You Haven’t Heard This Story Before
Jocelyn [@wearejocelyn] sit down with Monica Fernandez for an eye-opening interview into the plans and goals of the Iowa-based band
By Monica Fernandez
Saturday, June 23rd, 2012. The weather at Downtown Disney District couldn’t have been better if it tried, and with the cool breeze, chill atmosphere, and Disney music playing in the background, the day was almost too perfect to be reality.
What really made it perfect (aside from spending time with one of my best friends) was the sight of two particular Iowa natives walking toward my table at the La Brea Bakery. “It’s been a long time coming,” Landen Boyer and Alex Wiese, vocalist and bassist (respectively) of the band Jocelyn, said as I thanked them for meeting me, and they were right. Having been a fan of their previous band, BackDrop, since 2009, it never seemed likely that I would be able to meet them in person since they’ve stuck close to their Iowa City home until now.
A lot of things have changed since BackDrop, though, and this year has definitely been a crazy one for these two. But from the way they lounged comfortably in the café chairs to the casual clothes they were wearing [a white V-neck for Landen, dubbed the “Official Jocelyn Uniform,” and a To Write Love on Her Arms tank paired with an open light blue polo for Alex], it didn’t seem like the touring life was throwing them off at all.
Taking a break from following several tours up and down the west coast, the guys sat down with me and my friend for not so much an interview as a genuine conversation. Their laid-back, friendly, and receptive attitude matched their message to a T: they didn’t seem as concerned with promoting their music as they did promoting their message. The more I talked to them, the more it became clear to me that they’re not even thinking about competing against the dozens and dozens of bands trying to make it in this industry. They’re coming at this from a very different approach, leading not with their music, but with the influence and friendships they hope to have.
“What makes our band different is that we come at it from a completely different perspective,” Landen tells me. “Like, we have this band phone number for a reason. We want to be able to get in touch with everybody, [have] constant communication, be a part of everyone’s lives and make sure everybody has someone available for them.”
“To us,” Alex adds, “the band is a means of promoting a message, a purpose, and connecting with people, and really just making our lives better and hopefully some other people’s, too, moreso than that message being a tool for promoting the band. I think in twenty years, I’m going to care more about the connections I’ve made with the people I’ve met than whether or not I got signed. I’m going to care more about the people that I stay in contact with.”
L to R: Alex Wiese, Landen Boyer, Steve Lydick of Jocelyn
Alex believes having started this band a little later in their lives, post-college, has led to them seeing things differently than some of the younger bands just starting out. “We have a little bit of a different perspective on what the kind of purpose of our lives are. It’s not just like ‘I wanna be famous!’ It’s like, I want to actually meet people and have conversations and lasting friendships all around the country. I think for me, the standard of success for this band would not be whether we got signed. It would be, if in five years, could I literally just go on a roadtrip and have a place to stay in every city with a friend that I would 100% feel comfortable just calling up.”
It seems like their strategy has been working. As far as I can tell, despite the influx of new fans over the past few weeks, the guys still try their best to stay on top of connecting with everyone, whether it be online, through the Jocelyn phone number, or arranging in-person hangouts, house parties, and interviews.
“We can still handle it,” Landen says of the flood of texts and Tweets that the guys have gotten since they started promoting. “It’s just after some of those dates, it’s been kind of madness.”
Alex notes, “There’s definitely days where you have to say, ‘Alright, we are locking ourselves…’ Like, that scene from the Social Network where they’re locked in with the headphones and everything. I mean, I love it. It is a little bit of work, but you just have to sit down and connect with people.”
Since the guys have never been to California or done any promoting of this scale before, they had no idea what to expect. “I was definitely very mentally prepared [for a negative response],” Alex says. “For like, two months leading up to this experience, I was just like, ‘We’re going to drive to California…’ It sounds like such a movie.”
“Initially, we didn’t want to test this out very far away from home,” Landen says. “It was just, there were so many shows going on out here this month, and especially because of all the bands on Warped Tour…we couldn’t find anything else that made more sense than to come out here and hang out all month.”
Luckily, though, they’ve been pleasantly surprised by all of the positive reception and support they’ve received. “Most of the shows have been the exact target we want to hit,” Landen says. “We did some of The Maine stuff first, and then some One Direction, and now then with this Warped Tour stuff, it’s just so big.”
“It’s taken a bit of a different approach,” Alex agrees. “We’ve had to get a little creative.” Which is evident at the Pomona Warped Tour date, where the guys were seen playing an acoustic set outside the gates as festival-goers were leaving. “We’re doing the more live performance route and letting people come to us,” Landen says.
“It’s not our goal to just berate people,” says Alex. “If we’re singing and playing guitar, anyone then that comes to us, it’s just a completely different bargaining situation. That person came to you, they’re interested…You don’t have to pitch them anything, whereas otherwise, you’re just a salesmen. I’d rather talk to somebody that wants to talk to me, than force somebody into a conversation that they don’t want to be a part of.”
Alex and Landen playing an acoustic set outside of the Pomona Fairplex in Pomona, CA
They’ve listed pop rock acts like Anberlin, Mayday Parade, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, and A Change of Pace as their musical influences, citing admiration for both talent and impact. “Ever since I started singing, [Anberlin] is who I’ve looked up to the most,” Landen says. “His voice is so unique, and he does so much technical stuff. That’s what really hits me with their music.”
“I don’t even know what it is about them,” Alex continues. “There’s just something about music that puts me in a better mood listening to it. There’s a quality that I appreciate and I want to emulate. I don’t really even care about the genre, or what type of music it is, or what they’re singing about. I just appreciate that feeling I get from it, and that’s the feeling I want people to get from our music.”
And even though they readily confessed their hesitations about following Warped Tour to promote their music, it seems to me that they have a very specific and clever plan to both hook fans in and keep them interested: instead of pulling fans in this summer with their newly released EP To You and Yours [available on iTunes, or hit up the band for a physical copy!] and having them wait a year for a full-length album, the band plans to continually release EPs every five to six months. They’ll be recording their second EP in August. “That’s the other key part of our plan,” Landen says, “is that we want to never lose momentum.”
“It’s a day of instant gratification,” Alex adds, “If you’re out of the limelight for too long, you get easily forgotten. You’ll always have your diehard fans, but it’s those ones that are on the edge, that like your music but they’re not going to actually go and seek out what you’re doing everyday…I think the only way to keep those people entertained is to provide them with music constantly that they really enjoy. It’s just proving that the first EP we put out wasn’t something that took us, like, a year and a half to write and have a ton of production work and stuff put into it. Putting out a CD every six months, it obviously has to be a vast majority of their originality and their creativity and their songwriting ability.”
And as we concluded the interview, I asked Landen and Alex for one last message for their fans:
“Thanks so much for all the support,” Landen says, starting the sentiments off. “I say this quite a bit, but it’s just crazy. Music came out, like, three weeks ago, and there’s been so many people that we’ve met, and so many people that we’re grateful for, for all their help. I’m just really excited to see where it’s going to keep leading on to. It definitely would be thank you.”
After a bit of prompting, Alex says, “If there’s anything we can ever do for you, just let us know.”
“That’s a really good point,” Landen admits. “’Thanks so much, and we’d like to hear from you.’ Let’s do that.”
I’ve always known that the guys from Jocelyn were humble, sweet, and fiercely dedicated to their fans, but hearing their plan and seeing the excitement in their eyes made it clear that this is not your typical “unsigned-but-trying-to-make-it-by-selling-CDs-at-Warped-Tour” story. I don’t think the ideas of fame and fortune have even occurred to them, and if they have, they would only find it advantageous to their goal of spreading their message and being a part of as many lives as possible. So, no. This isn’t the story of a rock band seeking to get signed. If anything, their music, as amazing and catchy as it is, is secondary to the influence they hope to have in the lives of their fans. Throughout the entire interview on this ridiculously beautiful day at Downtown Disney, not once did they stress their musical talent. Instead, they would always bring it back to the overall message they want to send to their fans and to the world.
They know their fans. They know people. They know what we want: friendship. Understanding. A shoulder to cry on when it seems like no one else is around. With that being said, it doesn’t seem like the guys of Jocelyn are really musicians at all, but instead a new generation of humanitarian, changing the world for the better, one person and one meaningful conversation at a time.
They just happened to be really, really good at making music.
Pick up Jocelyn’s debut EP To You and Yours on iTunes here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/to-you-and-yours-ep/id528728407
Or hit them up for details on how to get a physical copy!
Want to know more?
Phone Number: Text or Call anytime
A few interesting facts about the band:
-Landen and Alex met in high school!
-They previously had another band called BackDrop, whose third member, Brandon, is now married with a young son. Congrats, Brandon!
-Steve, the third member of Jocelyn, opted to stay in Iowa (mostly against his will) so he could earn more money for the band working at his job in hotel management. We missed you, Steve!
-Landen and Alex scored a free room at the top floor of the Monte Carlo in Las Vegas for the Vegas Warped Tour date, thanks to a shot-in-the-dark contact from Alex’s childhood, whom he hadn’t seen or spoken to since 8th grade. Talk about lucky!
-They both seemed to cringe at the thought of being the next heartthrobs. (Admittedly, it would have worried me if they didn’t cringe.) I have a feeling it’s not that far off, though. I mean, look at them!
-Landen had never seen a wild lizard until a few weeks ago in Arizona, where he Instagrammed a picture in excitement.
-The guys want to talk to you. They want that connection, so please don’t hesitate to text them, and don’t get discouraged if it takes them a while to reply back. They work hard, and they will reply. Give them a chance. It could very well be the best decision of your life.