February 2, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 37°F


Jimkata brings camaraderie to local music scene

Some fans think Jimkata’s name is a combination of gymnastics and karate. It’s actually a play on an old kung-fu film, “Gymkata,” but rhythm guitarist Evan Friedell ’07 said he isn’t opposed to the fans’ creativity.

“I like the gymnastics and karate [idea],” Friedell said. “We can do flips and kick [butt] at the same time.”

The quartet’s music is free flowing and dance-worthy, with a blend of funk, hip-hop and alternative rock that form a truly distinctive sound, drummer Packy Lunn ’07 said.

The group’s ideas come from what the guys are listening to at the moment. Friedell said he has been listening to a lot of hip-hop and

alternative rock lately, which has influenced the band’s sound.

“We try to make it unique and provocative sounding,” Lunn said. “We don’t want to sound like anything else.”

Trying to stand out in Ithaca’s bustling music scene can be difficult, so Jimkata actively seeks new ways to experiment with music, pushing some songs to the 15-minute marker.

A personable attitude also helps connect Jimkata with its listeners. Jimkata’s live performances are always electrified. Its signature blend of funky jams and alt rock beats are accentuated by dancing all over the stage. Junior Kelli Southern is a fan of Jimkata’s energetic performances.

“Jimkata is fantastic live,” she said. “It’s like being at a wild dance party.”

Friedell, Lunn and lead guitarist Aaron Gorsch grew up together in Oneonta, N.Y., and began playing together in 1998. The three got serious about forming a band when they arrived at college. In the fall of 2005, Jimkata was officially created. A year and a half ago, junior Dave Rossi joined the lineup on bass.

The four have laid back attitudes that help them work well together. Since Lunn, Friedell and Gorsch have been playing together for years, they have a closeness most bands lack. The guys are constantly bringing in new musical ideas and sounds to bounce off of each other.

The band routinely throws new instruments — like synthesizers — into its music to electrify live shows. Friedell said he is open to the idea of adding a vocalist and new instrumentation.

“If I had a closet full of vocalists I would tell them to come on out,” Friedell said. “I would love to be able to pull a cellist out.”

The band is playing a winter tour in New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland. It practices every night and plays one or two shows a week. With a new emphasis on song structure, Jimkata’s tunes have a newly found maturity by varying the feel of the songs and making sure the vocals are tight. Lunn said the band is trying to stray away from a jam band image by giving its performances a definite structure.

“We’ve [become more] conscious about how to craft a song and learning how to do it,” Friedell said.

Friedell said the most frustrating thing for the band is just how few people are actually in it. When writing songs, the quartet imagines pieces larger than they can accomplish alone.

“Sometimes we hear more in our heads than we can actually put out,” Friedell said.

That is where the studio comes in. In a studio, the band is able to layer tracks, which allows for more instruments than can normally be played at one time during a concert. The band members juggle multiple instruments on stage, while keeping their audience grooving.

Last winter, the band recorded its debut EP. The five-track disc is an example of an earlier essence of Jimkata. The earlier incarnation of Jimkata was more free flowing because it lacked the structure the band has now. Since that recording, the band’s sound has grown greatly, and the guys hope to get back into the studio this summer. The band professionally recorded a live EP at a November concert at The Haunt, which is available for free download from its Web site.

“We have grown a lot since I joined a year and a half ago,” Rossi said. “We sound a lot bigger than just four guys playing.”

Jimkata will perform at 9 p.m. Friday at Castaways 413-415 Taughannock Blvd. $7. Listen to the band at www.myspace.com/jimkatamusic.