Sometimes fate can bring people together, and for the guys in January Jane, they seemed destined to meet. Mitch C. Mitchell was a guitar player in need of a singer and Pat Via was a singer in need of a band. They both found themselves at the same Soho art gallery opening one night, immediately hit it off, made plans to have a jam session the next day and January Jane was born. After playing some shows around NYC and recording their first EP, they found themselves at a private gathering in NYC where they met Peter Scialla. Upon seeing him playing piano, they joined him for an impromptu jam session and he became a part of the band. In 2015, the band caught the ear of legendary musicologist Matt Pinfield and were signed to his label, Whisky Vinyl and have since gained steady momentum with their fun, 80s influenced pop-rock. The trio recently signed with powerhouse label BMG and released their fun and infectious cover of Hall and Oates “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)”. “We’re all fans of Hall & Oates, so we had an absolute blast doing what we do with one of their songs,” says Mitchell. With regards to signing with BMG, Mitchell says, “Signing with BMG has put us over the moon. We were already on Matt Pinfield’s great indie label, Whiskey Vinyl, but with BMG, it really feels like our family just got a hell of a lot bigger. How excited can a human being get before spontaneously combusting?”. January Jane will be releasing their much anticipated EP Your Drug on April 2nd via Whisky Vinyl/BMG. “This EP is like a medley of all of our experiences in NYC and beyond,” explains Mitchell about the recording process for Your Drug. “We recorded some of the album in our ‘clubhouse’ in Midtown, Manhattan, some in Brooklyn, and some in LA. Next time around, we’ll try to record in all five boroughs…but every space has its own energy, so we really try to utilize that in a metaphysical way, of course.” On March 5th, the band released the single “Versions of You” ahead of the album’s release. When talking about the specific meaning of “Versions Of You,” Mitchell says, “There is this insane but true premise in Quantum Physics which states that by simply watching, the observer affects the reality of what is being observed. We are always changing and changing everything around us. So who do you want to be? Which version of yourself do you show others? That’s what the song is about.” “The recording process for ‘Versions Of You’ is quite the story in itself,” adds Via. “I started writing the lyrics a while ago when I saw a woman on the train looking at photos of herself. The images were all different in style and clothing and that helped spark the start of the story. She seemed sad with how they looked, and it made me think of how with so many versions of ourselves, it’s hard to find the one that makes us happy. I laid the beat and bass line in a demo in our studio and Mitch came in and laid the guitar riff down. I was listening to a lot of new wave at the time so an 808 drum machine was used. Peter added keys and we finished the production in Brooklyn in the fall [in the midst of the pandemic], masks and all.” With big plans to hit the ground running, the band, who thrives in a live setting, is ready to play shows again. Their belief that a pure love for music and the good it can do drives the band to spread that love to audiences worldwide. “We’ll never run out of ideas, because we love making music more than anything – every step of the way is fun,” Mitchell says. “That chance meeting that Mitch and I had has somehow gotten us this far,” Via says, “and wandering into Pete’s studio in the time that followed was pure luck. We’ll just keep riding on those chances. It’s serendipitous.” You can connect with January Jane via the following links. Photo credit: Pete Roessler.
Mitch and Pat- You both met at an art gallery in NYC and hit it off right away and started writing music together, before bringing Peter on. What can you tell me about that initial meeting and why you feel you had such an immediate chemistry?
Mitch– Yeah. It is amazing! Back when New York was open, it was, and I’m assuming we’re all hoping it will be again, one of these magical places where it’s just opportunity, opportunity, opportunity because things are open late. There’s always something happening and you’re always getting invited to 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 things that could be happening in a single night. I went to this gallery opening, and not necessarily to look at art but because that’s the kind of thing you do, and I didn’t know what I was in for. Pat was actually there shooting it. A pseudo-relative of Pat’s is this great artist and does a lot of stuff for, like, Nike and is based out of Asia now, and who actually painted a guitar for me, which was awesome. It was one of these things where the person who introduced us I think was aware that Pat was a talented singer without a band and that I was a guitar player without a singer and was like “Here. You two get together and do this.” And I think, without realizing it…because when the chemistry is there, you don’t actually think about it because it’s so natural. It’s only when it’s not there that it’s an issue. So I was like “Yeah, cool! Let’s get together tomorrow at the studio at my apartment. Let’s just start writing”, and that’s what we did. Ten minutes later we had at least the outline, although I’m pretty sure we kind of finished it, of our very first song which will actually be coming out in the months to come. Talk about full-circle!
You guys met Peter a bit later at a party. What can you tell me about playing with him on the spot that night at the party and about bringing him into the band?
Pat– We just happened to be out with a friend.
Mitch– Opportunity, opportunity, opportunity (laughs)!
Pat– That’s right! But we were out with a friend, very late. We were probably on the 4th or 5th thing we’d been invited to.
Mitch– We were going to our 4th or 5th bar!
Pat– Yeah. We invite ourselves to bars and then we go (laughs)! It’s a 100% return rate. It’s great (laughs)! But we were out with a buddy of ours and we went back and jammed at Mitch’s apartment in the West Village, and this friend of ours was like “Grab your guitar. We’re going down the street” and we didn’t know where we were going. It’s just one of those chances you have to take, so we went to Peter’s and played this song. Its called “New York City Lover”, and that’s the song that Mitch was referring to. So we played that for Peter and from there, we ended up going over there nonstop from then on. We were there until the early morning, just playing music and talking with someone we’d never met before and there we were hitting it off. Like Mitch said, it’s chemistry. You can immediately tell who’s going to work well together and we had that synergy between us to actually be able to play together, in terms of influences and musical styles and everything. Plus he loved the song that we had brought and it really brought us all together.
Mitch– Nothing unites better or quicker or effectively than music. We’re hoping at least, because that’s the career path we’re on! But he has this great music room slash studio and pianos and there are actually a bunch of guitars there and other equipment. He has this great room in this loft in the meatpacking district, so it was just a few blocks away from where we were in the West Village. In hindsight, it’s just one of these things that at 2 or 3 in the morning, some guy’s like “Grab your guitar. We’re going to this other part of the city and to this random loft of someone you’ve never met before.” It sounds insane in hindsight!
Pat– It could have gone either way. We could have been abducted and…
Mitch– It was in meatpacking, so you’re right. There was a 50/50 chance we were going to be hanging in a meat locker (laughs)! But it worked out. Luckily that didn’t happen and here we all are and it is just amazing. It is one of those things that I think is so important, that when opportunities present themselves, you seize upon them immediately. Pat and I have never shied away from that, which is probably, in part, why we are on the phone with you right now.
You guys caught the ear of legendary musicologist Matt Pinfield pretty early on and signed to his label, Whiskey Vinyl. What has that experience been like for you and what do you feel like you have learned from him as a result?
Pat– It’s kind of hard to not learn from that!
He’s a wealth of knowledge!
Pat– He’s like an encyclopedia! It’s actually kind of crazy. You can quiz him on ANYTHING and he knows it. It’s actually kind of scary. He could tell you what David Bowie had for lunch in 1987 (laughs). The guy knows!
Mitch– If music knowledge was wealth, he would be the world’s richest man. Let’s put it that way. It’s unbelievable! But obviously, we were all very familiar with him on MTV and VH1 and all of the music stuff. He’s just such a known and universally beloved figure in the music industry and across all genres. It’s just amazing. He came and saw us at this converted, with an emphasis on converted, porn theater in NY, in the Times Square area. It was just kind of this makeshift theater, and once again, we kind of just say yes to everything and were playing with some other bands that invited us to be there. Where other people may have gone “This doesn’t seem like a normal venue, no”, we said yes and Matt came to check us out and he was digging what we were throwing out. From there it was immediately hanging out at the same West Village place, and he was going through all of our demos and we had ordered in food and were all just sitting there and it was music, music, music nonstop. Then he arranged for us to go record with this great producer out in LA, so we were out there all together for a long time and now we’re here. It’s pretty amazing. We have a call with him tonight to ask him more questions (laughs).
You have said that taking the time to write and record over the years has given you the chance to explore creatively and find your unique sound. What has that process been like for you and how have you gone about incorporating some more modern sounds into those 80s influences?
Pat – Well, I think that given the whole pandemic, the way we look at everything is obviously as opportunities to be better and to try to move ahead with our dream and stuff. I think during the pandemic, basically we looked at it as “Alright. We’re locked inside for a year. Let’s try everything.” It was one of these things where we tried different genres and different sounds and were trying new keyboards and picking up vintage equipment and stuff like that. It’s been a super great experience to be able to just broaden our horizons. And when you have time…that’s the thing with any career. You don’t really have the time to actually sit down and work on yourself and work on your craft. Time is very limited, when you’re so busy trying to do everything at once. To be able to bear down and say “Wow. We have this moment in time and we need to try to take advantage of it as best we can, given the circumstances.” We really turned that into something where it’s helped us to shape our sound even more.
Mitch– It’s definitely like the carpe diem, but for an entire year, where you just have to seize every day for an entire year. Honestly, I don’t know what else we would have done. Regardless of the overall sound, Pat and I are very lucky in that we have some pretty diverse influences that really overlap. When we first got together, we wrote the song that we referenced before, which is just a very lovely acoustic, unplugged piece and were simultaneously working on this epic, like 6 or 7 minute long, rock opera ballad type thing. We’ve always been working on a diverse catalog. I definitely think that the luxury of the time we have now has made it so we can just hone in on the exact sound in a more focused way. All the influences I think were there, it was just like turning on the burner and seeing what floats up to the top, if that makes any sense (laughs)!
Pat– Also, I think too that, given the pandemic, the benefit that we’ve had is that we’ve learned how to make our own Big Macs and our own fried chicken, and we can do all of this at home now! We’re totally self-sufficient!
Mitch– Yeah. Pat’s become a master chef. I mean, it’s unbelievable!
Pat– At least with Big Macs and I’ve figured out how to make all of these things. Again, when you have the time to do stuff you can put the effort a learn stuff. It’s great.
I did see you’ve made some ‘Cooking With Pat Via’ videos on Instagram!
Pat- Chef Boy-ar-Via (laughs)!
Mitch– It is definitely worth checking those out! Forget the music! You’ll see that the dishes, when they’re finished, they look like they’re on par with any top restaurant. Maybe we’ll both have different careers when the restaurants open back up in New York (laughs)!
What can you tell me about signing with BMG and what that has been like for you so far?
Pat- It’s been a dream come true. Mitch put it best. Just expanding our family, from the amazing family that we have working on this as a team together and trying to reach that ultimate goal of getting our music out there. This has been a dream come true. And just adding to the size of our family and kind of loading the barrel to really launch everything into a different world.
Mitch– Loading both barrels! I think really is more akin to a marriage, where let’s say the family you already have is amazing, and that’s Matt and Pete and the rest of our team, and then we ended up marrying another amazing family, with BMG. Now it’s all together and it’s just one of those rare things where you love the in-laws and you love your own family. Best of both worlds.
What inspired you guys to record your cover of Hall and Oate’s “I Can’t Go For That (No Can D0)”. What made you choose that track specifically?
Pat– So, BMG actually asked us to take a look at a couple of Hall and Oates songs and we actually tried a few different ones. We also did a cover of INXS. Well, funny enough, we ended up doing 3 covers of INXS, because you have to explore. You’ve gotta try and sit with the song and see what you come up with and go from there. Sometimes you end up making more art, like if you are trying to paint a painting and you end up with 3 paintings. It’s not a bad thing. With “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)”, it’s just..funny enough, out of the ones that we tried, I think that was the strongest one and definitely was the most fun and danceable and stuff. We thought that was cool.
Mitch– It flowed so naturally for us in the studio when we got in there. It is this sort of bizarre paradox, when you’re asked to do something specifically, musically, and are essentially being put in a box, you find yourself actually being more creative. Because now you are getting away from whatever, maybe, formulas you’ve been utilizing to craft your own music. And now it’s like “Ok. This is a Hall and Oates song” and we’re both big fans of Hall and Oates, obviously. They’re great. We love the mustaches and the whole thing! But now, it’s like let’s see what we can do in spite of this. Luckily, we’re just kind of naturally doing us so it still happened naturally, but we had such a blast doing it and it was just a lot of fun in the studio tracking and exploring it. I actually think you can kind of hear how much fun we had recording it in the recording.
Pat– I think that also with the whole process, it’s really one of these things where when you know you’ve got something, it just hits and hits. We definitely felt that when we were recording it.
You guys will be releasing your debut EP Your Drug on April 2nd. What can you tell me about the process of recording the album and what led you to record some of the album in Midtown Manhattan and some in LA? What kind of energy did each location bring to the process?
Mitch– Ooh, that’s metaphysical. It’s impossible to get away from the fact that wherever you are is going to influence what you’re doing. That’s been one of these, I think, kind of happy, accidental things where just the very nature of recording in different locations, there’s all of these different bizarre things that we’re not even probably aware of at the time happening. For example, with “Versions Of You”, which is the single we just released, we started that song a few years ago and then everything that’s been happening, happened. Then we finished it a few weeks right before the release. That’s all of our experiences for this whole time and it’s just our entire lives are about to be in that. It’s kind of similar for the other ones, where some of them were recorded here and some were recorded there. I mean, who knows how many influences. It gets very philosophical, because we’re not really aware of any of this as we’re doing it. Things are either happening naturally and there’s and energy and a synergy between us in the room or they don’t. Once again, just like the chemistry with all of us meeting, it’s only when things don’t work that you even notice. I haven’t noticed anything so far.
Pat– I do think that with wherever we record, that there is definitely an underlying theme of our experiences of being in New York City and from New York City that definitely has helped paint the picture of this EP. You can definitely hear the songs and feel our experiences through the songs. Like Mitch said, it’s all about chemistry. It’s funny. He’s saying chemistry, and I imagine us with, like, beakers and barrels of chemicals (laughs).
Mitch– It really is all about that chemistry and when things are going well, you rarely notice. It’s only when bad things happen that you start to take notice. Knock on wood. Where is some wood? I can knock on a guitar!
With regards to your new single “Versions Of You”, you have said it was influenced in part by Quantum Physics and just the idea that there’s so many versions of ourselves that it can be hard to find the one that makes us happy. I’d love to hear the story behind that song.
Pat– So, originally, the idea for the lyrics came from…I was actually on the subway and I saw a girl looking at photos of herself. It must have been from a photoshoot she had come from.
Mitch– Like a model looking through her headshots.
Pat– Yeah. It was like she was looking through her portfolio of photos and she just seemed so unhappy. I thought that was so funny, because I saw a couple of the pictures, because I wasn’t that far away so I could see them. I mean, the girl was beautiful and the pictures were amazing, but she looked so unhappy and I just thought that was such a funny, uh, paradox. Is that the right word? Something that someone should be so happy with and they’re not. I felt like what version of her would be something that she’d be happy with? I feel like we’re always looking for that version of us that’s going to bring us happiness, and you know, people live their whole lives and may never find it. And sometimes it lies in the simpler things in life and sometimes it lies in experiences. There are so many things you can pull from to try to find that true version of yourself that you love. I think that also plays into interacting with people in relationships and the euphoria and dysphoria of relationships and the ups and downs. It’s a wild ride. I feel like finding those versions of yourself and others that you’re with, it’s about all of that.
Mitch– And Quantum Physics! The music video for “Versions Of You” is coming out soon. It is very good, and I think the video captures a lot of those elements in it, so be sure to check that out when it’s released!
You guys have also performed a lot of charity concerts and headlined October Ball in 2018. What can you tell me about the importance of charity events for you and your experience with doing them? Do you have any coming up?
Mitch– You always want to give back. We got to play with Eddie Money in Ohio for Mayo Clinic. Honestly, it does make you feel really good to help give back and to entertain people that are also trying to do good, as opposed to the inverse of playing for people who are trying to do bad which probably wouldn’t be fun (laughs). We can’t wait to get back out there to a lot more. Obviously, being able to play St John the Divine (for October Ball) is not the usual thing. In terms of checking things off the list, playing a cathedral of that magnitude…I believe it’s the largest one in North America, or is in the top 4 in the world. That was an incredible experience…just the visuals. And thank god we had the entire thing recorded, so we do have all of that footage that will start slipping it’s way onto YouTube at some point. But we captured it, plus we got to wear tuxedos and suits and that’s fun.
Pat– There’s nothing wrong with being fancy sometimes. It’s also great to give back, like Mitch said, and it’s also one of these things where we’ve had such a fortunate run and opportunities have come to us. I feel like, going back to what we were saying, with all of these great things we just try to put ourselves out there and try to find these opportunities that seem to find us. We’ve been so fortunate with all of those so we try to everything we can to give back. We’re very excited to do more charity events, because they’re always fun to do and the food’s always great.
Mitch– It is. And I am purposely choosing not to answer your question about when we’ll be doing another one because no one knows when there will be more live shows. We’re actually setting up and going to be performing a bunch of live performances. Pat and I have been recording a bunch of unplugged performances that have been for private things. Not fans only, but like other things.
Pat– You mean Only Fans!
Mitch– Pat, that just proves I don’t even know what it is! We’ve been doing the unplugged stuff, but in terms of when we can all get back on stage, we’re in the same boat with every other band on earth and just kind of waiting. But we’re actually, funny enough, as of today, setting up and recording a bunch of full live performances. We’ll probably perform the entire EP, in full with the full band and are setting that up now. We’ll probably be doing that in the next week or two. We’ll certainly be ready and rearing to go as soon we can go perform again.
I know there has been some good to come from the shutdowns, with slowing down and doing things you might not normally have time to do. But there are definitely lots of stresses that can come with the pandemic and being a part of the music industry, in general. What kinds of things do you like to do outside of music and what does self-care look like for you?
Mitch– Do you want to jump in here, Pat, with your yoga karate?
Pat– Yeah. I mean, it’s very funny how during the pandemic I just decided “Alright. Let me make a list of 50 things and I’m going to try them all.” For me, being, literally, locked in your apartment during this whole thing, you have to decide whether you want to sit on the couch and watch tv or you can be active and try different stuff. I consistently started exercising every day and tried to find home equipment and all that stuff, which was difficult, but I figured out a way to get all that stuff. I started working out a lot and started cooking. I actually started doing sneaker design and stuff like that…an arts and crafts type of thing. You need different stuff so you don’t go crazy and doing music is my passion, so I did plenty of that during this whole time. I just tried to find extra things to stay active and happy. I don’t know if this has ever happened to anybody like this in our lifetimes…I mean, I don’t know if it will ever happen again, so it was definitely a good time to explore different stuff and find those things that make you happy. For me, it was, to make the list short, arts and crafts with sneakers (laughs), it was cooking and trying to be a perfectionist with everything, the way I am. I had to, like, research everything. I also started stock trading. I think everyone did that. It’s one of these things where it’s like you don’t know until you try. Trying to do as much research on everything as you can. It was a really fun experience. I know it’s been a tough time for a lot of people and my heart goes out to everyone who has had a hard time during this time, but we tried to do the best we could and find the silver lining in everything. But yeah. That’s what I did.
Mitch– For a guitar player, there’s no real way to ever lose yourself or get bored. I think there are 30 guitars in my apartment, so just keeping them in tune takes a couple of hours a day. There’s always something to do. As a guitar player, it’s very easy to occupy yourself and to stay positive. Also, we signed to BMG during the pandemic, which was amazing, so we were dealing with that and it was just kind of weird. You know, I got these bottles of whiskey to celebrate that have still not been opened (laughs)! It is funny. But we definitely made the best of this time.
Pat– So, cooking and signing major label deals…
Mitch– And playing lots of guitar!
Mitch- I did see that you did a ‘Sick Riffs’ video for Guitar World. How did that opportunity come about?
Mitch– Oh yeah! Once again, during the pandemic, Guitar World Magazine asked me to…I was up in Connecticut and didn’t really have my equipment. I think I say it in the video, but bringing in a large amplifier when I was loading the car up with things didn’t seem like a priority at the time. Luckily, I did have this acoustic guitar up there and I just came up with this riff and recorded it and they put it out there. That’s just an example of occupying yourself and keeping yourself busy. Honestly, that’s what I would have been doing anyway (laughs)! I would have just been playing guitar, so it’s like status quo for a guitar player. Less bar-hopping.
Pat– More writing and less bar-hopping!
What’s next for you guys and what are your goals post-pandemic once everything opens back up?
Mitch– To perform live!
Pat– Yeah, we’d love to perform live and you mentioned charities. We’d love to do more charity stuff. The world needs it right now and we’re all about it. In terms of the music coming out, onwards and upwards and the goal is the moon. We’ve got the rockets loaded and all strapped in and ready to go! Hopefully we get there.
Mitch– Not to get too weepy-eyed or crazy, but it is true. Pat and I have had each other this whole time. I felt really weird, but back to the chemistry thing, we were able to…
Pat– (laughs) Why is it weird?
Mitch– No, but just talking about the chemistry thing, it’s amazing to have your bud and writing partner and bandmate. We’re on the phone all day, every day, when we weren’t able to get together. That’s a huge plus too. Once again, you don’t really think about it unless it’s not there. For people who have been really isolated, I feel really bad. Once again, we had the luxury of exploiting this time that was handed to us to our benefit. It’s definitely been a unique experience for us. I’ll put it that way!
Pat– Hopefully we can build on it!