Electronic rock band Jimkata will make their Arizona performance debut at the Gem & Jam Musical Festival on Saturday, Feb. 5, with Bonfires, an album that wrestles with the highs and lows of identity crises.
Lead singer and guitarist Evan Friedell began working on the lyrics for Bonfires after the band split in 2017. Friedell, drummer Packy Lunn, and guitarist/keyboardist Aaron Gorsch wanted a break from tour life. The music industry had put more pressure on them than they could bear. Yet, the breakup left Friedell feeling lost.
“I identify so much with being a musician so when that was taken away, it was really confusing and how the hell am I going to make a living?” Friedell said. “How am I going to make a living and do what I love?”
Friedell said the album wrestles with identity during the transition into full adulthood. The album is even more relevant when put into the context of “The Great Resignation,” the current trend where groups of workers are leaving their jobs en masse. While there are a number of reasons why people are quitting their jobs, the pandemic certainly heightened doubts people had about their occupation. With everyone trying to survive COVID, the question has arisen: Do I love what I’m doing?
But the album itself doesn’t take its subject matter to a dark place. The music gives the listener a sense of hope during a time of uncertainty by accompanying the lyrics with high -energy beats and synthesizers. It’s hard not to bob your head to the Bonfires single Skinny Dipping, a song that clearly delivers the message of resilience.
“We take a lot of influences from contemporary music, like hip hop, a lot of funk, a lot of EDM type stuff but at the end of the day, we’re still three dudes with guitars and drums,” drummer Packy Lunn said.
Lunn said this album was the most intentional project the band has created together. Their time apart revitalized an appreciation for the art they once collaborated on, compelling them to build on the work fans loved. Without a deadline, the group was free to take more risks.
“We’d never had the luxury of this much time before to create something that we were really, really, really proud of,” Lunn said.
The band also worked with a team to produce music videos for each song on the album, all of which are available on Youtube.
Jimkata’s early plans to tour with Bonfires were thwarted by the onset of the pandemic. Yet, this unforeseeable occurrence made the album even more significant.
“I remember walking around while we were living in LA during this lockdown period and just feeling chills in a way,” Fridell said. “Like, wow, I had no idea that what we had worked on two years ago or whatever would be this relevant right now.”
The three-day Gem & Jam Festival features dozens of acts over three days at the Pima County Fairgrounds.