To Burque, With Love
Jenny Invert delivers dark, operatic pop
Naming your band after a famous postage error is a pretty bold, slightly geeky and charming move. The Inverted Jenny, or Jenny Invert, depicts the GN-14 airplane, and its border was printed upside down. Only one sheet of misprints—that's 100 stamps—made its way into the world of American philately, the study and practice of stamp collecting. It's one of the most valuable mistakes in U.S. postal history for collectors.
Jenny Invert's Sam Miller is one of those mail ephemera enthusiasts. He and his brother Will were regular childhood patrons of long-shuttered local emporium Stamp World but never scored one of the coveted snafus. “If I had one, I'd be rich,” says Miller by phone. Of the name, he muses it reminds him of greedy kids sifting through bins, looking for this essentially valueless but prized item.
Miller is both a philosopher and musician. He grew up in Burque and studied philosophy at UNM. After college, he joined his brother in Vancouver and composed an album based on the philosophers whose work he was most attracted to. That's when he realized he wanted music to be what he did, not as a job, but as a focus or passion.
Jenny Invert left New Mexico in their rearview and toured their way to the northwest. Original members David “Poncho” Schripsema and Sean Alkire flew back after the tour, but Miller and August Johnson set down roots in Seattle; Alkire joined them a couple months later. Miller says relocating to the Pacific Northwest has helped him recognize the charm of our burg. “It's hard to appreciate it fully when you completely grew up there.” The group performed on a bill with Mike Watt and the Missingmen shortly before moving; afterward, Watt played the Invert song “Stamp Collector” on his radio show and deemed it “trippy.”
Seattle's robust music scene has afforded Miller the opportunity to work in the industry and expand his sonic horizons. He’s a sound engineer at CryBaby Studios and is actively performing in four other bands: Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band, Ravenna Woods, Let's Get Lost and Two White Opals. “The other week, I played seven shows in a row,” he says. He digs soaking up musical inspiration from other players but finds himself relishing quiet time between bands and his day job. “I appreciate silence,” he laughs. He favors entertaining, circus-like shows and is excited about Saturday's diverse lineup.
Jenny Invert is now composed of the three former Burqueños, second drummer Matt Badger, and Seattle-via-Albuquerque musician Eva Ave., who plays keyboard and provides vocals. “Eva is kind of the Northwest Poncho. She's a completely different character,” says Miller, “But she is a character.” He and Ave. are longtime friends and played together here in town before independently going north. When the group plays Launchpad this week, Schripsema will lay down organ-y keys, trumpet and backing vocals in Ave.'s stead. Miller speaks affectionately about Schripsema, who’s the son of his elementary school music teacher. “He roams and lurks all around Albuquerque,” he says. “He's unforgettable.”
Miller’s work as a sound engineer and having a studio at his disposal have led him to record differently, considering what it will actually sound like. The newest Sam Miller recording—written for and released on CryBaby's 2012 End of the World comp—is representative of Jenny Invert's new sound. It's poppier, more modal and darker. He’s sitting on a ton of material and, having reread some existentialist philosophy, is working on an album of songs about nothing. He's generally predisposed to the pre-Socratic Greek philosophers—“you can make what you will of and selectively interpret what you get from those guys.”
with Mr. Gnome, the Cherry Tempo and Bigawatt
Saturday, Nov. 10, 9:30 p.m.
618 Central SW
Tickets: $6, 21+