Bay Area rockers Ultra Q have already gained a tremendous amount of success throughout their career and they’re all under 30. From playing house shows to touring the U.S. to playing overseas, Ultra Q is not going away anytime soon.
In 2015, lead vocalist Jakob Armstrong (son of Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong) and best friends Chris (drummer) and Enzo Malaspina (guitarist) created an entire universe that would not only change lives, but symbolize important moments and eras for themselves and fans. Under the name Jakob Danger (aka Danger!) the trio released a self-titled EP with songs released on Soundcloud such as “King Of The World” and “Don’t Try.” The teenage trio entered the world of East Bay’s DIY Punk scene when they weren’t even old enough to be in the venues. After holding the band together with three members for two years, bassist Kevin Judd joined as the band changed their name to Mt. Eddy.
Under a new name and sound, the four-piece captured the hearts of fans all around the world. In June 2017, Mt. Eddy’s debut album, Chroma, was released and set the stakes even higher. A simple, yet genuinely mature album, especially coming out of four kids from California. The title track enhances sounds of jazz melodies and relatable lyrics, no matter what age you are. After Jakob and Chris graduated from high school, Mt. Eddy went on tour with Hockey Dad and The Coldfronts around America. During the band’s first-ever tour, they gained major success as well as pleasing people who were already fans. The band also earned the pleasure of performing on Jam In The Van as Mt. Eddy twice. In 2018, the band’s self-titled EP featured a different sound with the same vibe. “Zombie” features a love for the living from the deceased, along with a charming music video with a Back To The Future vibe. “I Luv Robert Smith” expresses feelings of jealousy and bitterness, which also features an ‘80s inspired music video with a Breakfast Club aesthetic. In October 2018, Mt. Eddy announced they would be playing their last show under the name at Uncool Halloween at the end of the month, but had something better planned…
In April 2019, Ultra Q was born. The members remained the same, but the sound matured even more. At this point, all four had graduated high school and were ready for the big times. The debut single released under the new name was “redwoood” followed by “Gool” which were both instant fan favourites. These singles led up to September 2019’s debut EP release, We’re Starting To Get Along. The EP featured both singles along with fast-paced “What D’ya Call It?”, title track and “Wild.” Ultra Q hit the road in the fall supporting Bad Suns on their tour, which resulted in earning more success. Amidst the beginning of the pandemic, a second EP — In A Cave, In A Videogame — was released in its entirety in April 2020. After that, the band took a sabbatical. Live shows were on pause and so was Ultra Q. The band took the time to redirect themselves and focus on what direction they wanted to go musically. They strived to work on something that would be new, fresh and clean. The band would reinvent themselves again, only this time keeping their name…
In August 2021, the boys were back in an all-new way. Get Yourself A Friend was released November 19, 2021 via Royal Mountain Records, and presents the maturity of the band. “Pupkin” kicks off the EP with an invitation into a new Ultra Q era. “It’s Permanent” features gothic escapism with Jakob’s flourishing vocals, Kevin’s ever-lasting bassline and Chris’ repetitive drum beats. “Bowman” embraces uniqueness within the band and throws a new twist on Indie-rock with relatable lyrics such as “I let you down and I wanna know what it’s like.” “Straight Jacket” slows things down as Jakob’s vocals leave you feeling at ease. “Handheld” features a fast-paced drum beat and choppy guitar riffs. The title track closes it out and captures the essence of the band with romantic vocals as well as captivating guitar riffs.
Now that you’ve got a crash course in the history of Ultra Q, it’s time to find out what’s next. We had a chance to chat with Ultra Q about their penchant for reinvention & where they’re headed next.
Q+A With ULTRA Q:
What made you decide to rename the band and start fresh each time?
Our taste changed when half of us graduated high school and on to college. We also had given into harsh words written about us making us question where the project would head next. So when we gather back together we thought about changing things up. That spawned Ultra Q.
What does this new EP & name represent for you in your musical journey?
Hopefully the first step of reminding people we exist and the predecessor of something that will stand the test of time.
Looking back now, is there anything your past releases symbolize to you? Whether from a content/lyrical perspective or looking back on that time in your lives.
Of course, listening back it’s partly cringe to listen to the younger versions of ourselves, but it’s absolutely intertwined with our teen years in the most emotional way.
What were your inspirations for this time period of the band? Did they change from previous eras?
Almost 98%, other than really integral bands that made us want to start playing in a band, the bands that influenced us changed with time.
What have you learned from the past iterations of the band that you take with you as Ultra Q?
Don’t listen to the haters. In the same sense, don’t give in to drinking that Hater-ade.
What’s been the most challenging part of the journey from Danger! to Ultra Q?
Questioning the direction and as a band, being on the same page with everything. Up until the GYAF EP, it’s been an uphill battle. Feels amazing though to finally be pointed in the same direction as a group now.
How do you stay motivated?
The fact that we still have 40-50 songs and the fact that the music keeps getting better.
How does it feel to be playing live shows again?
Unimaginable, weird to feel like people still listen to our music after so long.
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Press photo by Alice Baxley