Afro Jim celebrates the release of its EP Always Waiting at The Donut Whole on Saturday, March 30.
Jedd Beaudoin: Afro Jim is a trio. What are the challenges of working in that format?
Colton Cox: The standard rock band setup is two guitars, bass, drums. Maybe keys or something else in there. Getting a little bit of a fuller sound can be kind of hard. Basically, to counteract that just means we play louder! I actually like doing the trio thing. My bassist, Geoffrey Winningham, and I played in a band previous to this one. He played guitar in that group, that was the whole two-guitar dynamic. When we changed to one guitar, that was quite a difference. I actually enjoy playing by myself. I have to do a little bit less and a little bit more at the same time.
You don't have to be coordinated with another guitar player.
It definitely made me work on my chops a little bit more. When you're the only lead instrument, you really have to fill in a lot of space.
How does that impact the performance side of the band? You don't have a frontman roaming the stage.
We play mostly in town. We haven't done any traveling just yet. I'm hoping that this CD release will help with that. A lot of the stages that we play in town don't have a lot of room to move anyway, like Kirby's. We just try to keep the energy up, move around and feel the music as we're playing. It plays out just fine.
How did you go about selecting the material that's on this EP?
The whole thing is kind of about lost dreams, how to deal with that. A lot of growing up type stuff. It's called Always Waiting because you're kind of stumbling through life and someone will always tell you, "It's going to be alright. You just need to wait for something to come your way." For anyone that's in that situation where you're having a hard time and somebody tells you, "It's going to be alright," it's infuriating. There's definitely a sense of optimism that I've tried to go for throughout the entire thing. But that song, in particular, is very much about people always telling you it's going to come but when? When is it going to come?
Some experiences, I would be terrified to share them with an audience. How do you choose?
I don't explicitly lay things out. That's not really my style. I'm not much of a cryptic guy. But I do like to use metaphor rather than saying something directly. It's not really a sad album, but I just try to get at something everyone can understand and feel. It also has a dash of my own experiences in it.
Is there another song on the record that you feel is maybe representative of what the band does?
Our single, "Stranger Things," does a really good job of capturing it. A little bit of funkiness with a little bit of rock ‘n' roll mixed into it.
Within the Wichita music scene, I've always been struck by how there are a lot of different bands but yet I don't really hear a lot of overlap. So, how do you fit in with that?
I love ‘60s and ‘70s music. The Beatles. I'm wearing a Beatles shirt. I didn't even think about that. One thing I always loved about them is that they can play all these different genres of music and no matter what they're playing they always sound like The Beatles. That's something we always strive for as a group. We have a good mixture of funky stuff, rock stuff, and in our live show, we have some slower tunes, some folk or even country-ish stuff mixed into it. We try to vary it a lot.
You'll do this CD release show at an all-ages venue. There's a certain importance in that because very often that dividing line of having to be 21 or over to get in to hear music is limiting.
We definitely try to. We are older than some of the other bands. Kill Vargas and Old News have members who are 19 or 21-22. They have a better connection to that stuff. My group, we're 23, 24, 25. There's a little bit of struggle trying to get to that crowd. It's important. You want to get your music to as many people as possible. Kids of that age right now are obviously doing really important things and it's good to get to those people.
Jedd Beaudoin is the host of Strange Currency. Follow him on Twitter @JeddBeaudoin.
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