Void Walker is the first record in 18 years from Portland-based rockers Jollymon. Vocalist and bass player Carey Rich tells me he wasn’t sure he even wanted the project to go forward. “I was not on board with it,” he says over the phone. His voice was out of shape, he felt, and he was burned out.
Founded in Eugene in the early ’90s, Jollymon soon relocated to Portland. Nevertheless, they remained popular on local stages, performing frequently with bands such as Sweaty Nipples and the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies.
Jollymon’s 1995 debut, Sailing, came out on Eugene record label Elemental Records.
While successful touring up and down the I-5 corridor, the music business got to Rich, so Jollymon called it quits. But in 2016, Rich’s former bandmates started jamming again, convincing him to consider a Jollymon reunion.
“We did a show,” he says. “It created a buzz. I guess I got the bug again.”
Jollymon plays a Northwest-style stoney mix of grunge, prog rock and metal — a sound not unlike Jollymon’s former Elemental labelmates, Floater. Void Walker shows the band hasn’t lost a step.
“They’re songs that have been marinating for a while,” Rich says of the new material. “We just cleaned ’em up and finished them.”
He calls the recent tunes “introspective, on anything and everything.” And when it comes to playing again with his former bandmates, Rich says that “it was like nothing … We’ve got a lot of traction.”
Rich is also impressed by the exposure a Jollymon reunion has received simply through the internet and social media. The old fans are still there, he’s found, and the new material is resonating with a younger audience.
“I feel like Rip Van Winkle,” he jokes.
Many dream of a rock-‘n’-roll fairytale. Jollymon came close the first time around. What if this second act delivers a true payload of rock stardom?
“I still believe,” Rich says.
Jollymon celebrates the release of Void Walker alongside Arizona’s Goya 9 pm Friday, June 1, at Old Nick’s; $8, 21-plus.