Finding Our Sound
An Interview with Evan Friedell

Words by Dan Petito — Ithaca, NY

Nestled within a genre consisting mostly of bands all at very similar stages in their quest for world domination, a stage involving paying out of pocket for recording albums, touring heavily to make ends meet and, on the cool side, situations where a song request is highly likely to be entertained, Ithaca’s electro-rock foursome Jimkata thrives on blending electronic music and the key elements of rock and roll that make it such a likeable style of music. And they do it really, really well. We got a chance to chat with Lead Singer/Guitarist Evan Friedell who talks with us a lot about their new album Die Digital, the support of their fans and establishing the contagious sound that is Jimkata.

What is Jimkata? What does it mean?

The name Jimkata comes from an epicly terrible B movie from the 80’s called Gymkata. It starred 1984’s gold medal Olympic gymnast Kurt Thomas and his art of gymnastics and karate combined (Gymkata) which, like many Cold War era action movies, he used to defeat a fictional Eastern European country. Pure cheese ensues. Man, you can tell I’ve answered that a lot! That movie owes us, dammit. Anyways, a few of us were young, needed a band name, watched the movie (probably inebriated), and since then it has just stuck.

Just as interesting a story is the story behind the release of Die Digital, which was fan-funded. What was it like getting an album off the ground with the support of your fans, and how much money were you able to raise?

You know the game where you close your eyes, fold your arms, lean back and your friend is supposed to catch you? It was like that. You’re just hoping your friend likes you enough to not let you crack your head open. And really as an independent artist it’s always like that. Our music is our life and we put our hearts and all our trust into the idea that this is going to connect with people but the actual funds are hard to come by just through touring. So when we came into recording Die Digital we thought maybe we’d made enough of a connection with fans that they would support us. And they did, overwhelmingly. We were able to cover almost the entire cost of recording through to the printing process. I think in the end that made the whole project something bigger than ourselves.

Let’s talk more Die Digital. It’s the new album; it’s fantastic, what does this new album say about where Jimkata is currently?

I think this album says a lot about our growth as a band and as individuals. We’ve been touring heavily for about the last year and a half and because of that we’re noticing a growth in our fan base and a huge improvement in our musical capabilities – both live and in the studio. I think we’re starting to hone in on what makes a good song and what makes a good live show just because we’ve lived and breathed music for the past couple years. Most importantly, we’re starting to find our sound. We’ve become less self-conscious and concerned with what people will think. The best music comes from letting your guard down and trying to completely be you. I think the more we make music the more we become ourselves and form a sound unto itself regardless of our influences.

The Jimkata name often pops up in the summer festival circuit: Camp Bisco, Strange Creek and most recently Summer Camp back in May. What was it like sharing the stage with bands like Primus, moe. and Gov’t Mule?

Its always a blast playing bigger festivals and getting to watch or play on the same stage as people who you looked up to growing up. We played two sets at Summer Camp this year and had to leave on Friday for a long drive to our next show. Primus was playing that night! So we had this argument about “Do we take the safe route and leave in the early evening to start our 8 hour drive or do we stay and rage Primus and do the insane overnight drive?” Well Primus won and I’m really glad we stayed. Watched Gogol Bordello and Primus back to back and its now a highlight of my life.

You guys are just now wrapping up an absolutely massive national tour in support of the new album and recently announced a Back to the Future themed New Year’s Eve show, which begs two questions: What can you tell us about it without giving away any big surprises? Also, who is dressing up as Bif Tannen?

Well its going to be an awesome party! We know that much. We just got home a couple days ago so we’re still working out our production logistics for that show. We always do a balloon drop and confetti, all the good NYE stuff. What we really want is to roll up to the show in a Delorean! In fact thats what I wanna do all night after the show. Just roll around in a Delorean all night with champagne and Marty’s girlfriend. As far as Bif goes, I really hope somebody is dressed up as him but no actual Bifs are allowed! | Die Digital