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Jaguar Love's Cody Votolato gets a second chance

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

This is a first: an interview with a band that I'm not really crazy about. Jaguar Love is a mishmash of sounds - part punk, part electronic, and definitely removed from mainstream. When the Northwest-based duo played at Neumos last week, opening for Against Me!, it took only a few songs from their 40-minute set to draw negative outbursts from the crowd. So, why a feature interview? Well, my musical tastes and distastes can't possibly match yours. Case in point, Feist - everybody seems to adore her except me. Another reason for the slight interest is Jaguar Love's local connection; both members - guitarist Cody Votolato and lead singer Johnny Whitney - are formerly of the Seattle punk act The Blood Brothers, who broke up in 2007. Votolato (younger brother of area singer-songwriter Rocky Votolato) and Whitney now split residencies between Portland and Seattle, and recorded their newest album, Hologram Jams, in the Central District of the Emerald City. It's possible Jaguar Love will grow on me, which is why I'm giving them a second chance to blow me away - meanwhile, they could be up your alley, so give them a shot. At Caffé Vita on a sunny afternoon, I sat down with Cody Votolato over a cup of coffee and here's what the 27-year-old artist had to say in The Music Lounge.

Albert Rodriguez: Instead of Jaguar Love, why not a reformation of The Blood Brothers?

Cody Votolato: We were a band for 10 years and just split up, as bands do. It's behind all of us and it's something we're really proud of and really happy we were a part of. For Johnny [Whitney] and I, Jaguar Love is a new chapter in our lives that we're building.

Rodriguez: Does this mean there's never going to be a Blood Brothers reunion?

Votolato: I would never say never. It's only been three years since we split up. Isn't it like five to seven years when bands start getting back together?

Rodriguez: What can you say about the new album? What tracks should we listen to first?

Votolato: The album is much different than the last one; it's much more dance and pop-influenced. We wrote it all to drum machines and synthesizers, so it's definitely got an electro-dance floor feel to it, whereas Take Me to the Sea was a little more classic rock sounding. I would check out "Polaroids and Red Wine" first; that's kind of the one people latch onto the quickest. A more dancy number is "Cherry Soda," and the more mid-tempo, slow and ballady one is "Sad Parade." I would highlight those three.

Rodriguez: Are Johnny's vocals really that high-pitched?

Votolato: Yeah, people always think he's affecting his vocals, and that's just how he sings. A lot of people think he's a woman.

Rodriguez: Did you ever do any partying on Capitol Hill during your time in Seattle?

Votolato: Yeah, I lived on Capitol Hill for two years.

Rodriguez: What were your haunts?

Votolato: The old Cha-Cha or Linda's.

Rodriguez: Did you ever step into any of the Gay bars for a cheap drink?

Votolato: Not on purpose, but I've been to Neighbours. We'd go dance at Neighbours and have a good time. I went to this bar the other night with my buddy here in Portland, CC Slaughters. It was fun. Everywhere else in the city was totally dead, but the people in there were just wowing out. My buddy tried to get me to go meet him at The Eagle, he's like, "It's a leather bear bar" and I'm like, "dude, I'll meet you at CC Slaughters."

Rodriguez: Will you eventually settle in Portland?

Votolato: I don't see that happening, only because I don't see myself settling for a while. There are a lot of places I'd like to live, but right now this is working for me.

Rodriguez: Everyone has a different idea of what settling down means. What does it mean to you?

Votolato: Gosh, I guess it would mean buying something or purchasing something. I don't think it means having a family because that's pretty far off the radar for me at this point.

Rodriguez: Off the radar because you don't want it?

Votolato: I'm just not really in a phase of my life where I'm thinking about it - it's just not a factor for me at this point. I'm doing exactly what I want to be doing with my life right now.

Rodriguez: Is it easy or difficult being single while on the road?

Votolato: [Laughs.] I'd say it's pretty easy. I tend to prefer being single. It's tough missing someone.

Rodriguez: What happens if you meet someone on the road that you connect with - somebody you'd like to have an extra day with?

Votolato: You just find ways to make that happen.

Rodriguez: Do you get hit on by both sides?

Votolato: Not really. I don't feel like I get hit on by women, and I never get hit on by men. Maybe I do and I just don't know it.

Rodriguez: What does a wild night on the tour consist of?

Votolato: Usually just drinking. One of my greatest tour experiences was in Rome. We were on tour with a band from Belgium called White Circle Crime Club - this was with The Blood Brothers - and they were traveling in an RV, so after the show they took us all around Rome to the tourist spots at 2 in the morning. We were hanging out and drinking, and it was dead everywhere but it was beautiful; it was one of the coolest moments of my life.

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