Jasper the Colossal’s CD Release Event at Canal Street Tavern
By Gary Spencer
All-girl and otherwise girl-centric rock bands are hardly a new thing. While some of those bands have let their gender define their art, Daytonian all-girl rock/punk quartet Jasper the Colossal shy away from letting their being women playing in what is usually the realm of sweaty dudes be the focus of their music. Instead, JTC prefers to just be known as a rock and roll band that just happens to be the work of four young women and present lyrics and music that both guys and girls of any open-mindedness can identify with and enjoy on its own merits minus any gender politics whatsoever.
“Generally speaking, Jasper songs are about drinking, heartache, or self-reflection. Usually it is a combination of the three,” singer Paige Beller tells me.
That’s been the modus operandi of Jasper the Colossal ever since the beginning. In fact, when the band first started up in 2007, they came together with no intention to be an all-girl outfit. The band’s original lineup at the time was formed around the nucleus of guitarist Moriah Yux and (obviously) male drummer Ian Spencer. But it may have been mere happenstance when Jasper somewhat quickly fleshed out the group with Moriah’s childhood friend Nicki Brooks and then-new-to-Dayton singer Paige Beller. This lineup solidified, and hence Jasper the Colossal version 1.0 was born. A year or so later Ian left the group to join Hospital Garden and moved to Chicago, and at that point JTC found a new drummer in Sarah Kouse in late 2008. The addition of a girl drummer not just altered the physical chemistry of the band but also redirected the band’s musical style.
“Originally our sound was much more garage-punk styled with short, fast songs”, explains Yux. “With the addition of Sarah, the band has really grown into something else entirely. Sarah’s influence has made the band branch out into different genres and types of rock and roll.”
This new musical direction certainly manifests itself on JTC’s second, and newest, full-length album entitled Liar that will be released to the public via a CD release party this coming Friday at Canal Street Tavern. On their new album, Jasper shows influence from 60s girl group harmonies to pop punk to 90s alternative rock a la The Breeders. In fact, Kelley Deal from The Breeders herself has remarked about how “they’re all really good players and Paige has a great voice.” Even then, Jasper the Colossal has decided to keep things relatively simple and stripped down on their newest opus, making for an intimate-yet-immediate impression upon the would be listener. It’s possible that their somewhat secluded recording destination had some influence on the band to keep things as focused as possible on “Liar.”
“Not including mixing, it was recorded over the span of 5 days in Hagerstown, Indiana,” Beller says. “Jasper as a group can get pretty distracted (we’re generally going on about nonsense) so recording in Hagerstown out on the farm really leveled us out. It’s hard to get distracted by cornfields. It forced us to buckle down and get the job done…wake up….work…..sleep…..do it again.”
Even then, the band likes to get loose and show people a good time at their live shows, and their CD release party this Friday should prove no different.
“We try to put on a fun and energetic show every time we play,” Beller tells me. “That is what appeals to us about other bands, so we hope to follow that model. We try to make sure something crazy happens every show. It’s always my favorite when the audience gets involved. We’ve had clowns, break dancers and random guest vocalists (i.e. drunken crowd members).”
“Jasper the Colossal shows are energy-packed,” adds drummer Sarah Kouse. “We love to move around a lot and enjoy every minute of it. You may find Paige jumping off of the stage or even hanging from a pole!”
And JTC has no plans to keep their quest for musical world domination merely confined to the cozy limits of Dayton. Jasper has toured all over the country and has no plans to let up.
“We have played on both coasts, and plan to cover everything in between to help promote the album,” Beller declares.
And with that same mindset Jasper the Colossal have no intentions on merely being a local commodity.
“We’ve already been taking steps to become more of a full-time project”, Paige explains. “With this album, we finally have an up-to-date calling card. I think the general plan is to do it until we can’t anymore.”
Yux adds to that sentiment with a quote from Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee, “Until the wheels fall off.”
Jasper the Colossal will celebrate the release of their new CD, Liar, with a release party at Canal Street Tavern this Friday, June 22. Sam at Eleven and Sleep Fleet are also on the bill. Doors open at 8 and the show begins at 9:30. Admission is $5 for attendees 18 and up. For more information call (937) 461-9343 or visit canalstreettavern.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at Gary Spencer@DaytonCityPaper.com