The Black Fortys talk jazz influence, Chicago sessions and Carbondale

By Chase Myers, @chasemyers_DE

Blending a unique set of influences ranging from ‘90s alternative rock to jazz, Carbondale’s very own The Black Fortys has been blessing the scene with a progressive pop sound.

The band consists of Josh Murphy on guitar and vocals, Kevin Ohlau on percussion and vocals, Nathan Doyle on bass guitar and Jimmy Beers on drums.

The Black Fortys will perform at 6 p.m. at the Friday Night Fair located on the corner of Route 51 North and Route 13 West. Admission to the festival is free and open to everyone.


The night will also feature music from The Jewels, a jazz collective The Black Fortys consider as a brother band.

The Daily Egyptian had the opportunity to speak with Josh Murphy about the band’s history and their self proclaimed “outsider progressive” view of music.

How did the band get started?

I met Kevin and Nate in Chicago. I was recording them with another band called Queen May at the time. We all moved back down from Chicago at the same time, and because I knew them from that recording session, I asked them to come play with me. It just went from there. There have been different members throughout the years, but those are the three core guys.

As a group, who, or what, are you guys influenced by?

Kevin has a big jazz influence. Nate and I were both into Radiohead a lot. Radiohead is probably the pervasive influence. We all come from different angles and we try to blend somewhat contradictory influences together. 

Can you describe what “outsider progressive pop” means to the band?


We say that because its music that doesn’t really fit into a particular genre and usually when things are progressive, that means that we just try to stretch the normal envelope of how a pop song is structured.

How are the vibes from the crowds at Friday Night Fairs?

Those things are nice to play because it’s evening time and it’s outside. It’s just nice to kind of get out of the house, out of the basement or a bar and just get to play outside. I think we all like that experience of it. I never really know what other people think. We just kind of go do our thing and hope somebody enjoys it.

Since you guys have those influences, would you say the band has an overall jazz influence?

Definitely. I’m a huge Miles Davis fan. I know Kevin likes John Coltrane and all those classic guys. We use elements and we even provide sections [of jazz] on this new album.

How was the recording process for your new album?

We tried to do something a little out of the ordinary for ourselves. We tried to track 10 songs in two days, which we pulled off in Chicago at the Observatory Studios. David Allen produced it. It was great. It was probably the easiest and most fruitful recording experience I’ve ever had. It was very quick and painless. We crammed a lot in very quickly and I think we’re all pretty happy with it.

Have you remained loyal to the same recording process, or do you switch it up?

Our first recording, I did out of my room in my house. The next one we did at the Skihaus basement with David Allen.  Then, we recorded with Brian Deck in Chicago in a more professional setting. The last one we did in my house again and this one was back in Chicago, so we’re all over the place.

What makes the Carbondale music scene special?

It always seems to be individualistic. You go to some places and maybe everyone’s trying to have a certain look or a certain sound, but don’t feel like that happens so much in Carbondale. I feel like people just do what they want to do the way they want to do it. There are pros and cons to that, but I think, ultimately, it ends up being more individualistic. There’s not a social thing to aspire to by doing what you do. You just do it because that’s all you know how to do.