Localized: Jon Bean and The Eyerollers
Don’t miss the latest edition of SLUG’s Localized concert series at Kilby Court on Thursday, July 13! Find a winning trio of rock artists in co-headliners Jon Bean & the Eyerollers and Persona 749 and opener Health Care. Doors are at 7, music starts at 8 and Localized is sponsored by Riso-Geist. A thank you to Handlebar for allowing us to shoot the photos there.
Nearly getting clocked by a sun-soaked banana seat Schwinn and holding back a bladder of Cutthroat Pale Ale, I sat down with the eclectic frontman Jon Bean and his down-to-earth crew of Eyerollers: drummer Ryan Workman and the powerhouse couple handling the rhythmic guitar and bass, Jeff and Robin Kilpatrick, respectively. The band looks utterly surprised as I dig through my bottomless backpack and pull out a retro Jensen tape recorder to log this interview. With each question answered, though, my eyes rise to utmost intrigue through a storytelling analogue of the band’s history.
Assembled in 2022, Jon Bean and The Eyerollers might seem to be fresh to the local music scene, but each member is supplied with an enriched musical background that stretches back to the late ’80s. A creative mind in his everyday life, Bean was first a visual artist, only to then explore the music world. “I got into music because there’s something very social about it,” Bean says, emphasizing how important feedback is to his creativity. “Before that, you’re kind of sequestered away in a studio where your free expression is all in your head.”
Bean then assembled his team by recruiting artists he previously worked with. He would look toward Workman, who helped produce Bean’s earlier band Erosion in the early 2000s under Workman’s record label Pseudo Recordings (spelled it right, finally). “When Jon was thinking of this project, I knew I was overdue to start playing music again,” Workman says.
“Before that, you’re kind of sequestered away in a studio where your free expression is all in your head.”
Bean then brought on Jeff and Robin, who are both veterans to the scene. Robin first exercised her bassist talents with Bean in 1992 in a rock band called Whiskey Dolls and hasn’t been in a band since. “[Jon] brought me out of über-retirement,” Robin jokes. It was a two-for-one deal as Bean would then obtain a guitarist. “I’ve known Jon for almost 25 years,” Jeff says. “[We] have played in several different projects together … it’s been a nice opportunity.”
Explaining the band’s style is an unsolved riddle. Their sound cannot be pigeonholed to one genre, as though the band themselves slashed up vintage Rolling Stone magazine issues. What arrived was an electrified collage of the band’s appreciation for music in general. “Rather, it’s punk or alternative, metal, old ’60s pop, mid-century whatever-it-was … we can’t really stick to one style,” Workman says.
“We’re too damn old and tired for the ego.”
Creating a track is never a simple task and consists of more of a “by any means necessary” approach for the band. One time, when the idea of a collaboration effort with the overly daunting theme of “the state of things” passed through the band, Bean got to work. The limited resources came in the form of a Bourbon bottle, while his workbench was a Twin Peaks–inspired, rural motel in the outskirts of some Utah desert. “I let that stream of consciousness flow out,” Bean says of “Jon-ocracy.” “I have this mass of words, thoughts and feelings, and now I want to whittle that down to the source.” This would be a “many page” song performed at SLUG Mag’s 34th Anniversary Party in February.
There’s a sense of maturity throughout each band mate; stoic confidence that’s been earned through the trials and tribulations. Bean reflects: “I started to realize that the younger I was, the more drama there seemed to be.” The four musicians have had their fair share of wrestling youthful egos, especially in the everchanging local music scene. As the band continues forward, Workman puts it best: “We’re too damn old and tired for the ego.”
Be sure to catch Jon Bean and The Eyerollers at July’s Localized and experience their highly anticipated show. Follow them on Instagram @jonbeanandtheeyerollers for updates on future projects and music.