Music Issue 2016: A Q&A with Jordan Esker & The Hundred Percent

MEMBERS: Jordan Esker (guitar, vocals, keyboard), Vincent Montemarano (drums, vocals), Matt Raspo (keyboard), Emmit Dobbyn (bass)

Jordan Esker & The Hundred Percent was originally just Jordan Esker; the rest of his band came together carefully over the years, a quartet of fine instrumentalists that currently stand among the area’s most soulfully rocking acts around right now. Their croon-fueled melodies are paired with jangly and bleary chord progressions and feather-light rhythms, sometimes coming to thunderous crescendos or segueing into more haunting breaks. Their experimentation with extremes still manages to contain a certain uniformity showcased in impressive debut LP, Best Supporting Actor, released in 2014 and prompting a short tour through Florida and Georgia.

Next show: August 6 with Sweet Crude, New World Brewery, Ybor City.

RIYL: Modest Mouse, Jimmy Eat World, Andrew McMahon

Self-styled sound: “Soul, gospel, rock, folk, and indie as a cover all. With a little bit of experimental song structure.”

Key track: “Periwinkle”

How Jordan Esker is building a fanbase: “I’ve been working as an independent artist since 2013 and right when I got out of college, I started demoing some songs and wanted to do a full album. I was in a lot of bands over the years and decided that this was a good time to put out a full effort...I wanted to show people I was serious and wasn’t just someone with a few acoustic demos recorded in a bedroom... We did a small Southeast tour last year in November, we did most towns in Florida and Savannah, Ga., and we’re currently working on a slightly larger tour for October..."

"Our main goal right now is to build a good local fan base, to the point where we're able to bring out a good amount of people to reliably headline a show...but to be one of the more established bands in the scene and be a part of the community a little more."

Most rewarding feed back you get when playing?: "Really for me, it's a feeling of acceptance! It's my passion and something I've been doing since I was 12 years old, so any feeling of acceptance is heavily rewarding...anytime you go play a show and there's any amount of people there that come to you afterwards, even if it's just one person and they tell you how much they appreciate you, that compliment goes a long way.”

Hardest thing about making a career of music: “Having a focus. I’ve gotten better at it lately. I have a habit of getting into every aspect of music. I produce, I started’s really just narrowing your focus and figuring out the product or genre you want to be, creating an identity, putting what you’re best at and what people can relate to out there, and turning that into memorable performances. That’s a big hurdle for so many good bands.”

Favorite show in recent memory: “The Amsterdam’s last show was great, and the turnout was great, and it was cool to be playing there for their last event. It was kind of like ‘Why does it get to be us that gets to close this place out?’ ...But that place did a lot for the scene, not just in a local sense either, but they helped establish a jam jazz night...and bringing international acts in, and great ones at that. That was really cool just to be on that bill. Definitely that show.”

Favorite town you’ve played?: “We usually say Savannah. That was right in the middle of the tour so that was good timing, we played two shows there, and one was a house show on the third story of a condo, so we carried our gear up there and right after that we ran over to this other venue that was two miles away, got there on time, found out we were playing last on the bill at around midnight...but Savannah’s a late night town and we had a very responsive crowd.”

Favorite local venue: “New World Brewery has the best sound. We love the sound there, there's different things we love about different venues, like Greenbench, we love the vibe there, it’s undeniable even if you don't like beer. The Loft which is an incredible venue in St. Pete.”

Jordan Esker & The Hundred Percent’s favorite local artist: “House of I, We share a bassist with them and got to know them by playing our first couple gigs together when we were forming, when I was still a solo artist. Jackson Davis and the Jackettes, Alexander and the Grapes, and Jitters are all fantastic."

Any big news? What’s coming up? "Currently we just finished recording a four track EP that we'll release in the next two months, probably at the end of August or September. So we're gonna do that and have some singles to lead that off, and we have the tour as well. We have another single coming out this year that was co-written with the guys from Starlight Studios in Orlando, which was a great opportunity!"


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