The Grand Rapids funk-rock-jazz fusion quintet abandons daily trivial nonsense to live a more purposeful existence.
“When I wrote that song, that feeling was weighing heavy on me. There is so much that goes on every day in our lives, some of it important, and some of it only seems important,” said Isaac Berkowitz, Desmond Jones guitarist, drummer and vocalist.
“There’s a lot of trivial nonsense that we let get in the way of living happy and meaningful lives. When that nonsense piles up on us, it can be hard to see through it to what really matters. Some people like to look at the stars and feel small as a way to get perspective, and in the same sense, I think remembering the idea that we are all animals, or that we are all ‘still creatures’ on this planet just trying to survive, can give us that same perspective and peace of mind.”
Together, Berkowitz and his Desmond Jones bandmates – Chris Bota (guitar, vocals), George Falk (saxophone, vocals), John Loria (guitar, vocals) and John Nowak (drums, guitar, vocals) – beautifully capture this personal philosophy in lighthearted, funkified way.
On “Still Creatures,” a fun, groovy wah-wah guitar riff opens the four-minute track and mimics the sound of a chicken while jazzy alto and baritone sax solos and rhythmic bass and drums bring a smooth, melodic feel.
“Even though it’s a new release, it’s something we’ve been working on for over a year in our live shows, and we’ve had it recorded for a while,” said Nowak, who formed Desmond Jones with his bandmates in 2012 at Michigan State University. “When we first started playing that song and Isaac showed it to us, we actually were just calling it, ‘Chicken Fingies,’ for a long time. At some point, Isaac said, ‘Actually, it’s called Still Creatures.’”
To promote their new single, Desmond Jones recently released a quirky new video for “Still Creatures,” which was filmed by Garrett Cochrane, aka StrangeGarrett. The catchy video features a batch of tasty chicken fingers encountering toothpaste, ketchup, nail polish and other everyday substances.
“I was the first one to watch the video, and I shared it with the guys right away. We all ended up really liking it,” Nowak said. “People have found it to be strange, but fun, and definitely on point with our personality.”
“Still Creatures” also serves as the band’s first single from their upcoming album, “Hello, Helou,” which will drop this summer and serve as the follow-up to their 2017 self-titled, full-length debut. “Hello, Helou” will feature seven new tracks and allow the band to explore a fun, upbeat sound with their fans.
“I think people are excited to hear something funky to kind of set the tone for the new album,” Nowak said. “Having said that, the rest of the album does not sound like ‘Still Creatures.’ Each song on the album is unique, and we went with this one as the funky introduction to the album because it’s different than what we’ve put out on our debut album.”
The cover of “Hello, Helou” features Desmond Jones friend and fan, Antoine Helou, who helps sell merch for the band and travels to their shows out of state. Helou and three other friends recently drove to the band’s shows in Knoxville, Nashville and Louisville to support the recent Southeast tour.
“During that tour, we kept saying, ‘Hello, Helou,’ when they would walk in, and it became a catchphrase for that,” Nowak said. “We’ve continued to be friends, and he gave us that photo of him. That is a real picture of him, and that’s his real hair. That’s his fraternity photo from five years ago at Michigan State.”
In the meantime, Desmond Jones is currently embarking on a 12-date northeast tour to New York, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania through April 26. Tonight, they will play at Askew Prov in Providence, R.I., with Greg Hodde’s Blue Reign and Austin Bullock.
Known for their dynamic, energetic live shows, Desmond Jones fuses skillful improvisation and sophisticated musicianship to capture a crowd’s attention. Each Desmond Jones show features a different setlist, which is included as part on a sprawling online archive of 300-plus shows available for streaming on the band’s website.
“We’re all having so much fun, it is in a lot of ways a dream come true to be working on a creative project in this capacity,” Nowak said. “We’ve been touring pretty heavily for two years now, it’s so fun, it’s so rewarding.”