The Jelly Project
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The Jelly Project

Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States | SELF

Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States | SELF
Band Rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"The Rock, The Beards, The Voice: Minneapolis’ The Jelly Project"

Initially, she’s shy. Avoiding direct eye contact, at times turning away or crouching into a fetal position. The music has pull, though, and her voice reaches out, her eyes, even when barely open, search for a warm face. She finds one.

She flirts, charms, the music building around her, hinting at the bad ideas cycling within. The air is ripe.

Soon they’re more than ideas–they’re demands. She wants, she needs, and you will give. Your affections, she’s taking. Your mind, she’s twisting. Your flesh, she’s ripping it apart. Her voice murders, her eyes laugh, and her smile strokes the wound.

At last, you’re a pile of dust. “Baby,” she sings, “it’ll be alright.” And she does it all in about three minutes.

Angelica “Jelly” Thomas is the vortex at the center of the recently formed Minneapolis rock foursome, The Jelly Project. Three dudes with at least two combined decades of basement jam sessions and facial hair accumulation set the table for this Jelly creature. She is impetuous and hyper, a mad teenager in a young woman’s body, but touched by some God of Song, as though He looked down from the producer’s chair in the sky, stroked his immortal Ertugen goatee and wondered “what would happen if I gave a real life Suzie Toller The Gift?”

What happens is she walks into the room and belches. “Buuuuuuurrrp. What did I miss, guys?” Jelly had sprinted out of the backstage interview only five minutes before, remembering that she was supposed to join another band for a duet of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in The Free World.”

“He was asking us about the writing process and your vocals,” says drummer and defacto band leader Paul Solem. “Eric (Mitchell, guitarist) and Chris (Reifsteck, bassist) bring me a melody, then I when I write the beat I do try to give Jelly some space to work in.”

“Whatever dude,” Jelly interrupts. “I totally just take your shit…not your shit….(laughter)….You can’t tell me what to fucking sing, I just have to feel it out or else it doesn’t work. I’m not a technical person….It’s just all from what I feel in the sound.”

“We don’t know where she’s going to be coming from, ever,” adds Reifsteck. “And then we read ‘em and we have no idea how she’s going to deliver them, but she pulls it off. She does something with ‘em that just blows my mind.”

The band members are no less predictable themselves. Though fundamentally a blues-based rock outfit, the musicians draw from all corners of taste and influence.

Onstage, guitarist Mitchell is a natural rock axe man, his unkempt reddish beard matched only by his power stance and his flair for the occasional arena riff. But take the guitar out of his hands, and he’s apparently a hip-hop guy. Before Jelly materialized, the three boys called themselves Sunset Machete, and Mitchell fronted as rapper. “Dude can rap!” says Solem. Unfortunately, he doesn’t respond to an invitation for a “Paul Revere” duet.

Bassist Reifsteck is a metal guy, and in contrast to Mitchell, seems to possess a more purposefully groomed beard. When asked what he would choose as a tribute band, he goes with Metallica or Tool. “I love metal, but as a bassist I’m all jazz/funk/blues, so I can’t really play it.” His bass lines set the mood in bluesier Project jams like “Ugly Dirty” and “One in My Pocket.”

Drummer solem is a visual artist on the side, and the Optimus Prime of all band projects. “I make sure they hate me at least once a week,” he says. But when it comes to the music, he feeds off the diversity of the band. “These guys like to change it up a lot. You never quite know where either of them is going to go. And I’m a very emotional drummer, so I have to change real quick.”

Take all of those flavors, throw in the wild child with the voice, put it through the musical alchemy chamber, and out comes The Jelly Project. It’s a band that can hit a lot of different notes, and their first four-song EP is a testament to that.

“Why play one genre when there is so much great music out there?” asks Jelly.

“Shape Shifter,” the first track, is gleaming, big chord rock. It hints at classic rock balladry, but just to set Jelly up for a mean Lita Ford impression. As the sound goes bigger, so does she, strutting empirically (and on-key) over the proceedings. It’s the kind of rock vocal you just don’t hear anymore, in large part because so few can do it.

“One in my pocket” shifts the atmosphere 180 degrees, starting Jelly off in an old blues club, and then knocking the walls down to deliver a raunchy come on in a Dirty South tavern. You can taste the warm beer and Jelly’s smoky breath. “My favorite,” says Reifsteck.

“Drowning” has the most contemporary sound, and might also be a single-handed demonstration of the band’s multiple personalities. It’s a modern hard rocker with a shady underbelly and a dramatic beat, that somehow shifts between funkadelic bass lines, heavy chords, and Knopfler-esque guitar picking. Jelly rides the changes like a single wave of anger, an argument that you’re doomed to lose.

“Antidote” is the black cherry on top, a moody vocal showpiece. A dark chord progression broils up under Jelly’s four-minute tragedy, and she easily settles the question of whether she can also deliver real emotion and drama.

Despite the circle tour of directions and styles, there is, both onstage and on record, a distinct sound signature that emerges. The parts are recognizable—the blues/rock grit, the jazz/funk haze, the basement edge—but the alchemy results in something less familiar, something uniquely Jelly.

“I saw the potential that this band has,” says Solem. “Some bands have a certain formula, and it feels right, and it’s the right time.”

The band is in its infancy (only about a year old), and with its odd mix of talents, “Project” is an apt name. The eternal, impossible task of a three-piece rock band is to reinvent the wheel, to somehow be both traditional and totally new. What keeps the Jelly Project playing and performing, and what keeps you listening, is a single, compelling idea: you’ve never quite heard a band like this. It’s possible there has never been a Jelly Project.

it’s been said that the definition of a good cover is when the band performing it makes it seem as though it were written for them, by the originators, not the other way around. The Jelly Project’s cover of AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie,” a staple of their shows, may satisfy that parameter, but that doesn’t quite describe the experience. It might be that you’ve never seen a chick sing “Rosie” before (or even imagined it), but it also might not.

Their rendition is spot on in spirit and technique, hard rock at it’s most elemental and head-bangingly beautiful, as faithful to its progenitors as possible. Yet it feels totally unrelated, in no way a resident of the universe inhabited by Angus Young and Bonn Scott. When that mad woman-child grabs the mic, and the band whips her into a frenzy, it sounds more like Jelly just recently had a bad dream, or perhaps a really, really bad night. She dropped it on the band mates in single fit in the basement, inspiring them to a frenzied dive-bar banger about sleazy men and easy women. But where AC/DC’s universe stops at the holy trinity of adrenaline, balls and booze, Project’s “Rosie” is bathing in something far more caustic and alien, something that can’t be doused with a simple beer and a sucker punch. Whatever it is, it definitely has not existed before. And as Jelly finishes the cover, looking up through her sweat-glazed bangs, chest heaving, there is no considering that any four people, past or future, could get on any stage and replicate what just occurred.

When all is written, said, and performed, maybe that’s all you really need to know about The Jelly Project.
- Hometown Hustle


Shapeshifter EP (2011)

Ugly Dirty (2012)



Since its inception in late summer of 2010, The Jelly Project has been tirelessly writing, practicing, and recording, along with playing shows around the Twin Cities and up and down the Mississippi River. From August to November 2010, rock and roll band The Jelly Project stayed in the studio, working and practicing, working and practicing, until their debut show at the 501 Club in Minneapolis. The show had them opening for 130 fans and patrons, solidifying them as talented and riveting performers and musicians. The Jelly Project continues a rigorous show schedule, performing often throughout the Twin Cities area, along with show cases in LaCrosse and Madison, Wisconsin.

In March of 2011, The Jelly Project teamed up with Greg Miske at Labyrinth Productions to record their long awaited E.P. Met with eager response, the band just couldn’t keep enough on hand. April 21, 2011 had the band playing their first headlining party at The Fine Line Music Cafe in Minneapolis. From then on, they have consistently played at venues throughout the Twin Cities including the Nomad World Pub, Hexagon Bar, Fineline Music Cafe, Cause Spirits and Soundbar, Kitty Cat Klub, Hell's Kitchen, Minnesota Music Cafe, and Wild Tymes.

In the fall of 2011, The Jelly Project signed with Saint Paul-based label Funk-It Records. The band started recording their full-length album "Ugly Dirty" in the winter of 2011, with a release intended for the spring of 2012. It is the band's hope to expand their fanbase and reach new heights with their music.

The Jelly Project has started earning their spot in the Twin Cities music scene as one of the hardest working acts around. The band has placed well within the Top 100 Twin Cities rock bands on Reverb Nation at number 53. Only the future will tell where such accolades will lead the band. Get ready for an ear full of Jelly!


Angelica "Jelly" Thomas, Vocals

Born: Bumfuck, Minnesota

Musical Influences: Mötley Crüe, Janis Joplin, Metallica, The Spice Girls !!!

My Story: My brothers used to torment me as a child. I used to go to my room and make up hate songs about them and I was able to vent. I still loved them. Singing is still my way to express myself. When I am on stage, I erupt and let go.

Quote: It's all for you, motherfuckers . . . bitches . . . lovers.

Eric "eTravlz" Mitchell, Guitar

Born: Ventura, California

Musical influences: Mos Def, Christopher Parkening, Pink Floyd, Rage Against the Machine

My Story: My mother was an elementary school teacher, and from as far back as I remember, encouraged me to express myself through writing. As I got older, I attempted to learn piano (8), then guitar (14), and by 16 was learning how to produce songs. At age 17, I'd given up instruments, convinced that I didn't have what it takes. I focused on my writing and spent the next seven years storytelling. When I was 24 I got the itch to play and picked up the guitar again. This has given me greater freedom as now I have the ability to get the melodies out of my head that have weighed down on me my entire life.

Quote: Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything: 42

Chris "BOSS" Reifsteck, Bass

Born: Cedar Falls, Iowa

Musical Influences: Primus, Alice In Chains, Victor Wooten, Opeth

My Story: I started playing tuba in 5th grade and continued all the way through high school with such highlights as representing the State of Iowa in Europe on a two-week tour and playing in the Sugar Bowl halftime show in 1998. After high school, I picked up the bass guitar and haven't looked back since.

Quote: If fetus' tasted like lasagna, I'd eat 'em. OR The Jelly Project will fuck your earpussies.

Paul "Whorehay" Solem, Drums

Born: LaCrosse, Wisconsin

Musical Influences: TOOL, Skinny Puppy, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd

My Story: In third grade, I remember my first go at the drums, which I stuck with al