THE JULIANA THEORY
Brett Detar - vocals, guitars, programming
Chad Alan - bass, backing vocals
Joshua Fiedler - guitars
Joshua Kosker - guitars, backing vocals
Josh Walters - drums
The Juliana Theory tracks its growing success in mechanical terms.
"On our first tour we drove our own cars," says singer and guitarist Brett Detar. "We thought we had made it when we bought our first van and trailer; now we?re on a bus. This band takes small steps for everything-songwriting, recording and touring-but they add up."
After releasing two full-length albums independently and touring incessantly, the Pennsylvania quintet signed with Epic Records for its major-label debut, "Love." Produced by former Talking Head Jerry Harrison (Live, No Doubt), the album uses churning guitars, intricate rhythms and gorgeous melodies to explore how love affects human interaction.
The idea for the album?s theme came to Detar on a flight to San Francisco. "I don?t know if it was the altitude or what, but I started thinking about how the drive for love and the desire for love are the inspiration for everything in the world, both positive and negative," he explains. "I started equating this idea to all kinds of things - why would someone kill, why people become addicted to things, why people turn to religion. Love or the search for love seems like the simple, underlying reason for everything."
That airborne epiphany not only sharpened Detar?s focus for the album, but it also inspired "Everything," the album?s final, and most personal track. "The whole record leads up to that final song," says Detar. "Lyrically, it explains my ideas behind the album?s theme. Musically, it touches on what this band is all about. It begins with a lot of piano, some electronic touches and vocal harmonies but winds up stripped away to just guitars, bass and drums all rocking out."
While the theme crops up on most of the songs, Detar says "Love" is not a concept album. "It?s not like we wrote a bunch of songs to fit into some abstract framework. The idea came to me after two-thirds of the album was done, so I only wrote a few songs with this idea in mind," he explains. "It wasn?t until the record was done that we realized that almost all of the songs touch on this idea in some way."
"Love" continues The Juliana Theory?s tradition of changing its sound for every record. Musical changelings like U2, Smashing Pumpkins and Led Zeppelin inspired The Juliana Theory to push for reinvention. "You can hear those bands in our music sometimes, but mostly they taught us to respect songwriting and musical evolution," says Detar. "We want to write catchy songs with substance, but we also want to grow with each record."
On of the major changes that can be heard on "Love" is the way Detar approached singing. Harrison?s major contribution to the album was helping Detar focus on the emotions of the lyrics he was singing instead of the melody. "He had great suggestions for every song," recalls Detar. "I always used to sing like I was playing an instrument instead of thinking like a singer. Jerry pushed me to express the emotions behind the words, which really gave the songs another dimension."
Detar, guitarists Josh Fielder and Josh Kosker, bassist Chad Alan and drummer Josh Walters come from Latrobe Pennsylvania, home of the Rolling Rock brewery. "We didn?t think people would make the connection," says Detar. "But when we?re onstage and announce where we?re from someone usually yells out ?Rolling Rock.? Or after the show people will come up and ask us what the ?33? on the Rolling Rock bottle means. For the record, I have no idea what the ?33? means."
Detar, Alan and Walters were childhood friends while Kosker and Fiedler met Detar as classmates at a nearby high school. The members formed The Juliana Theory in 1997 as a side-project while they played in other bands. "We really started out as a joke," recalls Detar. "Slowly, we started to like the music we were making in The Juliana Theory more than the music we were making in our regular bands. Eventually, everyone committed to make this their full-time band."
After spending some time on the road, the band signed with the independent label Tooth & Nail. The label released The Juliana Theory?s debut "Understand This is a Dream" (1999) followed by "Emotion is Dead" (2000). Together, the albums sold an auspicious 130,000 units. The band released the EP "Music from Another Room" (2001) before signing with Epic the following year.
"Going the indie route was very important to us," says Detar. "There were drawbacks, like distribution and radio play, but it afforded us the ability to take the time to learn how to make records, build a loyal fanbase and become a really strong live band. If I could do it all over again, I?d do it the exact same way."