A Review and Interview with The Juniper Berries

Photo courtesy of The Juniper Berries

In these strange times, it is crucial to support local and independent artists. Lucky for Ashland, there are many groups like those who are always looking for support. One group is The Juniper Berries, whose new self-titled record, “The Juniper Berries”, will be released July 10th. The record already has a single out, “Give Up Yr Ghosts,” which can be accessed here, along with the ability to pre-save the album.

The band features Southern Oregon University graduate Josh Stirm, who said that the record has been in the making for three years. “I started writing the songs in 2017 while still at SOU,” Stirm said, “However, it didn’t feel right; we scrapped everything, got a new drummer and new bass player, and had rehearsal for about a year.” The band then did the majority of recording and mixing in 2019, using SOU’s own Digital Media Center (DMC) to record it. “This album really showcases what the band can do,” he continued. “It doesn’t feel like a crazy long process…when you’re so close, you forget how long you’ve been working on it.” 

One of the most important things about this album is that nothing is put there by accident. The drums, guitars, vocal arrangements, lyrics -everything has a purpose. It makes the listener want to get up and dance, but also want to stop and really listen to the words. The record has a feeling of nostalgia, and with every song, the listener can sense that the band has a story to tell.

There is something for everyone on this album, with sounds that range from hard rock to psychedelic to even futuristic. Throughout the record, there are the honest lyrics that will make the listener feel raw, from the almost ethereal tones of “A Tap on the Shoulder” to the heavy, haunting bass in “Broken Spells.” “The Juniper Berries” features many different combinations, like the funky jams and the blunt lyrics in “Give Up Yr Ghosts,” “Nothing is true, and nothing’s really fake, you just really love to hate.” 

Another example is in “Queen of Taboo,” where Stirm sings about hope for the future with the line “I have learned to love again, even if it’s only with my friends.” In fact, “Queen of Taboo” is one of Stirm’s favorite songs on the record. “I’m so proud of it. The song has gone through so many phases, and it was fun to go through different versions,” Stirm shared. 

Before COVID-19, The Juniper Berries were planning an East Coast/West Coast tour to promote the new record. Currently, Stirm is spending his quarantine writing and recording new music. “There’s been plenty of time during quarantine!” He noted. 

Stirm said that he learned two things while making this record. One was, “Even when it seems like everything is falling apart if you stay the course, everything will turn out.” This comes from having to record the album twice and losing and gaining new band members. Another lesson he learned was, “Anytime it feels like something’s impossible, anything can happen.” Stirm explained that this comes from being presented the opportunity to be able to mix the record in El Paso, Texas, during an internship there, and then having the album produced by Earth Libraries in Boise, Idaho.

When asked about what he wants people to take from the album, Stirm asked listeners to pay attention to the lyrics. “Lyrics are so important, they can really help people…I hope they enjoy it.”

The music video for “Give Up Yr Ghosts,” can be accessed on YouTube. Other singles are scheduled to be released on June 5th, June 19th, and June 26th. “The Juniper Berries” is slated to be released on July 10th. 

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