Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Great Bands You (prolly) Never Heard About

Great Bands You (prolly) Never Heard About: - Jupiter Sunrise

Jupiter Sunrise - My Beginning

I first came across Jupiter Sunrise on a Saturday evening in July, 2001. My brother Kelly and I were extremely bored so we decided to drive up to Waterloo and go to a mini-metal fest thing they had at The Reverb. PS - Reverb, why couldn't you exist when I was going to school up there? So we show up to this metal fest having never heard of any of the bands...the first couple were not good. They were everything you would expect from a just starting out local metal band - sloppy, unfocused metal with each song sounding like all the others. Not terrible, but also nothing outstanding...and nothing I haven't seen hundreds of times before in many other bands. The third band was called Apathy - but evidently there was more than one band named Apathy as they made sure to say several times "We're Apathy from Kansas City." Apathy was AWFUL but that is for a post on its own sometime. Kelly and I were pretty much ready to call it a day at this point but we decided to stay for the next band Jupiter Sunrise since we had talked to the lead singer, Mark, as he was hanging out by the pinball machine before the show started...seemed like a nice guy, so we decided to give him a chance.

Jupiter Sunrise - Purple Demo 2001
Jupiter Sunrise took the stage and made a couple jokes about hoping the crowd doesn't storm the stage because they didn't really fit in with the metal line up. Personally, I was relieved as my bad metal tolerance was about to its breaking point.
JS started off their set and just totally rocked. Really catchy rock songs. And within a couple songs, nearly the entire audience was clapping and singing along - remember it was a cynical metal audience with black t-shirts, leather jackets, studded necklaces. It was probably the most I have ever seen an audience change for the better at a concert. I splurged the $10 for their demo CD. The CD was good - a little raw and it didn't quite capture the energy that JS had on stage but definitely a good listen. We enjoyed the show so much that, Kelly & I decided to drive to Iowa City to see Jupiter Sunrise again two days later...this time it was their own show and not an abbreviated set for a all day metal fest. We had both memorized the majority of the songs on the demo CD before we arrived. Again JS gave a great show that was full of energy and I was hooked.

Jupiter Sunrise - The Classic Line-Up

Jupiter Sunrise - Under a Killer Blue Sky 2003
What followed was Jupiter Sunrise touring across the country for the next 5 years and stopping every few months. It had to be a grind for them constantly being on the road, but they really did everything right to build a fan base. JS was a band that connected with their fans and that was great to see. They would come out and talk and hang out with you after the show and often everyone got invited to Perkins or Denny's for a 3am meal. You really got the sense that JS cared about their fans, encouraging music sharing, happy to do house shows, and just taking the time to interact in person, by email, and on their website. At live shows they would even have people come on stage to help play a drum beat, cow bell, tambourine, etc... and more than one time they played a few songs acoustically outside the venue after closing for fans that had to work and missed the show. They made their fans feel important, it was more like the feeling of a big family instead of just fans of a band. That might sound silly but it is definitely true. During the recording of their Under a Killer Blue Sky album, they were not able to make it to Iowa for a show in almost a year (otherwise it had been every 4-6 months)...I arrived several hours early to the show and was walking in downtown Cedar Falls (I went to college in CF, so it is nice to visit sometimes). I was several blocks from the venue and going the complete opposite direction...I could have been anyone going anywhere. Mark (JS main singer & guitarist) happened to be jogging across the street and went out of the way to come say hi and chat with me as he remembered me from previous shows.

Under A Killer Blue Sky, is a fantastic CD. Many of the songs were on the Purple demo CD...but here they are much more polished. It had a much more full band sound than the demo...still not the same as live but definitely a step closer. All the guys on the album are talented...not prodigy talented but good at what they do and mix well. Mark (vocals/guitar), Ben (vocals/guitar), Aaron (bass), Chris (drums) - They all played and mixed really well together. The album had a little of everything...some rocking songs, some slower songs, love songs, funny songs, and songs that were like poetry set to music. This is an album that I would recommend to almost anyone (the exception being the die hard metal head that won't listen to anything else). I think everyone can to something on this album. One of their slower songs "Steal Me" was even featured in an episode of One Tree Hill (which I didn't watch). This is the video for the song.

Jupiter Sunrise - The Incredible Line-Up

Jupiter Sunrise continued to tour and suddenly decided to add a keyboardist to the mix. When I first showed up at the concert and saw Amanda (the keyboardist), I was kind of pissed. I didn't think JS needed to change...I didn't think the keyboard would really add a lot to the music. For the first couple songs, I was proven right. The addition of piano to the older songs was not bad, but it seemed unnecessary...and a couple songs seemed cluttered. Amanda did add some nice vocal harmonies and backing vocals...but still it seemed extraneous to me. Then, they played Heaven and Endless Pt 2 and completely blew my mind. Finally, I could see the all the potential and benefit that Amanda helped bring to the band. It wasn't just adding piano for the sake of was adding a new dimension to the music. This is still my favorite JS songs...unfortunately, this version was never officially released although at one point you could download it from their website.

Jupiter Sunrise - The Demise

I don't remember exactly what happened, it's been several years and the internet posts were vague...but here is how I remember it. JS went to record an new album. After H&Ep2 and few other newer song sneak peaks, I was very excited. I couldn't wait for the new album...but that's what happened, waiting and more waiting. No new messages from the band, no news...silence. I am not sure how long it was but it was a very long time. I guess, JS decided to use all the money they had saved from the last five years of touring (which was a considerable amount - over $10 grand) to make the album right - pro studio, producer, the works. The recording went well, but then the producer decided to hold their master tapes and the music hostage...basically demanding that they sign over all songs to him. They refused and the dirtbag disappeared with their cash, their music, and the master tapes. (Edit:  I now have it on good authority that it wasn't the producer's fault)  They were left with nothing from their year-long effort. I am sure it was very stressful time for the band. Jupiter Sunrise dissolved. Some got married, some decided to go to medical school, some focused on careers, some focused more on art, some focused on solo acts.

Jupiter Sunrise - Rebirth/Current

Jupiter Sunrise - May the Box Burn
Down Around You 2010
Mark has kept with the Jupiter Sunrise name and has performed solo with it over the past couple years. Recently, he released a new album. It is decent...but not everything that I liked about JS. It has grown on me...and I do like it. I just wish it had more of a "band" sound. It does sound like one guy and a synthesizer...more like the Purple Demo. That is not bad...I just wanted the blend that was greater than it's parts. I can still see pieces that remind me of classic JS, but they are like ghosts instead of fully corporeal entities. This album does have a lot to offer and I would recommend it...but I don't recommend it nearly as freely as I do UKBS. There is a version of Heaven and Endless pt 2 on the new album but it is not the version that I prefer. Heaven and Endless pt 3 is pretty epic in it's own right though. You can preview the whole album for yourself to see if you are interested. Just click HERE. I hope Mark keeps it up because he is talented and I look forward to seeing how JS progresses in the future. Good luck Mark.

One final note. Although Ben is no longer in JS, he is still pursuing music and art...he has become one of my favorite artists. I have several of his prints hanging in my house right now. He recently told me that he is working on a new album that be more like Jupiter Sunrise (his current solo stuff is more electronic).

Jupiter Sunrise - The Music (A Random Sampling)

Cherry Wine (Purple Demo Version)

Kaye (Under a Killer Blue Sky)

Heaven and Endless pt 2 (unreleased version)

Sail on a Silver Tear (May the Box Burn...)

I highly suggest you give them a try...they don't suck.


Ian Phillips said...

Hi there! First off, WONDERFUL article. I met JS during Warped '05 and has since remained one of my favorite bands to talk about.

I had all of their music on my iPod (except the purple demo), until I lost it. Now I have a very limited supply, and like you, love the track H&E pt2 is one of my favorites.

Would you mind sending me a couple tracks that I have forever lost?
- Ian

Runner said...

ah, i was wondering what happened to them! thanks for the posting this

Michael said...

I am in the midst of writing a post about Amanda Rogers (the JS keyboardist)...look for it to be up in the next day or two.

Thanks for reading.

Connor said...

Hey I can't find their "May the Box Burn Down Around You" album anywhere! Is there any chance you still have the music and could send me a .zip of it? I would buy it if I could, but that's impossible.

Michael said...

Connor, send me your email address.

Michael @ Gubbyblog

Lee Reighard said...

Hey man,

Was just reminiscing about Jupiter Sunrise and seeing them at Gabe's in IC multiple times when I came across your post. Very cool stuff. I was wondering if you still have a copy of the purple demo. I still have Under a Killer Blue Sky, but the demo has gotten lost somewhere down the road. If you have access to it and would be willing to send me a copy, that'd be awesome... there's some magic to that CD. Anyway, my email is Either way, thanks for the trip down memory lane!


Tyler 0887 said...

I have recently procured original digital copies of this material and even some demos from the "stolen album" if any of you guys are interested in getting copies for yourself as it is impossible to purchase any of it.

Michael said...

Hi Tyler, I would love copies of whatever JS stuff you have.

Michael from Gubbyblog