When the average person activates the app TimeHop on Facebook, it's to randomly revisit a prior status that otherwise would be permanently forgotten. It gives a jolt of humdrum nostalgia through imposed serendipity. Small moments re-gifted, it's basically the written version of a #throwbackthursday selfie. But when You Blew It! frontman Tanner Jones takes the TimeHop for a jaunt, he's more likely to generate Weakerthans lyrics than a reminiscence of his band's quick rise to popularity, which has kept them actively touring on steady subsequent releases since their 2012 debut full-length, Grow Up, Dude.
"You know TimeHop?" Jones asks during a recent phone interview from the road on You Blew It's first official headlining tour with Tiny Moving Parts and Rozwell Kid. "I can't tell you how many times my Facebook status updates pop up from four years ago that say, 'Wishing I could be John K. Samson' or 'Man, why can't I be in the Weakerthans?'"
Give You Blew It's new three-song EP, Pioneer of Nothing, a spin, and you'll end up sensing Samson in the EP's closer, "Your Side." With its ambiguous depiction of the longing experienced when people are separated, the sincere tearjerker lyrics beg to be vague-booked by the eager audience currently enjoying the emo revival that You Blew It is widely associated with. But You Blew It stands apart in a way that's often obscured for the convenience of putting the band in that pile, due to the poetic introspection that gives the lyrics an extra sear when Jones delivers them onstage with the room-commanding fierceness of cult-inducing indie greats like David Bazan. Jones requests a severe late pass on Pedro the Lion as a recent but rampant fan.
"Ben Gibbard, John K. Samson or David Bazan," Jones says, "those are the three big ones that I look at and use to shine a light on my own writing these days."
That solid core of influences has helped keep You Blew It in the spotlight, with the jokingly self-deprecating four-piece selling out hip venues like the Mohawk in Austin and Webster Hall in New York City, but Jones says unlike tours where You Blew It served as support for more widely recognized artists, there's no division between the band and their openers. They frequently switch vans to ride together and bunk up in a way that feels like family, but not necessarily like home.
"I feel kind of self-conscious about that sometimes because as a guy singing in a band, I feel like it's my responsibility to get out, and you know, smile and talk and shake hands," Jones says. "But 80 percent of the time, I like being a recluse. I like being alone and having my own space."
Before the tour, You Blew It performed their first-ever Park Ave CDs in-store, a surreal invitation for an Orlando kid who formed his music identity flipping through their racks of vinyl to discover new sounds. The crowd assembled was warm, and Jones admitted it was strange and awesome taking that particular stage.
"Going from hardly being able to get in there for an in-store to being the guy playing the in-store was so, so cool," Jones says. "So cool."
Although the band just dropped new music and have almost completed a monthlong tour on Pioneer of Nothing, Jones says they hope to hunker down now to work on the next LP, promising to fulfill commitments they've already made, but otherwise disappearing for a period to collectively put music to the lyrics Jones has unexpectedly found are newly pouring out of him. But it could also be that he's ready to embrace downtime in a place he knows like the back of his hand (or, perhaps more apt, like every word of every Death Cab for Cutie record).
"[Home is] definitely Orlando, that's where everything I hold dear is," Jones says. "My girlfriend is there, my apartment is there, all my friends live there. That sense of comfort is there."
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