Joel Jerome Is the Behind-the-Scenes Indie King

Joel Jermone at work
Joel Jermone at work
Courtesy of the Artist

The hot sun beats down on the iron gate leading into the Psychedelic Thriftstore, the Glassell Park recording studio of Joel Jerome. "I spend most of my time here," says Jerome. In fact, he almost never leaves.

Jerome's real name is Joel Morales, but if you ask the 20 or so bands he's currently working with as a sound engineer or producer, they'll probably just call him "Papa Joel." In the last year or two, Cherry Glazerr, La Sera, Globelamp, Tashaki Miyaki, and Sarah Negahdari from Happy Hollows have recorded with him. They want his distinctive sound, his ability to harness harmonies over punchy, old school drums and guitar experimentation through a collection of vintage amps.

Inside the studio itself, the aroma of dusty instruments and aged guitar wood creates the atmosphere of an old music shop. He's even got a Mellotron keyboard—a throwback to the one used on Sgt. Peppers. His studio includes a collection of acoustic guitars from the '70s, reminiscent of Neil Young's old shack in Lauren Canyon, including a couple Yamaha red labels that fill the room with a warm, rustic glow. 

He also has an assistant, Aoibhee (pronounced Evy), who helps keep track of all that's happening at the studio.

The Psychedelic Thrifstore's amps from the '50s and '60s
The Psychedelic Thrifstore's amps from the '50s and '60s
Courtesy of the Artist

"People come to me asking me about my sound, but I never like to impose my will on their creative process," says Jerome.

At 38, he's a father figure to many of the bands that occupy his studio. "I don't like to advertise," he says, "I just work with people I vibe with, mostly friends."

For the last three years, Jerome has been meticulously working on Psychedelic Thriftstore Folk, a 12-track album he's releasing today, which includes his seven minute opus, "Everybody Wants Somebody." The track is a rich, melodic journey that's highlighted by a 3-minute, Brian Wilson-sounding breakdown filled with a Manzarek organ solo, scorching sax, and guitar solo that drips with psychedelic ooze.  

The album is being released through Manimal and Psychedelic Thriftstore Recordings (Jerome's new label), which currently has a backlog of over 240 complete recordings.

"Next year, I'll be releasing a lot of music," he says. "I mean, not like Ty Segall," he says with a smile, "but a lot." To say he's prolific would be an understatement. He's even got a Sgt. Peppers tribute album set to release on October 28th titled With A Little Help From My Homies. Which is ironic, since he's always the one helping his friends bring their dreams to life at his Psychedelic Thriftstore—part recording studio, part funhouse. 

Joel Jerome's record release show is on Oct 2nd at The Lexington with Levitation Room, So Many Wizards and Winter

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