90’S INSPIRED INDIE-ROCK FOUR PIECE ‘ PUBLIC UNIVERSAL FRIEND’ ARE READY TO SHOWCASE WHAT THEY HAVE TO OFFER AND WE GOT A CHANCE TO CHAT WITH BAND MOM ‘JODY’! GIVE OUR CHAT A READ NOW!

What are your names? My name is Jody, band mom, songwriter, singer, playing guitar/keys, then over here to my right we have my good friend Phil on percussion, back there is Jarrod on drums, the other Jared is over here to my left on that lead guitar, over there is where the bass player stands when have one, and behind the scenes is our engineer and honorary band member, Chris.

What is the band’s name? Public Universal Friend

How did you come up with the band’s name? The Friend was a Quaker born in 1752 in Rhode Island, whose given name was Jemima Wilkinson. Later in her life, she suffered a severe illness that brought her to the brink of death and it is so reported that after they awoke from their sickness, they told those around them that their name was Public Universal Friend and was genderless, using only they/them pronouns and gender neutral language to describe themselves. The Friend dressed androgynously and preached the message of Jesus, earning a reputation as the “genderless prophet”. As a gender-expansive Jesus believer, this story was astounding to me. The name remained on the list of potential band names for some time, then was eventually apparent that it was the one (holding with it both congruence and irony) so we made the change official this past summer.

What is your genre of music? 90’s inspired indie/alt rock, centered around a punk ethic, born of a background in Appalachian folk. Take that one home to mama.

Give us a little bio about you. Most of the band met one another in our hometown of Maryville, TN (that is, Jared, Chris, and I), then I met Phil in college in 2010, and once I moved up to Indianapolis in 2015, I met Jarrod, who was the one I actually started hashing out many of those early songs with. We all come from a fairly diverse musical background, but have each diverged and converged over the years into a sibling-hood of joy that is now the band you have today.

What made you go into music? I started playing guitar in 2003 when I was 12, but I knew by the time I was 17 or 18 that this is whole music pursuit is what I wanted to do with my life as much as possible. Live music is what hooked me into that ritual of writing, sharing, and communing beneath the sonic landscape, in which time it became its own facet of my spirituality. I love the sound of a good rock band, but more than anything love a human connection and a well written, well performed song. The goal has been to integrate all those together and embody it.

Who are your influences? As a band, our influences are all over the map, but personally a lot of my go to bands began with Switchfoot, Pearl Jam, Coldplay, and then grew into artists more like Radiohead, Big Thief, and Fugazi. I also love the sounds of house music, 90s hip hop, and have a thing for bands willing to drop a dialogue spot on a track. I also find a lot of inspiration from autobiographical books, poetry, art house films, and cerebrally-geared visual art. If I can speak for the other band members, Phil tends to appreciate more of the deep cuts of folk singer songwriters (but has a wild side), Jared is a pop punk kid at heart, the other Jarrod comes from a pop rock background, and Chris and I share a common obsession with early 2000s Switchfoot, which is a whole vibe and has often been represented in our co-production sensibilities.

Who are your influences? As a band, our influences are all over the map, but personally a lot of my go to bands began with Switchfoot, Pearl Jam, Coldplay, and then grew into artists more like Radiohead, Big Thief, and Fugazi. I also love the sounds of house music, 90s hip hop, and have a thing for bands willing to drop a dialogue spot on a track. I also find a lot of inspiration from autobiographical books, poetry, art house films, and cerebrally-geared visual art. If I can speak for the other band members, Phil tends to appreciate more of the deep cuts of folk singer songwriters (but has a wild side), Jared is a pop punk kid at heart, the other Jarrod comes from a pop rock background, and Chris and I share a common obsession with early 2000s Switchfoot, which is a whole vibe and has often been represented in our co-production sensibilities.

Are you signed? I was briefly signed 2-3 years ago on a small Indianapolis label, but have since decided to operate “independently” within the Indianapolis community, which has manifested as a collective of artists helping other artists achieve their goals (my specific microcosm of which is affectionately labeled the Powerpuf Girls). This environment of creative accountability fosters an expectation that we might continue to make art with the leading edge of our potential as creators. My press agent is a fellow songwriter, my content partner is a videographer, and my manager works in corporate artist management. So not signed, but certainly not alone. I suppose it takes a village?

Your album ‘PERENNIALS’ is out now, tell us more about the album. We started recording Perennials about two weeks before the pandemic struck the US, in which time the songs were only about 80% written. I recorded a demo album at home the winter before the pandemic and was only able to try out 2-3 of the songs live before live shows were no longer a possibility. Chris and I recorded Jarrod’s drums in a barn in Noblesville, IN as it was cascading snow in February 2020. We then took a weekend in Louisville, KY to record guitars (safely) with Jared that spring, where I played bass and guitar and Jared laid down some of the most mind bending-ly satiating solos imaginable, which was kind of a first for us as a band. We recorded keys and vocals at a studio in Nashville, TN later that summer, in which case we decided to use some of my home demo parts for the final tracks, including the drum programming for “Firestarter,” bass from several of the songs, and the actual vocals in “Heather” and “Tomboy.” Turns out sometimes you get it right demoing experimentally in the bedroom studio! After adding a fair share of finishing touches, the album was mixed and then finally mastered in mid November, 2020. One hell of a year to record an album.

What is the meaning behind the album? Perennials was born over the last three years, in which time my life flipped pretty much completely upside down. Most of the songs are rooted in identity questions, often ending up showing me I’ve been spending a lot of time asking the wrong ones. The scope of that shift was confoundingly scary at times and laughably cathartic and mind-opening at others. What I realized throughout the entire process of writing and recording has been that my greatest fear has been to be seen for who I am and then rejected. I think more than anything Perennials chronicles the deluge of deconstruction that comes from admitting one’s authentic self to the world, along with the reconstruction that can come when that authenticity is received in love and grace. It’s the “what now” of our last record, “Lower Permission,” which had a lot to do with bravely stepping into authenticity. What does engaging with the true self look like from the inside? The answer to that fear of vulnerbility is that whoever I am at the tender center is valid and that reality ultimately does not rely on the opinions of others. It is only in vulnerability that we can breathe the deep breath of living authentically. That is the chance we have.

Describe each track in two words. Firestarter – risk / visibility Can’t Keep – letting go Continuance – imposter syndrome Healer – live again Soft Choices – experiential validity Lifted – human condition. Poser – self trust Heather – graceful intentionality Pluto – solitary growth Tomboy – I begin Vigil Annie – hope / unity

Will we see a music video for any of the tracks? The video for “Heather” released on 11.20.2020, “Firestarter” on 01.22.2021, and the third is in process, about which I am not privileged to share more because it’s a surprise! The hope is to continue making videos after the album is released as well. We’ll keep going till the People tell us to stop.

What else can we expect in Early 2021? The hope is that sometime in 2021 we can look toward hosting live music again. Once it’s safe to do so, we hope to announce an album release show in Indianapolis as well as a tour (just like everyone else – ’twill be a renaissance of live music; mark my words)

Where do you see yourself now in 5 Years? My hope is that I will become a more integrated person; more at peace with my flaws and my gifts. I hope to be a better friend to my lovely community five years from now. I want to love and respect myself; to set healthy boundaries, stay hydrated, keep my standards high, and to never stop going to counseling appointments.

What quote or saying do you always stick by? My favorite quote, I think ever, is biblical. It goes something like, “all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial” – this helps me reframe situations and choices from a legalistic view to a humanitarian view. The law, authority, and traditions are only as helpful as they are beneficial. Instead of asking, “is this okay?” the question becomes “this is good?”

When you are at a gig, what are 5 things you cannot forget? dignity, humility, presence, patience, breath

Do you have social media accounts so your fans can follow you? You can follow us on the ‘gram as well as on the Facebook and YouTube

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