Live Music

An Interview With Jarris

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The Set List

By Brian Washburn

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Jarris is on the outside looking in at the Northwest Arkansas music scene. They don’t fit in to the prototypical bar scene or even in the now defunct screamo/metal scene that has disseminated over the past couple of years.

Jarris’ music is geared toward the pop-punk/teen crowd that is often not allowed into venues because of age restrictions. But this is not going to stop the band. With a new EP on the way and an imminent regional tour, Jarris continues to play the music they love and refuses to conform to whatever genre would boost their popularity. Jarris — vocalist/guitarist Jon Kelley, guitarist/vocalist Jarrod VanBrunt and bassist Jon Best — began their music career when they met in high school and bonded over a common interest in musical influences, including Jimmy Eat World and the Get Up Kids.

Their debut EP, “All The Lonely Girls,” featured an array of pop-punk melodies with intricate rock guitars and catchy choruses. However, even though the genre was booming on the national scene, it quickly faded in Fayetteville, and the band found themselves fighting to get noticed in their hometown.

“Around here it helps to get in good with all the venues,” Kelley said. “We always have people in Fayetteville say that they respect our music and are good at what we do, but it is just not their style. Our style is on the outskirts of Fayetteville.”

The band might not be the prototypical local band that music fiends find in Fayetteville, but Jarris doesn’t care. The band is in love with the genre and won’t sell out. And even though local music styles have shifted over the past few years, the band doesn’t feel the need to relocate to a different scene.

“If we did this correct, we won’t have to relocate. It doesn’t matter where you live. It’s not the best place for our genre, but we are still going to do it,” Best said.

The band has continued to play their straight-up melodic rock and pop-punk since 2006. Jarris hit the studio earlier this year and went 90-to-nothing while recording and writing new material. Eventually the rigors of touring and playing straight through for four years hit them, but it did not stop them. In fact, when some of the band members departed recently, the band took a short hiatus, but it only left the group wanting more and with a better sense of where they would like to take the band in the next year.

After spending a majority of the past year recording their new EP in producer Brian Russell’s Washington, D.C., studio, the members of Jarris decided to take a break from touring and playing for about six months to get their personal lives in order. During that time, the drummer left the band, but the rest of the members only became hungrier to release the EP and continue touring.

“The EP has a more mature sound with more intricate guitar parts and layering. We’ve all gotten better as musicians,” Kelley said. “The lyrics have evolved to us but might seem the same to others. There’s definitely more depth in lyrics.”

The maturation of Jarris’ music and lyrics also slightly affected their writing process. Members will bring ideas to the table and collaborate more on individual parts to fuse together melodic vocals and guitars mixed with epic, more ambient choruses.

Jarris will release their new EP hopefully by this summer, VonBrunt said. After that they will tour throughout the region and other areas of the country.

Kelley would like to hit the studio again at the end of 2010 for a possible full-length recording. Even if that does not happen, one thing is certain: Jarris will continue to play the music they want to play regardless of what is popular in NWA.

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