Feature, Interview

A Conversation with John Nowak (Desmond Jones) ahead of Saturday’s Show at The Loving Touch

By Kevin Alan Lamb

Five guys walk into a diner anywhere in America, you can tell that they were up to something the night before, and really only taking a few moments to enjoy a place they’ve never been, before hitting the road on a great adventure that won’t stop until it’s time to. You might be thinking “whoa – that’s a lot of food, is he gonna smash it, or is he gonna save it?” Hard to say right? He could be really hungry… but he looks like a man who will appreciate two of those strips of bacon later, and how about two of those pieces of french toast? Classic Smash or Save dilemma—one of many John Nowak experiences on the open road with his brothers, Desmond Jones.

Two-thousand-and-eighteen was filled with many magical moments for the Grand Rapids five-piece named after The Beatles, and while John’s Snapchat Smash or Save diner chronicles were legendary, Desmond Jones took great strides as family going on their first national tour, playing Founders Fest, Frederik Meijer Gardens, and The Kalamazoo State Theatre.

When I think of Desmond Jones I have the tendency to smile and laugh, because they are some silly cats who radiate joy on stage, but more importantly, throughout their daily lives. Life will put you at odds against yourself, your beliefs, and some of the ones you love, while music is there for you throughout. It’s the beautiful companion who never falls out of love with you, ensuring you always have a home with like-minded and positively spirited people who have survived what you are presently going through.

Sometimes I think I was given a way with words so I could remind others how special they are, and how grateful I am for having them in my life. Musicians have a similar responsibility—making music with all their heart and soul then performing the 34 additional tasks to give them the best opportunity to stand on stage, performing to a crowd. We love music so we have the tendency to overlook the reality and responsibility of being a touring musician, but I assure you it is a job most people would not be comfortable with.

Taking a chance and putting yourself out there is something everyone fears to some extent and these guys do it nearly every night – which is beautiful, because they wouldn’t do that unless they loved the fuck out of it. So let us reciprocate that love and continue to travel across the state, through the night, sleep on floors, in tents in the rain in 38 degrees, dance until it hurts, stretch, and do it all over again because what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

This Saturday Desmond Jones has built an amazing bill featuring Paddlebots (Cortez The Thriller) and Chirp at The Loving Touch in Ferndale, and all three of the bands shred so sweetly even Master Splinter would be nervous. I’ve had the pleasure of working with all three Michigan bands and you’d be foolish to miss anyone of them.

Here’s my conversation with Desmond Jones drummer, and fellow lover of The Avett Brothers, John Nowak.

Guys – this an incredible lineup featuring three Michigan bands who are all really taking off right. How does it feel to be playing in such good company to kick off 2019 before you head off on the road again?

We are grateful and excited to be sharing the stage with Chirp and Paddlebots this weekend! We’ve played multiple shows with both bands over the years and it’s cool to see every project grow and develop in their own ways. The Michigan music scene is producing some incredible bands and artists right now and we feel lucky to be part of a community that lifts each other up and supports everyone’s collective goals and dreams. Being on the road is wonderful, but we miss our Michigan friends when we leave. Playing shows together and hanging out with other Michigan musicians is a highlight of our time spent in Michigan.

I know you crossed off some band bucket list items in 2018, what are some of those you hope to cross off in 2019?

We made great strides in 2018 like playing at Founders Fest, Frederik Meijer Gardens, and The Kalamazoo State Theatre. Some future items we plan to cross off our list in 2019 is releasing our follow-up studio album, playing more festivals around the country, and getting our door in new markets that we haven’t played in yet. We’ve got some great runs lined up and are ready to hit the road.

When can I expect to hear some Avett Brothers covers mixed in?

We are always thinking of fun covers to play and our drummer in particular would love to throw some Avett Brothers in there! We’ve been doing more and more acoustic/unplugged sets- maybe a “Die Die Die” would fit in nicely!

Can you please take a minute and give some love to your TM, and brother Nate Purchase?

We are so lucky to have a guy like Nathan Purchase on our team. He helps keep us organized and on-time on the road in addition to taking professional photographs, organizing and selling our merch, parallel parking like a champion, and more. To have a successful band it takes not just a team, but a family. Nate is just as committed to this group as we are and we don’t take having someone like him working for us for granted. Our manager Kevin McKay is also an incredible asset to our band and business. We all have the same dream and goal and love working together. Shout out to our booking agent Carly Shields from Ever Upward Entertainment as well for sending us on the road!

I always enjoy following your road adventures, what and where was your best off day on tour last year?

Days off on the road are a great way to relax, decompress and have some fun while on an exhausting but rewarding tour. Some highlights in the last year are our days of in Asheville, North Carolina. We stayed with our good friend Cody Klein a few days and got to eat a JL (bassist) home-cooked meal, go for some hikes in the Appalachian Mountains, and set up a jam in his family room. We love to check out the local diners, record shops, and hiking trails when we have the time! Traveling with the band is a great way to see this amazing country.

What can fans look forward to on your release radar?

We will be releasing our second full-length studio album in the next few months! We can’t wait to get some new music into our fans ears. We’ll be pressing it on vinyl for the first time (preorder coming soon) which we’re very excited about. We are also working on releasing some live recordings from this past summer along with more videos and digital content. We are constantly recording and looking forward to sharing our new music with the world.

Grab your $8 ticket, take the ride. Just in case you were listening for one, This Is A Good Sound.

Paddlebots: 9-945
Chirp: 10-11
DJ: 11:15-12:30

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