In Julian Calendar’s new single “Last Transmission,” Hannah Hundley recites a series of zeros and ones like a string of code, which in turn sets Lee Herrera’s martial drums skittering through a thicket of rattlesnake maracas. Jeff Jackson’s voice, stentorian and tense, seems to hint at a breaking point as Jeremy Fisher’s rubbery bass and Scott Thompson’s grinding guitars churn through a curtain of static.
When the devils in pursuit are real
Wearing faces of the ones that we feel
When the data has all been tapped
And we’ve had our very last laugh
“’Last Transmission’ is a very politicized song,” Jeff Jackson says of the preview track from Julian Calendar’s latest four-song EP, Crimson Static #4, scheduled for release on Nov. 13. “[The song] is very aware of a sense of danger in the air, a sense of urgency.”
For Jackson and fellow Julian Calendar founder Jeremy Fisher, the past four years have been a time of tension due to “what Trump and the Republicans have put upon us for the past four years,” says Jackson. But it also has been a time of creativity and joy.
In that period, the experimental rock band has recorded four EPs. Each is entitled Crimson Static, and numbered chronologically.
“For me, static [is] the sense of information overload but also a sense of possibility, like you haven’t tuned into the right channel yet,” Jackson says.
For Fisher, static embodies the noise of information and disinformation that has piled up during the last four years, a timespan that could be labeled the Trump era.
Julian Calendar’s soundtrack for that era draws inspiration from another epoch defined by tension and unrest: the late 1970s post-punk explosion in the United Kingdom.
“There’s something about the political protest against Margaret Thatcher that was happening in the U.K. at the time that feels relevant to what we’re going through now,” Jackson says. “And there’s the post-punk idea of taking things apart and putting them back together in different ways that is absolutely relevant.”
“That goes to our process of writing songs,” Fisher says. “[It’s] taking these little fragments and putting them back together and pushing them until we come up with something that is cohesive.”
Jackson hastens to add that the way beats come together in Julian Calendar’s songs point to a hip-hop and dance music influence, courtesy of drummer Lee Herrera and keyboardist and vocalist Nelly Anderson.
“That’s something that we really leaned into and really love,” Jackson says.
Fisher feels Crimson Static #4 is the most political of the band’s four EPs, but Jackson is quick to point out that the band has also recorded love songs and lighter material.
“Cut a Hole,” also on the EP, rides jangly guitars as it exhorts the listener to take action to improve their lot in life.
“It’s about trying to find something positive,” Jackson says, “trying to find this determination to cut through a lot of this.”
Even though “Last Transmission,” references the political train wreck of the last four years, it also seems to have predicted the celebrations that recently swept the world when Joe Biden was declared the next president of the United States. The song seems to envision a world where the populace is awakening from a long nightmare.
They don’t like the way we sound
When our ears are pressed to the ground
When the signals begin to make sense
And we’re sprinting to jump the fence
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