After canceling most of their U.S. tour last fall due to health issues, JR JR is back in active duty again. And there’s been plenty of activity even as the group has been off the road.
JR JR’s June 16 concert in its home town of Detroit will be its first since Oct. 14 in San Francisco, after which the tour was scrapped when doctors prescribed vocal rest for the group’s Josh Epstein. Musical partner Daniel Zott tells Billboard that Epstein is fully recovered and that the two will be releasing a new album this year, with plenty of additional material in progress.
“We took the time [off] to just reassess everything,” Zott says. “We got to a place where Josh and I fell in love with writing, just him and me again. On the last record — and the one that’s about to come out — there was a lot of co-writing, with members of our band or songwriters who were friends of ours. But when we took the break Josh and I realized that we haven’t just sat down, me and him, in a long time and wrote a song. We really tried to get back to that and enjoy that process, like Stella got her groove back in a way. We’ve got a bunch of exciting stuff we’re working on.”
That reassessment brought about plenty of change for Zott and Epstein. JR JR parted ways amicably last year with Warner Bros. Records, with it released three albums and two EPs since 2011. Warners let the duo take its new album, still untitled, with it, and JR JR is exploring “a bunch of different” options for releasing the album, with a hoped-for late summer or early fall release.
“It’s us taking back a little control and realizing that we like steering the ship a little more,” Zott says of the set, which had 12 tracks and may grow to 13 with the arrival of “one of those last-second songs.” “When we were at Warner Bros., you can’t steer the ship. If it goes really well it’s awesome — and it did at certain points. But in the end it was just not working out for us. We didn’t see eye to eye and it was a mutual ‘Let’s not work on this anymore’ situation, and they didn’t screw us over on the way out.” That also led to what Zott calls “a total reset” of JR JR’s operations on all levels.
“We kind of went back to square one about, ‘What do we want to do? What are our new goals?'” Zott notes. “We’re in a better place than when we started of course, but we felt like we needed to sort of rethink things if we wanted to continue to grow and to learn new things. So we took inventory of everything we did, and it’s been very freeing. We’re in a really good place now.”
The Detroit concert is JR JR’s only show on the books now. Zott says the group wants to get the new album out and give fans time to absorb it before JR JR hits the road during 2019, for what will be the group’s 10th anniversary.”Which is crazy,” Zott says. “We’ll have to put something together for that, too.”