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The Jawn: “You’re Definitely Going to Get Your Money’s Worth.”

December 1, 2015

Comprised of Pat Durkin on lead vocals and guitar, Ricky Haldis on guitar, Mike Novak on bass and Andrew Duffy on drums, The Jawn specializes in boiling many genres of music down to one unique sound.

Our McCall Cox spoke with the bandmates about the past, present and future of their band.

Who is The Jawn?

Pat Durkin: So outside of music, I’m a substitute teacher. I’ve been playing music for 15 years. I guess I’m the primary songwriter. The songs that I write tend to be about a lot of life stories but there is also a lot of different imagery that I use. I like new age and occult/mystical-like imagery.

Andrew Duffy: I am the newest member of the band. I joined in February or March. I’m actually the fifth drummer and the longest running drummer so far. I’ve been playing the drums for about 16 years. I cook in a kitchen in a bar in Manayunk but I’m also in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. I play drums for them as well. I’m in the 28th infantry division band. Since I’m the newest member of the band, I try to follow everybody’s lead but also complement everyone’s ideas and contribute some of my own.

Mike Novak: Well, I started playing guitar in 2002. Then I picked up bass in 2008 or 2009, so I’ve been playing that consistently since then. During the day, I work for the welfare department of Philadelphia.

Ricky Haldis: I’m the baby of the band. I guess my primary role is to not get obscure references that the older guys would make. Pat was my guitar teacher since I was 13. And now I’m actually a guitar teacher myself.

Tell me a little bit about how The Jawn came to be.

Durkin: That’s an interesting story. I hope you’re ready for this one.

So, Mike and I were in a band for a couple years prior to The Jawn, formed with The Jawn’s original drummer. That band was a lot different. And at some point, I decided I wasn’t ready to play music anymore and I wanted to go to Los Angeles and live the LA life. So I went to LA. We wound up getting back together and I said, “I know this guitar player I’ve been teaching for a few years. He’s the only guy I trust to play music with and who can get into what we’re playing. So Ricky joined the band. Over the last couple of years, we’ve just been writing music and refining. We’ve been focused on capturing the experience everything that’s going on in the world.

1604645_701949269839250_1356140838_nWas the name The Jawn just chosen as way to pay homage to Philadelphia?

Durkin: When I was in LA, I just remember going around and saying jawn a lot. But it’s funny because when I lived in Philly, I don’t think I really said it as much. When I was in LA, I got the vision of jawn written in Love Park (style) and I thought that was just a cool image. So when I got back, I said how about we try this.

Haldis: It’s something that people here will get.

Durkin: I feel like that’s a term that explains what we’re about. We’re The Jawn. That’s how we can describe ourselves.

Duffy: We’re a little bit of everything – a little bit of country, a little bit of rock and roll, a little bit of punk/funk. We get elements of soul too.

On your Facebook, there are a lot of recent posts about “Open Jawn.” Would you like to go into some detail about exactly what that was?

Durkin: Open Jawn. How to begin? A journey of excitement and wonder. An outlandish, raucous event. So, every week at The Grape Room in Manayunk, we do an open jam. We were into having people just getting up and jamming, people of all different musical levels just getting together and having a good time. So we signed on for that. Somewhere around week three or four, someone yelled out ‘open jawn’ and that stuck.

Some open jams are very intimidating. They’re not exactly welcoming, so we consider ourselves the Planet Fitness of open jams. It’s a mix of music but there are also elements of improv, stand-up, humor. You go there, you’re gonna laugh. You’re gonna have a good time. Even if you’re not a musician, you’re still gonna have a good time just hanging out.

Duffy: One of the coolest things, which has made it so interesting and kept it interesting, is we do our best to try and feature a new act every Wednesday. We’ve had a lot of different up-and-coming bands and established bands come through and do a little feature set at the beginning of the night. We get new musicians introduced to it. We get their fans introduced to it. It’s been a lot of fun.

Durkin: We just want to have a good time doing music and share that with people.

So you would definitely recommend for people to come out and experience and/or participate, I take it?

Durkin: We are very audience participation friendly.

Duffy: If I see somebody I don’t know at the Grape Room, I’ll introduce myself to people, My first question usually is, “So are you gonna get up and jam with us tonight?” You can literally just get up there and shout into the microphone. I encourage people to rap a lot too.

You released a Halloween-themed single called “Poltergeist,” which you recorded with Paul Hocynek. Tell me a little bit about that.

Durkin: That was a really good time. We finished an EP in May and that was a rigorous process. It was getting to be October and the past two years, we’ve done “Jawn of the Dead,” which is our Halloween party. We wanted to put something out with [“Jawn of the Dead”]. We had talked about recording another song and we ran into Paul Hocynek. He does this thing called “Free Song Friday” where you go to his studio, you have an evening to record a single with him and then he puts it out through his Soundcloud page. So we had a song called “Poltergeist” and we knew the song pretty in and out, so we could just go in and bang it out. “Poltergeist” is also kind of Halloween-y. So it was very serendipitous that we ran into Paul and he was able to do that. He was awesome. We went to his studio in Cherry Hill. It was very comfortable setting. We banged it out in a couple of takes.

How was that different from recording your debut EP, Grüv Vol 1?

Durkin: It was a very arduous process. We had our second drummer. He wound up quitting during the process. So that already set it up to be a stressful endeavor. But we went hard into the recording process. We were like, ‘Well if that’s the situation, we’re going to do everything we can to make sure this sounds really good.’ The lead single off that was “Hollywood” and we filmed a video for that.

You’ve done some touring along the East Coast. Do you have more dates lined up?

Durkin: Right now, we’re in the planning stage and reaching out to other bands. We’re also working with bands that we know in the area. We’re trying to pass off as much work as we can to everybody. To me, there’s so many great bands in Philly. We can’t play all the shows. There are plenty of bands that are great who can do the shows. Let’s build a really cool East Coast music scene.

What would you say has been your favorite experience from the short time that you have been together?

Duffy: For me, one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had with these guys was the very first show we played together. We practiced really hard for that show. We really put the time in and it came together really well. It was a great first experience for me

Novak: I think one of the coolest things we’ve done as a band was backing a local rapper named Mike Voss. It was a pretty neat experience to bring a rock band to back a local rapper and kind of merge the two styles. To me, that’s pretty neat to show that there’s some kind of strange crossover. We had a good time playing the shows. It was something that I probably wouldn’t have said we would’ve been doing if you would have asked me when we first started as a band together.

Haldis: I was 17 or 18 when I first hooked up with you guys, so it was neat to have, in the past three years, gone from Maine to up and down the East Coast. The band is also a good opportunity to see new places and do stupid things.

Durkin: It’s just been the whole journey. I’ve been doing this for a while. I’ve been in a lot of bands. Our last band, we couldn’t break 300 likes on Facebook or bring more than 10 people to a show. So, now, to see the progression in three years and to be playing rooms that are packed, with people that are there to see us and they know our songs and to have residency every week, it’s really cool.

For those going to check out your music or see you live for the first time, what would you say they should expect?

Duffy: Mm, nothing.

Durkin: Yeah, I was going to say, ‘Don’t expect anything.’

Haldis: Come in with an open mind.

Duffy: You can expect a good time.

Durkin: I would say you’re gonna dance. You’re gonna rock hard. You’re gonna laugh. You’re gonna scratch your head in confusion. But you’re definitely going to get your money’s worth.

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