By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
"I was in the frame of mind of writing this record, recording this record, being excited about that--and I'm still excited about that--but now it's sort of in the academic stage where things need to be put together to bring the emotion across correctly," AOJ singer and keyboard player Hop Litzwire says. "But all the songs are written, and everything's ready to go. Now I'm kind of on edge because I have these other ideas that once time is allowed we can just come up and crank it out because the studio's here and we have all the people in place."
But those two almost simple-sounding things--setting up a recording studio in Litzwire's house in Little Rock, Arkansas, and completing the band's lineup--are part of the reason why this album (which doesn't even have a title yet, just a work-in-progress name, Detroit Muscle Story) wasn't out nine months ago and won't be out until at least March. With those two obstacles finally cleared, The Adventures of Jet are preparing for a flurry of activity that begins with finishing the album in time for a spring release on My Records, the label owned by Lagwagon's Joey Cape that picked up Part 3: Coping With Insignificance, AOJ's first and only release so far not counting two albums under the band's original name, Bobgoblin. A tour and two more albums, one containing just Christmas songs, will occupy the rest of 2002, Litzwire says.
But that's not to say that The Adventures of Jet haven't been busy for the past year and a half. The band just hasn't been as public as usual, which stirred rumors that--after five years as Bobgoblin, a short stint as The Commercials and more than two years as The Adventures of Jet, it was kaput. At first, the three remaining members (Litzwire, Rob Avsharian and Tony Jannotta) were just taking a hiatus from performing live--like Rush or XTC, Litzwire once used as examples--while recording the album. "We were working on the record, and if we wanted to work on the record and really be serious, then I didn't want to book a lot of shows where we'd never get done," he says. Later Jannotta left the band only to return months later as the band kicked into gear and began recording again.
"We put in a month or two, then dropped off the face of the earth for about a year," Jannotta says. "And then we've been working on it for the past few months. I guess it has been almost 18 months, but it will be worth it. For those five people who give a shit about the band in this town, it's going to be worth it. It will be worth the wait."
The initial recordings were done with Barry Poynter, who produced Part 3 and is considered to be the fifth member of the band. But his studio, Poynter's Palace, was booked solid with other bands. Add to that band members with families and time-consuming jobs, and there isn't much flexibility for recording. Though The Adventures of Jet did get some recording done at Poynter's, the band needed a place it could record whenever time allowed. So they built their own studio. But the problems didn't stop there. They only started again.
"It's just been crazy since we started doing this recording at our place because we tried to transfer tracks and it didn't work out," Litzwire says. "You know how that shit goes with computers and all that stuff. Then we figured it out, but we were still like, 'OK, let's just fuck it and start over.'"
Essentially, they started from scratch and haven't finished yet. "We'll be wrapping it up the last week of December, the first week of January," Jannotta says. "It's all dependent on me getting my butt up to Little Rock. And I work all week, so every weekend is another song. So when you're working on a 12-song album or a 10-song album, and half the songs you do don't make the album, that means 15 to 16 trips to Little Rock. That's literally me going up just every three weeks."
So, basically, Jannotta spends five hours one way in his car driving the 300-odd miles to Little Rock to spend the weekend working on an album about, well, cars and driving. But they're not just any cars, and it's not really even about the cars themselves. "Originally," Avsharian says, "we were just going to make an EP on a classic muscle car theme, the trials and tribulations of the street racers and a kind of real romantic view of that. We were just thinking of making it an EP between records, but, at this point, as we always do, we start out with something small and it just becomes too over the top to deal with. Or we can't just edit ourselves and do a five-song EP. We keep writing, Hop gets really inspired and writes a full-length, and then it's too good to be just cast off as an EP."