Durand Jones & the Indications effortlessly ooze a sound steeped in soul. Lead singer Jones got his first taste of the musical spotlight singing in the church choir in small-town Louisiana. His love of saxophone led him to the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University (IU), where he met his future bandmates and expanded his taste for rock and roll. The band recorded its eponymous debut album in an Indiana basement, revealing its raw and distinctive groove. Jones and the Indications are bringing their classic horns, old-school organ, funky guitar, powerful vocals, and Southern charm to SOhO on March 25. The Santa Barbara Independent caught up with Jones ahead of the group’s show.
Initially, you wanted to be a professional saxophonist and never intended to be the frontman of a soul band. How did you all come together and find the right groove? You’re right. Doing this band was not an ambition when I left Louisiana. I moved to Indiana to study saxophone and classical music. I had to work on campus and got a gig with the IU Soul Revue class, coaching the horn section and writing horn charts. That’s where I met Blake Rhein (guitar), who was working sound. He only happened to hear me sing because we were short on male singers at that time, and the director asked me to sing (he knew I sang back in Louisiana). Blake approached me and told me he and his friend Aaron Frazer were writing soul tunes together. They were grooving in their own band, Charlie Patton’s War, for years before I came along — with Kyle Houpt (bass) and Justin Hubler (keys). If you listen to their albums, you hear an appreciation of Southern music, rawness, and a low-fidelity sound you hear on the album they did with me. You also get rock and roll, which I think really comes through in our live performances. So it was easy sliding in there.
The tracks on your album range from heartfelt ballads to political anthems to instant dance-party starters. Where do you find inspiration for your songs, and what is your writing process like? Aaron and Blake and the IU Soul Revue class. Before I met all those folks, my ambition was to perform more than to write. Blake and Aaron introduced me to songwriting, really. They inspired and challenged me to really think about what I’m saying or how I’m singing it. The Soul Revue taught me the realms of different types of soul songs. And I think Blake, Aaron, and I all felt the same when it came to writing songs that hit all points. When I started singing words about political consciousness in “Make a Change” one Sunday night, Aaron was right on side me, helping me find a way to get it all out. It’s cool work working with these fellows.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences? I can think of some folks I would hear every Sunday growing up in Hillaryville at a church down the street from my gran’s house. Other than that, it changes every day for me. Right now I find inspiration in group bands like The Majestic Arrows or the Brothers of Soul. I love E.J. & the Echoes and Sunny Ozuna too.
What can attendees expect from your live show? I’ll make sure we give it everything we got. Expect that.
Durand Jones & the Indications play Sunday, March 25, 8 p.m., at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.). Call 962-7776 or visit sohosb.com.