Zohayr and Sameer Shirazee’s output is admirable. Their first effort, Adaje, the brash screamo band that carried them through high school, released five records. Greyscale, or, save the vowels, GRYSCL, existed in the same vein, only more evolved, and found new direction in members Chance Clement and Barrett Kutas. The group put out six albums and lasted five years before disbanding. Sort of.
Welcome Jadewick, the same members in new roles. After Greyscalewent silent at the beginning of 2016, the band hid away for months, writing without an idea of what would come. That manifested in November, in the form of a grainy clip uploaded to the Internet, dissonant and exposing little.The clips kept coming until February, when they released a self-titled two-track ep, a separation from their roots.
“About six to eight months before Greyscale officially calledit quits, I brought the idea to the table of purging ourselves completely from that sound and trying something else,” Zohayr says. “Everyone was strangely on board right away. There was something so reaffirming about Jadewick’s first official practice. At one point one of us said, ‘What have we been doing the last four years?’”
“Some Call it Funk,” track one, reintroduces the band with anear-five minute ballad reliant on similar manic energy Greyscale encompassed. That’s likely due to a bond between the brothers, who’ve grown up together as much as they’ve written together. Those formative leanings still bleed through their songwriting. Family, immediate and chosen, thematically fills out these songs: “Constructing fears out of thin air is a family trait,” and then later, “Family is not blood.”
“'Some Call It Funk' is about accepting your blood family and that there is noescaping them no matter what, and basking and truly embracing the family you have chosen,” Zohayr says. “It’s a song about my three brothers in this band and how much I have come to love and trust them.”
Shifting roles undoubtedly altered their dynamic. Clement,who previously sang, now plays guitar. He’s new to the instrument, learning as they write.
“I have never taken guitar lessons and barely got through a year of piano lessons when I was in fifth grade, but I love music,” Clement says. “I knew that the three guys I had been playing music with would be the best way to get better. Not putting constraints on things makes the process feel so much better.”
The biggest change, however, is in Zohayr and Kutas.Zohayr’s singing has taken a driver’s seat to the full-throated screams that dominated previous projects. If not initially made apparent by his bellowing yells, Zohayr’s attention to melody is realized when the song comes down. It’s a sweet spot where Jadewick is at their best, in the groove, on the other side of that manic intensity where the song has room to breathe.
“Greyscale was a way to play the faster, crazier ideas I hadon drums, sometimes without a concern for what the best direction was,” Sameer says. “With Jadewick, it feels much more structured sonically.”
Incorporatingelectronic elements further removed Jadewick from their confines, such as on “That’s What’s Right,” the two-minute second track that feels more like an interlude. Kutas, who cites Kanye West’s polarizing 2013 LP Yeezus as an influence, pushed for the idea with no push back from the band.
“Honestly, the influence for it all came from approachingthe song writing with a complete embrace of all genres,” Zohayr says. “It never really translated with Greyscale. It was always ‘this is screamo with eggshakers’ or ‘this is screamo with a fuzz pedal.’”
Kutas, who only played bass in Greyscale, found that additionally playing synthesizers allowed him to look at songwriting from a new perspective.
“In Greyscale, I could write bass lines to accompany thedrums or the guitar melody,” Kutas says. “Now, with so many other ways to express myself sonically, I have to spend more time listening to how everything that I bring to this band can come alive and shine, melt two parts together, or accompany the melody.”
Jadewick entered Ardent Studios this month to record afive-track EP, songs they spent the bulk of last year writing. Perhaps the most growth they’ve seen is in how hypercritical they are of what they release, Zohayr says. For Jadewick, it’s quality over quantity.
“We’re not sure when this EP will come out,” Zohayr says. “But I’m sure it will this year at some point. Or maybe it won’t, who knows.”
Jadewick plays Rockhouse Live with Dikembe, Hodera, Expert Timing, and Sleepwlkrs on March 21.