There are many new things in the works for local funk rock band Jelly Bread. The road warriors recently signed with a new management company, Blue Mountain Artists—which also manages Tahoe’s Dead Winter Carpenters, acquired a new upgraded tour van tentatively named “Destiny,” and have an upcoming schedule which will take them on their longest and farthest tour to date.
On top of it all, the four-piece outfit is about to release a new five-song EP titled Lessons Learned, the first since 2012’s hefty 14-track, No Dress Code. While this release may be shorter, the material it covers is an all-encompassing depiction of Jelly Bread itself—featuring a rock song, a country track, some old soul and some funk. The quicker EP route is the direction the band sees itself continuing in for the future.
“We ran into that a lot where people kept asking, ’We already got your CD. When are you going to have something new?’” said singer, guitarist and lap steel player Dave Berry. “We didn’t want to have to take two and a half years to record something again, it took us that long to get everything buttoned up on [No Dress Code]. But now we’re so busy and on the road all the time that it’s hard. But we try to find time to write new songs when we can.”
The band came up with a solution to constant touring and a need for time to compose new material—use a little thing they do on an almost daily basis: sound check.
“This is the first time we got to the studio, and had only two songs that I had written previously,” Berry said. “The rest were just grooves that we had done during a sound check and recorded on the phone.”
One key difference to the material on the new EP is its contributors. Starting out, Berry was the sole songwriter, then came drummer and fellow original member Cliff Porter contributing lyrics. Now, with two new members who are also songwriters, Eric Matlock—who joined Jelly Bread two years ago as keyboard and organist—and bassist Dante Orlando, who came on just two short months ago—Berry says the songwriting for Jelly Bread has morphed.
“It’s become very much a collaborative,” Berry says. “It’s really refreshing, I don’t have to do everything, and that’s awesome because I only do things a certain way, and you can only eat chili with the same recipe for so long before you’re sick of it. There’s got to be other chefs.”
For its new release, the chefs of Jelly Bread have cooked up what Berry describes as “pretty heavy material”—with the content being reflective of the EP’s name.
One of the tracks, “Home,” is about the pains of constantly being on the road and missing family.
“Honestly, I wrote, ’Home’ because it’s about my ex-wife leaving me because she was tired of this shit,” Berry said. “I lost my family, but this is what I’m still doing, and that’s what it’s about.”
Another track on Lessons Learned titled “Personal,” has a similarly serious sentiment.
“It’s about somebody saying they’ve got your back, and they’re your friend and then just pulling the plug and leaving you hanging,” Berry said. “It’s all very real stuff that we’ve experienced as a band over the last year or two. We’ve learned a lot about what it takes to do this, and we wouldn’t be sacrificing the time and energy if we didn’t believe in it. This is everything. Lessons learned. Hopefully, we keep learning.”