Posted July 8, 2020 by Jeff in Tunes

JR JR Releases New Single Recorded in Quarantine

JR JR photo by Pamela Littky
JR JR photo by Pamela Littky

Following the August and Everything Prior EP, JR JR released the new single, “The Gambler.” 

With plans for North American touring scuttled by COVID-19, Josh Epstein and Daniel Zott simply created new music while in quarantine. A trip to Las Vegas inspired the song.

 “We were put up in a truly depressing casino, which featured an oxygen/IV fluid bar in the lobby, next to a tattoo parlor,” says Epstein in a press release about the tune. “The hotel’s all-you-can-eat buffet was highly worrisome to me as a germ spreading nightmare (and COVID-19 wasn’t even a thought yet). Now, I’m no prude when it comes to life, but something happened to my psyche seeing old men dragging their oxygen tanks behind them as they smoked menthol cigarettes indoors.”

He decided I’d try to play some slots, but the ATM charged a $25 fee, and he refused to pay that out of principle. He tried to find another casino (or even a pharmacy) to use a different ATM but found that the walkway to get to the “strip” was shut down because “a bunch of young white teenagers” were attempting to fight any homeless people who walked by.

“So what was I to do?” Epstein says. “I figured I’d do what anyone in that position naturally would — go for a bite in the Guy Fieri-affiliated restaurant by the hotel pool. But when I was informed I’d have to pay $25 to get to the pool, I again refused out of principle. I then took the photo we’re using for this single’s cover in what used to be the horse racing portion of the casino, which seemed to have been abandoned since the early 2000s. Immediately after taking the photo, I had what I can only describe as a 14-hour panic attack until we left a full day early.”

Once Epstein got home, he started making beats from sounds and samples that matched the feeling of the photo. Zott added the elements that made the song feel “drunk” and “woozy” to match the characters they were writing about.

JR JR promises to deliver a steady stream of new material throughout the summer.

Photo Credit: Pamela Littky


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at jeff@whopperjaw.net.