Today’s Feature, January 26-27, 2008: Jinnrail

January 27, 2008 at 2:03 am (Today's Feature)


Ever read Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet?” It’s a book detailing these letters that the author Rilke receives from a young poet named Mr. Kappus, who is seeking advice regarding his poetry. Anyway, in describing the life of the emerging indie musician, Jinnrail lead singer Reade Tilley draws from these letters (in both a clever and non-prick way). At one point in the book, Mr. Kappus writes that he can’t decide whether to be a poet or not. Rilke replies, “The question is not whether to be a poet; it’s whether you can not be a poet. If you don’t have to be a poet then by all means, don’t be a poet. But, if you can’t not be a poet, then the decision is already made for you.”

Elegantly precise; so many of the incredible artists featured on PensEyeView do the things they do not for the glitz, glamour and girls, but simply because they love it (the girls are a nice bonus though). The life of the upcoming musician can be very rewarding, but at the same time it accurately weeds out those who lack the passion to succeed, giving way to artists that truly do. Jinnrail, which also includes Marc Jordan, Matthew Wiley and Lance Causey, is one of those bands full of real enthusiasm for what they do. And they have every right to be excited – They’re good. Really good. Hell, some of their tunes have already been featured in shows on FOX and MTV with plenty of regular airplay on XM, college radio and international radio.

Their latest release, “Million Lifetimes,” debuts next month. It is unadulterated Jinnrail, an essential blend of “New York City street smarts, haunted Southern summers and some laid-back California sunshine.” Tilley describes the collection as “a single life full of numerous lives,” soaring through perspectives and emotions that make the album as thought-provoking as it is satisfying. You can witness this live at one of the bands frequent shows where you should expect to get more than “a burger and a Coke Ñ you get the whole cow, a bucket of Tabasco and as much rocket fuel as you can drink.” If this is the first you’ve heard of Jinnrail, it definitely won’t be your last – believe me. Get into the XXQ’s.

XXQs: Jinnrail (PEV): How and when did Jinnrail first form as a band?

Reade Tilley (RT): JINNRAIL started in Queens, NY back in 2000. I answered an ad: “Band seeking lead singer.” Met and worked with some great guys. Since then a few names have changed, but everyone’s had an impact.

PEV: Growing up, what kind of music were you listening to? Do you remember the first concert you ever attended?

RT: When it was just mom and me, whatever was on the radio in the car, otherwise music didn’t really factor into our lives – until I saw a classical concert on PBS. Then she somehow figured out how to afford a piano and lessons. The local symphony back home in Florida used to do these free (or really cheap) Saturday morning shows, rehearsals really. They’d play in jeans and T-shirts, barefoot or something. That was probably my first concert. When I found rock, I was done with piano lessons.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a profession rather than just a hobby?

RT: Not to sound like a prick, but there’s a bit in Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet” where the young poet, Franz Kappus I think his name is, writes to Rilke and says he can’t decide whether to be a poet or not, and Rilke writes back that the question is not whether to be a poet, it’s whether you can not be a poet and if you don’t have to be a poet then by all means don’t be a poet because it’s a crap life. But if you can’t not be a poet, then the decision is already made for you and you’re fucked so just deal with it. For me, it’s been like that.

PEV: What were your first years in the music business like for the band? When you were first starting out? Did you ever think you’d be where you are now, then?

RT: I never doubted. Of course, somewhere between New York and LA we’ve hit all the clichŽs right on the head Ð the van, infighting, meltdowns, meetings with fat rich guys who could change your life but don’t, who don’t hear a note but who say “I love the band” like they’ve said it a million times, and they have.

PEV: Having had music aligned with FOX, MTV, XM Satellite and college radio. What was it like the first time you heard one of the Jinnrail songs on the radio?

RT: Drinking a beer in a New York bar, trying to chat up the girl serving drinks, a song came on the radio and I thought, “Hey, I know this… Who plays this?” When I realized it was me singing, I didn’t jump around or anything; I was more dumbfounded than anything. But then I started smiling, and I don’t think I stopped all night.

PEV: What can fans expect from your “Million Lifetimes” (debuts February 26, 2008)?

RT: Some might say “multiple personality disorder,” but I don’t hear it. The songs all sound like they’re from the same place to me: a single life full of numerous lives. The person behind the cash register isn’t a retail slave at home. They’re a lover, a maniac, a kid, an addict, cowboy, stockbroker, queen, priest in training… Who knows?

PEV: How is “Million Lifetimes” different than others out today?

RT: I’m not going to compare our stuff to what other artists are doing, but I will say that – like many indie bands out there – we were more concerned with the integrity of the songs than we were with their appeal.

PEV: How is “Million Lifetimes” different from your previous works?

RT: Maybe more ugly and more beautiful.

PEV: Is there a certain environment you surround yourselves in when you sit down to write music?

RT: I never sit down to write music. I’ve done it once and the results weren’t great. It’s just there in my head, like a radio playing…

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your success?

RT: Friends are all happy. Family is happy, even if they don’t really get it.

PEV: Having traveled everywhere, what city do you think offers the best appreciation for music? Why?

RT: All places have different relationships with music. If you’re in the country lying in bed at night listening to the radio, or if you’re walking out of a city club with the sunrise in your face and your ears ringing, it’s all good.

PEV: What is life on the road like for the band? Best and worst parts?

RT: There’s a certain member of the band who produces as much gas as a utility company, and that sucks while driving. Best parts are the people, dive bars, loud music from local bands we meet, girls, not washing dishes or working a register or sitting in an office or whatever else is not playing music.

PEV: Is there an “up and coming” artist or band right now that you think we should all be listening to?

RT: JINNRAIL (and anyone in your local indie music scene)

PEV: Is there someone you have not had the chance to work with or collaborate with, that you would like to?

RT: Sure, tons. Brian Eno, Bjšrk, Sepultura, Lou Reed, Rick Rubin, Roger Waters, Lucinda Williams, Damian Marley, Monica Bellucci…

PEV: When the band is not traveling or performing, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

RT: Motorcycles, reading, writing – and traveling and performing.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of Jinnrail?

RT: I can’t tell you that.

PEV: If we were to walk into your practice studio what would we find?

RT: A lot of things that make loud noises, and some Vietnam War-era recruiting posters from the Chinese army. PEV: What is a live Jinnrail performance like?

RT: You show up expecting a burger and a Coke – you get the whole cow, a bucket of Tabasco and as much rocket fuel as you can drink.

PEV: In one word, describe Jinnrail.

RT: Ready

PEV: So, what is next for you?

RT: Bigger, faster, better. Punch that button on the great glass elevator: Up and Out.

For more information on Jinnrail, check out


1 Comment

  1. Mika said,

    I love Jinnrail. I think that they are an amazingly talented band. They actually did other interviews that were really awesome. People should check them out.

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