The following is an interview with Jay Stolar, lead singer from New York City indie band Julius C.  The band just wrapped up a tour of 30 shows in 30 days throughout New York, and are in the midst of releasing their new album OK, OK. Jay and Dan from Indie Band Guru discussed all things Julius C, the transcript of which you can read below…:

Dan: Ok, let’s get started.  Jay you recently finished a stretch of 30 shows in 30 days.  How tired are you?

Jay: Pretty tired, man.  I’m catching up now, it’s definitely getting better in terms of feeling more rested but… I’m pretty happy with it.  It was the most fun as a band I think we’ve ever had in New York, so it was pretty awesome.

Dan: And you’ve never done anything like that before?

Jay: No, not that extensive.  We did this thing last year called pop up shows, where we’d just show up randomly and do a show.  It’s similar to what we did this year but it was a lot less frequent.  We went to Times Square and played, Bryant Park, Washington Square Park, by Astor Place, we performed with a bunch of people in Star Wars gear, with those long plastic things that people in the death star wear. But this one, this was a lot more intense.  Just every single day, doing something crazy, and at least 15 of the shows were full band shows.  The rest were either a couple of us or small groups doing crazy things, top of the Empire state Building was pretty nuts… it was fun.

D: Did you play a different set every time?

J: We would change little things in the set, but it depends.  The full band shows, it was a similar set, but a solo would be different, or we’d throw in a cover… just change different things.  We actually had two fans of ours from Argentina who came to every single show.  It was pretty crazy.  I took them to a jazz show, and we all went out to dinner at the end of the month.  It was just insane! I mean they came to every show, we felt pretty lucky about that.

D: You need a lot of stamina as a fan to pull that off too.

J: Yeah man, it was pretty intense.

D: So what were some of the highlights and lowlights of the tour?  The best shows, what you enjoyed the most, things you struggled with, or anything that just didn’t work out?

J: Well I’d say the two best things were… the Rockwood shows were amazing.  The last show at Rockwood, there were like 120 people there on a Wednesday night at 10:00.  It felt really good to hit the end of the month and know that even after we played for so long people were still coming out.  As an up and coming band it was great to see that if you put the effort in, if you go out there and meet new people and play for new people, people will come and see your band, which we weren’t quite sure about.  This was literally the second to last night when we had that Rockwood show.

Some of the low points… let me think.  I think there was a Sunday show, the last Sunday in September, we had a show earlier in the day on Long Island, and there were six people at the show.  At this point we had to book shows that to a degree we didn’t have to promote, we could just show up and play.  We definitely had one day when we drove all the way out to Long Island and played for pretty much no one, and then came back and did another show that night in the city, so that was pretty crazy.

D: Yeah, that sounds really tough.  You mentioned you had those two fans from Argentina at every show… Did you find that a lot of the shows were attended by old fans, did many other fans come to repeat shows?

J: I’d say… we had a lot of fans at the Rockwood shows, then we did a residency at the Ace hotel, which was really, really awesome.  Just a great vibe, good people, the room was really nice, and we had a lot of fans come out to that.  But I would say the first two shows were more old fans, and then by the last week of shows, we had one in Spike Hill, Brooklyn, where over 100 people came, new people there, and new people at the Ace Hotel show, and then at the last Rockwood show, I had never seen at least 30 people at that show.  And they were singing the words, they knew the songs.  So yeah, it was a mix, but by the end there were definitely some people we picked up along the way.

D: That’s great.  What did you use to promote this tour?

J: We did a few things… we did some pretty hard core online promotions, with the obvious stuff; facebook, myspace, and twitter.  And we had a sponsorship for the month, a Silly Bandz sponsorship.  You know, those bands that you put on your wrist.  So Silly Bandz sponsored our tour, and that was our big promotion for the month, it was basically like “come to a show and you’ll get free silly bands”.  And then I actually did find more help, the last show was sponsored by Budweiser, the show on the 29th at Rockwood, so that brought a lot of people out.  So basically our approach was to tell everyone we knew, and then pushing it on blogs, and we would talk to whoever we could get to talk about it.  We were mentioned in New York Daily Magazine, Pop Matters talked about us.  Then we just pitched the fact that you’d get free Silly Bands and cheap beer when you came to our show.

D: Not a bad selling point.  Tell me a bit about how Julius C came to be.

J: Julius C started… well the name came from my grandfather, his name was Julius Charles Willett, and he died about a year before I was born, and his mother actually died the day I was born.  So my parents named me after him, but people called him Jay.  So as opposed to Julius, they call me Jay.  So I’ve had that name for a while but didn’t really have a band much at all.  And then in college I met the bass player Mike Tuccillo at NYU.  Basically in high school Mike had had a band so… the beginnings of Julius C were really me coming in with a bunch of songs and the band name and meeting up with Mike and a band that he had grown up with since he was in elementary school. Jason, the keyboardist, and Mike had been playing together for over 20 years now.  And pretty soon we started writing our own songs all together… it was a very explosive four or five years.  Within 5 years we toured… had to be at least one 50 day tour, played South by Southwest, played up in Montreal, got some people to sponsor a tour for us to go out to LA, then we drove up to Mammoth California, two tons of snow piled on top of our van, totaled our van, we had to get a new one.  We’ve done a lot of stuff… then we ended up moving into a house together to record one album and that didn’t work.  So we almost gave up, then decided to give it one more shot, moved into a new house in Staten Island, and we wrote the most recent album and came out alive.  It started out as a college band and quickly became something professional and full time.  We got kinda burnt out, almost broke up, then gave it one more shot and it happened.  That’s the Julius C story in a nutshell.

D: So are you guys all full time musicians?

J: Yeah… I mean we all work full time in music. I work privately with people that are interested in writing songs, helping them with songwriting.  Some teenagers, some adults.  The other guys play in other people’s bands, everyone does a little teaching here and there.  Mike does production, he produces bands and artists.  We’re all doing stuff within music, and then we do Julius C as well.

D: Very cool.  From what I’ve heard, your style is very diverse.  You go everywhere from rock, to funk, to pop, and you hit every other genre along the way.  Was there a conscious effort to do this, or did you start with one style and just kind of branch out?

J: It’s really funny, we get asked that a lot actually.  The reason the record sounds the way it does is kind based on the story I was telling about the formation of the band.  As a band we had gone through a lot of different sounds on our own, we had started off I’d say as more of a singer songwriter pop music sound because it was just me bringing in songs and the band arranging them.  Then we started writing together and it became more of a funk sound, then as that developed and we went on the road. We must have played 150 shows in one year as a way more heavy funk band.  And it just got more and more aggressive to the point where it was almost like Led Zeppelin funk.  At that point we were having a lot of fun but we weren’t really satisfied with the music we were writing.  It was a lot of fun to play, but it wasn’t necessarily what we wanted to be putting out to the world.  So by the time we went to write the album we’d been through so much that the approach we took was “look, if anybody is extremely passionate about a song, bring it into the group and we will support you and your song and take them as far as they could go”.  And the majority of the songs were brought in by myself and Mike.  We had both just gone through really intense break ups with girls and had a lot of songs.  And the reason the music sounded the way it did… like the song Party and Dance in Manhattan is a straight up funk pop song.  It has modern lyrics but sorta sounds like early an Michael Jackson, off the wall Indie song.  That’s because that was the vibe I had for the song, and I brought it in, and we took it as far as we could based on what the song needed.  Then a song like Don’t Want Anybody, a rock/pop Indie song, that’s just where it started and we thought, “alright, let’s just go wherever the song takes us.”  So there definitely wasn’t a thought of an overarching musical style for the album from the beginning.  It was more here’s what all the songs are about and this was the story of what’s going on for us emotionally throughout the song, and the music is just gonna be whatever we’re most inspired by.

D: It’s refreshing to hear that you guys write without being so obsessed with one style; and the music ends up as a great eclectic mix of genres. Too many bands are very, very set on writing just one style of music.

J: Thank you so much.  You know it’s definitely a challenge because the majority of music listeners want to be able to classify something.  Not to say our music can’t be classified, but it’s not something we try to do.  It just is what it is and we just hope that people enjoy it.

D: Absolutely. Tell us a bit about what you’ve been using to help fund your album release… Kickstarter I believe it’s called.

J: is a really cool site where artists get a page, similar to a myspace or facebook fan page.  It’s not particularly a social network, but something like that.  Basically what the site is… an artist has a page and makes a video to present a project that you’re looking to get funded.  And it’s not like you’re just raising money for nothing, you give prizes for every pledge.  So if you go to our site and you pledge $250… for $250 Mike would come to your home and cook you a private meal, or you could come with me on a private bike tour of New York City.  For $500 I have a ping-pong table in my apartment, we’d bring it to your place and have a ping pong party. For I think $2000 we’ll come with a full PA and throw down a concert for you and whoever else you want.  There’s a bunch more prizes, you could check it out at There’s a ton of artists who have raised a pretty impressive amount of money through the site.  The cool thing about the site is that you only get money if you reach your goal. So our goal right now is to raise $5000 to support the release of our album.  We’re doing pretty well, within a week we’re almost 50% there.

D: That’s great.  I’m all out of questions… anything else you want to say?

J: There’s one more piece I haven’t mentioned that’s pretty awesome.  I think it’s been one of the most interesting things that we’ve done so far, and has also funded the creation of our album and our music video.  We do a program in the summer, where we have a summer camp touring company.  We go to summer camps and work with kids, teaching them singing and music.  Then at night we put on a concert where we’ll play Julius C Songs and then the kids will come on stage where they’ll play some cover songs with us.  So the show will open Julius C plays some songs, kids will come on and rock out, then we close with Julius C.  Last summer we had 32 dates, and we’ve had some pretty big sponsors in the past, we’ve had Crocs, Polaroid, and Puma.  It was on the summer camp show we got the idea for the Silly Bandz sponsorship.  I think as a business we’ve learned that we really have to go out there and make whatever it is that we want to happen, happen ourselves.  And in the meantime we’re also making connections to other people in the music industry, to eventually bring on other business partners, you know managers, booking agents, labels, all of the major players in a bands’ career.  But for us it’s been primarily about pursuing whatever dreams we have for the band and just going after them as a unit until… either we achieve them or realize well maybe we shouldn’t be focusing on this.  It took us a long time, but that really sums up the business of the band and how we work as a unit.

-interview by Dan Schwartz of Indie Band Guru

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.