The Juliana Theory
The Juliana Theory
The Juliana Theory, known for their introspective style, began recording with an independent label and sold over 180,000 album copies, a great success for an independent band. This led them to play in the 2001 Vans Warped Tour, and also won them a contract with Epic Records.
Brett Detar, the group’s founder, grew up in a musical family—his parents sang to him while he was still in his mother’s womb. His father sang in a church choir, and his grandmother was a pianist and organist. Detar took piano lessons throughout his childhood, but when he entered junior high he became interested in ice hockey, spending all his time and money on the ice. Although he played hockey for a few years, he eventually realized that he would never be a great player. One day, hearing the song “Losfer Words” by Iron Maiden, he was electrified by the sound of the band’s harmonizing guitars. He dropped his plans to play hockey, got a guitar, and began taking lessons. He also began writing his own songs.
With his friend Chad Alan, Detar wrote and played songs, recording them on cassette tapes; the two formed their first band while still in high school. Detar, Alan, and the other members of the Juliana Theory had known each other since childhood, and began playing together in 1998, as a side project, since all of them were already playing in other bands. By then, Detar was a member of the Christian metal-core band Zao, and bassist Chad Alan, guitarists Josh Kosker and Josh Fielder, along with drummer Neil Hebrank played in a variety of groups. However, once they began playing together, they realized that they shared similar musical influences—Pink Floyd, the Beatles, and U2. In addition, they fit together so comfortably that they all decided to drop their previous projects and devote their full attention to their new band.
The band got its name from a group of scientific researchers known as “The Juliana Group” who wanted to use music to prove a theory. They invited Detar and his as-yet-unnamed band to be involved in their research, and the band took their name from this project. Detar told Lina Lecaro in the Los Angeles Times that the band’s name was “pretty stupid,” adding, “Let’s just say this: Every band has a name and for better or worse, this is ours.”
They began playing in and around Latrobe, near Pittsburgh. In 1999 they released their first recording, Understand That This Is a Dream, on Tooth and Nail, an independent label. According to Lecaro, listeners were impressed with the album’s “rhythmic textures and introspective themes, coupled with the group’s dramatic live shows.” Their second CD, Emotion is Dead, released in 2000, featured tight, textured songs. In 2001 they released an EP, Music from Another Room, a collection that ranged from folk ballads to full-out rock.
The band was branded “emo,” a catchall term for bands that show an emotional, vulnerable side in their music. However, they were not interested in being labeled. Detar told Lecaro, “We write the music that we want to write and whatever people want to call it, they can call it.” He told Alan Sculley in Florida Today that he understood how the band got put into that category: “[W]e came from bands that were similar or in that kind of genre, or at least post-punk or pop-punk … [and] played a lot of shows with bands… in that category and probably got some of our earliest fans through that scene and through that association.” The Juliana Theory also became noted for its melodic vocals, courtesy of Detar. He told Jeff Nall of Florida Today that he knew that most listeners paid attention to the vocals and thus, “they really need to be expressive.”
Detar told Sculley that initially, the band was limited by their own perception of what kind of music they could play in order to fit into a particular genre; if a song didn’t fit, they felt they couldn’t play it. Eventually, though, they realized, as Detar told Sculley, “We can do whatever we want as long as it sounds good.” By 2001 their independent albums had sold over 180,000 copies. Based on this success, they were invited to play during the 2001 Vans Warped Tour.
The Juliana Theory’s first major-label album, recorded with Epic, was Love, released in October of 2002. The album featured their lush sound, as well as the talents of new drummer Josh Walter, who had replaced Neil Hebrank. The album was produced by Jerry Harrison,
Members include Chad Alan (born on February 18, 1977, in Jeannette, PA), bass, guitar, vocals; Brett Detar (born on April 30, 1978, in Greensburg, PA), vocals, guitar, keyboards; Joshua Fiedler (born on December 19, 1978, in Latrobe, PA), guitar; Neil Hebrank (joined group, 2002), drums; Josh Kosker (born on March 24, 1980, in Tacoma Park, MD), guitar, vocals; Josh Walters (born on July 23, 1980, in Latrobe, PA; left group, 2002), drums.
Began playing as a group near Pittsburgh, PA; released first recording, Understand That This Is a Dream, on Tooth and Nail, 1999; released sophomore effort, Emotion is Dead, 2000; released EP, Music from Another Room, played on the Vans Warped Tour, 2001; released major-label debut, Love, on Epic Records, 2002.
a former member of the Talking Heads. Detar told Nall in Florida Today,“I kind of feel lately that love or lack of love is the basis for everything in human interaction. I think that a lot of positive and negative all tie into that in life.” The album considers this idea, and the link between love (or the lack of it), and war and other social problems.
Detar told Sculley in the Buffalo News that he was pleased with the Epic label. “[B]asically, Tooth and Nail did what they could for us, but you can only make so many records on a $10,000 budget and hope to get things to sound the way you want them to.” One thing that made the band nervous was the fact that selling 100,000 records with an independent label was considered a success, whereas selling the same amount with a major label would be considered a failure. However, many people at Epic had faith in the band’s potential for success. Love took the band in a new direction, since many of the songs on it did not sound at all like their previous work. In addition, Walter’s drumming was much more aggressive than Hebrank’s.
Although the band appears to be on the way to greater success, its members remain modest. Detar told Salvatore Tuzzeo Jr. in the Bergen County, New Jersey, Record, “We haven’t afforded ourselves any rock-star luxuries—we’re not to that point yet.”
Understand That This Is a Dream, Tooth and Nail, 1999.
Emotion Is Dead, Tooth and Nail, 1999.
Music from Another Room (EP), Tooth and Nail, 2001.
Love, Epic, 2002.
Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY), August 2, 2002, p. G2.
Cincinnati Enquirer, February 10, 2003, p. C7.
Florida Today (Melbourne, FL), September 20, 2002, p. 17; February 14, 2003, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times, February 27, 2003, p. E12.
Morning Call (Allentown, PA), June 27, 2002, p. E13; July 5, 2002, p. E4.
Record (Bergen County, NJ), July 12, 2002, p. O16.