Young Jesus on "The Whole Thing Is Just There" | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019  

Young Jesus on “The Whole Thing Is Just There”

One to Grow With

Apr 22, 2019 Issue #65 - Mitski and boygenius
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The welcoming of the new incarnation of LA-via Chicago quartet Young Jesus to the current scene blatantly devoid of a presence such as theirs didn't come without some book cover judging. The name admittedly raised flags when their first offering of quaking post-rock blessed with extemporaneous spirit, S/T, appeared in late 2017. Was this going to be cloaked proselytization? A good portion of avid listeners would espouse the separation of religion and music, finding refuge in the latter that provides similar comforts and communities. But founder, singer, and guitarist of the band, John Rossiter, who started Young Jesus with late 20th century pop and indie-rock inclinations over a decade ago, doesn't aim to spread a Christian message through his music, so much as cultivate its core values within the dynamic of his group.

"For us, the band is supposed to be in some ways a group therapy/friendship session, or like a book group, where you have another object you can displace your emotions onto," says Rossiter. "That idea of a band is one of the things that creates a spiritual and emotional base for the rest of your life. Bad things will happen, everyone is going to suffer and that's okay because at the end of the day you have this base to come back to that will allow you to process that stuff and not see the universe as malevolent or unforgiving."

The music itself relies on this foundation in order to thrivefor the trust and open communication between the four members onstage and off is what buoys their adventurous instrumental tangents into pastures of free jazz improvisation that unfurl uniquely with each set and recording. 2018 saw Rossiter, along with lifelong friend and keyboardist Eric Shevrin, bassist/composer Marcel Borbon, and jazz-inclined drummer Kern Haug, deliver one of the year's most courageous and honest albums in The Whole Thing Is Just There, with the input of each member valued equally.

"I've never been one to want to fully exert my will and say this is how it should be, this is the vision and everybody has to play the thing that fulfills it," explains Rossiter. "It's been more of a conversation."

That open dialogue of ideas and influences has expanded the vision of Young Jesus and the strength of Rossiter's bond with his bandmates is in large part owed to the sharing of art that inspires each. With introductions to unconventional jazz players and thinkers such as Milford Graves, Anthony Braxton, and Sun Ra, the collective consciousness and approach to the function of music widened for the band, reflected in a stylistic flux that distinguishes their sound.

"I'm not sure how much of that stuff can be heard on what we play but we definitely owe a lot to those artist's conceptions of what music can mean to a self and to a world...which had a very different mode of thinking than the '60s pop, '90s indie rock, and pop-punk I grew up on," assures Rossiter. "It was considering not just the music but its scope stretched out to the universe...[once I took those things in] it was like, 'Wow, this can be a whole world view and help you lead a more responsible and thoughtful and most importantly optimistic life.' That changed [everything]."

Now emboldened with a philosophy of how creativity can contribute to purposeful existence, Young Jesus is charging into its future and inspiring onlookers by example, rather than doctrine. You can see it, hear it, and feel it in every fertile bar they play, positively challenging the status quo of their medium.

"We all want to all figure out a way to not [just] create music to deal with a crisis in our lives," Rossiter says. "It can be really easy to just respond to things in life rather than actively engage.... That's the tradition I come fromyour life is crazy and [music] is reactionary. We all want to create because we love it, and from a generative aspect rather than a negative one."

[Note: This article originally appeared as a bonus article in the digital version (for tablets and smart phones) of Under the Radar's Issue 65, which is out now. This is its debut online.]

www.youngjesus.bandcamp.com

www.facebook.com/YoungJesus

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jose
April 27th 2019
11:28am

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