Rhythmic Jet Ear Games
The Ivory Bills are a power trio playing the original songs of bassist/singer James Velvet. Johnny Java plays drums, and John L plays electric guitar. The three musicians are mainstays of the New Haven, Connecticut rock'n'roll scene. In various combinations they've played in punk/pop/roots/alt country/original bands from New York City to Boston for decades. They "stopped believing in Santa Claus" years ago, but they bring a professional work ethic to their passionate avocation. "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right," says drummer Java. "I'd always either backed up other singers on bass, or fronted my own bands on rhythm guitar," says Velvet. "I felt it was time for a change, and I like the idea of a trio. It's one or two less schedules and egos to deal with, and a little bit more space for each instrument." John L was the right guitarist for The Bills. His crunchy, thick sound is self-taught, unique, and works well in a trio. "For Rhythmic Jet Ear Games I went back and listened to Clapton's work on the original John Mayall & The Blues Breakers album. Not that we're a blues band, but I wanted that combination of ripping leads and big chords." Johnny Java picked up drums a couple of bands ago after playing his first instrument, bass, for years with Velvet in their legendary Elm City band, The Mocking Birds. He's a rhythmatist. "I like the basics in drums. Anybody from Ringo to Keith Carlock. Look for the right beat for the song, and don't embellish too much after that." As for Velvet's songs - "I try not to pigeon-hole myself. I respect Lennon-McCartney and Dylan for writing in many different styles while working on their own sound." Mick Skidmore in Relix described Velvet's tunes as ". . .good-hearted rock and roll with integrity and humor. . . and no small degree of musical sophistication and imagination." The Bills were able to hone their sound before recording Rhythmic Jet Ear Games at a steady stream of gigs around their hometown, including a residency at New Haven's number one club, cafe nine. "It's always good to gig tunes out before recording them. And we got to figure out what we sounded like before seeing the red light go on in the studio," says John L. But Rhythmic Jet Ear Games is a studio project, not just a document of a live performance. It was recorded by Scott Amore and Greg DiCrosta at Scott's InnerSpaceSoundLabs, a large, open room, a la Ethan Johns and Tape-Op Magazine aesthetics. The band tracked live and then added percussion, harmony, a few extra guitars, and a little keyboard. The result is issued on Thin Man Music, a friendly collection of Southern Connecticut bands run by Rob "The Thin Man" DeRosa. "It Rocks. The Bills rock. I hope people across the nation get to enjoy what we've got right here."