An Interview with Jim DeCapua from Jones for Revival
Youngstown band, Jones for Revival has been making grooves in the jam scene for over a decade now. The band regularly tours in the Midwest and across the country and have continued to stretch the limits of blending multiple genres of jam, funk, blues, progressive and psychedelic rock. The guys have played with some great acts including Umphrey’s McGee, String Cheese Incident, Rusted Root, Moe and many others.
I got the chance to sit down and chat with the band’s guitarist and lead singer Jim DeCapua about music festivals, the eclipse, getting his guitar stolen and future music plans.
You just played at the music festival Birds of a Feather down in Kentucky. How was that?
Jim DeCapua: It was awesome. It’s like southern Ohio has this other scene. It was a great lineup, Rumpke Mountain Boys was the headliner, we got to hang out with those guys and they’re always a good time. It was pretty perfect, but it was really hot. It was a smaller fest, like 500 people.
The smaller festivals are always more fun, it’s more personal.
DeCapua: Yeah like when we played at Domefest, it was the best one we played all year. Two thousand people is perfect, once you start getting up to more than three thousand it’s too many wooks running around. We’ve played with Pigeons before but not at their festival. They’re really cool dudes, really fun to play with. They’re gettin’ it right now, they’re doing their thing.
Jones for Revival put on their own music festival this year right?
DeCapua: So we’ve been playing for ten years and when we first started, we had this festival called JonesFest at the Ledges, and we did that for five or six years. Then this opportunity in Youngstown came up and so that’s where Revive started. We just transferred JonesFest to that. We wanted to focus on our community because Youngstown doesn’t get that much of the jam scene, besides us. We’ve noticed over the years that Youngstown is more of rock and indie scene, so we’ve introduced people in our town to the jam scene, that’s kind of our mission. We unfortunately didn’t have Revive this year, but we’re excited to come back next year though. But yeah it’s really cool, it’s an outdoor stage on the Mahoning River in Youngstown, it’s a good secluded spot. I like the venue so much that I threw this fall festival called The Big Kick It. Just another excuse to party and have a good time. Since Revive wasn’t this year, I threw that in May. I think we’re due for a Kent Stage show soon.
Yeah definitely! We love the Kent Stage. What’s your favorite city the band has played at?
DeCapua: That’s tricky. Some cities are awesome because of the scenery. I really like Denver and Boulder because they’re amazing. You can just look outside and see the Rockies and every venue out there is pretty cool. Around here, I’d say Cleveland and Columbus. Cleveland is our most familiar city, we know a lot of people who we’ve known for years, and the venues are awesome.
Yeah you have the House of Blues, Grog Shop, Beachland..
DeCapua: Yeah Beachland is my favorite one. It’s not corporate but it has a professional feel. House of Blues is awesome to play at no doubt, but it’s kinda really serious there. Being serious is good, but like at the Beachland you can have a good time and play around a little bit. It’s hard to say which city is my favorite because there’s even something magical being in Kent in the fall. I went to Kent, I love it here.
What did you study?
DeCapua: Sociology. But then I realized my path was elsewhere. Music and the band became my priority and worth more of my time than school. Sociology was a good interest and topic, but dude, I’m a musician. I’ve played guitar for like 25 years, since I was a little kid. When I was in my early 20s, I felt like there would be all these things that would happen by the time I’m 30. But it doesn’t happen that way, because then you’re that age and you’re still thinking about the same things you did years ago. But once you’ve been doing what you like for years it’s interesting. Your perspective gets really different. The best thing to do is to not run away from things you’re intimidated by.
So you’re heading out to Colorado soon to do a little solo gig out there, tell me about that.
DeCapua: Our bassist moved to Seattle, and he’s been jamming with some dudes out there. Our drummer now is trying to finish school, so we decided to take a couple months off of playing as a band. So I started thinking that I could go out to Portland and book some gigs under a side band, Jim DeCapua Band. So we’re gonna see what happens, I’m going out there to establish myself out on the west coast a little bit. Take for example, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, you realize how hard it is for a band to get to that level? That’s a rare thing. When you reach that level, playing an average of 20 shows a month when usually bands play around five shows a month, you can make a lot of money. But resources are scarce, you have to figure out as a band where your money goes. So with this short break, I can go out there and establish a band and go out and play more. I’ve been a full time musician for so long now that you sort of figure out multiple things and projects you can do and add more income. I can travel all year round, and Jones for Revival can be just one of the things I do. That’ll be my top priority since it’s already pretty established, but I’m anxious to go out and play more than I do now. I might not even like it haha, but I’m giving myself two months out there to kick it. I’ve never lived outside of Youngstown or Kent, so I’m excited.
What do you think this new band will sound like? Jammy like Jones, or something totally different?
DeCapua: I have a bunch of originals; acoustic stuff I’ve written over the years. Some of it songwriter-y, kind of folky, bluesy. I’d love to meet someone who rocks the saxophone out there. It’s an open book right now. I’ve been getting into some other genres, like jam music is my all-time favorite, but I’m a sucker for a good hook and chorus, so I love pop music. Haha I was jammin’ to the Beach Boys right before I pulled up here. And with jam music you don’t really get the good chorus as much. So I’m trying to mix the two I guess. If I can get away with getting weird and psychedelic, I definitely will and push the boundaries on improv. But I also want people who don’t like jam music to like it. I admire Zac Brown Band, not really their genre as much, but because that guy doesn’t just play country. He just puts on a great show, and I want to be one of those acts that brings a variety of people together for a good time. I really look up to ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra) they’re like a pop jam band. My influencers are all over right now, the eclipse definitely helped in my transition phase.
Definitely, the eclipse was incredible. I saw it in Tennessee in totality, you could just feel the anticipation of the energy until the moment of the eclipse when it was released.
DeCapau: As I was driving around yesterday on the day of the eclipse, so many people forgot about hate and everything that’s been happening on the news. We’re so small, the universe took over and said, ‘You know, all that stuff you guys talk about, this is more important right now.’ It was really cool. I hope people realize that we’re not owned by any of this crap that fills our daily lives. We make the decisions and it’s things like the eclipse that proves that to me. That big, epic, universal thing that’s way beyond our understanding. We try to understand it and study astronomy, but humans don’t know shit. We’re awesome that we try, but whatever happened yesterday, it’s beyond human comprehension and I like that we’re owned by it.
How soon will Jones for Revival be releasing their live set from this year’s Domefest?
DeCapua: Very soon. We have one more edit left, so sometime in September probably. It’ll be released on Bandcamp, I started uploading past stuff and I’m going to try to upload more sets from this year. Some of recordings didn’t come out as well, but I don’t know much people care about that, seems like people are cool with the raw material.
So the next big festival you’re playing at is Hookahville 48 Music Festival in Ohio, have you played there before?
DeCapua: Yeah this is probably our fifth or sixth year playing there. Papadosio was kind of the first band to take us under their wing, help introduce us to southern Ohio. We used to do show trades with them back in the day, and Anthony and I became friends and he sort of admired my man crush on him haha. But Papadosio and definitely the Hookah guys introduced us to the festival scene, it’s like a little family thing you know. All our good friends go there every year, it makes you feel more at home. It’s always a good, end-of-summer bash for us.
What’s one of your best show memories that made you really realize that the band was successful?
DeCapua: I have so many of them..we did the Bob Weir after party show in Columbus on the Fourth of July, it was packed wall to wall. We did a cover of “They Love Each Other,” and Donna Jean was there. I looked over and I saw her on the side of the stage jammin’. She was with some of her family, that was a pretty sweet experience.
But I don’t know, I feel like the shows that we play the best are the ones where no one is in front of us, like maybe ten people. Really small bar shows, those have become few and far between, but it makes this weird phenomenon occur where you play with a different energy, and you can learn from that and play it at a big festival.
Probably my most memorable show is at an Umphrey’s McGee after-party in Columbus as well, and my guitar got stolen. I had five minutes before I had to go on stage but no one knew where my guitar was. So this place was packed, like 200-300 people. I kept my cool the whole time, but the bartender ended up having this little fender mustang guitar. It had a lot different sound than what I usually played with, but I tuned it and with one minute left we took the stage. It ended up being a good show, we closed with our song, “Sixteen Dollars.” Well this guy comes up to me after the show with two cases of beer and singing our closing song and said he loved it. He kept following me around while we were packing everything up, and like twenty minutes into the conversation he says that he played earlier that night and he was the drummer from Umphrey’s McGee. I was like what the hell, the guy from Umphrey’s McGee was singing my song, on a night that I was feeling very self-conscious too. It was a good confidence-booster, it happened on a very vulnerable night. I ended up retrieving my guitar too, eight months later. It went through like five or six states, it was up on eBay in New Jersey. But the police got it back for me, and I ended up naming my guitar “Evidence” since there were evidence stickers on the case. So yeah that show was a good learning experience for me.
I’m glad everything worked out and you got your guitar back. I like the name “Evidence” though, sounds like a very memorable show for sure.
DeCapua: We also played this festival, The Recipe Family Cookout, and we had a set from 2:30am-? And so we dosed and played for eight hours straight without taking any breaks. It was insane. And there was only like 20 people there jammin’ with us, it was so late. I can’t explain the connection that we all had, and we looked at the time and eight hours went by and we weren’t even tired. The sun started coming up, and so we started playing “Golden Sun” and then we just jammed some more. It was one of the most epic nights of my life.
Who would you say are your main influences right now in music?
DeCapua: Ultimately Jerry Garcia, he’s really inspired my guitar playing the most. He plays so freely and doesn’t play just traditional rock n’ roll. I’m really getting into the String Cheese Incident right now, they’re my favorite. I really love Phish, the Dead and Moe. Pigeons are my favorite up-and-coming national act, Jeremy and I have the same guitar so that instantly makes me a nerd with him haha. I’m into his tone and their overall approach to songwriting is similar to mine and I really appreciate them for that. They’re so goofy and that’s what draws me into them so much. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys is such a pimp, his ability in the studio and creativity is astounding. The Beatles were a huge influence on me as kid, and I love 80s music. I don’t know why, but 80s pop is just fun.
Where can we see the band play in the next couple of months?
DeCapua: Well, we will be doing a run of shows in Ohio from November to December, so we hope to see people come out and jam with us! The Jim DeCapua Band will have a tour in Colorado the last week of October, so I’ll be playing some gigs out there before Jones starts it back up in November.
Wow good for you. Keepin’ busy for sure. Can’t wait to see you guys play soon, good luck out west!
Catch the band at Hookahville 48 Music Festival in Bellefontaine, Ohio from August 31 to September 4! Tickets can be found here.