Hey Jeh-sea, give us some backstory. Where are you from and what led you to pursuing music?
Jeh-sea Wells – I’m from Ozark, Arkansas. I grew up there recording in my garage and forming bands with friends. When I graduated high school, I moved to Fayetteville where I began auditioning and playing in some local groups. I always kept making my music and posting it online, more for myself than anything. I formed a couple of my own bands over the 4 years I spent in that area. Around the same time is when I met Dave Cobb through an A&R guy who found my stuff online.
Who were your musical inspirations growing up?
JW – The Beatles were my first band, and I always really obsessed over Lennon. I listened to an oldies station where I’d here British Invasion tunes and Motown, lots of Herman’s Hermits and The Temptations in those days — Dave Clark 5 too. I listened to Dylan and other folksters pretty voraciously in junior high. In high school I got into the heavier stuff (Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Blue Cheer) and there wasn’t much looking back.
How did you choose the name Welles?
JW – Well band names are the hardest part. It was easy just to add an “e” to my surname Wells and call it the band. Seemed official to me.
You’re kind of bouncing between New York and Philly right now, tell us more about that?
JW – It’s been bitchin’. We did a Spotify session where we recorded a cover as well as 17. Get ready for that cover tune, I’m not sure if I should say what it is just yet. We did the world cafe as well, with WEXP where we recorded a short set. Went brilliant.
Introduce us to the other members of the band.
JW – We got Marshal on the axe. He’s been playing that sg since he was 10. Vid Nelson brings in the low end. He’s got a jazz bass and a pocket full of dope tunes. Jordan Rochefort is on the kit. He built his kit himself. Kid’s from Texas and has a mean swing.
How did the band form?
JW – We all met in Nashville in a hurry. A friend’s bass player of mine knew Jordan, who knew Davy and I knew Marshal from my manager.
We gotta ask this question… You’re in Philly, so you had to get a Cheesesteak. Worth it?
JW – We got the cheesesteak, it was a mistake. Something about ‘whiz’. After the third bite it’s like waking up after a rager, and you’re like ‘who am I?’, I’ve amounted to nothing.
Do you have any rules about touring? What do you have to have with you on the road, and what do you avoid at all costs
JW – Well you have to be a good sport; we don’t have trouble with that though. Don’t save fruit either. I nabbed a fruit tray one time after the gig and forgot about it in the van. The van had gnats and smelled like bum wine for a minute. Don’t do that.
Your song ‘Seventeen”, who are you singing to?
JW – Whoever will listen. That last verse is directed towards the second character, but other than that the tune is just me thinking aloud.
The video for ‘Life Like Mine’ is incredible. The visuals are rad, what was the story you were trying to tell?
JW – That I can have a Sergeant Peppery funeral dirge march in New York on the weekend.
Finally, who are you listening to right now?
JW – Lemme look. Anthology 3 from The Beatles. It’s like a demo compilation from their late work. I especially like “Cry Baby Cry” on that one. I’m liking “Beginners Luck” by King Giz, Shannon and the Clams, and Little Wings. Some Foxygen too!