If you asked Brett Detar about the future of the Juliana Theory at pretty much any time over the last 11 years, he probably would’ve laughed at you. After the group disbanded in 2006, the frontman was pretty certain there’d never be a real follow-up to 2005’s Deadbeat Sweetheartbeat. Sure, there were compilation albums and live recordings, but — even during the band’s 2010 reunion tour — the now-local Detar never thought the five members of the Juliana Theory would all be back in the studio making music together again.
That’s the plan these days to go along with their recently postponed summer tour. They decided to delay the shows in order to release and promote new music prior to hitting the stage.
“I’ve kind of come to the point where I’ve now embraced the ‘never say never’ mentality because I was so sure in 2010 that we’d never play shows again, and I truly believed that” Detar says. “Now that we’re doing this, I have more of an open mind on things. My entire approach to life at this point is a lot more open to things that present themselves, so I’m not really sure what that means in regards to the Juliana Theory, but I won’t say ‘never’ to anything.”
That open mindset is enough to raise the hopes of Juliana Theory fans everywhere, as the vocalist jokes that they could certainly do more than reuniting for a quick tour every handful of years. After all — unlike some of their defunct peers from over a decade ago — the bandmates don’t exactly hate each other. Like any solid group of friends, Detar, bassist Chad Alan, and the three guys named Josh who make up the rest of the band are all almost constantly communicating either in-person, on the phone, or via group texts and email chains. For that matter, it was their friendship between reunions that even made the upcoming tour possible.
“I was always really sure we would never do anything again, but we all remained really good friends,” Detar says. “We all talk and hang out, and then we started getting a bunch of show offers over the last couple of years. I kept turning them down, but then one of the guys pointed out that it was our 20th anniversary — which sounded totally crazy to me. It made me think maybe this was something we should try to do.”
The second reunion tour for the emotional and intelligent poppy rockers might be the end of the Juliana Theory, or it may be the beginning of a rebirth for one of the often overlooked power players from the 2000s emo scene. Regardless of how things end up, Detar and his crew are taking a very scientific approach to making sure that they can please as many fans as possible with their 2017 setlists.
“It’s really nerdy sounding, but we took a very data-based approach to figuring out what we should play on this tour,” Detar says. “We looked at everything like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and all of the other sources we could find to see what people’s favorite songs were overall. We based our setlist on that data, which is something we’ve never done before. We always did whatever record we were on, but we never actively went and figured out what people actually wanted to hear.”
According to Detar, some of those tracks are tunes the band has either never performed or hasn’t played in so long they don’t remember them. It’ll be a chance for both the Juliana Theory and their fans to walk down memory lane together for the first time in at least seven years, and it’s hard to say which party is more excited for the national tour. But even with as he looks forward to the tour kicking off at the end of the month, Detar can’t help but remember back to his life 20 years ago any time he hears records like 1999’s Understand This is a Dream.
“There are parts of me when I listen to [the early records] that take me back to a certain moment and I can remember when it was written or being in the studio recording it,” Detar says. “Music has such an innate emotional power within it that the ties people have based on music… I don’t know if there’s any other form of art that has that power. When I listen back to those records, there are some things I wish I could change, but I always have to remember that it’s a time capsule to an era and that time in my life. It’s always interesting to go back and listen.”