Jookabox: Lurching Frankenstein Monster of Indianapolis Music

Aside from having one of the coolest band names in Indianapolis, Jookabox may very well be the strangest band in the Circle City. Throughout the Indianapolis band‘s three releases, Jookabox has progressed through all kinds of bizarrely formed musical landscapes, from the industrial noise meets gospel choir ebullience of their latest release, 2009’s Dead Zone Boys, to the frenetic, delay tripping chaos of Ropechain. Jookabox even recorded a track for Ropechain, “I’m Absolutely Freaked Out,” in an abandoned insane asylum in Indy. You can’t get much more original than what Jookabox represents, and Indianapolis music fans love it.

Music video for “You Cried Me” by Jookabox, an Indianapolis band


Growing up on the east side of Indianapolis in the mid-90’s, Jookabox mastermind David “Moose” Adamson saw a lot of economic depression, hopeless neighbors, and the disheveled state of downtown Indianapolis. Indianapolis business wasn’t thriving with the rest of the United States back in those days; Adamson’s creative mind grew out of this weedy, forgotten back lot of the Circle City. He started recording re-written versions of hip-hop classics on his uncle’s four track in grade school. Eventually, he upgraded to a drum machine, and, many years later, Grandpall Jookabox was born.

Video of Jookabox performing “Phantom Don’t Go” live at the Vollrath Tavern in Indianapolis


There’s definitely no band like Jookabox in any of the six Indianapolis cultural districts. The band claims early Ween as a major influence, and it shows: Jookabox disassembles components of popular music and stitches them back together with others to create veritable Frankenstein monsters of back country vocals, gospel choirs, industrial bass, tom heavy back beats, and psychedelic guitar work. Jookabox has three releases to its name, two under the Grampall Jookabox title: 2007’s Scientific Cricket, 2008’s Ropechain, and 2009’s Dead Zone Boys.

Video of an early performance by Grandpall Jookabox, an Indianapolis band


Scientific Cricket and Ropechain took a mish-mash approach to the psychedelic folk and boot stompin’ blues that is the foundation for Jookabox’s sound, retaining a lot of trappings from both genres while still creating something new. Dead Zone Boys, however, is a different beast entirely. For the 2009 release, Jookabox abandoned a lot of the aesthetics of Cricket and Ropechain in favor of a more hip-hop influenced sound. But you can’t really call Dead Zone Boys a hip-hop record; instead, it’s a kaleidoscope of disparate sounds joining together to create something new, with juxtaposition being a catalyst for transcendence. Such an description makes Dead Zone Boys sound dense and pretentious, but it’s not: rather, it’s one of the most fun records to come out of Naptown in a long time, fit for a crazy, drug fueled night at any Indianapolis bar or Indianapolis nightlife venue.

Video of Jookabox, an Indianapolis band, performing live at the South by Southwest festival


Jookabox is a currently a member of Asthmatic Kitty Records, the same label that puts out albums by other indie favorites and experimental acts like Sufjan Stevens (the label’s founder), Shapes and Sizes, Land of a Thousand Rappers, My Brightest Diamond, and Castanets. Previously, the group recorded under the name Grandpall Jookabox on Joyful Noise Recordings. They’re a nationally touring group that’s garnered attention from Indianapolis media and national media, including NUVO Newsweekly, Tiny Mix Tapes (an online music blog), My Old Kentucky Blog (a purveyor of all things indie Indianapolis music), and SPIN magazine.

Video of Jookabox, an Indianapolis band, performing “Let’s Go Mad Together” live at a club in Amsterdam


Despite being part of a relatively large indie label like Asthmatic Kitty and being on a nationally touring schedule, Jookabox still manages to play lots of Indianapolis music venues, even smaller, D.I.Y. places like ES Jungle. They’ve also played at several Indianapolis festivals and Indianapolis events. Over the years, Jookabox has been seen at The Vollrath Tavern, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, LUNA Music, Locals Only Art and Music Pub, the Independent Music and Art Festival, Big Car Gallery, Earth House Collective, The Vogue Theater, and the Melody Inn; they’ll also be playing at the Oranje Art and Music Exposition in September.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock in Fountain Square for the last three years, you’ve probably heard of Jookabox, if not seen them live in Broad Ripple Village or somewhere else across the city. Their unique, Frankenstein-esque cobbling together of sounds is a truly fresh wind in the Indianapolis music scene and has garnered attention from music outlets around the country. With their latest release, Dead Zone Boys, Jookabox have finally reached the realization of their full force, artistically intriguing sound; future releases by this Indianapolis band have a lot to live up to.

For more information on Jookabox, including tour dates, videos they like, links, and interesting tour insights, visit the band’s homepage.