Jascha, like Charlemagne or Jesus

Jascha in the alley. From left, Nathan Lucas, Jascha Updike, Bryan Unruh, Jordan Updike. Photo by Rumi Sakuraeda.

Jascha,

a singer-songwriter unafraid to reveal his emotions but protective of his last

name, kicked around the Indy scene for six or seven years before he found

himself a more permanent band. But he took that first step towards attracting

followers by presenting himself as a singly-named performer.

Was

Cher the inspiration? "I was going more for Charlemagne, or Jesus," Jascha

humbly explained to NUVO during a practice last week.

A

March 2009 gig with Bowerbirds found the songwriter assembling disciples:

Jascha on guitar and vocals, guitarist Jordan Updike and accordion/keyboard

player Lauren Moore.

"I

went to Jascha and said, 'Man, you're a great artist, but you're a terrible

businessman,'" Updike said of his first meeting with the singer-songwriter. "So

we kind of put together a plan for what we'd do that summer, which included

putting out an album."

The

first three then recruited friend and songwriter Nathan Lucas to play bass, an

instrument he learned while on the job, and found drummer Bryan Unruh on a

craigslist.org personal ad. The resulting album, There's Nothing Like Love

for Making You Miserable, was recorded in Jascha's house and self-released (under

the slightly altered full-band name of jascha.) in Oct. 2009.

Since

then, things at the jascha. camp have changed considerably. Moore has since

departed, but the remaining four members have solidified into a songwriting

team. The four tracks on their upcoming 7" EP for Standard Recording, At the

Mouth of the Well of the Twisted Serpent/Indianapolis: The Paris of the

Midwest, were

written by the group as a whole. Recorded at Snapjoint Recording Studio in

Broad Ripple, the record has more of a rock-oriented sound than the band's

debut.

"I think the sound of the record

reflects [the group songwriting process]," Updike said. "This time we were

there from the ground up, and I think you can really sense that. And we've

grown together as a band — not only musically, but personally as well."

That

change is immediately apparent in lead-off track "The Devil's Own," which

sounds like Jim James jamming with Crazy Horse. To help flesh out this new

sound, the band brought in local singer-songwriter Kate Lamont, who adds

backing vocals to every track. Lamont will join jascha. onstage, and play a set

of her own, at an Aug. 28 album release party at Radio Radio, which will also

feature local band Everything, Now!

"We've

got some surprises cooked up," Jascha said of the show, which band members

promise will feature more than 20 musicians. "It's going to be a good night."

The

first half of the EP's title refers to the Mesoamerican deity Quetzalcoatl,

whose name is also used for the album's second track. And title's second half

quotes a review of the band from My Old Kentucky Blog.

"There's

a lot of culture here in Indianapolis," Jascha said. "So we wanted to do

something that kind of reflected that."

Outfits

like My Old Kentucky Blog helped to launch jascha. — and plenty of other

bands, according to Updike.

"You

can't underscore enough how important a lot of the local groups have been

— MOKB in the last two years has completely changed the scene," Updike

said.

The

recently-formed promotions company Uptown Locals is also helping to sell

jascha. to the world. Comprised of three "young professionals," the company's

members use previous experience in marketing and communications to promote,

book and manage up-and-coming local bands.

"It

takes so much time and energy to do [promotions and booking] and a band should

be worried about showing up, playing music, and that's it," Updike said. "To

have a group like that to come in and be able to support us is just amazing."

The

Radio Radio show will kick off jascha.'s first tour as a band, which will take

them around the Midwest and up to New York. Their next planned release is

another four-song EP, this time a collection of country songs.

Though

attached to the Indy scene, the members of jascha. have their sights set on

expanding beyond the Midwest. Like most members of local bands, they each have

day jobs (Unruh works for a newspaper, Jascha a daycare, Lucas as a network

engineer for a university and Updike is executive director of the Earth House),

but hope to make jascha. their chief source of income.

"We

all have the same aspirations of any band, I think," Unruh said. "We'd like to

be able to make enough money to make a living on making music and quit our

jobs."

And

despite the emotional and musical complexities of his songs, Jascha is a man of

simple needs.

"I

would like to make enough money to pay my rent and buy myself a bottle of

whiskey a week," Jascha said.

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