Some bands just defy categorization. Others seem to blend and borrow from so many disparate sources that they come to embody whole new genres only fully classifiable in hindsight. That’s the quality near universally applied to Juice, a Boston-born septet blending R&B, indie rock, hip-hop, funk, flow, and an even wider eclectic assortment of inspirations into a groove that’s constantly familiar and original, and undeniably resonant.
Formed when its initial members were all attending Boston College in 2013, the group began performing shows and participating in — and winning — battles of the bands bouncing between the Boston and New York music scenes. Juice’s second EP, Workin’ on Lovin’ debuted last year and earned them a spot as Elvis Duran’s ‘Artist of the Month’ and even a performance on NBC’s Today.
We sat down with Miles Clyatt, Juice’s drummer and a Rye native, ahead of the group’s upcoming shows at Garcia’s at the Capitol Theatre this Friday and Saturday nights to find out what goes into the band’s seemingly ineffable sound, and to find out what’s next for the .
So, Miles, Juice was formed when all your members were attending Boston College in 2013, but you yourself are actually from Rye. Did you play a lot of shows in the area growing up?
Yeah, I was in a band in high school and we would do some backyard shows; we’d play like at the Rye Rec, which is just kinda like a public, general rec space in Rye. My first actual show in Westchester was at Garcia’s in like, I wanna say, three or four years ago with Juice.
What was it like coming home now and playing venues like the Cap?
Oh, it’s amazing. Obviously, a lot of my friends from high school and their families and my family friends come. It’s almost like a big high school reunion. Ben, our singer, is from Suffern — so not quite Westchester, it’s right across the Tappan Zee Bridge — but same thing for him. He always has a lot of people he knew from high school turn up to those shows. So yeah, it’s always a different environment than the average Juice show, ‘cause so many people know each other.
Who are some of your big musical influences?
I’d say John Bonham from Led Zeppelin, obviously. Chad Smith Red Hot Chili Peppers and then John Fishman from the band Phish. And I guess those three bands are more than drumming, those are pretty big influences on me, kind of overall. Lately I’ve been getting a lot more into hip-hop and producing beats on my computer.
If you can imagine kind of a mix of all those drummers and their sounds, I’m trying to marry that with contemporary hip-hop in a way. I don’t know if it’ll make sense until you really hear it, but that’s where my heads at musically.
Your new EP, you are simply magnificent, feels both incredibly polished — aurally — and incredibly … not raw but open and earnest. How do you find the balance in that, both for the up-tempo songs and especially in the slower, calmer tracks?
I have kind of a nuance answer to that question On a technical level, I think that whether it’s the way that we recorded some of those drum tracks — like “Straitjacket” and “StupidFreak” — I made a loop of all the electronic drums on my computer before we went in the studio, and then I played the live drums on top of the loop that was already playing, and then we put them together and mixed them before any of the vocals came on.
It wasn’t all done like live at the same time. I’d like to think if I was doing it live I would be able to kind of create that holding back energy you were talking about. It’s kind of creating the atmosphere that you want before you start layering other parts on top.
After releasing magnificent you guys have just finished up your summer tour. What’s next for Juice?
So, we’re actually living in Queens, New York now. We moved here a couple of weeks ago. We finally got settled in and we’ve just been writing a lot of music.
We have a bunch of laptops set up throughout the house with some recording interfaces and at any given time someone’s recording something into a laptop. I’ll be running back and forth from my room to the downstairs living room either recording someone or making beats on my on computer and then emailing them to the other computer.
It’s just like a revolving door of people in different rooms of the house writing stuff and, hopefully, we will have an EP out by January I think, is the target. Maybe a single in November. And then we’re gonna go on tour again in February.
Juice performs at Garcia’s at The Capitol Theatre this Friday, September 27 and Saturday, September 28 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $17 in advance or $22 at the door, but you can snag a 2-day pass for $30 even.