Josh Epstein of JR JR – COVID-19 Quarantine Artist Check In - “I’m sick of pretending that the Republican Party isn’t a mafia like cabal run by greedy sociopaths.” | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Saturday, December 2nd, 2023  

Josh Epstein of JR JR – COVID-19 Quarantine Artist Check In

“I’m sick of pretending that the Republican Party isn’t a mafia like cabal run by greedy sociopaths.”

Apr 13, 2020 COVID-19 Quarantine Artist Check In
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We are checking in with musicians during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic to see how they are dealing with everything. What has their home quarantine experience been like so far and how is the crisis impacting both their career and art? Here we check in with Josh Epstein of Detroit’s JR JR.

We’re living in future history right now, unprecedented times that will define our era. At some point we will be living in a forever-changed post-COVID-19 timeline, but right now we’re deep in it. Many have had their livelihood interrupted by the pandemic and included are most musicians, who make a lot of their money by touring and performing, two things they can’t do right now. Most record stores are closed and vinyl factories are shut down, so album sales are depressed too. Our intention with this series is to highlight the challenges musicians are going through right now to hopefully encourage our readers and their fans to rally around and support each musician (financially if you can, but we know it’s tough out there for many people).

We’re all in this together, a whole planet united in this fight, and we hope these interviews will help illustrate that. We put together the same set of questions about the current crisis and emailed them to several musicians and will be posting their responses as they come in.

JR JR, who used to go by the name Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. (a play on the NASCAR driver’s name), are releasing a new EP, August and Everything Prior, on May 1 via their own label, Love Is EZ Records. The duo also features Daniel Zott.

“With the speed of our output, we can be more in-the-moment and release music quickly as culture shifts,” Zott said in a press release in regards to self-releasing their music now.

Epstein added: “It’s been amazing for us to be so self-contained and enjoy so much career and creative freedom. Being able to thrive right now feels like a modern miracle.”

Epstein also had this to say about August and Everything Prior: “We often write songs that hold up a mirror to society, but we still respect the purely physical and visceral aspect of making music that just feels great. For us, quality and pop can coexist. This EP is our attempt to make an exuberant expression of joy that recalls the time we first started playing together. We were interested in a celebration of sound.”

Read on as Epstein reflects on his COVID-19 experience so far. He also submitted a photo of himself quarantined at home with his dog.

Where are spending the quarantine and who are you spending it with? If you’re spending it with other people, have you found that the quarantine has brought you closer together or caused tension?

I’m spending quarantine with my girlfriend, Jena Friedman and Potato (my dog). It’s honestly not super different for us because she’s a comedian/writer and I work from home many days in my studio anyhow. We are getting along really well though. Potato has been frisky these past few days, but that’s welcome as he’s 12 and thriving.

Is everyone in your family safe and healthy so far?

So far, so good. It’s a frightening thing.

What’s your daily routine been like? Have you spent much time outdoors? And since musicians spend so much time on the road, have you found it hard adjusting to so much time at home?

I try to jog or do a workout posted by @mrs.jumpies on Instagram. We have been cooking out of necessity and finding it a welcome skill to develop.

What financial impact has COVID-19 had on you and your band? Have you had to cancel or postpone any tours or festival appearances or postpone an album release because of COVID-19 and how will that affect you in the long term?

Our band has been very fortunate in that live performance has never been where we butter our bread so to speak. I’m trying to keep in touch with musicians in different situations and help when possible.

Do you trust the government and our leaders (such as President Trump) to effectively deal with the pandemic? What most concerns you about the response of elected leaders at home and abroad?

I’m sick of pretending that the Republican Party isn’t a mafia like cabal run by greedy sociopaths. At least Democrats are beholden to truth. It’s so frustrating to be lied to daily and I can’t understand supporting this monstrous malignant narcissist.

How do you think the crisis will affect this November’s U.S. presidential election? Will it make it easier or harder to defeat Trump?

I think Trump will utilize the tragedy to attempt to consolidate power and strip away more of our freedoms until he cancels the election and becomes a dictator.

Which sources of news have you been turning to most during COVID-19 and which social media platform have you found most useful?

I find that following a few journalists whom I trust on Twitter is a good source of information.

What do you think will be the lasting effects on society of all this isolated time at home?

I hope we appreciate things more.

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