“We’re all from Galveston; our drummer Dexas Villarreal and I have known each other since before high school and we’ve played together in projects while growing up and then we were in a project for a few years before this band and when that broke up we decided to start working on the three piece idea,” says guitarist/vocalist Jonathan Jourdan of the Texas trio To Whom It May.
Jourdan and Villarreal have joined with bassist Robb Mars to create a formidable power packed unit that is currently making a lot of a noise on the national circuit. Several tours with larger acts, a new CD, “The Great Filter” and more road dates coming in February have propelled the band in a direction they’d hoped for but weren’t sure if they’d achieve.
“We wrapped up a tour just recently with 10 Years and Drowning Pool and next we’ll be going back out on the road again with Candlebox in February. We’re going to have a busy Spring, it was a busy end of 2018 and we’ve kind of been just going and going trying to get the record out everywhere we can get it and playing every stage that we can play; 2019 is looking pretty promising too so we are stoked to get back out on the road.”
“The Great Filter” is an answer to a question which was presented by a scientist a few decades ago asking how come we haven’t run into intelligent life in the universe, if there’s all of these chances of life; how come we haven’t run into it? What are the signs? Why doesn’t it line up? The answer to that was, the great filter and what that was is an idea that in life there’s this barrier that is almost impossible to get through for evolving life or whatever it may be and for us this record was kind of our great filter. We had all been in other projects, we had all done other things musically and we didn’t know if we were ever going to get past that point or was it just over for us; is this the end of the road? Are we ever going to do anything else in our musical lives? This record was kind of that for us, it was that big filter; are we going to get through it or are we not going to get through it? I feel that getting this record out was kind of like a collective exhale from the band; it was like, OK this is our new home because this thing was coming out of the ashes of a bunch of different projects from each member and it was kind of like our swansong.”
Jourdan says that those aforementioned, “Ashes” have been a tie in some ways to the band’s success; including the moniker.
“Our drummer Dexas had that name for a personal side project that he was in while we were in a previous project. So when we came to realize that we needed a band name we were going through all these different names and nothing sounded right and I remembered he had that project and the name just kind of stuck in the back of our head so I was like; let’s just use that.”
Many bands use their concerts as litmus tests for new material, To Whom It May were still testing the material while they were on tour with Candlebox and fortunately for them some things just fell into place.
“We did a tour with Candlebox a little over a year ago and became friends with Kevin Martin. He was A & R for this new label that was just starting up which would go on to become G4L Records. We were still piecing the record together and he had a chance to check it out live and to hear the songs and he was really excited about our band. So after that tour we got together and they told us what they were putting together as far as a label goes and we explained to them what we were looking for and the kind of record that we were writing and it really just worked out; it was kind of a coincidence.”
With some of the 10 track disc written and done live prior to their meeting Martin and G4L, all which was left was to finish the disc; easier said than done.
“The album took three years because not only were we putting together a record but we were also sort of finishing off our other bands as well and this was a new thing for me because this was the first project that I was ever a vocalist on so there was a bit of a learning curve. I was trying to find my voice so to speak so that was a big part of it and also we wanted to write a record that you’d want to listen to from top to bottom; we didn’t want any filler and I think we pulled that off but it just took a little longer than we expected from the beginning.”
Although Jourdan explained that the band’s material is a true group effort, it doesn’t start out that way.
“I’m the main songwriter for the project; a lot of it comes from my home studio. I’ll do a lot of demoing stuff from the home studio and then once I get a song pretty much framed out we’ll go to a practice place and everybody puts their stamp on it and it becomes a To Whom It May song or “TWIM” as we call it and then we get into the studio and once it goes from demo to an actual To Whom It May song there’s a lot of things that will have changed here and there to kind of make it feel more organic; it’s a bit of process but that seems to be how we go about it.”
Like all others, this triangle has three sides but each one is made of multiple inspirations. “Everybody in the band has a wide range of influences from rock to funk to metal and everything in between but for me it was Metallica. It’s not that evident in our music but they got me hooked on music. As far as inspiration, I love Pink Floyd and heavier bands like Fear Factory, Pantera. Being from Texas I have to like Pantera; I don’t want to lose my card or anything,” espoused Jourdan with a laugh.
When it came to making, “The Great Filter,” they all agreed on some self-imposed standards and they carry the same far beyond the studio walls.
“There’s a lot of good content and a lot more not so good content and a lot of that in every industry right now and I think with our record, we wanted to just focus on content that mattered and that each song would be able to stand on its own. I think that for us, that’s where we want to stand; we are focused on being able to play the songs that we put on the record. Number one being able to do it live and number two just sticking to what we want to play; I think the only rule in this band is A: it’s got to groove because if it doesn’t groove then it doesn’t work; the groove is most important and outside of that we have to enjoy it. We’re not out to please anybody but the boys in the band at the end of the day because if we don’t believe in it then we can’t expect anyone else to either and I don’t know if that’s a niche in the market but we hope there’s a niche for that kind of mind set.”
Life can come at you fast at times and this trio seems well equipped with the attitude and savvy to handle it; so what lies ahead? According to Jourdan it will be the same and more of it.
“We’ve got a few things that we haven’t announced yet; because we can’t. Last year we played the final Warped Tour which was awesome. That really was a treat that we could jump on that and we’re hoping that we can get on the festival cycle as well, it really just depends; there’s a lot of things in the air but I guess that’s how it works. In 2019 our goal is to play on every stage that we can and take this record out and share it with as many people as possible. We’ve got some fun tours lined up; other than that we’re tinkering with some new music and I think the goal is to keep developing what we’ve started and see where we can take it from there and I think the biggest thing for us is sticking true to playing what we love to listen to and writing a record that we would want to hear.”