River Jones’ released his self-titled EP for his highly anticipated new indie-rock project, Alta Violet, in late March of this year. Reminiscent of Elliott Smith and The Beatles, Jones’ style is immaculate and well crafted, seeing as he has already carved out a name for himself in the bustling Austin music scene. Always having been a prolific writer since his adolescent years, Jones’ states that “if I stopped writing yesterday, I would never need to write a new song again and I would have a careers worth of catalog songs”. Not only does Jones sing and play the drums, bass, guitars and keys on his album, he also recorded and mixed Alta Violet with Stuart Sullivan (of the Meat Puppets, Sublime, Butthole Surfers) at Good Danny’s. Read on to learn more about this multifaceted musician, and check out his music video for his first single, “Pass the Time”, after the interview! You can also keep up to date with his work on his Facebook and Bandcamp page.
ANON Magazine: You mentioned that you’ve been a budding musician since playing instruments when you were four or five years old. Being such a diverse and multi-talented artist, in what ways has music helped you throughout the course of your life?
River Jones: I was lucky to always know what I wanted to do at an early age. I started as a drummer and it really was a saving grace. I was focused on something positive and it eventually gave me a free ticket to tour the world. I got to see the world and all I had to do was play the drums.
ANON Magazine: What was it like working with producer and recording engineer Stuart Sullivan?
River Jones: It was an amazing experience. Once we started to become friends, I could ask the questions that I was dying to know. Questions about Meat Puppets recording with him in a cabin. The experience with Sublime, Butthole Surfers, and stories of how Stuart started. He told a great story of how Krist & Kurt of Nirvana were into a record that he did early in his career. Nirvana had a cassette of this Austin band that they listened to a lot. Part of working with someone great is learning about their history, memories and insight of stories that haven’t been heard.
ANON Magazine: Your music video for “Pass the Time” includes reflections of home video footage and photographs, not to mention your band Alta Violet is named after your grandmother. What marked your inspiration for including ties to your family in your music?
River Jones: When I moved to Austin I started thinking a lot about my Grandma. She was from The South and being near The South, I had so many things bring memories of who she was. I’ve been doing a full circle in life. I can look back and ahead at the same time. I am in the middle and it feels good to be where I am and reflecting family and personal history in songs. I want to wrap everything up with a bow, confront it, and move past it. All while paying tribute to the greats in my life, like Alta Violet. She was amazing.
ANON Magazine: What can we expect from your next music video with Carly Salter for “Black Pearls”?
River Jones: Carly Salter has great ideas. We met at a party and I knew I wanted to work with her immediately. She’s a force and someone that has depth, vibe, and powers. This will be the first time she’s a doing a music video. She’s a student at a film school in Colorado. She nailed the storyline, Black Pearls is about a witch who is afraid of her own powers and tries to bury them.
ANON Magazine: When it comes to writing songs, where do you get most of your inspiration from?
River Jones: It’s always different. Every time. Sometimes it’s words that people say. Sometimes it’s way that they say them. Or it’s the visual that I get when they say them. Sometimes it’s a visual of a room. Or a melody that comes to me while I’m working. A lot of times it’s me sitting down with the guitar and pushing out sadness. There’s a lot of things that try to get into your head in this world and writing is a good way to push them back out.
ANON Magazine: Who are some of your favorite musicians and bands in Austin, TX? Any live performances you think are a must-see?
River Jones: I like Annabelle Chairlegs, Caroline Says, Tele Novella, Holiday Mountain, Isaiah The Mosaic, Technicolor Hearts, Spoon, Slooom, 3 Bones, Junocat. I saw Caroline Says do a cover of one of my favorite bands, Stereolab and that really grabbed my attention. Then I picked up the Caroline Says album and was floored of how good it is. It’s called 50 Million Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong.
ANON Magazine: What do you have in store for the rest of 2015?
River Jones: I just got a puppy. I’m planning on recording new music at home with my puppy. I have a 2nd EP of songs that are a little more ELO & REM influenced.
Alta Violet – “Pass the Time”