The Jim Jims formed in March of 2007 when Adam Martin and Tony Terrafranca reformed an older musical project and ditched the name Dirty Yellow T-Shirt. With new members came new influences, resulting in a band that clearly owes an artistic debt to the edgier post-punk and new-wave bands of the '80s. Rather than come off like an act that's worshipping the past glories of its lineage, though, the Jim Jims sound like they're building a dynamic, atmospheric sound from scratch. We recently had a chance to discuss the band's influences and its new album, Bottom of the City, with guitarists Chris Fowke and Spencer Alred.
Westword: To me, it sounds as though maybe your band has deeper roots than the recent trendy wave of post-punk. What kinds of music inspired you to make the music you're doing now?
Chris Fowke: On my end, the influences probably wouldn't relate to the music we play. A year ago, I really got into Brian Eno, especially Here Come the Warm Jets. Going to school for music, I started to learn why music works, and he's a guy who follows music theory so well, and that's why his music sounds good. After listening to him, I tried to do similarly interesting chord progressions, but done in a fast way. I know it's cliche, but I love punk, especially the Clash — that and dub reggae, like Sammy Dread. With dub, I like the music well enough, but it's the production that I'm more into.
Why did you call your album Bottom of the City?
CF: The cover is a part of a bigger piece. The original has a cityscape, and that guy on the cover is below it.
Spencer Alred: The album cover is a different version of the crumpled-up man done by the same artist. Adam Martin thought it visually captured what we were trying to do. We couldn't use the original painting because it was so busy and it didn't translate well to a screen print, and we were doing them by hand. So we asked Jason Blamey to do another version of it that was a little cleaner and simple.
You recorded at Uneven Studios?
CF: In three days, but we ended up sending the recordings to my uncle in New York for mixing. John Cohrs did the mastering.
SA: We traded him for the mastering by making him a reverberation chamber using parts from pianos that Adam found while working as a curb painter. He stripped them down to the wood and made a structure out of them. John came over with cameras, tape machines, piezo mikes, buckets of water and tapes of whale noises. He did this whole performance piece he did there for a class. We spent the whole day making piezo mikes and putting them into condoms and tying them off and putting them into buckets. Then we put them next to speakers and got some kind of crazy sound.