Rock On The Rise: Jocelyn And Chris Arndt

Devastatingly powerful vocals and retro-rock guitar, with lyrics that run the gamut between vulnerable to all-out venomous, siblings Jocelyn and Chris Arndt’s music is a modern throwback to authentic album-rock.

On January 11th, 2017, the band released a brand new live album titled 30,000 Miles. The album features recordings from across the country, with performances from legendary venues and music festivals.

The duo is currently gearing up to release their next full-band rock effort, Go, due out in early April.

Rock Confidential caught up with Jocelyn to talk about her musical passions, working in a band with her brother and what inspires her as an artist.

Thank you for taking time out for this! How are things going?

Thank you for having us for a chat! Things are going great. Busy, but that’s just the way we like it.

Please tell me a little about the band and what being an artist means to you.

Sure! We’re Jocelyn and Chris Arndt, a couple of sibling blues-rockers from Upstate New York. We grew up playing and writing our own music together in our living room, and gradually that evolved into the on-the-go music career we’re working on right now. When we perform live, we do so with our producer and drummer David Bourgeois and our bassist Kate Sgroi. Sometimes we have an even bigger crew than that with us (like a Hammond organ player or a saxophonist or somebody like that), but for the most part we travel and play as a four-piece band. We perform the original blues-rock music that Chris and I write. What does it mean to us to be an artist? That’s a tough question. I think it means something a little bit different every day. For the most part, though, it means we get to travel the country, meet awesome people, and spend our lives sharing the music we pour our hearts and souls into. And if that sounds cheesy, it’s because it totally is. In a good way.

Who are your musical influences? Was there a particular artist that had more of an impact?

Chris and I each draw from a different pool of influences, which ends up being really cool when we write music. We’ve always got different kinds of ideas that end up building onto each other. He’s really into epic guitarists. Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Roger Waters, Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughan – the greats. He studies them, tries to pick apart their styles and their personas. I do the same thing, but with huge voices. I’m drawn to those voices that are so distinctive that you can hear three seconds of them singing and know exactly who they are without seeing their face or hearing their name announced by the DJ. You know who I’m talking about: Adele, Aretha Franklin, Pat Benatar, Janis Joplin, Freddie Mercury, Grace Potter. Together, Chris and I draw from these different influences to create our own style. And we’re really open to anything. We’re constantly listening to new bands and looking for new inspiration.

What inspires you as an artist?

Oh man. Everything! The cool thing about songwriting as a team is that Chris and I can come to the table with different sources of inspiration and kind of pool them together, compound them into something entirely different than what either of us were thinking separately. I know a lot of songwriters who are very open about writing music based on the circumstances of their own life, and we try to do a little bit of that. But we also look to other places for inspiration. Like, literally anywhere. Movies, books, television shows, the people we pass walking down the street. Candy wrappers. Billboards. Places we visit. I think you can really write a song about anything… trust me. We’ve got a song called “Dry Cereal.”

Do you write music around lyrics, does the music inspire lyrics – or a little of both?

Definitely a little of both. Each song comes into existence its own way. Generally how it ends up breaking down is that I write the lyrics and melody, and Chris writes the chord progressions and instrumentation. Sometimes I’ll come up with a lyric I like, or a melody line that I think could turn into something cool. Sometimes Chris is messing around and figures out a really neat combination of chords, or he writes a really cool guitar riff. We take the individual pieces we come up with to each other, and from there, we rework them and keep adding to them until they become something that ends up being half-me, half-him.

What are your thoughts on how new music is promoted now?

The music world right now is going through a lot of changes. And of course, that definitely presents some challenges that maybe weren’t really in the picture a few decades ago. Things aren’t like they used to be; the chances of a giant record label solving all your problems are pretty slim these days. But the good news is, outside of the normal record-label model that used to be all the rage, there are a lot of independent artists like us carving out a place for themselves in the new music world. There are just so many more unique avenues for self-promotion now than there used to be. Social media, internet music sharing, independent press outlets… there’s a whole new frontier out there. Our manager David has said for a while now that there’s never been a better time in the music industry to effect the most self-driven success. All you’ve gotta do is put in the work and focus on making your music the best it can be.

Has it been easy to stay motivated as you’ve grown your music career?

Honestly, yeah. That’s not to say it hasn’t been difficult – building a music career is the hardest thing we’ve ever done. But it’s our dream. Why would we ever even think of giving up on that? Sure, chasing that dream is a ton of work, and I suppose there are other things we could be doing. But honestly, when we’re up on that stage under the lights, or writing new music, or recording in the studio, it’s difficult to imagine doing anything else. We just think about where we are, and we focus on where we want to be, and somehow that makes all the hard work seem a whole lot less daunting. We’re also very lucky to have an incredible group of people behind us every step of the way, and they’re all life-savers. We couldn’t do any of this without our band, our team, and our parents.

Does being related ever present any challenges or do you see it as an advantage?

I would say it’s definitely an advantage, and any challenges it might present are totally outweighed by how awesome it is to be living my music dream with my brother, fellow dreamer, and best friend. Sure, we get into the normal sibling arguments. That’s a given. We squabble. But it’s not a very frequent thing, and most of the time it’s about something stupid. And we never stay mad at each other for very long. There are too many songs to be written or shows to be played to waste time being angry. Plus, the fact that we grew up in the same house means that we each know the other better than anyone else. This comes in handy when we’re songwriting, because we’re never embarrassed to present ideas to each other. We’ve seen each other at our best and at our worst, and we’ve been in this together from the start.

Have you had the opportunity to share the stage with any bands you’ve found to be particularly cool?

Yes, a ton of them! Honestly, I think all the bands we play with are generally pretty cool. That’s one of the best parts about being a musician: you get to meet so many cool, creative people from all sorts of awesome places. If I had to pick some particularly cool bands that we’ve played with though, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the time we played Mountain Jam with Robert Plant and Grace Potter. We grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, so getting to meander our way around Robert Plant’s gear as his crew was setting up was a near-religious experience. And Grace Potter has been an idol of mine since middle school. We’ve also gotten to play with the Gin Blossoms, which have always been one of my favorite bands, so that was amazing. Oh, and Delta Rae! We played with them for a few shows last summer. If you haven’t seen them live, I highly recommend you get yourself a ticket at your earliest convenience. Their live show is so cool.

What has been the most exciting part about the band so far?

That’s so hard! I don’t think either of us could pick a “most exciting part” – it’s all exciting to us. But just so that you don’t think I’m avoiding the question, I’ll try to pick a few. One great aspect of the whole thing is getting to collaborate with some amazingly talented people. On Edges, our producer David managed to arrange for G Love to play his signature blues harmonica on one of our tracks, “Hot.” We also got Danny Louis from Gov’t Mule to come in and tear it up on the Hammond Organ for a good portion of the album. They’re both such awesome players, and they’re also really nice people to boot.

Another amazing part of this whole crazy music thing we do is having our music played on the radio. The freaking radio! I remember the first time Chris and I heard our tunes being played on the radio. We were in high school, sitting in my dad’s car before classes started for the day, huddled over the dials. And when our song came on, we freaked out. Now, we’re being played on over 200 stations across the US and Canada, and the reaction hasn’t really changed. Our first full-length album Edges managed to break both the FMQB AAA Top 200 Albums and Singles Charts, and it stayed on the Relix Jamband Top 30 for six months. And just last week, we found out that our live album, 30,000 Miles, debuted on that Relix Top 30 at #8. Freaking #8! In between Phish and The Rolling Stones! Is this real life?! But actually, though. Somehow this is real life, and we’re living it. Shoutout to all the radio peeps out there for giving our music a listen and a chance. We’re excited to see what you all think of this next album.

What do you hope people take away from your music?

Hmm… this might be a weird answer, but I hope they take away anything. Something. I hope people come away from one of our shows having felt something as a result of our music. I hope we’ve managed to translate some of the feeling and energy we put into our songs to them. That’s really all we want: to share our emotions with others through our music. We want people to feel stuff. Call us hippies, but that’s the goal. And I’d be happy if someone walks away with something, anything, because it means we gave them something.

What are you most proud of when it comes to the band?

I’m proud of every single thing we’ve ever done as a band. Everything. Every bar show we played as awkward high-schoolers, every road trip we’ve survived together, every recording we’ve released. It’s a crazy thing, looking back and seeing all we’ve accomplished in just the span of a few years. It wasn’t long ago when our goal was to be played once on the radio. Now we’ve got stations all over the place who know us, who we can call up and thank for spinning our tracks on the air. A little while ago, Chris and I were talking about how great it would be to record an album. Now, with the help of our amazing team, we’ve got an EP, our first full length Edges, a Christmas EP Still, and a live album 30,000 Miles. And we’re wrapping up a second full-length to be released in just a few weeks! So basically, if I had to sum it up into one word, I’d say “progress.” I’m proud of the progress we’ve made as a team, as a music family. We set goals, we reach them, and then we set new goals. We’re unstoppable. I’m proud that I can call this my job. And I’m excited for all the crazy things I know will happen this year.

What was the first album you bought with your own money growing up?

I love this question! I remember this very clearly. It was KT Tunstall’s Eye To The Telescope, and I bought it at our local Walmart. I had heard “Black Horse And A Cherry Tree” on the radio, and I was obsessed. It was something about her voice. I remember scouring the shelves and finding it and then holding onto it like a treasure to my chest for the remainder of our time in the store, until checkout. And then as soon as we got into the car, I popped it into the CD player. It’s a great album, and I still listen to it regularly. If you haven’t heard it from start to finish, you should think about giving it a listen. That album changed my life.

Who was your first concert?

I remember this one really clearly, too. It was Ingrid Michaelson. My whole family loves her music. My parents took me to that show. This was in middle school. I remember that I had a big field trip to New York City the next day, and I was exhausted for it because I’d been up until 4:00 AM for the concert. Totally worth it, though.

What do you enjoy the most about touring?

I love seeing new places. It’s exciting knowing that every day we’re going to wake up and drive somewhere new, that every night we’re going to be in a different place. It really makes you appreciate the general kindness of people. Everywhere we go, there’s always someone nice there.

What are you up to next?

We’ve got tons of stuff up our sleeve for the next few months. First off, we’re currently wrapping up a whole new album. It’s called Go, and it’s due for release in early April. I can’t wait for you guys to hear it! Chris and I are both really proud of the new songs we’ve written, and our whole team has been amazing. It’s a huge thing to pull off, making a whole album in just a few months, but we’re doing it! You can expect it to be full of awesome special guests, so there’s that to look forward to as well. And now that we’ve wrapped up recording Go, we’re gearing up to hit the road for most of the spring and summer, so you can expect us in a venue near you very soon! We’re constantly booking new shows and announcing them via our website, jocelynandchrismusic.com, and our social media channels. So stay tuned… we’d love to see you at a gig sometime! And we can’t wait to share this new music with you. I really can’t wait to hear what the world thinks of it.

Thank you again! What would you like to say to wrap up?

No problem! Thank you so much for having us. It means a ton to us that you’ve given us the opportunity to share a bit about ourselves with ya. If you’d like to get to know us even better and keep tabs on what we’re up to, including when our new album Go will be released and where we’re playing next, you can always check out our socials! We’re on Twitter @jocelynandchris , Instagram @jocelynandchrismusic , Snapchat @jocelynandchris , and Facebook at Jocelyn & Chris Arndt. Our official website is jocelynandchrismusic.com. And you can also follow us on Spotify to hear all the music we’ve ever released! Thanks, guys!

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