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Jonathan doesn't have any specific reason for why he started playing guitar- It was almost as though the Universe just chose it for him. In 2007, he was asked by his parents what he wanted for Christmas, and he answered simply, "A guitar..." Hannah Montana was on the television, and in the background, he saw a Stratocaster. "...Like that one," he added.
Before that day, his only experience with guitar was in play-strumming an old, broken, classical guitar of his dad's and "noodling" along with his older brother on a plastic toy guitar as a small child. Legend has it, as a toddler, his older brother would approach him and play "Bad To The Bone," and Jonathan would "laugh his toddler ass off.
"I wasn't really into music before I started playing guitar. I mostly just sat around and watched TV and drew a bunch of pictures. You could say that my first love was drawing." Jonathan still draws and paints on and off to this day- He even designed our band logo and Deja Vu's album art.
"I would just listen to whatever music my older siblings were listening to around me. One of my sisters would just listen to whatever pop hits were out at the time, and one of my brothers would just listen to metal." Jonathan is the youngest of 6.
Christmas morning, 2007: "I went downstairs before anybody had woken up, and I saw a big guitar-shaped box with my name on it. I got really excited and ran back up to my room and anxiously waited for everyone else to wake up so that we could open presents together. I seem to remember my parents making me wait to open that box until I had opened all of my other presents. After I opened it, my dad taught me an F-chord, and there was no looking back." For all of you gear nerds out there, that first guitar was a Brownsville Strat knock-off.
"There was an instructional DVD that came with the guitar. It was a super cheesy video from the 80s' that had been ripped from a VHS, taught by some dude in a neon yellow jacket with a bright pink guitar. I used the $30 I got from Christmas cards and bought a First Act practice amp from Walmart. After that, I started hammering out power-chords and punk riffs.
"Around that time was when I started to get into all of the music that a kid around that age with a guitar gets into- Like AC/DC, and Kiss, and The Sex Pistols. For years, I spent all day every day playing guitar, only taking breaks to eat and use the bathroom.
"I would just watch YouTube videos and try to absorb as much as I could. I would also watch and read anything I could about different types of gear and different guitarists that I was into.
"About a year into playing (2008-ish) is when I got really into The Beatles- And anybody who knows me knows that I'm probably the biggest Beatles nerd that you'll ever meet. It completely changed my outlook on songwriting and music in general. I went from just trying to learn all of the flashy shit to trying to figure out how to construct a good piece of music, and then the flashy shit just came with time.
"Shortly after, I was also getting into Nirvana a bunch. That further influenced me in songwriting, particularly with how to write catchy hooks." Jonathan fell in love with Kurt Cobain. "No matter what obscure music I dive head-first into, I always go back to those two bands.
"In about 2009, my oldest brother Jeremy started bringing over a bunch of his gear and letting me experiment and borrow anything he wasn't currently using that would have been out of my reach otherwise. That's been a running theme throughout my entire guitar-playing career ever since, and I am eternally grateful for him. I now drive people close to me crazy with my non-stop ramblings about gear.
"In 2010, I started playing with highschool friends. We started what you could loosely call a band, and we would just cover a bunch of music that we were all into- Nirvana, Deftones, Foo Fighters, etc- and write bad songs. Playing with other musicians really gave me a huge jump in my own musical journey. I got to know what it was like to feed off of the creative energy of other people.
"Jump forward about two years, and I started hanging out with Tommy." Tommy has been our fill-in bassist for the past few shows we've played. "When I met him, we instantly hit it off due to our mutual musical tastes. He had a bass laying around, and I needed a bassist. We started covering a lot of Red Hot Chili Peppers together, and we started a band in his garage.
"With Tommy and a couple other friends, we embarked on the biggest stage of our collective journey as Juniper. We started to view ourselves as more serious musicians. We played in garages and sheds and at house parties. I was the stand-in vocalist until we could find an actual singer.
"In 2016, we met Harli at an open mic. We had gone there to try to break into the actual scene, and we saw her perform. We asked if she had wanted to play with us at the next few open mics as Harli Saxon & Juniper." Harli had already made a name for herself in the Charlottesville music scene, performing as a solo artist since age 12. "Harli also booked us a few shows around town, including a spot at the Jefferson Theater."
"Over the next few months, my bandmates all followed different paths, so Harli & I started a project together. And through some line-up changes, fun, & frustration, the rest is history."