Preview: Jukebox the Ghost to play in Schine Underground March 19

Vocalist/pianist Ben Thornewill talked to The NewsHouse in February about Czech bakeries, touring and new music.

Ben Thornewill is standing on the sidewalk outside Czech bakery-gas station hybrid in the middle of Texas in February, on his way to a show in Dallas.

“We always stop here on tour,” Thornewill says. “It’s just so doughy and good.”

For the vocalist and pianist of indie rock outfit Jukebox the Ghost, a pulled pork dinner roll—Thornewill’s choice treat from the bakery—is a small travel comfort. He’s been on tour with fellow band mates Tommy Siegel (vocals/guitar) and Jesse Kristin (drums) nearly nonstop since the release of their third studio album Safe Travels in June.

Ben Thornewill of Jukebox the Ghost plays at Rochester's Water Street Music Hall in September.

Thornewill says that he, Siegel and Kristin have evolved into different people six years after meeting at George Washington University, starting Jukebox the Ghost, and making their first album Live and Let Ghosts. It’s a change that’s really mirrored in their newer music, which is an interesting juxtaposition of upbeat melodies and intimate themes.

“You just make music at 26 or 27 than you do at age 21,” Thornewill says. “We’re taking on more mature, heavier topics, and the lyrics are definitely more personal.”

Tonight, the trio is set to play the Schine Underground at 7:30 p.m. as part of the second and final Bandersnatch show of the semester.

Thornewill said the band loves playing college shows, because they know people will show up. “The pressure is off and the kids get rowdy,” he says.

Jukebox the Ghost shouldn’t have any trouble drawing a crowd. The guys have toured extensively around the United States, playing over 200 shows in 2010 and opening for bands like Jack’s Mannequin and the Barenaked Ladies. They’ve played on The Late Show with David Letterman, and performed at huge festivals like the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn.

Being on the road for months at a time is a strange experience, Thornewill says: “It really turns you into a totally different person. No one is made to do this.”

But despite the incongruities of tour life, Jukebox the Ghost wouldn’t trade it for the world. This round of touring is the band’s first actual headlining tour with Safe Travels, and Thornewill said it’s been “a victory lap.”

With Safe Travels, the band has really polished their live show and knows how to get an audience cheering and dancing, “The crowds have been absolutely fantastic,” he says, describing the band’s show at NYC’s Webster Hall in January in the beginnings of a blizzard.

“[Webster] was one of the biggest shows we’ve played, and afterward we got into a giant snowball fight with the fans,” Thornewill says. “I got absolutely pummeled.”

Here’s to hoping Syracuse’s snow will yield a similar experience.

Indie-rock duo Io Echo will open for Jukebox the Ghost tonight, March 19. The show is sponsored by University Union, and tickets are still available in the Schine Box Office. $5 for students, $8 for public.

Listen to Jukebox the Ghost's "Somebody" below.

Photo via zbellink on Flickr.

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