Checking in with hot young post-punk soul singer JC Brooks about the new “To Love Someone” 7″
Q: You’ve been described as “enigmatic”, that’s not uncommon for a front man but new for a soul man. Just who is JC Brooks?
A: Wow, that’s heavy. I mean, I’m just… an individual, y’know? I get compared to Otis Redding, James Brown, and all that; one cat called me the black David Byrne. That’s cool, but dig, I make music that people have to dance to. I make music that people have to make love to. I’m sure Sam Cooke did that too, but I’ve also got some songs you could burn your house down to. Which Sam didn’t have. So we’re all individuals. Feel me?
Q: Your last single was a Wilco cover, which over 100,000 people have checked out on YouTube; Wilco themselves posted it and it’s gotten you some real recognition. What else has happened with JCBUS?
A: It’s been wild, man. The whole trip has been really nice. Being written up in the New York Times, the Tribune, the Sun Times. We’ve toured the US, Canada, and Spain. We were the house band for the Numero Group’s Eccentric Soul Revue, playing alongside Syl Johnson and the Notations. We headlined the Metro, played Park West, Music Hall of Williamsburg. We’ve supported Mayer Hawthorne, Lee Fields, Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens. But we’ve also played with straight rockers like Mudhoney and Soundtrack of Our Lives. Our biggest show yet was opening for this band called Poi Dog Pondering – crazy name right? – in front of 7,000 people at Ravinia. And yeah, getting the nod from Mr. Tweedy was a huge highlight.
Q: You haven’t even been around for that long either. Still the same line-up as the first record?
A: No, we’re six strong now. Kev on drums, BT plays Fender bass, Billy’s the guitar slinger, and Chris Neal and Zelm trade off on horns, keys, percussion, whatever it takes. It’s a tight group. Tight enough to fit in the van, dig?
Q: What’s this I hear about a new 7” single?
A: Yeah, it’s a sample of the new LP and it’s coming before the end of the year on Addenda. Recorded live in the studio with all pre-1965 gear. “To Love Someone” sort of shows how we could cut a record that feels and sounds like our old favorites. It’s a roller skating jam, a make-out joint. Of course, the flipside, “Everything Will Be Fine”, the lyric is a little more progressive. It’s a rocker; it’ll roll you right out of your chair. It’s as close as we’ve flown to a real retro sound but it’s still definitely us.
Q: So you’re not part of the retro soul movement?
A: I met some of the Dap Kings, and the Budos Band, Paperboy Reed, all these beautiful people making beautiful music, but I’ve got my own bag. I can’t be someone I’m not. These watch-wearing, fast-talking, corporate types are always trying to put us in these little boxes. I’ll play an indie club or I’ll play a dirty old hole in the wall, and if people come, what’s it matter? You get messed up, maybe you meet a little somebody. It’s retro, neo, geo, it’s music man.