somebody yell out Blood Brothers songs while we were playing,” Clark says. “They have a lot of rabid, insane fans.”

Clark understands that being in a supergroup has advantages as well. “It’s good and bad,” Clark says. “Some people are interested just because they know your other band.”

For Clark, playing drums for Jaguar Love meant taking up an instrument he hadn’t played in more than five years. In previous bands where he banged the skins, Clark had a more experimental, freeform style. As unexpected as the turns are in some of Jaguar Love's songs, it’s still very much a rock band. “It's weird not playing guitar,” Clark says. “I had to adjust to being the anchor.”

Though he’s “100 percent happy” now that he’s comfortable behind the kit, Clark isn’t quite ready to call Jaguar Love the best band he’s ever been in. “It might be too early to say,” Clark says. “Only time will tell.”

Jaguar Love will make a believer out of you at the Launchpad on Thursday, Oct. 23. The Cherry Tempo and His Holiness round out the welcome wagon. Tickets to the all-ages show are $8 and can be bought at Natural Sound or through launchpadrocks.com with a service fee.

Claw your way to Jaguar Love’s MySpace at myspace.com/jaguarloveband