By Samantha Hearn | Photography: Samantha Hearn
When you think of the archetypal indie band from Nashville, you probably picture some semblance of a grungy group of dudes with a couple of guitars – the guys who spend late nights at the local dive bar where they’re likely over-hyped and over-glorified by other pseudo-hipsters for their Americana lyrics and IDGAF attitudes.
This is not Jet Black Alley Cat.
You won’t find them at Mickey’s or Red Door on a Friday night because they’re most likely practicing or in the studio. While so many other bands in town ultimately spiral downhill in a whiskey and marijuana-hazed search for fame, Jet Black Alley Cat is busy actually becoming famous.
“I think it’s simply that our mindset is different,” lead singer Joe Wilkinson said. “We aren’t just writing songs. We’re creating and expressing an identity. Everything we do, from the smallest details to bigger ones, is done with that purpose.”
Since their inception in 2014, JBAC has been featured on MTV, Music Ninja and were picked as a Wells Adams favorite on Lightning 100 and have also been played in countless Journeys stores across the country. The band is comprised of Wilkinson on vocals, Bryant Lowry on drums, Christian Harrison and Zach Douglas on guitar and Cristofer Johnson on bass.
Their sound isn’t anything like other indie bands in Nashville, or even in the U.S. for that matter. A blend of “vintage/pop/rock/groove,” JBAC writes songs that are often as catchy as they are meaningful. Not quite Panic at the Disco but not quite Justin Timberlake, JBAC’s songs are a groovy mix of nostalgia, dance and sexual fantasy.
“For us, our music is essentially a soundtrack to our lives right now,” Wilkinson said. “Love, loss, youth, freedom and feeling cool.”
“We aren’t just writing songs. We’re creating and expressing an identity. Everything we do, from the smallest details to bigger ones, is done with that purpose.” – Joe Wilkinson, Jet Black Alley Cat
Take their song “Poison,” for instance. The single was played on MTV in 2014 when it was released, its lyrics are a mix of party vibes and sexuality that urges you to let loose on a Friday night. When Wilkinson sings, “Will my momma ever forgive me?” you want to join the fun no matter what mom might say. (My mom loves JBAC, for the record.)
Electric Raazors -a sexy tune about going overdrive with a lover – was played in Journeys stores across America last year. With their latest single and music video, “Roxy,” a Miami Vice-like vibe evolves their sound into something more refined.
“When we were in the process of writing and recording ‘Roxy,’ we learned a lot about each other and ourselves,” Wilkinson said. “It was definitely our most trying song we’ve faced as a young band. From the sounds to the lyrics to the structure, it was a challenge getting it right.”
The song follows a girl named Roxy, a wild-hearted beauty with attitude and class, as she roams the streets of Miami. The video, directed by Jason Berg, is vivid; a cinematic take on late nights, sex, fashion and emotion.
On July 9 at Little Harpeth Brewing Company, JBAC is hosting an intimate show of only 50 people to debut their JET BLACK Summer creation, a spin on their songs that will showcase what it means to live “Jet Black.”
“It’s about all the feelings felt and vibes that accompany this time of year,” Wilkinson said. “This is our version of a special summer night. The people who get one of the 50 tickets will be a part of our first expression of the JET BLACK summer idea.”
At the show they’ll debut their new song “Golden,” a summer track that has a smoother, sexier vibe than anything they’ve done before.
“It’s simply the idea of girls craving a high-class, high-fashion lifestyle,” Wilkinson said. “A golden way of life, love and material. It’s a pop tune for sure. Probably our first real pop song since ‘Poison.’ It’s anthemic. It’s colorful.”
Jet Black Alley Cat is not your typical Nashville indie band, because they’re hyper-aware of their brand, identity and style, and they create it authentically using the same team of people that have been with them since their inception.
“We have this continued desire to create something special,” Wilkinson said. “We just want to create gorgeous moments for each person who listens to us.”
See Jet Black Alley Cat live on Saturday, July 9 at 8 p.m. at Little Harpeth Brewing Company, located at 30 Oldham St. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased here.