There’s a small rebellion brewing at this week’s Battle of the Bands, sponsored by Bringing Youth Towards Equality (BYTE) in partnership with the Frostbite Music Festival.
After the youth bands (30 and under) square off, JJS3 will close the proceedings with a metal set.
“By letting us headline after the Battle of the Bands, that would give kids something to watch and aspire to,” says Jonas Smith, lead singer and bassist of JJS3.
He smiles, imagining the impression the band will leave on a youth audience. “OK, if we keep practising, we can have long hair and tattoos like those guys.'”
Smith doesn’t think of his band as merely heavy metal, but rather something that extends the rock ‘n’ roll genre to newer, more thrilling places.
“Rock ‘n’ roll when it first started was controversial,” he explains. “It was loud and fast and made teenagers act inappropriately, and that’s pretty much what we do. You always have to one-up the previous generation.
“I get pretty consistent comments from people who ‘aren’t even into that kind of music,’ who really enjoy our show, just because they expect us to be a lot more heavy and extreme and we’re not. We just play loud rock and roll.”
JJS3, named for Smith’s initials, is his creative outlet. After producing an EP on which he sang and played all the instruments, he’s now teamed up to play live with guitarists Eric Ireland and Mike Jones, and drummer Yves Paradis, all members of the acclaimed Whitehorse heavy metal band Nemesis.
Smith describes them as “guys who get off work and practise on guitar or drums for five hours a night because they want to.”
After touring his EP with the band, Smith discovered a drawback with self-recording.
“I realized, from some of the doors that I couldn’t get open, that the EP was not an accurate representation of what we do live.”
Smith has received a grant from the Yukon Film and Sound Commission to record an album with JJS3, even though applying for funding went against his personal philosophy.
“I always figure that if you’re good enough you shouldn’t need public money. But the reality is it takes a lot of money to make these things happen on a large enough scale to make an impact,” he says.
In addition to money to record a professional album, Smith sees another benefit in receiving funding.
“It gives hope to other bands and other genres. You don’t have to have a fiddle in your band or an acoustic guitar to get government funding in this town.”
Smith admits JJS3 doesn’t play standard festival music.
“The Battle of the Bands will be mainly a youth audience, and they will appreciate what we’re doing more than the people who are there for the world music or some of the more avant-garde stuff.”
The FrostBYTE Battle of the Bands takes place Friday, February 18 in the Yukon College cafeteria, beginning at 7:30 pm.