By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Just like how Part 3 wasn't about the band's fallout (as Bobgoblin) with MCA Records, but rather the people caught in the corporate cycle, The Adventures of Jet's new compositions aren't about car equipment or speed. "I see this scene where maybe it's mid- to late '60s, and everybody's got all these muscle cars they're trying out somewhere in the middle of the night," Litzwire says. "They've got all these cars lined up, and there are all these guys hanging out talking about them and also talking about their personal problems. And then there are all these girls hanging out, and they want to impress the girls. And the girls have their problems as well. I see this whole scene that maybe you saw when you were in high school and everybody went to one place and hung out. There are just so many dorky things that are going on and so many silly things that people are thinking about. And I see that scene whenever I sit down to write a song."
With this image in his mind and his experience as a television producer, Litzwire also has several videos planned for the new album. "I know it's definitely something we've got to do because we didn't do with the last CD," Avsharian says. "And I think, with Hop's talents as a producer and in all realms of video and film, it's something we'd really be shooting ourselves in the foot for not utilizing the video aspects because I think that was a major component in getting Bobgoblin signed." But the video The Adventures of Jet plan to film in January isn't for one of the muscle car songs. It's for "Flaming Ghost," the first song recorded in the new studio, a sort of guinea pig that became a beloved pet and will likely find a home somehow on the album.
While it's finding a home for "Flaming Ghost," AOJ has also been reacquainting itself with its hometown fans lately. In November, after nearly a year since their last live shows, The Adventures of Jet re-emerged and showed their fans--many more than the five Jannotta thinks they have--what they'd been working on. When the band took the stage at Club Clearview, several changes were apparent. Missing was Zach Blair, the guitarist who had replaced Jason Weisenburg not long before. Jannotta, previously the band's bass player, was holding a guitar with six strings not four, and on bass was Omar Yeefoon, who had just joined the band a few weeks earlier.
"Zach was kind of helping us out, only filling in, in a way, because we knew he would be going off with GWAR, which he is. He's gone for like nine months or something," Litzwire says. With Blair busy with gore-core veterans GWAR and his local band, Armstrong, Litzwire called on Jannotta to play both guitar and bass on songs that Litzwire had composed for ESPN's coverage of the U.S. Open Racquetball Tournament, which he produces annually. The writing relationship carried over to The Adventures of Jet recordings until, one day, Jannotta announced he wanted to make it permanent. "He was like, 'Man, is it possible that I could just play live and we could get a bass player?'" Litzwire says. "It mainly just came up because he really wanted to play guitar. And Tony is an extremely accomplished guitar player for one thing, which people probably don't realize. He's probably the best, technically the best, guitar player we could have."
Litzwire, Avsharian and Jannotta began looking for a substitute bass player in Little Rock, Denton and Dallas, their home bases, respectively. It was Jannotta who found Yeefoon, the musician who would replace him once the band began playing live again. Yeefoon, who's played in Darlington and PEN15 and also performs with The Harmonaires, a doo-wop vocal group, was exactly what they were looking for. He was already familiar with the songs, and he lived in Dallas. Plus he could pick up the new songs quickly, an advantage with Litzwire living a state away and being able to only come into town every few weeks for rehearsal.
But that night at Clearview, The Adventures of Jet didn't sound like a band that hadn't played live in about 11 months or one that had two of its instruments covered by new people, one of whom had just joined weeks before. The set was cohesive and more energetic than ones the band performed before it left the stage to record the album. Litzwire credits Jannotta and Yeefoon. "I'm sort of out there listening to everybody and conducting it in my head," he says. "I've always felt that I have to listen to what the guitar is doing because it's such an important part. And I wasn't listening at all. Tony was just nailing it all. And Omar had just started with us, and he's got a great ear. So I didn't feel like I was really listening to anything that he was doing either. I know it's going to take a couple of shows for us to be 100 percent tight, but it was just a good time because I wasn't concentrating on the mechanical nature or the technical aspects. I was just having fun, so that was a rare occasion for me."
He continues, "I feel like this is our best and last unit. Maybe the one we've been searching for the whole time."