Jukebox The Ghost talks growth while on tour

Indie-pop band Jukebox The Ghost is in high spirits about its upcoming tour dates following the release of a self-titled album. Alexa Stickler via Flickr

When Jukebox The Ghost drummer Jesse Kristin answered the Daily’s phone call last week, he was still groggy from an on-the-road nap.

“I’m like, the nicest dude in the world,” he swore. “But I have this thing where I won’t get up for a random number when we’re in the middle of all this … band stuff.”

That “band stuff” he’s referring to is the final leg of their season-long national tour, which has them rolling through Boston’s Paradise Rock Club tonight. The indie pop trio, best known for quirky dance-floor anthems like “Schizophrenia” (2010) and “Somebody” (2012), are fresh off the February release of their self-titled album.

“This run has been absolutely amazing,” Kristin said. “We’ve been playing great venues with great bands. Old friends, new friends. This is the best tour we’ve ever had, and we’ve toured a lot over the years.”

In fact, the vibe of their new album, “Jukebox The Ghost,” is brimming with superlatives: the best, the most popular and — easily — the most straightforward and poppy. Fans used to the rollicking instrumentals and flittering falsettos of their previous work might be surprised at this collection’s admittedly simple formula, but, for Kristin, the transition was “very deliberate.”

“We’ve always been pop,” he said. “We still have our whole range of songs — crazy weird ones, beautiful piano ballads and sillier upbeat tracks. But this is the first time it has felt like it’s worth our time to curate an ‘official’ pop record. Every song has a chorus.”

This has meant a scale-back in the prominence of each member’s actual instrument (keyboard, guitar and drums), both on the record and during live shows. Kristin sees this as a major but welcome change of pace.

“With only three people, it’s easy for each of us to want to play a lot, to fill in the sound. And sometimes we overplay,” he admitted.  “Part of the fun of the new record is that we’re creating big music but with more minimal parts — the simpler, repetitive, poppy-er side of our sound. In the past, I [as the drummer] was certainly busy as hell.”

“We haven’t changed, but we had a vision for it,” he continued.

What has changed is JTG’s radio play and show turnout. Unlike other bands that loudly burst onto the scene as soon as the Internet gets wind of their fun, immediately accessible sound, Jukebox The Ghost has enjoyed a much steadier rise to fame. It’s almost surprising that they’re not a more mainstream reference — they’ve garnered tons of critical praise for a style that is at once unique, theatrical and totally likeable. (Though Kristin couldn’t think of a single modern influence, others have compared the band to Fun., Tally Hall and Foster The People).

Jukebox The Ghost has been slowly working up a loyal fan base, having cranked out colorful, amusing videos and tours for just about every album. The trio has also been known to perform some equally danceable covers, including January’s “Walk Like an Egyptian,” which they recorded with friends and opening act Secret Someones. 

Still, Kristin said he and his band haven’t learned to expect success to drop into their laps. When asked where the decade-old band sees themselves in another 10 years, he went with a pretty safe bet:

“I grew up playing in punk bands; my dream was just to go on tour,” he said. “Yes, it would be nice if we’re stupidly rich and famous, but I’d love to have more records under our belt. Maybe another four, maybe another ten.” (His revised answer? “Keep on keepin’ on.”)

If Jukebox The Ghost continues on their current trajectory, it’s definitely in the cards. Kristin said he expects a full, sold-out concert when they reach Boston — and by then, he’ll be wide awake.

“I don’t think anyone can actually yawn onstage,” he laughed. “There’s just too much adrenaline. I’ve never seen it. Like…is that even possible?”

For the ever-smiling, ever-upbeat Jukebox The Ghost, probably not.

“Energy just comes naturally to us. If we’re tired, we wake up on stage. I don’t believe we’re capable of playing a show and sitting still,” he said. “It’s just not in our DNA as a band.”


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