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Sydney soul maestros JONES Jnr, made up of vocalist Ev Jones and Thundamentals founding member Morgan Jones, released their debut EP Step on Sleep earlier this year. Mixing old-school soul with modern beats, their first extended effort focused on producing smooth tracks for easy listening. After having toured with Jill Scott, Kelis, and Fat Freddy’s Drop, along with headlining a tour in Japan, the boys are set to embark on their first headline tour of Australia in July. Before they hit the stage, we got Ev to sit down for a solid Small Talk.

My name is… Ev Jones, I am a singer and make up one half of Sydney-based soul beat crooners JONES Jnr.

By day I… usually sleep in longer than anyone else in my house, fill myself to the brim with coffee, run around a little bit (could be to stabilise after all the coffee), then get to work on some music. Could be sketching a new tune at home, could be writing over a beat I’ve got from Morgs, or it could be the both of us in the studio polishing up some sweet new Jones tracks.

By night I… can be found in one of the above creative spaces being reminded by my stomach that I’ve not eaten all day and am pushing it to stay on my feet. So begins the refuelling stage of the evening. Then I might (if I feel enough creative work has been done) sip on some delicious beverage and play some video games. But only in the off season, more likely than not there will be gigs to play or rehearsals to be had, so no time for gaming, Ev!

My favourite TV show is… Adventure Time. Like for real, I know its meant for kids–twisted weird kids anyway, but it’s seriously amazing. I mean it’s a hard call really, I’m a massive cartoon buff so maybe its just my ol’ faithful at the moment. It’s like drugs but way cheaper and less harmful on my voice so I think cartoons are a good habit.

The last movie I watched was… Moon. Written and directed by Duncan Jones in 2009 (good last name Duncan) and starring Sam Rockwell. It’s up there for one of my favourite sci-fi films ever. It’s creepy, it’s got Sam Rockwell being isolated and finding clones of himself, it’s got an evil corporation abusing human rights and ethics, it’s got Kevin Spacey as the HAL-esque robot. As Larry David would say, it’s “pretty… pretty… pretty… good”.

The first album I ever bought was… MC Hammer’s Please Hammer Don’t Hurt Em on cassette tape. I think I put it on lay-by at K-Mart and payed it off over a few weeks. I already owned one tape that I kinda stole from my brother which was a copy of some of NWA’s Straight Outta Compton on one side and some of Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back on the other. But I had to hide this under a cabinet and only listen to it when everyone was out cuz it had bad words in it and Mum wasn’t really down with that blasting into my ears. So Hammer was allowed in because he didn’t really say those things, did he now?

The last was… Jane Tyrrell’s Echoes in the Aviary. I have been waiting for this record to come into my life, and I was greatly rewarded for my patience, IT’S AMAZING! I am constantly inspired by Jane and her musical efforts. She was actually a huge reason I’m comfortable doing what I do in JONES Jnr.

A few years ago, she hit me up to do a duet for an online series she was doing and of course I said yes. But to be honest, I was shitting myself the day before the shoot. I didn’t really have too much confidence in myself and my voice at the time so naturally I was terrified of royally sucking. And to make matters worse, I had chosen one of my favourite soul tunes of all time ‘When Something’s Wrong With My Baby’ by Sam and Dave. Now those guys could sing! She could sing, but what the hell was I thinking? [Laughs.] Anyway, luckily it went really well. It certainly helped having Dubs and Gusto from Hermitude and Jed Holmes as the band behind us.

Anyway, the point of this ramble was to say during and since then, Jane has always been encouraging towards my singing. She was the first artist I highly respected that treated me as one, took me seriously, I guess, and that gave me confidence. Oh, and Morgs and I were lucky enough to have her come into the studio and do vocals on some of the EP tracks. Check out her amazing high range in the choir parts at the end of ‘Don’t You Worry’.

If I wasn’t making music I would probably be… making you the best Manhattan of your life. For many years before I took the terrifying leap into life as a full-time musician, I could be found stirring fine drinks and smooth-talking behind bars. I really thought that’s what I was going to do, I was pretty damn good at it. I knew way too much about all the product and I loved running about on my feet. But I was saved from the endless late night cycle by relentless encouragement from my loved ones and the writing efforts of the other half of JONES Jnr.

Morgs and I have known each other for almost our entire lives but had never worked together musically until he asked me to be a part of Thundamentals’ cover of Matt Corby’s ‘Brother’ for Triple J’s Like A Version segment.  This was huge for me, I heard positive words from strangers telling me to sing more, they believed in my abilities so I thought I better not take that for granted and do the same. Funnily enough, the bar I had closed the night before was frequented at that time by the ABC staff and so it happened the presenter of that segment on Triple J (Gemma Pike) had been in and seen me stirring those drinks and talking shit.

I’m addicted to… hmmmm. Addicted sure is a strong word but I reckon I’ve got a few weaknesses other than caffeine. As I said before, I’m pretty into the escapism my nerd life gives me in video games and cartoons but I’m also rather partial to indulging in overpriced fancy beers and whisky. In fact, just last night I drank a beer by Brewcult called Milk and Two Sugars at the Little Guy in Glebe. Anyway, this beer was amazing. What’s more amazing was my incredibly hot girlfriend sitting beside me sipping on it had a fine-ass Mezcal to go along with it. Now that’s something I could get addicted to! Beautiful women drinking fine ass booze beside me.

The best thing about touring is… honestly, my favourite thing about being on the road is seeing the effect of our music on the feet, bodies and faces of the audience members. It’s amazing seeing something we created just out of a passion and love for music giving strangers joy and making them dance.

This time last year, Morgs and I were lucky enough to be invited to play in Japan alongside the Bamboos, Oscar Key Sung, the Shaolin Afronauts, DJ Jumps of The Cat Empire, and DJ Chris Gil (owner of Northside records in Melbourne, check that place if you never have, it’s dope!). Anyway, playing shows in a country we’ve never been to, and the audience has never heard our music before and seeing it move them was mind blowing for us. And I tell you what, the Japanese are really good at listening to music, like they really listen. Take us back, Japan!

The worst thing is… hmmmmm. Well I think the worst thing may be what some people don’t realise is in fact the reality on the road. You’re working, it’s not a party, we don’t do no rock and roll life. Staying up all night on blow and whisky is mad fun but you will not be good at music the following day, or anything for that matter. It can be hard to see your music start up a party and get people dancing and loving life only to finish the show and have to pack up and head to the hotel for an early rise to do it all again. Also, it’s lame being the singer who’s all “Oh, I gotta eat by this time so I can digest then do my warm ups” blah blah. Yep, Princess Ev has a tight routine on the road.

My perfect gig would involve… well it would have to begin with my voice behaving and being a good little set of vocal chords. Then I’d say Morgs and I would be introduced onto the beautifully decorated stage by the MC of the night who is of course Shaq. Then the lights would dim and the choir string and horn section would all be walked on by David Attenborough, who would politely wave to us and exit stage left bro-ing down with Shaq.

The sound system would be killer. Like, Morgs would drop in the bassline on ‘Step On Sleep’ and the audience would begin levitating from the energy and soothing bass drenched goodness that would be oozing from the speakers. The bar would be serving fine beers and nice wines in actual glasses and there would be no need for security, for our audience would be (as it always is) made up of caring, forward thinking, beautiful souls of the world. Then we’d have the next day off so we’d finish our set (that of course went down perfectly and I didn’t mess up anything) and be able to go out and dance our skinny white boy asses off to the surprise special guest late-night appearance by D’Angelo. Oh what a night, baby!

The first gig I went to was… I think it was Billy Joel on his “River of Dreams” tour in 1994 at the entertainment centre in the city. One of my brothers was (and always will be) a huge Billy Joel fan and we all went down from Katoomba (where Morgs and I both grew up) to see this show. I was 11 at the time and hadn’t seen a show with that scale of production in my life. I remember I was tired by the time he came on but I loved the idea of such a massive stage and the lights and how loud it was. So I woke up and soaked up the energy of that room. I can’t say Billy’s music is a direct influence on my writing for JONES Jnr. but he sure knew how to write a damn good song. So I say thanks Damien and Nick for taking me to my first big concert. It gave me the hunger to get there myself one day, I reckon.

The most important thing on my rider is… hopefully anything. [Laughs.] You just never know what you’re gonna get out there. I’m a bit of a princess with my voice before shows so I don’t drink beers or wine, I ask for a little bit of whisky or rum and, well, that doesn’t always happen, now does it? I remember we were on tour with Fat Freddy’s Drop (who are the biggest legends on the road by the way, they took care of us, man) and I think we were playing in Brissy and the bar wasn’t open before the doors and we didn’t have any rider so I was trying my best to get a whisky before all the punters came in, but I ended up having to line up with the audience and then be told I couldn’t have a straight spirit anyways. [Laughs.] So I said “fuck!” and ran onto the stage and did my thang.

My hangover cure is… a shit ton of whinging and small pieces of bread eaten in a bird-like pecking fashion. I’m a skinny man with a big thirst, years of training, and an inability to call it a night on occasion so I’ve been known to cop some pretty nasty hung-of-the-overs. But after the whinging and bread crumbs have worked their magic, I’ll be found making eyes at the barista who just brought me back to the land of the living.

People always ask me… “Hey man you’re a singer aren’t you?’ and I say “Yeah, that’s right I am”. And I start thinking “Awesome, this person likes my work and it’s so humbling to have an encounter with a total stranger like this and…” then they say “You did that ‘Brother’ song with Thundamentals yeah?” and I say “Yeah man that’s right, that was awesome fun”. But now I’m thinking “Hmmm, maybe they don’t know JONES Jnr. Oh well, I’ll tell em about it”. Then before I get a chance, they ask “So what’s Tuka like? Like do you know him well? Is he here? Do you think I could meet him?” Then I say “Ohhhh, ha. Yeah he’s rad, mad love for that human, but he’s not here”. Then they pretend to see a message on their phone from their mum and walk away.

If I could only eat one thing for every meal, it would be… some kinda spicy Asian noodle deal, a perfect halved soft boiled egg and a mountain of crunch (fried shallots). The noodle soup, the ramen, or whatever shape or form it comes in is a tour staple for JONES Jnr. And Thundamentals for that matter, Jesone is a damn expert, he’s sussed out the biggest and best Asian noodle joints in pretty much every city across this globe man. I remember Morgs and I being in London on a writing trip and walking out of our apartment in Shoreditch to realise we were surrounded by Viet restaurants. Winning! Well, until the bill came. Dang London chill out, it’s just Pho!

My favourite YouTube vid is… I’m not a massive YouTube viral video guy so that’s a hard question for me but I tell you what is worth watching, “Francis Reacts To Star Wars EP VII Trailer”! This guy is awesome and his nerd cynicism is almost as amazingly entertaining in his reaction to the trailer. I can say he was not alone in the feels he got from something he thought would be yet another pile of shit dumped on the amazing franchise that was Star Wars. Seriously, check it out.

My computer’s wallpaper is… BMO, Finn and Jake in a kind of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi pose (which is actually cracking me up right now as I’ve realised how many times I’ve revealed my nerd-dom to everyone throughout this piece) but they’re all 8-bit style drawings and… well it’s pretty dope. For those who don’t know BMO, Finn or Jake, they are from a cartoon called Adventure Time. I urge you find out who they are and why I love its madness ASAP! I also thank the creators of Adventure Time for letting me feel high without actually needing to smoke a thing. The world is better place thanks to you, Pendleton Ward. If there was a ‘hats off’ kinda text/emoji I would insert it here.


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