J.D Simo is something of an enigma in the music industry. Before fronting his own self-titled band, SIMO, J.D has appeared on more than 500 albums as a session musician but credits the birth of his own outfit as giving his career a much-needed boost in the arm.
"Initially for the first couple of years it was just something to do for fun," he explained. "Me and Adam Abrashoff (drummer) - I was a session player and he was a road player mostly with other people - and we put the band together strictly just to have some fun and we didn't take it that seriously for a while. It was several years before... two years ago is when things actually kinda changed because that's when Elad Shapiro (bass) joined the band as a third member and we signed a record deal and got management and agents and all that kind of stuff and then it was like okay, we're releasing a record and going out on a ridiculous world tour and all this kind of stuff. Before that, it was almost like a hobby looking back at it."
Despite making a living playing on other artists albums, Simo concedes the abundance of albums he has contributed to diminished his passion for his longtime love.
"It was difficult," he measured. "I don't really play on records that much anymore. I played on Beyonce's Lemonade record which was really fun. Jack White produced a track on there and he called me to play on it and I've also done a couple of other high-profile things like that that were literally a days work but I don't really do it anymore like I used to. I lost my passion for music really after several years of doing it every day and so the band, when it formed, was my way of having fun and trying to reclaim some of that passion and some of that fun and eventually over time it has become the main thing that I do (laughs)."
Since starting to take things 'seriously', J.D has not let up on his output, with the bands world tour last year seeing them performing almost 300 days out of the year, but J.D says even though something like that is a massive undertaking for any band, it also helped them take stock and gain a clearer perspective of what it is they want to achieve from their music.
"I think in the end it afforded us the opportunity to figure out who and what we really were," he mused, "because there comes a point - which for us was specifically about 100 shows in - where we were really bored. We weren't even a third through the touring year and we were already really bored and not really enjoying the material we were playing that much so we wanted to push ourselves and stretch out so it afforded us the opportunity to figure out what it was we needed to get that spark back. What was not being represented here? What was not creatively being satiated? And I don't think unless you get out there and play day after day and play when you're sick and play when you're hurt and push yourself through that... I don't think you're gonna figure these things out because you're not forced to."
One thing that the band decided to do in an attempt to reinvigorate life on the road was to start writing a new album, the result of which is the recently released Rise and Shine, SIMO's third album and one which is garnering rave reviews for the band.
The album was written during these times of uncertainty on the road and because of this shows a vulnerability and uncertainty that would have been difficult to draw out in the studio.
"The hardest thing about writing on the road is...," he stammered. "I write all the time now. I didn't always but I do now so it's not difficult for me at all because I can write anywhere, anytime. To actually work stuff out with the three of us requires all of us being in the room with our instruments and ideally alone so that was difficult. The way we rectified that was we got home - we were on the road just shy of 300 days last year - and we got home in the first week of January and we weren't going into the studio until February so we took the whole month of January and we were together every day working on a pile of material which was pretty vast. It was great because we were able to work on some things for hours and hours and hours if we wanted to and then come back the next day and if we still weren't pleased with it we could tear it apart and start again or move onto something else and that's how we started making the record. It was a month of that and then it was a month of recording and then two months of mixing so it was a long, long journey and a lot of work (laughs)."
Such was the tenacity with which SIMO approached Rise and Shine, it came out a mere twelve months after Let Love Show the Way, again showcasing the prolific output of J.D and co.
"It is a quick turnaround," he laughed. "Like I said earlier, we were starting to form the nucleus of what would end up becoming the record fairly quickly last year. We were about 100 shows into the year and we knew we wanted to stretch ourselves artistically; we had a lot of love and a lot of different influences of music that were not being represented in what we were doing and so it was... we were thinking about it and looking forward to it for most of last year so here we are! I hope the fans enjoy listening to it as much as we did making it."
Grab your copy of 'Rise and Shine' HERE