Editor’s note: The original article was written by Macgregor Francis. https://www.cavalierdaily.com/article/2023/11/jamming-with-the-jellies
Cementing themselves as a leading band in the University’s vibrant music scene and celebrating the release of their hit EP, the members of student band The Jellies warmly discussed their time at the University while gleefully teasing new music on the way.
All students in the College, fourth-year guitarist Ethan Weber, third-year drummer Andrew Garver, third-year bass guitarist Henry Swartz and fourth-year singer Elliot Flagg round out the group.
The band has seen recent success with the release of their self-titled EP in April, which has amounted over 15,000 streams on Spotify, composed of the jolting, darty-destined tracks “Billy,” “Unfamiliar Way” and “Have to Be.”
To accommodate their growing list of supporters, the group has ramped up their schedule this semester, averaging two shows every week and performing at a multitude of venues — including Dürty Nelly’s Pub and The Southern — where they opened for Athens-based band Jameson Tank in their first ever ticketed event in early October.
The band maintains a consistent presence on Grounds as well, providing the tunes for a revolving circuit of fraternity events and performing at last year’s Lighting of the Lawn ceremony.
Weber and Flagg, the most senior members, started the band in spring of 2022 with Jackson Wallace, guitarist and Class of 2023 alumnus. After Wallace’s graduation, Swartz stepped up to fill his place and Garver was “discovered” soon after.
While most of the group met through their membership of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, known around Grounds as SAE, Garver was connected with the group on a whim through a mutual contact.
“I played in bands throughout high school, but I didn’t really do anything in college until now,” Garver said. “I tried playing with a few other groups, but I never really clicked with them in a way that I have with these guys…I just got lucky.”
The group’s musical aspirations, however, began far before The Jellies materialized. For the members, the band is a culmination of a lifelong passion. Flagg learned notes and scales at summer camp before joining an a cappella club in high school, all while picking up the piano and guitar to supplement his voice. Weber taught himself guitar on the internet, refining his sound throughout his time at the University, and Garver began “bothering his parents” with his drum set in middle school, and has been playing ever since.
While growing up just as musically-involved as the rest of the group — including taking piano lessons from a young age and picking up the guitar and trumpet — Swartz was able to learn bass guitar over the past summer, a huge factor in refurbishing the band’s sound.
Even though each member has different degrees of musical backgrounds, the group’s adaptability, perhaps their strongest element, is evidenced by their cohesiveness on stage.
“We used to have a handful of songs, and when we would practice we would have to take two or three days before we could come back and play them, so now being able to pick stuff up in seconds is pretty cool,” Flagg said.
While the group cited southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd and Auburn-based alternative band The Stews as strong influences, they also stressed the importance of developing a unique sound — a mixture of rock, jamming and spontaneity.
“I think one of the cooler parts about playing with these guys and being in this band is, once you develop chemistry, you start realizing you have a little bit of your own sound, and everyone brings their own creative perspective into it,” Swartz said. “That’s really neat to be like, okay, you know, this is The Jellies.”
After the EP was released, the group played their music for their fraternity and families at this year’s Young Alumni Reunion, elated for the opportunity to debut for a packed house.
“Everyone knew the words to our songs because they went home and they’ve been listening to it,” said Flagg. “The feeling of having people sing along to your own original music is a difficult thing to describe.”
With such an overwhelmingly positive reception, the band said they look forward to beginning the roll out for their first studio album this spring, shooting for eight new songs.
For now, though, the group is enjoying their new platform and riding their wave of success.
“When I’m playing with these guys, everything else disappears and melts away,” Flagg said. “It’s an intense, addicting feeling.”
Flagg also said he hopes that this jovial feeling extends to the audience, even if only for the length of a song.
“There are a lot of stressors outside of Charlottesville and outside of the United States, and even right in our immediate bubble here,” Flagg said. “If we can help alleviate some of that, just even for a couple minutes, that’s all we want to impact.”
The band’s pursuit to de-stress their listeners is reflected in their playful title. Flagg says the group ultimately decided to have a lighthearted and memorable name to spark recognition around Grounds and simplify the creative process. “It’s a little satirical,” Weber said.
Above all else, the group said that they strive to become the best version of themselves without taking anything too seriously.
“At the end of the day, it’s a privilege to play for people,” Garver said. “I hope they feel the same about getting to hear us.”