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JJAMZ: Best friends start a band

By Denise Quan, CNN
updated 12:36 PM EDT, Tue August 28, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "Suicide Pact" is JJAMZ's debut CD, released this summer on Dangerbird Records
  • "Suicide Pact" features 10 dreamy indie pop tracks
  • The band boasts members of Maroon 5, Phantom Planet, Rilo Kiley, Bright Eyes and The Like

(CNN) -- First, you have to get past the name. JJAMZ -- pronounced with a stutter on the "J" -- sounds more like a Nickelodeon TV show than a hipster supergroup. Yet its musical pedigree is impressive, boasting members of Maroon 5, Phantom Planet, Rilo Kiley, Bright Eyes and The Like.

"The band really just started out of our friendship," says James Valentine, who is best known to mainstream audiences as the guitarist for Maroon 5. "It literally started on a night when we were all just hanging out, drinking together, and we decided, 'Hey, why not write some songs?' So we did."

The result is "Suicide Pact," their debut CD, released this summer on Dangerbird Records. The disc features 10 dreamy indie pop tracks -- from the retro-sounding "Never Enough" to the Madonna-esque lead single, "Heartbeat."

"All of our previous engagements and bands we were in before this sort of took breaks or ended around the same time," explains Z Berg, the only female in the quintet. "We all kind of magically were able to make this a real band, which is cool."

Berg first gained notice as the 15-year-old vocalist of the girl group The Like. In JJAMZ, she trades off on lead vocals with Phantom Planet front man Alex Greenwald and solo artist Michael Runion. Drummer Jason Boesel, whose credits include Rilo Kiley and Bright Eyes, rounds out the band with guitarist Valentine. The five say they've been best friends for more than a decade.

"There's a lot of history in this band, and you just have to wonder what it is," Berg teases.

"It would be a really good 'Behind the Music' if we got into how entangled all of our lives are," Valentine says. "It would be the best 'Behind the Music' ever."

But Boesel says: "No way we're going to top Motley Crue."

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