I try to make a strong effort on this site to support bands from the NY/NJ/CT/PA area who are working hard to get their music out there. Today’s interview is with Joe Parella, the lead singer of SOMETHING ABOUT JANUARY. SAJ first came to my attention on Twitter around the time I started posting interviews, and it’s taken me a while to coordinate this chat, but it’s finally done. Just in time, too, as the guys are working on a new album. SAJ consists of Joe Parella on vocals and guitar, Mike Linardi on drumsvocals, Jon Rodney on bass/vocals and Joe Cowell on guitar.
ANTHONY: How did Something About January form?
JOE: SAJ formed basically by constantly running into each other through the school system and music program and eventually ending up collaborating one by one until it was us four.
ANTHONY: What inspired the group’s name?
JOE: The name came from a show we played in the month of January. We played a killer set and decided we wanted to start taking this seriously as a group. One of us said, “Man, I guess there’s just something about January.”
ANTHONY: You’ve posted a lot of your music on Youtube. What’s the response been like? Any plans on touring outside of the New Jersey area?
JOE: Youtube is the best way to get your tunes out there because it is free and fast. The response has been pretty good but not as great as we want it to be. We have plans for touring much further down the road due to financial reasons and also we don’t want to rush into anything unprepared. We are taking our time to get there.
ANTHONY: You’re working on a new album now, right? How’s that process going, and when will the music be available?
JOE: The new record is going to be totally different. It is a nice raw sound while the songs are still catchy and real. We decided to get away from the things that we were comfortable doing and our producer that worked with us really helped us get the sound we wanted. It was the best process we have ever been through. It is five songs and will be out sometime in the near future.
ANTHONY: What did you learn in putting your first EP together that you’re applying to the new album?
JOE: We learned what NOT to do haha. We really don’t love that cd in any way other than the fact that it taught us EVERYTHING. We listen to it and realize how fake and unnatural it sounds compared to our live show and that is very important. Our live show is full of energy but when you go into a studio and try to capture that, it can be really tricky. The new album will have barely any edits and no pitch correction at all. We hope this captures a more energetic feeling.
ANTHONY: What’s the band’s songwriting process like? Who contributes what?
JOE: We all write the overall process but it normally starts with one of us having an idea. Being that we are all away at different schools, the internet has been our best friend recently with throwing ideas back and forth. Sometimes we all just click and create a song in no time and look up and don’t know how it happened but that is extremely rare in the process.
ANTHONY: Has your songwriting process changed at all in the time you’ve all worked together?
JOE: Songwriting is like anything else. The more you do it, the better you get at it and the more you learn what not to do. The only way to get better is to make a fool of yourself and take a chance. Every time you make a mistake, you gain something out of it. Overtime, a lot has changed and it never stops. Every time we write a good song, we prove to ourselves that we can write a good song and that is an important reward to receive.
ANTHONY: You’ve posted a number of covers on Youtube as well. How do you approach deciding what song to cover, and how do you “make it your own” rather than sounding just like the original?
JOE: Whenever we record a cover, we listen to it and see if we can make it our own. In many ways, just the fact that we are the ones making it is what gives it a bit of a different spin but that is not enough obviously. We have to make sure that we have fun doing it and feel like it is our own song rather than a cover. If you play a cover and it feels like you are just singing someone else’s words, you have done something wrong. You have to be able to get into it and have a passion for it as if it were your own song or else it will come across as a poor performance.
ANTHONY: Of the covers you’ve done, what’s been your favorite so far?
JOE: Our favorite is “Hey Ya” by Outkast for sure. It is totally our own and so fun to play live.
ANTHONY: What’s in the near future for Something About January?
JOE: The future for us is basically to just keep growing and getting better. A lot of bands make the mistake of thinking they are already grown before they actually are and end up biting off more than they can chew. We really just want to take our time and do things the right way rather than rush and do a halfway job. Writing is the most important thing as well as musicianship. Without that, a band has nothing so we really like focusing on getting better and everything else will come with time.
ANTHONY: And my usual closing question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who hasn’t read it to convince them that they should?
JOE: My favorite book has to be Fight Club. It is so philosophical and interesting with an amazing story behind it. I recommend it to everyone because it literally changed my life and perspective on life itself.
Since Joe mentioned it, here’s that OUTKAST cover: