If you ever bump into five guys wearing exceptionally dazzling outfits, you probably just saw Jet Black Alley Cat. Despite being based in Music City, Jet Black Alley Cat don’t just blend into the masses of talented acts. In fact, they’ve intricately formulated an identity of vintage rock infused with an undeniably seductive nature. The band is anything but monotonous — in both their sound and look. We caught up with Jet Black Alley Cat just minutes before they shot a music video for their latest single “Miami Baby.”
So How did you guys form as a band?
Joe: We started because a few of us met each other in college. We all became mutual friends, and then a couple years later we decided college wasn’t really for us. So we ended up moving to Nashville, which is where we met our drummer. Then we wrote our first song, and it kind of just happened from there.
What’s the meaning behind the name Jet Black Alley Cat?
Joe: I was working at a theatre at the time, and I remember I was walking downstairs and kind of out of nowhere, the name popped into my head. I guess it doesn’t really have any significant meaning behind it — really it just clicked, and it fits our vibe really well.
What’s the dynamic like between the five of you?
Christian: Everyone kind of has there role. Joe is very visionary — he sees things that the rest of may not see. But Bryant or me or any of the other guys will take his idea and apply the music to it. He sings, so he doesn’t really play any of of the music, but we have that role.
Bryant, our drummer, is also our demo guy because he does production in real life.
Zach and Cris are the guys who you go to with an idea. They’re always like, “Hey man, I can do this.” So yeah, the dynamic is really interesting; we all get along and have specific roles.
And you’re Nashville-based, right?
So how has the music scene in Nashville influenced you guys?
Christian: The skill in Nashville is something that’s astounding. So how you separate yourself from those people to be iconic and get a real backing is what we’ve had to learn.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Joe: I’m in love with people like Amy Winehouse, Kanye West, Johnny Cash… I’m into people who are believable and have an image about them; they have something to get behind. We also pull a lot from “Dirty Dancing,” “Grease,” “Top Gun”…. Cool old ‘80s movies. So kind of all over the place.
Christian: Well, I grew up listening to classic rock, you know like Boston and The Rolling Stones — just massive icons who seemed to rule the world. But, I also I grew up in Arkansas listening to country music, and that made me realize how great the songwriters are in country. Now though, I listen to a lot of rap like Kendrick and Kanye and those guys.
Cristofer: Being the bass player, I listen to a lot of rhythm and blues, people like Anderson .Paak, Kendrick Lamar… But I grew up listening to Fall Out Boy, so I know the basics, but I also like to expand and get some soul in there.
Joe: We’re pretty much all over the place, which makes us who we are. We have this desire to create our own concepts because especially in the world we live in now, everything is always so repetitive. All these different influences help us stand out and find our sound, you know? Our place, our niche.
You guys also create a lot of creative music videos. How do you typically come up with the concepts behind them?
Joe: When we started, we were doing one song at a time because we were still trying to learn how to be a band — instead of jumping the gun like everybody does and end up getting on tour and not really knowing how to be on stage.
So because of that every video has just had its own way it came about. “Poison” from the beginning was supposed to be really colorful, and we just came across this light tunnel in Birmingham, Alabama and filmed there. That video ended up being on MTV, which is what jump started it.
But every video after that, we created by kind of just discussing some ideas around. For “Roxy” we drove to Miami in two days and just shot at a constant rate. And, we try to put ourselves in as many story lines as possible because like I said before we really like movies.
In addition to your music, you have really cool style. How do find and create the clothes you wear on tour?
Christian: The first step is we go to a thrift store. So either we go to the ones at home or we may drive by them on tour. Then you just find something cool or something kinda different or even something you think maybe won’t work but you want to try it. Then we know this girl who does photography and stuff for us, and she helps us a ton. She’ll help us bedazzle them, or we’ll add pearls or some odd fabric or just whatever we’re feeling that day.
How did you guys get into doing that?
Joe: We started just trying to make sure that we were expressing ourselves the right way. Our songs are very flamboyant and sexual and wild and fun, which we try and match. And, we like to dress out a lot even if we’re just sitting in the house. I feel like you play and put out according to how you feel, so we wanted that to be represented in what we wear, too.
How would you say your fashion and music overlap?
Joe: Again, it really just goes back to our songs. They’re very sexual and fun; they’re about feeling good and pulling the most out of yourself. That’s how we feel they crossed because our songs almost have a color to them — we think our clothes should pop as well.
And you just played at South by Southwest. What was that like?
Christian: It was pretty cool. It was our first time in Austin and at SXSW, so it was fun to 1. See the city and 2. Be down in the atmosphere. You always hear the stories about SXSW, but to actually be there and experience the environment during the day was like, “Wow this is crazy.” Then you actually play the show at night, which again just makes you feel like, “Wow this is awesome.”
What’s your favorite gig you’ve played?
Joe: We love our Nashville shows; they’re always very spaced out, but we love them. We actually did a special show a year ago where we only sold like 100 tickets, but it was as special event where we pulled our music back and played it a different way. We had dirty dancing projected behind us as we played, and we premiered a new song. Everyone who came in got a gift for being there that night, which was a really fun night for us. We like event types things like that, but we also really enjoy playing St. Louis, Tampa…. Plus, our show in Brooklyn this past weekend was really fun.
So you’re releasing a new EP at the end of May — how was making this EP different than making your debut album?
Joe: Our first record was ultra spaced out; we were making one song at a time until the end when we added a couple songs. Then that was the album. That process was very old-school rock ‘n’ roll. The way we went about it was really consistently natural and instrumental-based. But with this record, we really pushed it a bit more. Honestly, we went into it knowing exactly what we wanted out of it, so it was really cool to see the difference between the two albums.
What is next for you guys?
Joe: Well, we are shooting a music video in about… 45 minutes. It’s for the single that’s coming out on the 20th, and after that we’re playing show dates pretty much every weekend. Then we’re starting our first ever U.S. tour and going all the way to California and back and in June and July. We’ll be writing the whole time, so hopefully we’ll come back and start working on the next record!
These guys are definitely on the rise. Be sure to see some of their dazzling outfits in action in their music videos, and don’t miss the release of their single in late April.