Everyone loves a good backstory. And the one that comes with five-piece soul collective Durand Jones & The Indications is right up there with the best of them.
After meeting at Indiana University’s prestigious Jacobs School of Music and bonding over a shared appreciation of old 45s, singer Durand Jones, singer/drummer Aaron Frazer, guitarist Blake Rhein, bassist Kyle Houpt and then-keyboardist Justin Hubler decided to make a demo.
Recorded in a basement using a toy microphone and Tascam 4-track recorder for about $450 (which included a case of beer), the eight-song sampler was sent for feedback to Terry Cole of Ohio-based Colemine Records.
Cole liked the demo so much that he decided to release it as the band’s 2016 self-titled debut.
The album didn’t have much of a press push behind it, but gained both acclaim and buzz through a steady flow of positive word-of-mouth and the quintet’s relentless touring schedule.
“Budgets and orchestras are not the qualifying elements of an album,” Frazer said recently via a conference call. “So many of the records we love have a sense of amateurism. And that’s something that definitely characterizes our self-titled [album]. It gave us plenty of room to expand and grow. I really like it as a first record.”
The group has since played San Diego three times – twice at Soda bar and once at The Casbah – selling out the trio of small-venue performances.
But with new keyboardist Steve Okonski in tow, and a new album out, March’s American Love Call, the band hits the road this week for a 14-date amphitheater run with reggae rockers Rebelution.
Not only will the band play to audiences 10 times the size of their typical club dates, they’ll be the opening act for crowds that ultimately paid to hear revamped rocksteady tunes.
The opportunity for exposing their music to a completely new demographic aside, Jones is confident that both bands’ historically entwined styles are a more than solid fit.
“I feel like even though our two genres are different,” he said, “reggae stems from soul music made way back in the 60s and 70s. Bob Marley started by taking inspiration from people like Curtis Mayfield. So I just don’t feel that far off from what Rebelution is doing. I actually think it’ll be a nice compliment.”
Even without any kind of outside enhancements, it’s hard to imagine the new audiences not taking to the soul quintet’s easy-going vibe and the silky-smooth dual vocals of Jones and Frazer.
And while there are sure to be far more new fans made than those questioning the pairing, it won’t likely matter in the long run. If things continue in the direction they’ve been going, it shouldn’t be long before Jones and the Indications are headlining venues of the same size.
With very little outside support and only two albums under their belt, the band has already secured write-ups by Rolling Stone and NPR, appearances on CBS This Morning and Jimmy Kimmel Live! and just made an appearance at the opening night of the annual SummerStage Festival in Central Park.
But regardless of what the future brings, the good fortune the band has enjoyed thus far is anything but lost on them.
“Saying this is a blessing is an understatement,” said Frazer. “We know so many friends that we care about deeply, and who make amazing things, but haven’t gotten the same kind of opportunities. We don’t take it for granted. But I trust my band mates so much. Blake, Durand and I have a very special working rapport. We’ll always be doing us.”
Durand Jones & The Indications w/ Rebelution and Protoje
When: 7 p.m., June 15
Where: North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre, 2050 Entertainment Circle, Chula Vista