Jonfin’s new self-titled release made me dance a little bit.
I was doing a late-night load of dishes at the time.
I’m not sure if that’s the Holy Grail of compliments or a groan-worthy nod to adulthood, but it definitely is a testament to the effervescent charm of the duo’s sound.
Grounded in garage rock, the 10 new songs are buoyed by an indie-pop lightness that belies the depths that Westmont native Jonathan Wilson and Colin Supple of Clarendon Hills have been plumbing with their more recent releases. Questions about moods and the future, reading signs and misreading signals hover just above earnest and cleverly worded self-deprecation.
There’s lots to take away from this new album, but perhaps the most important observation is that Wilson and Supple are adept at self-reflection and have found ways to share that without extracting the fun from their performances.
We dropped a few questions to Wilson and Supple about the new release and life in this pandemic-shifted world:
Q: Jon, you always seem to be having a good time in your recordings. This album is no different, but in it you’re also delving into some more complex emotions and doubts than in past releases. To what do you attribute that musical growth?
A: I’m happy the songs come off as having a good time because that’s exactly how I’d like them to feel! But you also hit the nail right on the head with complex emotions and doubts. I think the songs lyrically are me channeling inner thoughts and a lot of the time, inner thoughts are not always butterflies and rainbows. A lot of the lyrics are a satirical self-inflection. I think the song “Take 2 Long” is a perfect example of this. It’s a song based around the idea that someone is about to ask me for help with something but I just don’t feel like being bothered. I feel like this basic idea comes up all the time throughout day-to-day life — you’re always making decisions how much energy to exert on various things. The lyrics are essentially me making fun of myself for being too lazy or inconsiderate to help someone with a small task.
Q: How have the events of the last year affected your outlook and musical output?
A: I think the events of the last year have had a surprising impact on myself and the band. I think with all the uncertainty in the world, getting together to practice was a sense of normality, so we would keep practices light and fun. Creatively, this meant we didn’t really have rules or a set goal in mind and we kind of fell back to our roots – which is pretty much the 90’s music that we grew up listening to. I think a lot of early influences — like Nirvana, The Strokes, and Third Eye Blind — are somewhat apparent when listening to these songs.
Our drummer, Colin, describes this shift:
“After a few attempts at trying to make music that sounded one way or another, it feels good to put out something that is representative of the absolute core of our musical influences. It may have flashes of recent ‘favorite bands’ or ‘favorite sounds’, but it is firmly rooted in the style that initially drew us into music in the first place. Like a love letter to the 13 year old me who first picked up the sticks.”
Q: You share insight and pieces of yourself throughout “Jonfin.” Is there a particular song that feels the most personal to you on it?
A: All of the songs feel personal, to some extent, because they are all rooted with personal experiences. But I would say that Future Stuff feels deeply personal because it’s a song about getting too focused on the stuff that adults have to focus on, to the point where you’re missing out on fun stuff. Like any young adult, I’m finding myself having to take on more and more responsibility and I feel guilty if I let that hinder me from seeing friends or enjoying experiences.
Q: As an artist, how do you feel sharing your life and experiences with fans and listeners?
A: It is kind of a funny thing sharing a song with lyrics about something that I might not necessarily feel comfortable talking about or I might not want to keep front-of-mind. But I feel like my lyrics are usually somewhat mysterious and that helps me feel comfortable sharing them. I also feel like the experiences I write about are relatable to some extent — or at least I hope they are. Otherwise, you just have to listen to me whine about my unrelatable problems for a half hour.
Q: Did you really write an ode to the Nintendo Switch? (I think it’s awesome and relatable, btw!)
A: Sure did! It’s sort of funny how this song came about because we were practicing and throwing new ideas around and landed on this riff that made us laugh because of how much it sounded like a Nirvana riff. I wanted to have the song take a hard left turn by throwing some ridiculous lyrics on it. Around the same time, my nephew was obsessed with his Nintendo Switch and we’d constantly talk about it, so that’s how the lyrics came about.
Q: With two shows coming up in early October, what song are you most excited for fans to hear live?
A: I’d say the first two songs on the album — “Video Games” and “Future Stuff” — are the two I’m looking forward most to playing live. They both have a lot of energy and I’m hoping people will enjoy them.
Q: During the pandemic lockdowns, you guys provided a place for bands to record performance videos. Is Jonfin Recording going to continue now that Chicago is opening up again?
A: Jonfin Recording will most likely slow down now that venues are opening up again and bands can actually get out and play. However, we’d still be open to doing more session videos if there are any bands that really want to do one.
Q: What is coming up next for you and Jonfin?
We’re still trying to map out where to go from here. We’ll definitely keep playing shows and promoting the album. We’re hoping to get more and more content out that revolves around our “Jonfin” character that was created for the album cover art. A family friend and tremendously talented artist, Zach Mory, created the character. We’re currently talking about possibly doing some short animations with the character.
• • •
Midcentury Llama, Midcoast, Jonfin
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7
Where: Beat Kitchen: 2100 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago
Tickets: $10; beatkitchen.com
• • •
Breast Cancer Research Foundation Benefit Show with Jonfin, Boundary Waters, Sugarpill, Midwestern Dirt
When: 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 10
Where: Subterranean, 2011 W. North Ave., Chicago
Tickets: $13; subt.net