Exclusive Q&A with ‘decoded’ frontman Derek Jordan

decoded from the band's websitedecoded is a Los Angeles based garage rock band. Lead singer Derek Jordan speaks about his transition from the steel city to the city of angels, he also talsk about decoded’s debut EP The Split.

Q: I understand you’re from Pittsburgh, can you talk about your transition to Los Angeles?

Derek Jordan: Indeed, born and raised in the steel city.  I felt I had to experience life away from home so I went to college in Chicago.

After I finished school, me and a friend drove out to Los Angeles with nothing but a car full of clothes and guitars.  The transition may have been tough for some, not having a tv and sleeping on an air mattress for 6 months, but I loved it.  It was easy.  I arrived in the place I wanted to be doing what I wanted to do.

Q: Did you always wanted to be a musician?

Derek Jordan: Ever since I was 10 years old when I stumbled across an old guitar in my grandparents’ attic.

Q: Are there any musicians you grew up listening to and made you want to become a musician?

Derek Jordan: Led Zeppelin had a profound affect on me.  Its funny because, like stumbling across that guitar in the attic, I stumbled across some beat up Zeppelin cds and became enlightened and addicted.

Q: Your solo EPs sound great, can you talk about your solo work?

Derek Jordan: Thank you.  I did a bunch of solo releases when I first moved out to Los Angeles, which included a full-length album, an EP, a musical-novel EP, and three singles within a span of two years.  If you listen to all of those recordings, except for the musical-novel, you can really sense me trying to find myself.  I’ve always had a very overactive mind and I think I was trying to be too many different things.

Q: decoded’s EP The/Split was released late last year with four great songs, can you talk about the writing and recording process of the songs?

Derek Jordan: I hooked up with producer Davey Rieley through my bass player at the time, Sean Finn.  I actually wasn’t planning on starting another recording at the time, but I liked where my conversations with Davey were going.  There was a problem though, I had no money.  So I went to Kickstarter and raised enough to pay for the studio time.

I went into the studio with an initial twenty-six or twenty-eight songs.  We listened to them all and Davey said, “Come back next week with ten more.”  So I did.  Out of those ten new ones, we picked three to work on and Davey had me write another ten.  So those four songs on the EP came from a pool of close to fifty songs I had written in about one month.

Once we had our four songs, Davey worked closely with me in structuring them and writing all of the lyrics.  It was great because I had never worked with anyone on my songs before and Davey has such a great ear for things.  He made the songs sound huge and yet they are so simple.  Back to the Kickstarter campaign, decoded would have never been born without it.

I was still performing as a solo artist going in to the studio, but because the new songs on The/Split were sounding so different than my solo style, I decided to form a band name around it.  Thus, decoded was born.

Q: Can you talk about the themes of your lyrics, they seem to be about lovehatelove relationships?

Derek Jordan: The lyrical themes in The/Split are very lovehatelove.  I think it has to do a lot with the uncertainty, indecisiveness, and insecurities we carry around.  I was definitely going through something when we were writing the lyrics to those songs.  I think all of us in the studio were and we just kind of put what we felt into the lyrics.

Q: Can you talk about the forming of the four-piece band?

Derek Jordan: After The/Split was done and I wanted to take it live, I had to gather up some musicians and I honestly couldn’t have found better, more professional players.  Zak St. John was on drums.  Carl Raether on bass.  Justin Citron was on rhythm guitar.  It was an all-star lineup.  They were so good, we only rehearsed once before a Summer residency!  They could only be with me temporarily so after the Summer, I set out to find new players.  And I wanted them to all be girls.

After a rather extensive process, the band lineup was reformatted with Heather Miller on drums, Angela Grant on guitar, Tevis Aubrey on bass, and we added a fifth member with Amanda Gunnels on keys.  I couldn’t be happier with the way it all turned out!

Q: Is decoded currently touring just Southern California?

Derek Jordan: We haven’t branched out of Los Angeles yet.  Over the Summer we did two residencies and couple other shows in LA, leaving us very busy in our home turf.  The new decoded lineup has its first show this March 13 at the Universal Bar & Grill.  We’ll look to get another one or two shows in LA and then start looking in the vicinity to branch out.

Q: What bands would you love seeing decoded touring with some day?

Derek Jordan: Muse.  They are my favorite.  Our styles are totally different though so I’m not sure it would work!  Foo Fighters would be epic too.

Q: Any other current favorite bands?

Derek Jordan: AWOLNATION, Imagine Dragons, Silversun Pickups, 30 Seconds to Mars, and Neon Trees to name a few.

Q: What is the future for decoded, are there more songs and a lot more touring?

Derek Jordan: We will be releasing a new single called “Hello Hipster” on March 4th.  We’ll also release another single called “If You Want to Be Sexier” in April.  We’re going to do some music videos for both songs and hopefully put a bunch of shows together.  We’ve been rehearsing a lot.

Q: What other hobbies do you enjoy besides playing music?

Derek Jordan: I love my Pittsburgh sports teams, especially the Penguins.  They play hockey for all you non-hockey followers out there!

When I’m not digging in to a new lyric writing or stage performing book, I’m reading Don Miguel Ruiz books or something new that caught my attention at Barnes and Noble.

I’m a sucker for animals.  I have two dogs of my own and the whole decoded group is planning on volunteering at the Westside German Shepherd Rescue.

I wouldn’t say I’m a health nut, but I definitely do enjoy staying fit and eating well.  I cook and eat some pretty raw stuff.

Q: I’ve read that some of your influences are Nirvana and Foo Fighters, how do you feel about Dave Grohl’s current presence in rock n roll?

Derek Jordan: Dave Grohl’s role is omnipresent.  I don’t know if he realizes how important he is to the rock world.  He’s basically Yoda.  I’m so thankful that he continues to carry on, challenge himself and influence millions.

Q: You seem to be very active in social media, how do you feel about the importance of relation between a musician and social media?

Derek Jordan: I think its very important but it shouldn’t be your primary focus.  I made a mistake of making it so important that it was taking me away from the music and it will never replace in-person contact, which is most important when interacting with fans.

Having said that, social media is great in sharing new music, photos, videos and finding where your fans are.  I think the Songkicks, BandsInTowns, and Eventful.coms are the best right now because they let you know when your favorite artists are in town and playing shows.  They are taking social media and putting it back into the physical world, which is the exact opposite trend of taking everything online.  Are we seeing a shift?  Maybe.

Q: Which Oscar nominated movies have you seen and is your favorite and why?

Derek Jordan: I saw Lincoln.  Daniel Day Lewis is my favorite actor.  He is immensely dedicated, which is why he typically only does one movie every four years.  He becomes the role.

Q: Any thoughts on college radio?

Derek Jordan: I think these new songs are going to fit quite nicely with college radio.

Q: Any final comments?

Derek Jordan: Thanks for the interview and I’m pleased you enjoy the music.

You can find more of decoded’s music on decodedband.com

Interview by: Eriq Rivera


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