Check out a brand new interview with JJ Snell, vocalist of Lessons, who recently released their debut EP, titled Five Points. Get to know the band a little better as we discuss the band’s background, album, & upcoming plans.
First off, who are the various members of the band and what instruments do they play?
Lessons is David on bass, Seth on drums, Chad on guitar, and me (JJ) on vocals.
Since you’ll be new to most of our readers, can you give a short history of the band?
The idea of this band started close to a year and a half ago when both Chad and I’s previous musical projects ended. We played music together as teenagers but we wanted to rekindle the idea of jamming together as adults. We had a few small metal projects that we did for fun in the early 2000’s but they never really went anywhere. This project was easy to start just because Chad and I see eye to eye on many of the issues that come into play when forming a band. Once the main theme started to form, we felt some of the issues of family, love, self sacrifice and the struggles of our forefathers, were important to our lives and needed to brought to light. Most importantly, we wanted to keep things fun by avoiding some of the industry stress and just playing music as brothers. When the project started to get some legs we talked about starting to develop a live show which we needed to get some more people to fill out the live sound. I have been good friends with Dave and Seth from Children 18:3 for many years, so when the full band idea started to grow, I knew exactly the perfect dudes for the job. We brought the idea to them, they prayed about it, and yea, here we are today.
What significance is there to the name Lessons?
Since many of our songs and ideas are about what defines us as the offspring of our forefathers, we threw around many ideas and words that go into context with that. “Sons”, “Brothers”, etc… When you’re in the brainstorming process, stuff just starts to come out. Some good, some bad. So when the idea came up to use something along the lines of The Sons, we just couldn’t settle. So, like most hardcore bands, we had to complicate things and decided instead of the word “the”, we would replace it with the French meaning of ‘the’, ‘les’. So when you put ‘les’ and ‘sons’ together, look what you get. So it kind of has a double meaning.
Can you give us a succinct description of Lessons’ musical style & sound?
Well our main basis was to incorporate some earlier metalcore roots to our sound. We brought back some of that flavor and passion we found in the music we grew up listening to. The hardcore/metal scene has really changed quite drastically over the last few years so we were trying to find where we would fit in. It seems like every generation of music comes in waves and in that pattern there is a style everyone tends to lean towards. I’m not criticizing because I listen to many of the bands that follow the bandwagon, but we wanted a little different twist to that sound. I wouldn’t say were are all that unique, but we just wanted to bring back some of the elements of what we grew up playing, like having choruses and verses rather then gluing a bunch of breakdowns together. Like I said, it’s not a bad thing. It’s just the reality of the writing process of this day and age.
Who or what are your biggest influences musically?
Oh wow. That’s a huge question. I think each of us have some pretty vague musical influences that we listen to on a day to day basis. I think we can say anything from Bon Iver to The Chariot to Everclear to Ascend the Hill. But if I were to talk about what bands were influential to us years ago, that’d probably give you a better idea of where our writing process comes from. I would say bands like Poison the Well, Norma Jean (Scogin style), Zao, Foreknown, Comeback Kid, etc. were definitely artists that influenced our writing style. Even some of the current bands that are both awesome artists and fantastic musicians like A Plea for Purging, The Ghost Inside, and ABR. Like I said earlier, we really wanted to write with structure and take our time to do it well. I would say lyrically, our songs ring pretty true to their meanings. I seem to write a lot in metaphors which I can’t really help unfortunately. We take a lot of phrasing from Scripture as well, and apply them to our scenarios displayed in the songs.
We actually recorded the EP with a great producer named Jordan Schmidt. He’s worked with a bunch of bands like All Time Low, Metro Station, Jamestown Story and tons of pop bands. But we put him to the test with our metal. And we felt he did a fantastic job. We did a couple tracks in Minneapolis while his studio was there in the winter, but then finished up the EP at his Nashville studio in April/May.
You recently cracked the top 10 on Radio U Hardcore’s Top 10 list. How surprised were you to see that?
Oh man, was I stoked! I was just chilling at home when my buddy Brandon sent me a text with a picture he took of the top 15. So I ran downstairs to tell my wife and totally forgot to put pants on and, to my surprise, didn’t realized my mother in law would be right there. Yea. Awesome. But anyway, I freaked and told the rest of the dudes and I think they were equally as excited. We so didn’t see that one coming. And not too mention amongst such amazing and highly influential bands.
How has the overall reaction been to the album so far?
Its been great! We’ve been beyond blessed with every comment, every ‘like’ on Facebook, and every person that has supported us this far. You always have pessimistic people that will break your spirits but that’s to be expected, especially when your writing music that lost its cool 6 years ago 🙂
I would assume that Lessons is a part-time thing as you are just starting out & also that 2 members are full-time in Children 18:3. Are we going to see you guys tour or is the band more of a local/regional project?
Ya know, were just going with the flow with everything. When this started, one of our main objectives was to keep this an extremely flexible project. Chad and I both have families and jobs and that’s a huge priority for us. Also with Dave and Seth, Ch183 is there full time thing. So basically, if the doors open to do small touring, we may go that route. But either way, you can expect to see us playing Midwest shows as much as possible and catching festivals throughout the year.
I’m thought I saw that you just played Sonshine Festival. I’m assuming this was your first festival appearance. How were the crowds?
Actually, we ended up not playing Sonshine. We played a pre-Sonshine fest called Sonburnt. That was a blast. We did however have a merch table setup at Sonshine with our good buddy Sean Michel and seemed to have an awesome reaction. Tons of people stopping by and picking up the new record.
What are some goals that you have set for your time in Lessons?
I guess we don’t have many. We just want to write music to the best of our abilities and have fun doing it and if at all possible, encourage someone else to do the same. I can’t really say what the future holds, but regardless, there will be more music from Lessons.
Before we wrap up is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Thanks for the support! You guys are the best! Support local music, and support your local scene.