Playing tough soul music that deals with good times, heartbreak, and the realities of life in the 21st century, Durand Jones & the Indications are a potent deep soul revival band based in Bloomington, Indiana. Formed by college students with a taste for vintage R&B and a desire to have some fun, the band found themselves jumping to professional status when their self-titled debut album (2016), recorded on a shoestring using mostly amateur gear, became an underground success as their emulation of classic East Coast and Midwest soul styles won over fans and critics. A storming live show and a reissue of their first album by a larger label helped boost Durand Jones & the Indications’ profile, leading to two more full-lengths, American Love Call (2019) and Private Space (2021), the latter of which drew more from ’70s inspirations.
Durand Jones grew up in a small town in Louisiana, and first performed in public as a member of the youth choir at his church, where the congregation was impressed with his strong vocal abilities. Jones’ grandmother, who persuaded him to join the choir, also urged him to take up the saxophone, and in 2012, after receiving a BA from Southern Louisiana University, he left home to attend the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University in Bloomington as a graduate student. While performing with a campus saxophone ensemble, Jones stuck up a friendship with fellow students Aaron Frazer and Blake Rhein, who shared his love of vintage soul and R&B. Jones was a reluctant lead singer, but Frazer (who played drums and sang) and Rhein (who played guitar) felt he had potential as a frontman. Bassist Kyle Houpt and keyboardist Justin Hubler, bandmates of Frazer and Rhein in the blues-fueled rock band Charlie Patton's War, rounded out the lineup, and Durand Jones & the Indications began playing parties off campus.
As their popularity grew, the group began penning original material, and they started recording in Frazer’s basement, using a four-track recording rig and a karaoke microphone for lead vocals. Some of their early recordings made their way to Terry Cole, who ran a small soul-oriented label called Colemine Records, and in 2015 Cole issued their debut single, “Smile.” In 2016, Colemine issued the Durand Jones & the Indications album, which they recorded at home for just $452.11, which included the cost of the beer they drank. Word of mouth and the support of indie record stores helped the album find an audience, and the band hit the road, winning new fans with their powerful live act. The independent Dead Oceans label struck a deal with Colemine to release an expanded edition of the debut album in 2018, fortified with the inclusion of several live tracks. Dead Oceans and Colemine joined forces for the March 2019 release of American Love Call, the second Durand Jones & the Indications album and the first cut in a proper studio, featuring new keyboardist Steve Okonski, who replaced Hubler.
Between albums, the band offered a pair of ballads with indicative titles, the slow-grooving “Cruisin to the Park” and reassuring “Power to the People,” and welcomed bassist Mike Montgomery following the departure of Houpt. Frazer, who previously cut a gospel single under the name the Flying Stars of Brooklyn NY, released a solo album, Introducing..., in January 2021. Jones’ activity outside the group had included some saxophone work and a collaboration with Stone Foundation; he also co-wrote and fronted the Bamboos’ “If Not Now (Then When),” which appeared on the album Hard Up in May 2021. Two months later, Durand Jones & the Indications returned with Private Space, on which the band delved into smooth soul and disco. ~ Mark Deming & Andy Kellman