Soul outfit Durand Jones & The Indications’ are known for their live performances, and their profile has grown significantly in the last five years. Anchored by the high-low harmonies of Aaron Frazer (drums/vocals) and Durand Jones (vocals), and rounded out by Blake Rhein (guitar), Steve Okonski (keys), and Mike Montgomery (bass), The Indications are masters at melding revival sounds with a modern twist.
Their new album, “Private Space,” boldly launches the band into a world of synthy modern soul and disco beats dotted with strings. Throughout the album, The Indications highlight a collective resiliency – as well as the power of a good song to be a light in the darkness.
You can see what all the buzz is about as Durand Jones & The Indications are playing Union Transfer – along with 79.5 – on Wednesday, Sept. 8, in support of “Private Space.” Tickets are available at utphilly.com. Bring proof that you’re vaxxed to get in.
The band has performed on Kimmel and CBS Saturday, and were profiled by Rolling Stone, Billboard, Bandcamp, Relix, Paste, and more. They have fans in Snoop Dog, Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, and more.
“At the end of the day, I just want people to close their eyes and forget where they are. Just the way a Stevie Wonder album does for me,” Jones said.
PW recently caught up with the band to talk about the new music and upcoming show.
When did you first become interested in music? Who were some of your early influences?
Durand Jones: I’ve always had an interest of music ever since I can remember. My Dad would tell me of times when I was trying to sing songs in the car before I knew words. Some of my influences were the people I grew up hearing in church.
The band goes back almost 10 years now. How has it changed over that time? How have the music and stage show evolved?
Durand Jones: We have matured. It’s hard to say what the show will be like since it’s been over a year since we played a live show for people. I’m sure it will be fun and make people dance.
Talk a little about how “Private Space” came together. How is this album different from your previous two?
Blake Rhein: Because the pandemic put touring on pause, we were able to focus solely on writing. That was a luxury we haven’t had in years. We communicated a lot through Zoom and email, but ultimately did a lot of writing in person towards the end of 2020. The writing process for this record was very collaborative, which I think makes for our best work. For instance, “Ride Or Die” was a song that was written completely in the studio with all five of us in the room. Our first record was recorded almost completely at home, while our second record was recorded at a fairly high-end studio. Both approaches have their pros and cons, and on “Private Space” we were able to utilize both methods. Recording at home (or for “Private Space,” an AirBnB in upstate New York) afforded us the time to experiment with synths and hone in a background vocals.
How excited are you to be back performing before live audiences? What will your fans see when they show up at Union Transfer on Sept. 8?
Aaron Frazer: We can’t wait to be back in front of a crowd! This band started as a basement project, but once we started playing live shows, we realized there’s something really special about soul music with an audience. I think it creates a similar spirit and emotional release as a church service. And after the year we’ve all had, I think everybody needs a release like this.
At Union Transfer, people will get to see all our favorite tunes from across the three albums. The singers of 79.5 will be joining us on background vocals, and we’ll also have a percussion player with us, which I think is key to nailing the disco sound live. It’s gonna be a full sound.”
What’s ahead for you? And what are the best ways for your fans to stay current with what you’re doing?
Aaron Frazer: A record release is funny, because in one way it feels like crossing a finish line, and in another way it feels like just the beginning! We put so much into this record, so we’re excited to spend some time playing shows on it, and getting it out to as many people as we can, because there’s something in this album for everybody. And in the meantime, we all have some individual projects we work on as well. It’s important to find the balance between the individual and the collective. I think we’re striking that balance now.”