The current mantra for Detroit's JR JR (no more Dale Earnhardt as of this summer, thank you) is "making things that make us happy and having fun" according to the duo's Josh Epstein.
It's a lesson that was hard-earned.
Epstein and musical partner Daniel Zott scored plenty of attention for their 2011 debut album "It's A Corporate World" -- and not just for the music. But Epstein acknowledges that 2013's "The Speed of Sound" suffered a bit for its predecessor's success.
"I think when it came time to make the second record, we didn't realize it but we were kind of stressed out," Epstein recalls by phone from Los Angeles, where he now resides. "We felt all this pressure and just wanted to make an album that was, like, a statement. It was kind of like, 'Now you have this platform, people are paying attention. Make an album that's Important.'
"In hindsight, that's probably not the best way to make music."
Epstein and Zott regrouped, making a hip-hop flavored mixtape "Produce Volume" that let them loosen up before they began making their third album, the new "JR JR" in earnest. And it worked, Epstein says.
"The mixtape felt like this return to a carefree way of making things," Epstein explains. "No one was doubting anything for questioning. We had to make it really fast 'cause we were between tour stops, and just made the whole thing in three weeks and felt really good about how it came out.
"We used that approach for 'JR JR,' more going from our gut and kind of trusting our first instinct and not worrying about what it 'needed' to be."
What they came out with, Epstein feels, is, "like the third installation in a series. It's kind of like the culmination of what we were trying to do. It has elements from both previous record but kinds of takes them further, which is the way I think we'll do things every time out.
With JR JR working on another mixtape, he adds that, "There are so many songs that are not on the album that are really good, that span so many directions and genres. So the next time we make a record it'll probably be something completely different. I think we feel really good about exploration and trying anything that comes to our minds."
JR JR, Brothertiger and Gosh Pith
Friday, Nov. 13. Doors open at 8 p.m.
Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St.
Tickets are $20 in advance, $22 at the door.
Call 248-399-2980 or visit royaloakmusictheatre.com.
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