We caught up with US artists Just Friends following the release of their latest EP JF Crew Vol 1. Made up Sam Kless (vocals); Brianda Goyos Leon (vocals), Avi Dey (Trumpet), Chris Palowitch (trombone, keys), Brandon Downum (guitar, vocals), Matt Yankovich (guitar), Kevin Prochnow (bass), and Ben Donlon (drums). Their musically diverse sound combines a unique range of punk, brass, hip hop, funk and emo influences.
“I often wonder what life would be like if I didn’t choose to go all in for music, and sometimes I wish I didn’t, but I’m thankful for everything given to me and in all honesty, this is what I think I was born to do”. (Kevin Prochnow)
Brandon (guitar, vocals), explains how it has been an unrelenting “soul-crushing” year for the band ever since their tour was cancelled as a result of Covid shutdown. For the guitar vocalist, creative drive and general motivation was grinding away to nothing, and what terrified him the most was how he felt no loss over it. Finding solace in the fact that a great deal of people close to him were feeling very similar. He highlights how working on the EP was an incredible joy and delight. Noting that the biggest takeaway has been learning that every aspect of the creative process requires daily participation! “Not everything we do needs to be in big strides. Small steps are key! What inspires me most right now is the nostalgia of touring with everyone, long drives, being obnoxious in the van or the green room, and getting to play music live”, he explains.
Kevin Prochnow (bass) highlights how their music is best described as family feel-good music. Going onto explains how every experience the band have shared together gets recycled into the next album, whether it be in lyrics, concept, artwork, or a feature(feat.) from a new friend of the family. Their unique live performances help portray a strong family bond. He goes onto point out how he doesn’t feel the band as a unit are trying to invoke a specific emotion from their listeners. Taking the view that each listener will take something different away from their songs. Their goal is to offer a sense of positivity…
“we want people to feel good and comfortable with themselves, which is a long journey on its own, one that requires all sorts of different feelings and emotions along the way, positive and negative. Everyone is at a different stage of this journey. As a band, we want to help people get to where they want/need to be”.
Sam Kless (vocals) explains how in forming their band, it was vitally important from the start to connect with people who cared about who they wanted to be represented! Noting how in doing so, the direction of music is much deeper, with friendship and family at their core.
Matt Yankovich (guitar) feels its important for anyone looking to make a career in music to be in it for the right reasons. Referencing the need to have a real love and passion for the art. Going onto to explain how it’s not a get rich quick scheme or a way to build social clout. To ultimately be kind, patient, and open!
Matt Yankovich (guitar) feels proud looking back on all of the hard work the band has put into fostering a loving and communicative relationship. “There’s a lot of us, and everyone has their own needs, feelings, and world views, so it’s taken a long time and lots of trial and error for us to learn about ourselves, individually and as a group, and how we interact to get us where we are now, but it’s absolutely worth the effort”. Matt goes onto highlight how the band is more like a family than anything else. With mutual level of love and respect among everyone. Something he feels a lot of bands never get to that point with one another.
Kevin explains they are currently writing new music. With lots of creative material to share with the world this year. Current plans are to release an EP roughly every month (JF Crew Vol.1, Vol.2, etc.) that will include new content mixed with re-worked older creations. In addition to this, the band plan to release their next full-length album a few months from now when they hope to commence touring again. As a band, some challenges lie in the team quarantining separately. Thus the writing process has been slow. This being said, the band are very excited to be working on their setlist for Super Bowl 2022.#watchthisspace