Steve Bone

Jackal Onasis On Party Down And Defining Success

The trio's debut EP is a sharp observation on post-grad life

It’s not hard to relate to Jackal Onasis.

The Brooklyn band’s debut EP, Big Deal Party, is a thoughtful manifestation of isolation, contradiction, and self-reflection. “Failing is what we do,” guitarist Alex Molini reflects on “Mookie Told Me Everything.” “Why can’t the weather just match my mood?"

While living on different coasts, Molini and drummer Jordyn Blakely bonded over a shared love of the cult comedy series Party Down, which served as inspiration for the band’s name and song titles. Along with bassist Ghoul Man, the trio — like the show they pay homage to — deliver a keen assessment of post-grad life, such as the realization that, most of the time, it’s more of a slow climb than a quick ascent to the life you’d like to live.

Through quick, commanding post-punk and melodic bursts of noise, Jackal Onasis glance at a grim past but find beauty in a murky future. Relatable, indeed.

Big Deal Party is out now on Exploding in Sound Records. Stream the EP below and read MTV's Q&A with Jordyn Blakely and Alex Molini.

Jackal Onasis was a remote project until you both came together in Brooklyn in 2015. What was it like when you finally played in the same room? Was there a learning curve?

Blakely: I was really excited because it seemed like a pipe dream that we could ever turn this into a live band, and it was something I always hoped could happen. We had been sending each other parts over email and creating these Frankenstein-esque songs without having played in the same room together before, so it felt surreal the first time we played, like opening some kind of time capsule. It definitely was a learning curve for me to relearn my own parts to songs that I recorded years before, especially singing while drumming.

Molini: Besides us needing a few months to figure out how to play and sing at the same time, things were instantly easy. I think we wrote a song in the first two hours of ever playing together. And even though we live in the same city now, the writing process is still kinda the same. It's just way faster.

You guys are basically a Party Down–themed band. What is it about the show that resonates so much?

Blakely: I think our mutual love of the show resonated with us because it was short-lived and isn't very well known, so it kind of sticks out when you meet someone else who's also a fan. Like a secret club. That show is great because it's hilarious but also extremely depressing and "real," which is I think why it didn't become more popular. We wanted to keep living in that world by referencing it, but we write everything without the show in mind and then pick out titles afterwards that feel relevant or express a theme. For example, one character struggles with drinking and its influence on his life; every time he becomes sober again he calls himself "The New Ron." So it was a fitting title for a song where I talk about similar habits that I have.

Molini: For me, it was how each character on the show had a different perspective on their careers and is forced to deal with each other every day at a shitty, relatively mindless catering job. I always find it hilarious to watch two very different people both find common ground and fight about pointless things.

Big Deal Party feels like an assessment of post-grad life that's accurate, relatable, and, of course, bleak. I love the line "Failing is what we do / Why can't the weather just match my mood?" Ultimately, what do you define as success? Is it paying your bills on time? Is it making the music you want to make? Some combination of both?

Molini: The weather line is about living in L.A. where it's the same fucking weather every day. Some days I’d wake up feeling down about something dumb, walk outside, and it’d be 72 degrees and sunny, and then I’d feel guilty for feeling down. Turned into a weird weather-related cycle that I never knew could be a thing.

At this point, success would just be paying my bills by writing and performing music I enjoy, whether it be with my songs or a friend's. But paying my bills on time would be a problem whether I had the funds or not. I’m horrible with that shit. I somehow even fuck up automatic deposits.

Having an outlet is definitely a privilege that brings about lots of great things. And I wouldn’t necessarily say I have a bleak outlook on things, even though a lot of my songs reflect that. I just find it much easier to write lyrics about bummer stuff. It’s much harder to articulate that I’m pretty happy with my personal life, but all the fucked up shit everywhere all the time is hard to ignore.

Blakely: I wonder about this a lot and I think the word "success" puts a lot of pressure on yourself. It's like saying, "Are you happy?" A lot of my friends and I stress out about not having any money even though we're doing our best. But I never think of being broke while doing something that makes you happy as unsuccessful. There's always going to be something missing in your life so you might as well keep doing whatever it is that you know makes life more enjoyable.