By Ida V. Eskamani
"It's a place called Easy Luck. I helped start it with some friends about three years ago. Actually not about three years, it was three years ago. Today's our third birthday."
It feels like summer in October. Tom Petty is blasting through the speakers of Easy Luck Coffee & Bodega, South Street's tastefully minimal coffee shop, celebrating three years since opening its glass doors. Co-owner Tanner Jones sits across the table, taking a break from a very big day to talk about his newest musical endeavor, Couplet.
The last time Orlando Weekly spoke with Jones was a similarly balmy day in 2017, walking the grounds of Greenwood Cemetery. At the time, Jones was frontman of You Blew It!, a beloved hometown emo band that just months later, would play its last show. For Jones, that interview might as well have been a lifetime ago.
"I don't know if it's a good or a bad thing, it just feels like a different world. I was living a different life back then," reflects Jones. "Whereas before I was in a different place every single day, now I'm in the same place every single day ... I was in a full-time touring band, now I run a coffee shop."
Couplet is Jones, alongside Chicago emo fixtures Evan Weiss and Adam Beck. The band released their first album, LP1, at the beginning of October. Though the three have a long history as collaborators, Couplet is an unlikely creation. It's Jones' first release since You Blew It!'s finale, an ending that carried a heavy weight of disillusion and burnout.
"It's almost never a good thing to turn a hobby into something you're trying to sell, or make a living out of," says Jones. "By nature, it's not a hobby anymore. It's for self-preservation, for income, which is kind of the antithesis of a hobby, right?
"After awhile, You Blew It! got to be more of a stressor than release. And when your release gets taken away, then things pop up in bad ways."
It took the passage of time, trusted friends and countless hours listening to tunes while working in his coffee shop to bring Jones back to a space where he could create music. "Separating myself from You Blew It!, those things ended up melting away enough to get back to a creative place that was enjoyable."
It's a joy that's palpable on LP1. The record is gentle, dreamy and perfectly silly. It sounds like crisp cool air, blue skies and endless possibilities. Though far from the musical stylings of You Blew It!, Jones sounds at home on the record. With Jones in Orlando and Weiss and Beck in Chicago in the midst of a relentless pandemic, LP1 was created in self-isolation.
"We just tried to shoot stuff back and forth over email," explains Jones. "Over those couple months, it was a really good way for me specifically to pass the time and feel like I was doing something productive. ... It was kind of a labor of love and a labor of health."
LP1 is indeed a labor of love, but it's also Jones falling back in love with making music. It should bring us all solace to know that in an increasingly fraught world, three emo lifers could create something so seraphic. And though so much has changed since Jones last spoke with Orlando Weekly, some things stay the same.
Though the scenes of new cities always call his name, Jones still loves the City Beautiful.
"I'm here because I really think it's a very bustling, creative, incredible community. And I'd like to be able to contribute to that," he says.
Jones even pays homage to our town on LP1, with the album closer named after Delaney Park's "Raehn St."
We ask if Jones still visits Greenwood Cemetery. "I try to run through Greenwood as much as I can," he replies.
There is, undoubtedly, something funny about the way the lights flicker out on the gates to Greenwood.
Ida is an Iranian-American from Florida who grew up with the Beatles, and came of age in the pit. She will talk to you about music for as long as you will pretend to listen. She is founder of Bandifesto, a little blog with a big heart.