Steve Hammer's Blog
The New Year's Eve Rock 'n' Roll Ball
With Living Proof, X-Ray Roger
Jimmy and more
The Hyatt Regency Hotel
Saturday, Dec. 31
"We've never missed a show." Jason Michael Thomas co-founded X-Ray Roger Jimmy in the mid 1990s.
The rock and roll component of the New Year's Eve Rock 'N' Roll Ball at the Hyatt (see cover story on page 9) will be provided by X-Ray Roger Jimmy and Living Proof, who will headline the Radio Now stage.
X-Ray Roger Jimmy is no stranger to live music fans, having been active for more than a decade, providing an ever-shifting mix of rock and pop. Think Joan Jett meets Black Crowes meets Jet.
The band plays 75 to 100 dates a year - a large amount for a local act.
"Occasionally, there's a weekend where we're not playing," said singer Jason Michael Thomas, who co-founded the band in the mid 1990s. "The rare occasions where we do have a weekend off are great, because we get so tired."
The group originated in South Bend and released their first CD in 1996. "We were a bunch of kids trying to find our way," Thomas said. "We played a lot of shows there, and then most of us went to Indiana University for school. We recorded our second album in '98 and our third in 2001. We've gone through a few lineup changes, but any band that's lasted as long as we have has to have lineup changes.
"Peoples' lives change. Peoples' desires change. And I've always seen my job as being the one to keep it going and keep it together. If you have something good that's working, why give it up, after all the years you've put into it?"
Thomas attributes the group's longevity to a couple of factors. "I've tried to find the best musicians I possibly can. More important than that is finding the absolutely most dedicated people who have a desire to play. A lot of people don't want to get into a van with five other guys and drive all night to a gig. But when you do find those people, you've found something great."
He said, "We've never missed a show. I'm proud of that. We've always played our gigs. We played a show at the Patio once on Jan. 1, in the middle of a blizzard. It's the absolute worst night to play a show, anyway, and there were two people there. But we played."
X-Ray Roger Jimmy, and Thomas in particular, have stayed above the many frays and differing trends in local music over the past decade by staying on point and giving due respect to all bands.
"I have a lot of respect for everybody in this music scene who's trying to do something positive," he said. "Matt Fecher of IndianapolisMusic.net has done a lot. I've played his South Park Music Festival for two years, and it's things like that which spread the word better than anything. I think too many of the local bands need to realize that by going out and playing cities like St. Louis or Columbus, Ohio and Chicago, and by saying, 'I'm from Indianapolis,' that does a lot to help build the music scene."
Over the years, X-Ray Roger Jimmy has varied its sound from album to album. "But we've always tried to be faithful to the group's vision. Let the music live and breathe a little bit. When one person controls the songwriting, it doesn't sound like the guys you're playing with. That's why I'm doing a solo album without them. I'd love to have them play on the solo album, but then it'd sound like X-Ray."
His solo material allows him to stretch out into acoustic music, different forms of rock and even psychedelica.
But the band remains his primary focus. "We just try and have a good time," Thomas said. "I feel really lucky to still be doing music and making a living at it."
For more details on the band, visit x-rayrogerjimmy.com. For more information on the New Year's Eve Rock 'N' Roll Ball, visit bigcreekevents.com