The last time Jaill played in Omaha, they were headed back east on a tour that introduced the band to its future record label — Sub Pop Records.
The Milwaukee psych-pop/garage rock act shared the stage with Brimstone Howl on that 2009 at the tail end of a tour that had seven guys crammed into one van, Jaill singer/guitarist Vinnie Kircher says.
“We did some long hauls for some very small shows,” he says.
One of those small shows ended up being less than two dozen people in Seattle. But when they arrived at the venue for that show, the club owner filled them in on just who would be in the crowd. Sub-Pop employees had purchased 11 tickets to the show.
When Kircher heard that, he decided it was time for a new pair of jeans. So he ditched the pair that he had worn for nearly three weeks straight on tour and picked up a pair at a Seattle thrift store.
“I think that was the key to our success,” Kircher says of the second-hand jeans.
Like many underground rock fans, a few Sub Pop employees had picked up on Jaill’s 2009 LP, There’s No Sky (Oh My My), which came with a lovingly hand-pasted, copy shop-printed paper cover.
The day after the Seattle show, Sub Pop invited the band to tour the iconic independent label’s headquarters. The band and label stayed in touch via email afterwards.
“There was no expectation of anything,” Kircher says.
But within a few more weeks, the band signed to the label.
The signing happened just as Milwaukee was started to get some notice for both Jaill and the Goodnight Loving, a garage-pop act that used to share a few members with Jaill.
As Goodnight Loving’s tours pulled members away from Jaill, Kircher would take the time to write new songs or work on recording. Eventually, Jaill’s line-up shifted as both bands toured more.
“It worked itself out in natural way,” Kircher says. “We’re all friends anyway.”
Since the Sub Pop signing, the band has stayed busy. Their Sub Pop debut That’s How We Burn came out in 2010 and the follow-up Traps came out in 2012. The two records present the band’s sound in two varied formats.
“Our desires for what they were going to be were different,” Kircher says.
That doesn’t mean that the two releases are foreign to each other though. Kircher says since at its core Jaill is making pop music, there’s already going to be a thread of similarity.
That’s How We Burn is a comparatively crisp studio record, delivered with a straightforward, road-honed oomph.
The band’s friend, Justin Perkins, worked with Jaill at Milwaukee’s Mystery Room Studios, with drum tracking occuring at another studio nearby. All of it was done in three weeks.
Kircher says he enjoyed the chance to get into an actual studio, having only ever recorded in one with another band about a decade ago. The goal was to make a solid, pound-it-out rock record.
“It was sort of a new experience for me,” he says.
Traps is a return to Jaill’s home-recorded roots, with a hazier sound fidelity and a more laid-back vibe.
“That we just did in the basement of my house,” Kircher says.
The set-up was just a mixing board to a compressor to a computer.
“It was very minimal but we were trying to think it out rather than hammering it out,” he says.
Kircher says he wanted to make Traps in a way that gave him more time, even if it meant a lot less equipment. The goal was to make it a lush, ornate, pretty record.
Still, Traps contains both gauzy odes to 60s pop and more direct rockers like “I’m Home”. The song punches in its power-pop/70s rock riff straight into your head, but on the edges are keyboards and tricky guitar effects that keep the song from only relying on its central riff. On other songs, those psych-pop elements give a wobbly, woozy feel to jangly pop songs, providing an uniquely off-kilter feel.
The band has played more than 90 shows since Traps came out, including a tour with labelmates King Tuff that started around the time the album came out.
For now, the band is still working on new songs while continuing to tour behind Traps. Kircher says he is excited to see what happens next, as long as he and his band keep working at making things happen.
“The future is wide open,” he says.
Jaill w/ the Growlers, Jessica Hernandez & the Delta and Twinsmith play the Slowdown, 729 North 14th St. Tuesday, February 5th at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $13 day-of-show. For more information, visit theslowdown.com.