By SANDY TOMCHO
CONCERT PREVIEW: Jerk Magnet performs songs off its new CD, ‘Seven Minutes in Heaven,’ tonight at Club Crannel Street in Poughkeepsie.
The name Jerk Magnet might make it difficult for a band to be taken seriously – especially when it is explained how the name was acquired.
”All right, it came from an article in Seventeen magazine, you know, one of the girl magazines, and it was about how girls attract jerks. I think it was called ‘The Top 10 Ways a Girl Can Tell If She’s a Jerk Magnet,’ ” said 21-year-old Sean-Paul Pillsworth, lead singer for Jerk Magnet. “It’s a little weird, but we thought it was funny, and it stuck. We’re still getting comments.”
But despite the humorous name of the group, the main objective of its members is to have their music taken seriously.
”We work really hard, and because we play pop/punk and because we’re young, we might be stereotyped, but our music is sincere,” Pillsworth said. “We don’t make stuff up off the tops of our heads.”
The band, which is based in Kingston, has been around for two years. Pillsworth and 20-year-old bassist Jay Longendyke have been friends since they were 8. Their original interest in punk music was piqued by Pillsworth’s next-door neighbor.
”(When I was) growing up, my next-door neighbor was the big, bad kid around town, and we were young, so we were like, ‘Yeah, let’s be like him,’ ” Pillsworth said. “He listened to punk, so we’d go next door and steal his tapes, and bands like the Descendants and Bad Brains started us off. We idolized that guy.”
Pillsworth began playing guitar around the same time Longendyke picked up the bass. They eventually played in a band together in high school. The other future members of Jerk Magnet – 19-year-old rhythm guitarist Mike Cashen, 18-year-old lead guitarist Bill Manley and 19-year-old drummer Justin Meyer – were in a separate band from the same town, but all five members knew each other from high school. Jerk Magnet was formed when the bands decided to join forces.
”When we first started, our songs were about not liking high school and breakups,” Pillsworth said. “Our album now focuses on the two years that we’ve been a band, and songs are about friends and experiences we’ve all had. Each song tells a story about us and what’s happened in the past two years.”
Pillsworth said the song “Walking in Circles” is about a relationship that consists of constant arguments, and “Day In, Day Out” is about watching a relationship self-destruct. “Lost and Found” is about a mother-child relationship, and “The Waiting Theory” is a funny song about someone’s life.
”Stylistically, there’s no change from when we started playing together; we just didn’t have the songwriting capabilities,” Pillsworth said. “Now, we have more experience.”
At various times, Jerk Magnet has shared the stage with the bands H2O, MxPx, the Ataris, the Juliana Theory, BigWig, AutoPilot Off and Murphy’s Law. Now promoting its new nine-track CD “Seven Minutes in Heaven,” Jerk Magnet hopes to hit the road in the summer. For spring break, members plan on touring in either Florida or the Midwest.
”We’re booking everywhere to promote the CD,” Pillsworth said. “A lot of us are still in school, but it’s not hard because we keep our weekends open to perform and at night we practice when we can. Our two loves are music and school.”
According to Pillsworth, members also love performing.
”Our live shows are nonstop energy from the second we get on the stage to the second we get off. There are no boundaries between us and the crowd,” Pillsworth said. “There’s a lot of interaction and it’s very personal. We always keep the stage open, so people can get up and sing. And they always do.”