Even if you haven’t heard of the Generationals, you’ve probably heard them. Their unique brand of indie pop has been finding it’s way into commercials and onto soundtracks and mix tapes since pretty much day one. And for good reason. They make light, catchy songs that are also really good, musically complex songs. That’s not a mix most bands can pull off, but it’s exactly what Generationals do.
Currently touring in support of their latest album “Heza,” the band is making the rounds in the region and stopping at Vinyl Music Hall for the first time Friday night. They played Sluggo’s before but as their first band—The Eames Era. The IN caught up with one of the bands “co-leaders” Ted Joyner while the band was on the road in L.A. and talked about their musical hometown, our beaches and the universal power “GIRLS.”
IN: You recorded part of your new album “Heza” at home in New Orleans, right? Was that the first time you’ve recorded there?
JOYNER: It was. All of our other recording projects have been in other cities, but this time we worked on it a lot in New Orleans. It was a different process and more integrated into everyday life. Usually we are somewhere else and we’re there just to work on the record and it’s more of a compressed timeline and a narrow focus on just the work. But this was more like “let’s take a weekend off and go to the beach” and come back and keep working.
IN: Your hometown is known for music, but not typically the kind you’re creating. What’s it like to be in a modern indie band in a town full of jazz, brass bands and hip-hop?
JOYNER: It’s definitely a small piece of the landscape of the city, which is more known, like you said, for other things. A lot of that is the type of stuff we grew up on, so it’s part of how we think of music. But you don’t hear it specifically in what we write. It’s funny, the city just has so much. Even beyond the stuff it’s know for. There’s a big metal scene, there’s bounce rap, different varieties of jazz, people playing music on the street all day, ever day. It’s a musical town and we just represent a little tiny blip.
IN: Have you and Grant Widmer really been making music together for a decade?
JOYNER: Yeah, that occurred to me recently. Before this band we were in another band together and that started around 2003. We’ve known each other even longer than that, too. We’ve evolved from being buddies when we were little and into making something. Now we are kind of like business partners and co-leaders of this creative project. We’ve known each other a long time and it’s funny to look back and think about how long it’s been.
IN: “Get yourself to Pensacola and wash yourself off”—I’ve always imagined that line from “These Habits” to mean that maybe you guys have spent some time on our beaches?
JOYNER: Yeah, at some point during the summer, pretty much every summer, we make it down there. We’ll just go with friends and use their boat or just go jump in the ocean. New Orleans is so brutal during the summer and there’s something cleansing about getting in the ocean.
IN: You’ve been making records pretty steadily since your first—“Con Law.” How do you keep that kind of productivity up?
JOYNER: Pretty much since we released our first record on our first label—Park The Van Records—we’ve kind of done one release a year. Whether it be an EP or a full length, we’ve at least released something every year. It’s been a good, steady output. It’s really because you make something and you go out and start playing it and touring behind and inevitably you want to start making new stuff.
IN: Your sound is not an easy one to pin down or classify. What do you say when people ask you to sum it up or define it?
JOYNER: I think it’s a result of being influenced by a lot of diverse music—which I’m sure most people are—and that filters through. The other thing is we’re always concerned with letting whatever the idea of the song is become what it needs to be and never feeling too restricted by the idea “Is this going to sound like a Generationals song?” It’s more important to us that it’s just a good song. We’re less concerned with adhering to any signature sound and we are more about just letting the song be what it needs to be. The result of that are very different sounding songs or songs that sound like they are coming from very different places sometimes.
IN: What’s it like to hear your songs out in the world—like during the wedding scene in “GIRLS”?
JOYNER: In the case of “GIRLS,” we knew it was coming. We are both kind of fans of that show, so that was a fun one. For the most part though, it’s just kind of surreal and weird.
IN: Do you think that kind of exposure has helped you reach a broader audience?
JOYNER: Yeah, it’s definitely a way people find you. There was time when radio was the way you found out about music, but now there are other strange ways that you can find a new band. In my opinion, it’s all fine as long as you’re finding something you like. That moment of discovering something that resonates with you, no matter where it happens, at least it does happen still.
IN: I’ve seen you guys play a few times in NOLA and people go off when you play “Nobody Could Change Your Mind.” Was that one of the first songs people heard from Generationals?
JOYNER: That one has become a banger live. I honestly don’t know why, but it has. In a way, we are always surprised by the response to certain songs live.
IN: The reviews of the new record are pretty much positive across the board. How do you feel about it?
JOYNER: We are really proud of it and, as with each new one, we think it’s our best one. We’re always hoping we’re getting better and better. But now that it’s out, that feeling starts creeping in again and we are ready to make some new stuff.
WHAT: Generationals with Gringo Star and Pioneers O Pioneers
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, June 28
WHERE: Vinyl Music Hall, 2 S. Palafox COST: $10; advance tickets available
DETAILS: vinylmusichall.com, generationals.com