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Detroit band JR JR recently graced the Baeble studio with their glorious hair and indie pop grooves. The first song they performed is the currently unreleased ode to band-member Daniel Zott's son Johnny. Titled "Wild Child," Zott sings about a terribly relatable problem parents encounter: not being able to keep up with his kid's limitless energy. (I instantly pictured Donnie from Nickelodeon's The Wild Thornberrys.) They followed up that ode to childhood with a sweet song about overcoming times of hardship. Fittingly, "Same Dark Places" was featured on 13 Reasons Why, Netflix's original series about mental health.

JR JR was founded when Zott met Joshua Epstein while working on other Detroit music projects. They originally performed under the moniker Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. as a fun nod to NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. Despite a blessing from the man himself, they decided to shorten their name to JR JR after several instances involving confused NASCAR fans.

The name change hasn't seemed to hinder the band's success, and their unique sound of indie pop, folk, and electronica never fails to brighten the day.

Transcript

and we're going to play a new song called Wild Child.
It's about... Johnny Buff.
- You can't say that.
- He's wild.
- Huh? - You can't say it's about my boy, Johnny Buff.
No one in the world understands what you're saying.
- I was thinking I was talking to you guys.
Let's start over.
My boy... - Oh, my God.
- ...could mean so many different things. - I know.
- That'd be incredible.
All right.
Hey, we're JR JR.
We're going to play a new song called Wild Child.
It's about my son, Jeremy.
That's about it.
He's wild.
- One, two, one, two, three, four.
Cross my fingers now Hide under the dance
All that I've known seems shaky at best
Time feels like it's slowing But you know it's now
All my life I could not keep up And he goes, and he goes
And he goes, and he goes For miles and miles and miles
And he goes, and he goes, and he goes, and he goes
Like a wild, like a wild He's a wild child
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh He's a wild child
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh He's a wild
Cross my fingers when You close your eyes and wish
Things I have longed for I hardly miss
Time feels like it's slowing But you know it's now
All my life I could not keep up And he goes, and he goes
And he goes, and he goes For miles and miles and miles
And he goes, and he goes, and he goes, and he goes
Like a wild, like a wild He's a wild child
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh He's a wild child
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh He's a wild
All my life I could not keep up All my life wouldn't be enough
And he goes, and he goes and he goes, and he goes
For miles and miles and miles
And he goes, and he goes and he goes, and he goes
Like a wild, like a wild Like a wild
For miles and miles and miles And he goes, and he goes
And he goes, and he goes Like a wild, like a wild
He's a wild child
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh He's a wild child
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh He's a wild child
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh Wanna be like that wild child
- The next song we're going to play is called Same Dark Places, and it's the first song that we released from the new album.
There's two versions of it online.
It's meant to be an affirmation, reassuring.
So, fear not.
It's not all sad.
Focus on your breathing Looks can be deceiving
Everyone has curated their life Makes you feel
Like you're not living right But you might be all right with that
Oh, but I can't waste my time like that anymore
I know everybody goes to the same dark places
Sometimes in the dead of night when you think you can't make it
You might find I left a light beside the bed for you 'cause I've been there too
I know everybody goes to the same goes to the same dark places
Oh, close your eyes and let go You weren't mean to follow everyone
Looks different in a frame Since they're so
Good at their own game And you might be all right with that
Oh, but I can't waste my time like that anymore
I know everybody goes to the same dark places
Sometimes in the dead of night when you think you can't make it
You might find I left a light beside the bed for you 'cause I've been there too
I know everybody goes to the same dark places
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh You always doubt yourself
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh But you're probably just as well
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh As anybody else
I know everybody goes to the same dark places
I know everybody goes to the same dark places
I know everybody goes to the same dark places
Sometimes in the dead of night when you think you can't make it
You might find I left a light beside the bed for you 'cause I've been there too
And don't think it's only you because we've all been through
What you're going through, Whoa, everybody goes to the same dark
places, I know everybody goes to the same dark places
I know, I know Same dark places
I know everybody goes to the same dark places

Artist Bio

You could certainly call it a "Turning point" or a "New chapter," but Detroit's JR JR have been working towards this moment since first forming in 2009. Their self-titled third full-length album, JR JR [Warner Bros. Records], represents a complete realization of the creative union between members Daniel Zott and Joshua Epstein.

"To me, this album is like the third part in a series," explains Epstein. "When we first started the band, we were trying to make pop music in the way we remembered and learned it. You can feel that on our first album, It's A Corporate World. The second, The Speed of Things, took everything a step further, but it was a little more polished and professional-sounding. JR JR has a little bit of both worlds. We've gotten better at recording, and we've grown togetherand separately. It's the culmination of the series so far."

Zott puts it succinctly, "It feels like we found our voice."

Under their original moniker Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., the group built a rather rich history, eventually setting the stage for JR JR. From famously getting signed by a Warner Bros. A&R exec who jumped on stage at CMJ, at which point Zott remembers asking, "Who is this asshole?" to snagging their own Ice Cream flavor back in Michigan, JR JR Mint, and even being invited to practice by the Milwaukee Bucks, their indefinable and inimitable charm continually proves magnetic. Along the way, they've sold out countless shows, given TV performances on the likes of Conan, and cultivated a rabid fan base. 2014 saw them step outside the box, creating music for the hip-hop mixtape, Produce, which featured the likes of Murs, Asher Roth, Chuck Inglish, and more. It creatively galvanized them and sparked the process behind their third offering.

"Produce gave us the chance to step back and look at production in a different way," says Zott. "We realized we were adding too many things and layering too much. We became more straightforward and minimal, as a result. It taught us a lesson, and we started to embrace that process when we make our music. We find what the songs need, do that, and don't keep piling on bells and whistles."

With that mindset, JR JR began recording in Detroit and Los Angeles over a period of six months between tour. The sessions yielded "James Dean," during which a booming synth and R&B-style beat gives way to a resounding harmony. In late 2014, it became their fastest growing song on Spotify and an immediate live favorite.

"Lyrically, it felt like a snapshot of a night in my life," admits Epstein. "All of it's true. It happened in the moment, and I just started singing."

"It's not always about trying to be cool and staying relevant," continues Zott. "The pressures of being an 'indie band' trying to be cool seem like bullshit when you get older. You should just write the music you want. We've realized that."

Meanwhile, the first official single "Gone" tempers a dreamy acoustic guitar pluck and sunny whistling synth with an infectious refrain that's definitely as Epstein puts it, "Karaoke worthy."

"We took a different approach," Zott goes on. "We didn't touch a computer until we could sing the song together. It challenged us to write a song with the strength to be sung alongside just a guitar or piano. There weren't any tricks."

"I fell asleep and had this dream," recalls Epstein. "We were in the car, and a song came on the radio. I woke up and sang the hook into my phone. A lot of the lyrics were really personal. It was where we were. It was this beautiful moment of chaos."

Elsewhere, "In The Middle" shimmies between a simmering hip-hop beat and a hyper charged hypnotic chant. Epstein remarks, "I'm good at making quick decisions, but terrible at making decisions that feel important. I was going through some big life changes, and I didn't know which way to go. I spent a lot of my life feeling stuck in the middle of things and not being able to move. It's about that."

Kicking off this next phase, they addressed the name change in a personal statement, but one tweet perfectly summed it up, "Diddy changed his name 3 times. It's really not a big deal."

It's the impact that matters. Their influence became clearest when they launched their #5YRSOFJRJR social media campaign in 2015. JR JR encouraged their audience to share their favorite moments and memories of the group thus far. The overwhelming response reaffirmed their place in pop culture.

"We try to be a band who's thankful for that," concludes Zott. "We're celebrating what we've done, so we can begin something new. That's this album."

"We're moving towards the next series now," Epstein leaves off. "This is a beginning."

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