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Onelinedrawing pic #1 by Mel House

Jonah Matranga is having a banner year, it seems. The Volunteers, the sophomore full-length from his solo act, Onelinedrawing, was released in the spring to much critical acclaim and lots of indie-fanboy fawning (myself included). On the eve of the album's release, Onelinedrawing played a transcendent show at the SXSW music festival Jade Tree showcase that left the audience stunned. Water and Solutions, the final (and greatest) album from Jonah's previous band Far, arguably one of the defining moments of emo-core rockery, has been recently reissued by Sony in a CD+DVD package with some concert footage and other goodies. And, as if that wasn't enough, later this year we will be treated to the major-label debut of Jonah's new band, Gratitude -- having heard some of the tracks from the project, I can safely tell you, dear reader, that there is some excellent stuff on the way from Mr. Matranga and company...but I'll leave the telling to him.

SCR: So, Jonah, what's been happening with you in the year and a half since we last spoke on the record?
Jonah: Uhm...too much [laughs]. One band ended...New End Original ended -- well, it never really became a band. We sort of made one record that was all songs I had written before the band started, and we thought we were gonna make more, which we never really did -- but that's okay. So that's considered a stray Onelinedrawing record... "New End Original" is an anagram for "Onelinedrawing," so it just turned into a weird other idea. Anyway, Onelinedrawing just finished this record The Volunteers, and I'm really excited about that -- we did a lot of recording all over the country, at shows and homes and stuff, so I'm excited about that, and I'm singing in a new band called Gratitude [laughs] -- we just signed to Atlantic Records...who knows where that's gonna go. So, lots and lots of busy things.

No kidding. So what's the significance of the title of the new record, The Volunteers? Does that mean anything in particular?
It's about choice. It's about how hard it is to choose, and that choice requires some sort of commitment that's uncomfortable and I'm...basically, I didn't think about making the record about choice, but after writing the record I realized that I'm thinking a lot about that right now. And we'll see where it leads.

-- Onelinedrawing pic #2


Onelinedrawing -- http://www.thevolunteers.net/

Gratitude -- http://www.gratitudemusic.com/

Jonah Matranga -- http://www.jonahmatranga.com/

Jade Tree Records -- http://www.jadetree.com/

Photos by Tim Owen.

From what I've heard of the new record, it's a lot more "rock" than [previous Onelinedrawing album] Visitor. Was that a conscious choice, or just the way things grew out of the songwriting?
Yeah, just the songs, really. There are songs of Visitor, like "Your Letter," that are super-loud when I tour with a band...heavier than anything on The Volunteers, actually. So, to me, songs are songs and they may end up going everywhere, but the songs on The Volunteers ended up being recorded in more of a "rock" way, but then again on Thriller, the New End Original record, there was a ton of really rockin' stuff, and if I had called it a Onelinedrawing record, everybody would have been "wow, a really rockin' Onelinedrawing record." To me, regardless of the band name -- Far, Onelinedrawing, New End Original, Gratitude, whatever -- it's just ideas, whether I'm working on it by myself or with other people, it's just what comes out... I love all of it, so yeah, it's just what comes out. There was no conscious "effort" to make a more "rock" record, it's just what happened.

Onelinedrawing pic #2 On the tour for this record, are you going to be touring with a band, or solo, or a little of both? And what's up with the toy? [The "toy" in question is the neat little R2-D2 drum machine that Jonah is famous for using live.]
A little of both. The toy is broken and I've got an R2 Pez dispenser that Jeremy, the guitarist in the band I'm touring with right now, gave me, and someone else just gave me a line drawing of R2 [pulls out the framed drawing and shows it off -- it was pretty cool] that I'll put up in memoriam. With R2, the body and the buttons have always gone "bleep-bleep" and stuff, but the soul of R2 has always been a Casio -- this old Casio keyboard that I've got, and I married them in strange ways. So the Casio lives on, and if the spirit is the Casio, and you believe in the reincarnation of toys, his new body is the iPod. Maybe I'll find another body for the spirit of the Casio, but R2 is a studio musician now. My favorite R2 beats in a long time -- maybe ever -- are on "A Ghost" which is on The Volunteers, and I don't think I'll ever be able to make the Casio mate with that picture of the little toy, so yeah, he's a studio musician now.

His memory lives on.
Absolutely. Hopefully the final prequel will be better than the first two and he'll get his due.
I'm with you on that, bro.

I heard some interesting news about a video project you're working on in conjunction with the new album -- you're doing a video for each track, right?
Yeah, Darren Doane and I just got to talking, and we had ideas for each of the songs, and we just thought "let's really try to do that, let's do a video for each song on the record," so I went down and spent four days and we shot a ton of footage. We shot a living room show, from which footage for two videos will come, and then the living room show is also preserved in it's entirety. I'm really excited about it; we did some really interesting things, and it was just really fun to work that hard with a good friend.

I also heard some interesting info about Sony re-releasing Water and Solutions in a deluxe DVD format. Can you give us the details on that, and also how you feel about Sony sort of getting behind you that way now, whereas they may not have before?
I have to say first of all that I think Sony always really tried, I just don't think any of them knew what to do with us, and frankly I don't think a major label would do any better with me as Onelinedrawing now. I guess...I don't know...I'm just kind of a misfit, I guess, or something. We'll see how Gratitude does, but I don't know, it's always been exciting for me to just make things, so I'm really happy that they're paying any attention now. They pay attention to you, they're just confused, and I don't expect that it's going to sell a million records or anything. It's going to be the original Water and Solutions record, and then an additional DVD with it that will have some live stuff, and some old stuff that never really got out to people as much as it should have, and I hope that at some point we do a really more inclusive stand-alone DVD, with a bunch of live bootleg stuff, and old demos... I don't know, I'd like to really preserve the whole art of that band because I'm really, really proud of that stuff. I'm excited for it to come out. If the Gratitude record comes out this year, I'll have three records coming out this year, which is a lot. But I'm happy about it -- I'm really grateful. END


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