Music Q&A: Jared Bartman

Music Q&A: Jared Bartman

This week, The News-Gazette's Paul Wood chats with singer/songwriter Jared Bartman, 25, of Princeton.

Q: Who are the members of your band? Any new ones?

A: My band is essentially a solo project with a revolving door of wonderful musicians who play with me on the records and on shows.

People who currently play in the band or have played with us recently are Stephanie Bartman, voice; Michy Maloof, voice; Jessie Pilcher voice; Per Ellingson, bass, keys; Jeremy Quentin, guitars, keys, voice; Aaron Kavelman, percussion; Andrew Hiller, percussion; Jonathan Henderson, percussion; Scott O'Dell, percussion; Steve Plock, percussion; Gabe Liebowitz, percussion; Jenna Ferdon, violin; Eric Pidluski, violin; Kelsey Klopfenstein, violin; Bridget Callahan, violin; Laura Jorgenson, violin; Alyssa Przygoda, viola; Mary Heinemann, viola; Jenwei Yu, violin; Charles Spurgeon, cello; Chris Adams-Wenger, cello; and Rachel Schuldt, cello.

Q: What is your latest project?

A: I'm touring the Midwest and East Coast from Oct. 31 through Nov. 12 and releasing my new album, "Misery Makes Strange Bedfellows," on Nov. 19.

Q: Tell me about your next performance locally.

A: My next Champaign performance is at Mike 'N' Molly's on Nov. 9. Doors open at 8 p.m., the show starts at 9, and the age requirement is 21-plus. Hi Ho Buffalo and another TBA very special guest will be on the bill as well.

Q: How did you first grow interested in music? Does your family have a musical history?

A: My earliest memory of feeling really in love with music is from when I was a little kid listening to the Beatles' first record "Please Please Me" in the car and repeatedly singing along to "Love Me Do." I've wanted to write music and play in a band ever since my first exposure to rock 'n' roll. My dad is a drummer and played in a band with my uncles when they were in their teens. My dad and my two uncles sang and played drum set, saxophone, trumpet, organ and accordion. I think my interest in musical variety and the compulsion to be a multi-instrumentalist came from that precedent set by my dad and uncles.

Q: Which bands did you like when you were a teenager? Which bands now? Who has influenced you the most?

A: In my early teens I was really into bands like Weezer and Green Day. Now I listen to a lot of indie rock, American folk, classical and a variety of world music and some hip-hop. Some things I'm currently listening to a lot are MIA, Caetano Veloso, Haim and Maurice Ravel.

Q: Do you have a favorite instrument? What kind of amplifiers do you prefer?

A: My favorite instruments to play are guitar and accordion. My favorite group of instruments to write for and listen to would probably be string quartet (two violins, viola, cello), which is why string quartet features so prominently on my new record. I actually can't afford an amplifier right now, so I'm borrowing a really cool Traynor amp from my friend Per. When I buy a new amp, I'd like to get an Ampeg Jet or a Fender Princeton Reverb.

Q: How did you band get started? Where does the name come from?

A: At some point in high school I was kicked out of a band, and I decided then that I was done playing in traditional bands where the creative control is spread evenly between all of the members. I'm kind of a control freak, so my solo project spiraled out of that need to be able to do my own thing. Thus, the band name is just my name because I write the songs, have the final say in all creative decisions and finance everything myself.

Q: How often do you play? How do you balance this with work and family?

A: I try to do two or three two-week tours per year. When I'm not on tour, I play locally in Peoria maybe once a month. This could be less or more, depending on whether I have touring band friends coming through for shows or if I'm working on a record.

It's quite a balancing act to manage my music with work and family. I currently have a job as the librarian at the Peoria Symphony Orchestra, and it has been very flexible in allowing me to have time away to tour, write, and record.

My wife Stephanie has been incredibly understanding about my musical pursuits.

Stephanie regularly sings in the band, and our 2-year-old son Henry wears baby-sized shooting range headphones (to block out excessively loud noise) so that he can be with us at a lot of our shows, too.

Q: Do you write your own songs? Tell us about that experience.

A: I do write my own songs, except for the occasional cover songs that my band plays live. Writing is a very intense process for me, and the development of a song involves creating, expanding upon, and editing various literary, lyrical, and instrument-based musical ideas into a unified statement.

I've almost never written a song in one day, and often it takes days, weeks, or (sometimes) months to get at a fully realized version of a song. It's a very slow, painstaking process where the majority of the work ends up on the cutting room floor, but the end result can be extremely rewarding.

Q: Is touring still fun or has it become a chore?

A: Touring is for the most part very fun. The feeling that comes with setting out at the beginning of a tour is super exciting, as well as the feeling of driving through the desert in the American west or being in major U.S. cities like New York or LA.

Having the opportunity to play music all over the country is a really wonderful thing, but it's easy to get worn out after numerous days of long drives, late nights, and confusing show logistics. I think the pros of touring very much outweigh the cons, though.

Q: What's your favorite song? What's your favorite song by your own band?

A: I don't know if I have an all-time favorite song, but one of my current favorites is "No Other Love" by Jo Stafford.

My favorite song that I've written is probably "Garden Gate" or "The Cool Of Your Temple" from my new record.

Q: Do you feel a special connection with the audience?

A: Sure, I really feel connected to audiences on the occasion that I play for packed rooms of attentive listeners. Then the performance adrenaline starts kicking in, I play better, and I have a lot more fun when I can tell that people are enjoying themselves.

Q: What's your favorite clothing item for performance?

A: I wear a lot of cardigans, so I guess I'd say the cardigan might be my favorite clothing item. I really like my Onitsuka Tiger shoes, too. They're super comfy.

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