Natural born musicians Jaguar Love

Former Blood Brothers guitarist Cody Votolato is patient when explaining what Kombucha is—he is even kind enough to spell it out. “It’s a fermented mushroom drink. We drink Kombucha and write songs.”

“We” refers to Votolato and bandmate/singer/keyboardist Johnny Whitney, who, following The Blood Brothers’ breakup, have joined forces with guitarist/drummer Jay Clark of Pretty Girls Make Graves to form Jaguar Love.

Votolato, Jaguar Love’s sole guitar player, explained how the group formed. “The Blood Brothers and Pretty Girls Makes Graves used to tour together,” he said. “Jay Clark and I were neighbors in Seattle and became really good friends.”

When talk of forming a new band started, Votolato and Clark made the move this August from Seattle to Portland to join Whitney (one of The Blood Brothers’ lead vocalists) and write some new music.

“We turned the shack behind our house into a recording studio and recorded a few songs right away,” Votolato said. “We all really enjoy the writing process. We drink Kombucha tea and write. Certain songs Johnny puts vocals to, and there’s a lot of stuff Jay has already written that we all play on. Sometimes we will just program a drum beat and go from there.”

In less than a few months, the trio got kicked out of their shack (neighbor complaints), upgraded to a bigger space downtown, and had four songs ready to unveil. The songs possess Whitney’s spastic, indecipherable vocals, but despite being anxiety-ridden and shrill at times, often are laid back and become poppy, synthesized anthems. Whitney provides vocals and piano, Votolato plays guitar and bass, and Clark handles drums, keyboards, and bass.

“I feel like the songs are approached as a songwriting process and are less fragmented. We have simplified things,” Votolato explained.

Jaguar Love has had a productive past few months, finalizing other songs and preparing them to be performed in a live setting. They hope to have a record out in the future.

“We have talked loosely about recording new songs and looking for a label. We are in the label-searching phase—talking to a few labels, taking things one day at a time,” Votolato said. “One of our biggest hopes is to not be a certain band who is expected to sound a certain way record after record. It’s sort of ‘everything goes.’”

The band’s first show was in October at Dantes in Portland with fellow friends These Arms Are Snakes, and the band agrees the songs went over well. Votolato said, “It was definitely a different experience hearing the songs on a stage rather than in our practice space. Everything felt very natural. Overall, we couldn’t have asked for a much better first show.”

Jaguar Love will have a chance to debut their new songs to a wider audience this winter when they’ll be playing a handful of west coast dates with Queens of the Stone Age.