Local musician and recording engineer Frank "Rat Bastard" Falestra, who has himself dabbled with many of the electronic sounds that J.E. and Justin G. employ, believes the two have forged that rarest of rock animals: a unique sound. "They might be using the tools of the Eighties," Falestra says, "but the result is definitely not Eighties. It comes across real soft and melodic, but, between the beats and the guitar parts, it's very aggressively done."
Ultimately J.E. & Justin G. would like to sign a contract with a major label. Elbrecht is confident that will happen. If Beck can win a Grammy for Odelay, he reasons, then J.E. & Justin G. can get signed based on the strength of 15 Most Requested Songs. "A lot of cool stuff can be made, and it can sell and make industry people happy," he says.
Falestra, though, has his doubts about the wisdom of going the major-label route. "Music and the music business are two different worlds," he observes. "The minute these guys start mixing them, they risk compromising their music. They're on a very fine line. Right now they could very easily go Donny and Marie, or do something really, really brilliant. So far they've handled it pretty brilliantly, but it depends on who starts waving money in their face and what they do about it."
For all his bravado, Elbrecht says he shares Falestra's concerns. "The thing I'm really scared of is if the money starts rolling in," he says. "A lot of people's music is good when they're striving for some sort of deal, and then, when they get the deal, their music turns crappy. There's so much bad stuff out there, like so much commercial-radio-MTV-horrible stuff. I can't help but think what we're doing is better than that, because we're passionate about it, because we love what we're doing. Those musicians don't love what they're doing. They're playing the same three chords and singing the same stupid lyrics just because it sells."
Gracer nods. "What's scary too is that the kids are still buying the stuff."
"That's where the song 'Make Me Make You' comes from," Elbrecht notes. "I try to make this melody that's appealing, but when you read the lyrics you find that it's this psychopathic monologue about cutting people up." The whole song, he says, is a satire about accepting a pop tune as merely a catchy guitar lick and ignoring the lyrics.
Hoping to inject some levity into the discussion, Gracer quips: "I just want to be popular and get accepted by these dumb kids." His partner cracks up. "That's what's great about pop music: Everybody falls for it.