Not Tonight Josephine: Roaring into the alt-rock spotlight
(All this week, we’re spotlighting tbt*’s 2011 Ultimate Local Artists on Soundcheck. Today: Not Tonight Josephine.)
Tacked to the wall of Not Tonight Josephine’s rehearsal space, in a converted storage shed on the fringe of Plant City, is their plan for world domination.
Well, sort of. It’s actually a zigzag map of an upcoming spring tour. But it will take the band farther from home than they’ve ever been, from Boston to Chicago to Arkansas. By year’s end, they hope to hit the West Coast. After that? Europe and beyond.
“We’ve had a few people ask if this kind of tour would be too daunting for us, because we’ve never really gone on tour,” says singer David Easlick. “But I think our mindset’s always been, go big or go home. We’re not going to stay in our 20s forever. We don’t want to take 10 years, like Three Days Grace and other big rock bands. We want to do it in five years.”
It’s a lofty goal, but can you blame them? With thousands of YouTube views and Facebook likes from as far away as Russia, Germany and Brazil, Not Tonight Josephine are confident they can be the rock band that finally makes it out of Tampa. Their music is high-energy, radio-ready alternative rock — big, loud and crammed with accessible hooks. In just over two years, they’ve become one of the most reliable concert draws in Tampa Bay, bringing hundreds of young fans to some shows.
Not Tonight Josephine’s swift rise began in 2009, when they won a local contest to play at the 97X Memorial Day Backyard BBQ. Each member had played in other bands for years, but together, they had barely any recorded output — they had won the contest on the strength of one fairly polished 30-second clip. But it was enough to win the contest, and some influential fans in the process.
After that, the gigs came fast and furious. They opened for Framing Hanley, Sick Puppies and Skindred, and played a NASCAR race in Miami. In December, they played for 3,000 fans at 97X Next Big Thing at the 1-800-Ask-Gary Amphitheatre.
For an independent band, they take a strikingly levelheaded approach to their craft. The guys formed a legal partnership, Not Tonight Josephine LLC, to help them make and settle business decisions. Each member has his own behind-the-scenes specialty: Guitarist Jake Moore does marketing and publicity, bassist Evan Foley and drummer Randy Ayers handle merch and graphic design, Easlick covers booking and social media, and guitarist Adam Aungst is a jack of all trades (literally, in some cases — a professional cabinet-maker, he helmed the renovation of the rehearsal space). Even a decision as small as sending a promo CD to a radio station merits a pros-and-cons discussion: Can we afford to eat that loss?
“It keeps us busy nonstop,” Moore says. “But if you don’t have every aspect of it down, somebody else is going to do it better.”
The back-end work is exhausting, but it pays off. They’ve talked to a few labels, but have no plans to sign unless they feel completely comfortable with the fit.
On April 29, they’ll release their first full-length album, All On The Horizon, which will include a punk cover of Ace of Base’s All That She Wants. They never wanted to do a cover, they said, but this one popped up organically during rehearsals, and has become a fan favorite in concert. So far, various clips of All That She Wants have been viewed more than 60,000 times on YouTube, which may expedite the band’s goal of going national.
“There’s nothing that says we can’t do it,” Ayers says. “We don’t act like a small-town band. If you think big, big things are going to happen to you.”
-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*. Photo/video by Kathleen Flynn, tbt*.