By Sarah Bennett
By Adam Lovinus
By Jena Ardell
By Nate Jackson
By Gustavo Arellano
By Nick Keppler
By Nate Jackson
By Alex Distefano
Swimming With Whalesharks
Together in their current form for about a year, Janu and the Whalesharks have already taken a huge step toward committing themselves to their music. Co-vocalists—and brother and sister—Jake and Sarah Pappas both put their higher education at San Diego State University on hold, returning to their native Orange County to focus on the band, which also includes lifelong friends Jared Slaybaugh (bass) and Jesse Dorman (drums).
“We’re not against school,” says Jake, who also plays guitar and banjo. “I went to college for three years. If I don’t pursue music now, I don’t want to be one of those people who graduates school and gets stuck in a career they don’t want to do.”
This “seize the moment” ethos can be heard in their music, frequently upbeat folk, which verges on bluegrass (see numbers such as “Owls” from their Binocular EP). Their music is as fun as their band name is wacky, and their live shows are correspondingly lively. Watching them in concert, only the stodgiest of squares could resist being sucked in to even their quieter songs such as “Journalists.”
“It’s just a really cool journey of writing and constantly creating something new,” says Jake. “Because we’ve only been together about a year, we’re still adapting to a sound we’re comfortable with.”
Oh, and that name? Jake shares that it comes from his sister’s unique habit of calling anyone close to her “Janu” as a term of endearment, as well as him calling his group of friends from high school “the whalesharks.” (Hope that doesn’t ruin the mystery.) And yes, they get asked about it a lot.
Hey, Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, contact info, high-res photos and upcoming show dates for possible review to: Locals Only,OC Weekly, 2975 Red Hill Ave., Ste 150, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Or e-mail your link to firstname.lastname@example.org.