The first thing that comes to mind with the new release by The Junior Varsity, Cinematographic, is…what’s with the name? “It’s a very eccentric, creative title for an album that represents something abstract and imaginative,” admits keyboard/sax player Nick Dodson. “We figured that if the word was hard to pronounce and people had to learn how to say it, they wouldn’t forget it.”
Anyone who’s heard the music contained in Cinematographic won’t be forgetting the pride of Springfield, Illinois anytime soon. On their latest Victory Records release, Dodson, guitarist Andy Wildrick, vocalist/bassist Asa Dawson, guitarist Sergio Coronado and drummer Chris Birch have dramatically honed their ambitious pop-rock sound, fine-tuning indelible melodies with a clean rhythmic punch. The dramatic improvement is one of the after-effects of almost two years of constant touring. “We really didn’t write anything new during the entire two years we were on the road supporting our last record, Wide Eyed,” Dodson notes. “We were still trying to figure out how we wanted to evolve musically. After a few false starts, we finally found the right direction to take and over the course of four months, we wrote 18-20 songs. That helped Cinematographic sound more cohesive and refined than previous efforts.”
“Once we decided on the 12 songs that would be on the album, we fine-tuned them and made a conscious effort to concentrate on vocals, lyrics and melodies above all else," Dodson adds. “This record is leaps-and-bounds better than [their debut Victory release] Wide Eyed, in terms of the musicianship, songwriting and melodies. We have finally crossed over and became a more mature rock band.”
No song better illustrates The Junior Varsity’s creative growth than the title track. “The song sounds 360 degrees different than I thought we could sound,” Dodson says. “By the end of the recording session, after we added the saxophone and vocal melodies, it had turned into something very special for a band like us—it sounded much more timeless and universal."
This brings up a graduation of sorts for The Junior Varsity. “Over the last two years, everyone went through lot of changes,” Wildrick says. “We were basically trying to figure out how to grow up while, at same time, playing in a rock and roll band. The two things can contradict one another; we had to become comfortable with the fact that we’re nearing our mid-20s while playing in a band that goes on tours for months at a time. We quit questioning ourselves and have learned how to use our strengths in the band and understand where we need to put our efforts most."
Now that the album is done, The Junior Varsity will be bringing their new perspective back on the road. They’re chomping at the bit to turn their longtime fans—as well as newfound ones—on to Cinematographic. “We plan on recreating as much of the sound on the new album as possible,” Wildrick states. “Cinematographic was recorded in a very live and raw manner, and that vibe will definitely come across on the road as well...naturally."