Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Keeping Up With….Jet Lag Gemini

March 1, 2008

Keeping Up With….Jet Lag Gemini

New Jersey pop-punk band Jet Lag Gemini wasn’t expecting to get signed to Doghouse Records two years ago, said lead singer Misha Safonov. Yet, here they are, releasing their new album Fire The Cannons nationally on the label that currently features acts like The All-American Rejects, Say Anything and Limbeck along with storied alumni such as The Get Up Kids and Hot Water Music.

Prior to being signed, Jet Lag Gemini had spent most of its time building its local fan base in New Jersey, Safonov said.

“We did a little of touring on our own, with our manager booking shows. But it’s hard to leave your own state without a strong local following to financially support you,” Safonov said.

The band had had its collective eye on Doghouse Records for some time due to its repertoire of current and alumni bands, Safonov said.

The band’s manager knew an A&R guy from Doghouse, Safonov said. They gave him a copy of their EP to put out on his own smaller label, but he passed it along to Doghouse. The label basically took a chance by signing the band, Safonov said, since they didn’t have much of a support base beyond New Jersey. But that didn’t phase the band or the label.

“They just had the same vision as us,” Safonov said.

Jet Lag Gemini has been noted for its unique sound amongst pop-punk bands. Safonov credits this to the wide range of influences that each member holds.

“We listen to a little bit of everything,” Safonov said, “Classic rock bands from The Beatles to AC/DC and pop-punk bands like blink-182 are major influences. For this record, we even drew on quite a bit of classical music, which comes out in songs like ‘Picture Frame.’”

The influences go beyond the standard rock, however. Safonov came to the United States from Russia in 1993 and the band’s lead guitarist and bassist, brothers Vlad and Matt Gheorghiu, came from Romania seven years ago.

Safonov said that Vlad and Matt both listened to quite a bit of Romanian music and European pop and dance music. He cited his own trip back to Russia during the eighth grade that helped to familiarize himself once again with the music of his native country.

“I listened to a lot of the music while I was there,” Safonov said, “Which included a lot of European music. I also grew up with my parents listening to a lot of Russian contemporary music.”

And the resemblance of the band’s name to the cult classic Nintendo 64 game, Jet Force Gemini, that was developed and released by Rare Studios in 1999?

“That was totally random,” Safonov said. “It was something I just thought up one day. I’ve never even played the video game. But if there’s going to be a sequel, we’ll definitely try to get on the soundtrack.”

Do you hear that, Rare Studios? There’s a reason to make a sequel.

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Whatever the band draws on to create their sound, it’s doing the trick. The album’s first single, “Run This City,” can be heard all over the Internet and even on outlets like Sirius Satellite Radio.

“It’s nice having a big release,” Safonov said. “People can hear about the music and we can have all these big tours.”

Though the band isn’t quite at the level where they have hotel rooms everywhere they go, they’re enjoying the experience of the tours, Safonov said.

“Besides shows, not knowing where you’re going to be next is the best part of touring,” Safonov said. “We meet all these different people, talk with them, stay at their house or whatever. We also look forward to all the stops along the way because you almost always find something cool. We definitely love In & Outs. We don’t have them on the East Coast.”

So what advice does the lead singer of a band that just released their first major album have for bands aspiring to that point?

“Work hard,” Safonov said. “Practice a lot. Play a lot of shows and build a strong local following. Promote your shows. Your local support is the most important for starting out, that’s the main thing to do.”

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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