NEW YORK — As Canadian quintet Jets Overhead geared up for the U.S. release of their sophomore effort No Nations earlier this month, their live shows debuting the new material took them from tiny clubs on the East Coast to the Bonnaroo music festival in Tennessee.
Blast spoke with keyboardist/vocalist Antonia Freybe-Smith after a recent show in New York, days before the band was slated to perform on the “Cafƒ© Stage” (“It’s probably gonna be next to some port-a-potties or something” she downplayed) at Bonnaroo. Freybe-Smith said she’s been in a live music drought lately, and was hoping to “de-nerdify” at the weekend-long music festival, where Jets Overhead would be sharing a bill with acts including Bruce Springsteen, Snoop Dogg and Phish.
Jets Overhead is based in Victoria, British Columbia and fronted by husband-and-wife duo Freybe-Smith and Adam Kittredge. Their lineup is a reflection of “a classic Victoria thing where all the bands know each other” according to Freybe-Smith. Lead singer/guitarist Kittredge and guitarist Piers Henwood are cousins who first began playing music together informally at family holiday gatherings. Classically-trained bassist Jocelyn Greenwood was Kittredge’s neighbor, and the two attended the same high school. The trio eventually recruited Freybe-Smith to do backup vocals and rounded out the current lineup with drummer Luke Renshaw, who replaced their original drummer.
Individually, the members’ interests range from psychedelic rock to world music and jazz, with Kittredge in particular harboring a soft spot for Radiohead. (“Adam still cries every time we put on “ËœKid A’ or “ËœIn Rainbows'” his wife said.)
Previously known as The Special Guests, the band re-named itself after realizing that their moniker was often printed on concert tickets and fliers, but in a different context. “People would call and be like, “ËœDude, I can’t believe you’re playing with AC/DC!'” Freybe-Smith recalled. “It happened all the time.”
Kittredge, she explained, came up with the name Jets Overhead while staying in Europe near an airport and seeing a never-ending stream of plans landing and taking off.
Freybe-Smith had only positive things to say about the impact her relationship with Kittredge (the two were married in February) has had on the band. “It’s awesome” she said without hesitation. “We get to travel together and share all these really cool experiences.”
“And save money on hotel rooms” she added.
No Nations was recorded in the midst of a harsh Canadian winter, with the group “squirreled away” nightly in a basement recording space to jam and write songs, Freybe-Smith said. Sonically, the record reflects that “fireside chat” vibe, with slow tempos and laid-back, drowsy melodies.
“It’s a chill, atmospheric record with a good groove” Freybe-Smith said thoughtfully. “We wanted to make a record that our friends would want to listen to over and over, like on a road trip or after a party.”
No Nations will be released Tuesday on Vapor Records.
This is the first in an occasional series of in-depth band interviews by Elizabeth Raftery.