jena berlin

jena berlin

BandAlternativePunk

"…Jena Berlin play some of the best hair-on-fire post-hardcore since At the Drive In became King Crimson. Epitomizing DIY, they're driven by community… Translation: Jena Berlin want to play for you and have a drink afterward." — ALTERNATIVE PRESS

Biography

Although Jena Berlin has named their sophomore full-length Quo Vadimus – Latin for “where are we going?” – the Philadelphia, P.A. quintet seems less concerned with the final destination than with the unpredictable, uncharted process of actually getting there. After all, it’s always been the lessons learned and the connections made during the journey that has validated this fiery post-hardcore band’s unshakeable core of DIY values. Regardless of all the trials and tribulations of being independent and punk in a landscape increasingly preoccupied with scene politics, commercialism and the glossy shell that surrounds it, Jena Berlin has persevered and Quo Vadimus is another impressive chapter in their compelling history.

When Jena Berlin formed nearly four years ago, their mission was simple: music should be openly shared with the masses – an exchange of ideas, if you will - and together we can build something based on friendship and camaraderie…not cut-throat competition or the superficial musical hierarchy that follows. If it sounds like something vaguely socialist, that’s because it is: Jena and Berlin are the two cities in Germany where Karl Marx attended college. The name is a reminder that art – and even living and surviving on your art – should be about substance and meaning; not about surface appearance or hype. Doing so makes for a stagnant, gridlocked scene, severing the lines of communication and thus making it impossible to foster a proactive community of likeminded music supporters.

Thankfully, Quo Vadimus is anything but stagnant. Beside subject matter which traverses everything from social change to personal evolution, there’s a volatile storm brewing beneath the album’s eleven angular songs. It’s a relentless whirlwind of dynamic, dueling guitars. It’s an unstoppable hurricane-force rhythm section…the backbone which bends and twists, but never breaks. It’s Jon Loudon’s erupting, exploding and always heart-stopping vocals, singing an earnest narrative by which it’s impossible not to be captivated. It’s all of this, plus an intangible feeling of cohesion between members, as if each part of the song could not exist or thrive without the others. Symbiotic relationships like this not only allow Jena Berlin to feed off one another but to grow and develop within themselves as well.

Jena Berlin have always cited bands like Boy Sets Fire, At The Drive-in and Texas Is The Reason as a touchstone for their sound: impetuous, youthful and with a fire in the gut, but open to revolutionary ideas and the notion that change can be positive. Their 2005 debut Passion Waits as the Program Keeps Going captured a hungry, enthusiastic band igniting a spark that would find them lighting stages ablaze across the U.S. While they were borrowing equally from Dischord and Midwestern scenes of the early 90’s, the band was also injecting a new-school punk sound and hardcore aesthetic into their music and live performances.

Let’s not forget though, it’s all about the journey: the victories and defeats of being on the road for six months a year, not to mention cultivating new friendships which propel Jena Berlin forward while simultaneously providing the insight to reflect on that time. Although the band remains as incendiary and urgent as ever, Quo Vadimus benefits from maturation and a sense of purpose that only experience can bring. Jena Berlin still might not know where exactly they’ll end up, they’re happy to hang on tight for one hell of a ride.

~chuck daley @ bear trap pr

Lyrics

instruments

Written By: jena berlin

I was stranded
watching all our friends tied down in uniforms
disillusioned, one's insisting nothing’s changed since we were kids
and like headstones we stand posed
guarding over these lives long lost
you watch my quiet quiet anger
i watch your joyful exhuberance
these things they go unnoticed
but i've been trying the best i know how
borrow the land i will never keep
feeding the fires that were coming for me anyway
i'd like to be the bigger person just once when i'm not capable
i'd like to not seem so desperate sometimes
is that too unrealistic?
you better shake some sense in me when i'm saying i'm too old
because we were supposed to be instruments
we were supposed to be
and if nothing else
play what you can
sing what you know now
no use in saving these days
I know its all or nothing now
When every mile means more
And i know its never how you planned
and i know now how everybody is slipping farther away from here
and i noticed your current motives used to know your dreams so well
i'd like to be the bigger person just once when i'm not capable
i'd like to not seem so desperate sometimes
is that too unrealistic?
you better shake some sense in me when i'm saying i'm too old
because we were supposed to be instruments
we were supposed to be
play what you can
sing what you know

motion sickness

Written By: jena berlin

i hear where we go from here
is anybody's guess and nobody's choice
we worry about the consequence of things we can't control
i see potential in the ways these tiny motions can branch out
but we keep repeating anything that makes us comfortable
"and i think i am headed west" he says as i put down the phone
i watch in envy as the night's last train goes rolling by
as we say increasingly more and more things that we don't mean
is it regret?
or is it longing?
do i think bigger than i am?
do i act smaller than i believe?
said i was on my way to riot
but i'm still sitting still
still standing here
still walking by
oblivious
still giving in
a boy traces his finger over the raised globe mountain range
as he realizes for the first time his own insignificance
he discovers the frequency that everyone else he that meets
becomes so stare-at-their-shoes blind, communicationless
and everyone that i loves leaves
as everything else circles in
the more i see the more i realize i should have known
these people live such noble lives
oh how i've tried
hear me out
said i was on my way to riot
but i'm still sitting still
still walking by
oblivious
still giving in
i'm further and further from it
scream back everything i sent
just tell me i'm alive
leave me with the notion that
another time we'd be fine
so i'll sing about distance
cause distance is all i know
and its all i need
its all i know
i'm out of touch in this postcard life
this motion sickness is all i see

Discography

passion waits as the program keeps going (watch the city burn records) - 2005

the song "the thief" appears on deep elm record's "this is indie rock vol 2" - 2005

quo vadimus (jumpstart records) - 2007