Employed to Serve’s Justine Jones talks new music, her record label, and the silver linings of the pandemic on The Downbeat

Posted by Ramon Gonzales in Series on April 1, 2021

The voice of Employed To Serve and co-owner of Church Road Records reveals details about the band’s forthcoming record, what it’s like to operate record label during a pandemic, and how being versatile is necessity.

Employed To Serve vocalist and co-owner of Church Road Records broke ground as the first female guest to sit in on The Downbeat podcast.

The conversation managed to bring to light some interesting information like the fact that at the time of recording, no one knew Employed To Serve was in the studio actively working on their fourth full length record. Excited about revealing the news, Justine would share that the direction of the music is festival ready, complete with double kick pedal drumming and even – G U I T A R S O L O S!

In addition to the scoop of new tunes, Jones discussed the dynamic of owning and operating an independent record label during a global pandemic. Ever the optimist, she shared that she believes people now have more time to explore what they like and are much more inclined to support the bands and brands that care enough to product a quality product.

The conversation also touched on the reality of being a women in the mostly male-dominated world of heavy music. Jones would confide that though she is outnumbered, she has never felt out of place. Without disregarding that she has peers that have had horror stories, she feels fortunate that her experience has been mostly positive.

The conversation covers plenty of ground in the nearly 80-minute run, including some details about the band’s new album, the future of livestreaming shows post-pandemic, and how Nagoya in Japan is one of the best places for heavy bands to tour.

Stream the entire discussion on the latest Downbeat below.

5:45 – “Nice to talk to someone other than the people in my household”

6:34 – Animal videos, particular dog videos have been a way that Justine Jones has managed to pass the time during the pandemic. Though now they have prompted the fake ‘lol’ response.

8:35 – Employed To Serve has managed to stay as busy as possible during the pandemic, writing and recording an album – the band’s fourth. They are again working with Lewis Johns whose credits include the likes of Svalbard, Palm Reader and all four ETS albums.

9:46 – Casey McHale joined the ranks of Employed to Serve and the connection was brokered by Downbeat host, Craig Reynolds.

11:00 – Justine detailed the history the band has with Casey, given that he used to drum with Funeral For A Friend whom ETS used to tour with.

13:13 – Justine and Craig think back on their history. Justine recalled being immersed in the death metal scene during her teenage years and was trying to recall if she had met Craig during his tenure as the drummer for Viatrophy.

14:25 – Weed < coffee. Weed makes both Craig and Justine anxious.

16:34 – Craig confides that for a healthy stretch of 2020, he didn’t listen to any new music because it made him depressed – another side effect of the pandemic blues.

17:51 – Justine had a different take on the same situation. While Craig was depressed that bands like Loathe would have a great record and not be able to tour it, Justine believes that bands could potentially get bigger because now people have the time to go back and explore the band’s entire catalog.

18:25 – Justine talks Church Road Records in which she partners with bandmate, Sammy Urwin.

19:10 – Though hard to quantify, Justine asserts that people are not only listening to more music, but they are much more inclined to support brands, bands, and organizations they believe in.

22:00 – Justine and Craig discussed Church Road Records’ band Palm Reader and their successful 2020 LP, Sleepless. After a decade, everyone seems excited that the band is finally getting their due given how good they are.

25:18 – Justine has a theory that part of the reason bands like Palm Reader took longe than they should have to catch on was because they started in the “dreaded” 2010s, during a time when there was a drought of quality music.

27:51 – Heavy music is currently en vogue. It something that blows Justine Jones’ mind. She feels that is part of the reason that people are much more receptive to heavy music because the look is currently fashionable.

29:50 – Jones discusses how platforms like Twitch and Patreon have allowed fans to better connect and interact with the bands they want to support. That sort of direct line of communication is part of what she believes is why fans are much more supportive now then they have ever been.

30:50 – Jones and Reynolds trade talking points about how people still have misconceptions about artists in bands. Though Covid has managed to lift that veil a bit, there is a misconception that being in a band means big money and the reality is more often then not, the exact opposite. This is especially the case with metal bands.

35:00 – Among the biggest takeaways from the pandemic for musicians is the need to diversify. Wearing many hats is the only way to ensure that success isn’t contingent on just one avenue.

35:53 – Matt Heafy is a prime example of how to diversify and be smart in terms of using your platform to build a brand. Justine confides that she has no idea how he has the energy to do everything he does in a day.

36:35 – Post Covid, Reynolds wonders how many musicians will resume the rigors of life on the road for modest pay. Given that people have been able to secure 800 a month to sit home and play video games, he suspects that touring will be less frequent. Both Justine and Craig arrived at the conclusion however that livestreaming gigs are here to stay at least in some form.

44:19 Justine and Craig suggest that Spotify should be doing what Bandcamp is doing with their revenue share Friday model. The conversation transitioned into the pros and cons of Spotify given the popularity of the platform. Jones also brought up that a monthly subscription versus having to spend money expensive CDs is a much more feasible spend for people that don’t have a ton of money.

45:54 – Streaming services have pushed artists to cut the filler. Gone are the intro tracks and anything that doesn’t capture the attention of a listener base that already has little to no attention span.

46:40 – Craig asserts that Suicide Silence got as big as they did because of their use of Family Guy samples.

49:20 – Justine confides while she exists in a very male dominated space, its her comfort zone. Though she shares that there had to have been instances where she was treated differently as a woman, she feels like the community is pretty clued in now. She shares that she feels fortunate that she doesn’t have a wealth of horror stories, though she isn’t oblivious to the fact that her contemporaries might.

57:44 – As for the band’s new record, Justine described the tunes as 2000s era Machinehead and Lamb of God. She stressed an emphasis on the use of double-kick drumming. She was also especially excited that the band has incorporated solos into this record.

1:00:15 – Employed To Serve have begun a Patreon that will allow fans to access multiple hard drives worth of tour footage and band created content. This was a great way for the band to not only create a revenue stream but to also properly release all of this content in a way that was on brand with the band.

1:02:25 -Larissa of Venom Prison and members of Conjurer will be featured as special guests on the new Employed to Serve album.

1:05:50 – Justine shares that she is much more inclined to have friends as special guests on albums rather than finding a big name for the sake of strategy.

1:07:55 – Craig sings Japan’s praises explaining to Justine that it is a must in terms of touring. He explained that some of the hardest moshing he has ever seen was in Nagoya, Japan.

1:14:10 – Before closing the conversation, Justine revisits the new album and says that despite the cliche, it really is her favorite one that the band has done thus far.


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