Album centers on 'Love'
18 February 2003
Date: February 18, 2003 Publication: University Wire Author: Andrew Moseman
In the life of a rock band, four years can make quite a difference. For the members of the Juliana Theory, it took them from looking like prep-school kids to looking like the Grateful Dead.
The band's newest offering, "Love," features psychedelic artwork and photos of band members with long, shaggy hair -- a far cry from the clean-cut, leather-clad group of guys featured on the sleeve of their first album.
The Juliana Theory has intensified its attack and still keeps its pop sensibility.
The five-man band began as a side project for three of the current members as high school students in Pennsylvania. After a few years of touring and jamming with friends, the band landed a multi-album deal with Seattle's Tooth & Nail Records.
The Juliana Theory's first full-length release in 1999, "Understand This is a Dream," was full of dreamy love songs and garnered little acclaim.
The title of the band's 2000 breakthrough, "Emotion is Dead," showed the Juliana Theory's rebellion against being trapped in an emo image.
For the first time, the band employed the power of its lineup.
Along with the pounding rhythm section of bassist Chad Alan and drummer Josh Walters, the band utilized all three of its guitarists: Josh Kosker, Josh Fiedler and Brett Detar, who is also the lead vocalist.
It synchronized the members to forge the kind of finely focused songs that have become its trademark.
"Even on the first record, I think there are a lot of hints to it, " Alan said.
He said that not only did the band want to further develop its sound, but it also had the studio time to spend producing "Emotion is Dead."
Its first album was recorded in only a week-and-a-half, but Alan said it may have possessed a raw energy the heavily produced second album lacked.
With "Love," the band's debut on Epic Records, the Juliana Theory is trying to find a middle ground.
Certain songs display how the band's instrumentation has grown more powerful, but it also shows off its tight vocal harmonies in some of the quieter tracks.
"I guess it sounds layered," Alan said. "You have to leave room for other things, though."
He said the sound reflected the band's biggest influences, combing the pure pop songwriting of the Beatles with the guitar riffs of punk legends like Fugazi, as well as U2, the Smashing Pumpkins and others.
"Love's" lyrical approach, however, pulls an equal weight with the Juliana Theory's wall of sound. The continuing idea throughout the songs is the role of a deeper kind of love, one that underlies all human experience and interaction.
Detar plunged into the topic, alternating sarcasm with earnest lines like, "Love is the answer, inane as it seems."
"It's not a concept album," Alan said.
"I think maybe it has a theme that goes through it lyrically. It's just so obvious. Love's responsible for the best and the worst. All those things are reflected in the record."
Although the Juliana Theory has well-crafted albums, listeners shouldn' t make the mistake of thinking the band is only good in the studio.
Alan said they worked very hard to make the band's dynamic songs sound great live, coming off thick and precise at live shows.
The Juliana Theory counts on a hard-earned fan base. As an independent band, it has paid its dues, touring constantly. Now, armed with a major-label deal, it's fighting for national recognition.
Judging by its past, it looks as though the Juliana Theory will only grow stronger, honing its sound and converting even more listeners. They have recorded a live album, which is set for a 2003 release. After that, though, even the band is not sure.
"It's different with every record," Alan said. "We try to develop and experiment. You just want to improve on the next one."
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