Born and raised in the Fargo-Moorhead area, Joe Overmoe, an indie-alternative musician, has been surrounded by music since he was a little kid. As a child, his mother was the drummer who inspired him to follow in her footsteps when he learned drums and piano. Another inspiration was found in his friend Jesse, with whom he grew up playing music with frequently. Last year, Jesse tragically passed away from an accidental overdose.
“Jesse’s life was cut unexpectedly short by an accidental overdose. He had been struggling to get clean while his fiance was pregnant with their first child. He wanted to be there for her and be the best that he could be, but he struggled and it just didn’t work out in the end for him, sadly. When he passed away last year, the album felt like a way to honor him and cope with his loss,” Joe said.
Now, Joe has released the project ‘To Jesse,’ an album dedicated to his friend that aims to help others find hope and inspiration. I sat down with Joe to discuss the new album, the journey behind the project’s creation, what’s next for Joe musically, and much more.
Did You Know?
Throughout the album, you can hear Joe’s son and daughter hidden on certain tracks.
When Joe was a kid, he was admittedly a bit of a wild child. Anytime that he had “anger or big emotions,” as he put it, his parents would tell him to go play the drums. As an adult, he continues to work through difficult emotions with music.
“We had a couple of bands that were just the two of us over the years and we always dreamt of making an album together. A lot of my musical background comes from going to different shows and playing music with Jesse,” Joe said.
Did You Know?
One of Joe and Jesse’s past band names was “The Road So Far.”
After Jesse’s burial, Joe was traveling to his wife’s hometown, Haven, ND, a small town near Bismarck. On that drive, he had the idea of wanting to honor and memorialize Jesse. As he was driving alone, some words came to mind that he immediately pulled over and recorded on his phone. Those words would later become the first four lines of his song, “Waited For You.”
“I had always had the idea of making more music but didn’t find the inspiration to do so until that drive. When I got back to Fargo, I started playing around and working on some music. While I’m primarily a drummer, I also know some piano and guitar and wanted to dial those in on the album as well,” Joe said.
Using this passion for music to positively handle his emotions, Joe worked on an album dedicated to his dear friend for six months. Those six months culminated with “To Jesse,” a new album that tackles love, loss, and everything in between on a journey of grief. The album was released on December 4, 2022, coinciding with the six-month anniversary of Jesse’s passing.
Did You Know?
Joe has played the drums for various churches since he was 15 years old
With “To Jesse” out now, music listeners can catch it on any major streaming service, or support the album directly through Bandcamp, a music platform that benefits the artists directly, where “To Jesse” can be purchased from Joe. While the project has only been out for a few months, it’s made quite an impact on others.
Did You Know?
The song “Berlin” is named after and dedicated to Jesse’s daughter, who was born shortly after he passed.
I have a friend that I met online who lost his father. He said that he was listening to the album and each song made him weep, which touched my heart that this was able to help other people as it helped me,” Joe said.
While a heavy album, listeners can hear the passion and grief within the album. ‘To Jesse’ can be streamed on all major streaming platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music, or purchased directly from Joe Overmoe’s Bandcamp. Check out this Q&A with Joe Overmoe below to learn more about the project, his upcoming musical endeavors and more.
Joe Overmoe’s Musical Inspiration
Explosions in the Sky
This Will Destroy You
God Is an Astronaut
Q&A with Joe Overmoe
Did you do most of your recording at home?
I did all of the recordings for “To Jesse” at home in one room, including the microphone, electric guitar, piano, and drums. I would send my work to a friend of mine and Jesse’s, River Marchand, would produce and fine-tune the tracks. River has worked on their girlfriend’s music, who goes by the name Liyv, and I was blown away by the music’s quality. That ultimately inspired me to actually give this project a go, as I wanted to make music that would honor Jesse, rather than sound cheap and thrown together.
Do you have any specific memory tied to a song when making the album?
The fifth song on the album, “Life and Fear,” has Jesse’s vocals. He’s speaking from his YouTube channel on a previous overdose that he had. When putting that song together, I sat at my desk crying. It was a heavy moment for me when I heard his voice again, months after he passed.
What was your creative process when it comes to “To Jesse” as well as this potential upcoming project?
I usually come into our “music room,” pick up the guitar, and start playing around. When it comes to writing melodies, every once in a while I’ll get an idea for a song with lyrics. As far as lyrics go, ‘97 and Go Easy On Me are the two songs that I sat down and did in one take, where it kind of all came to me at once.
I love that you let the songs naturally breathe throughout the album, without being drowned out by the lyrics. Was that intentional?
It was a half-intentional, half-unintentional happy little accident, but I’m really happy with how it turned out. I had quite a few songs written with lyrics. As I was listening to them, I noticed that some of them weren’t up to par with what I wanted this album to be. As I was trimming what I wasn’t completely satisfied with, I reached out to River to get their opinion. We decided that I’d put some completely instrumental songs on the album, as well as put lyrics on some of the instrumental tracks that were already there. This album was a way for me to cope with loss and honor Jesse.
Do you have any other musical projects coming up?
I’ve actually started work on the second album. I’m not settled on a name or exact feel for the album, but I’m excited to be coming up with new music. All of the songs I’ve written for it so far are instrumental.
Also, I’d love to do some live performances with this next album, whether it’s by myself or with other musicians. I’m intentionally writing the music with a band in mind, as there are so many different instruments and backing tracks. While the last album was very serene and peaceful, I want this next album to have a strong and victorious feeling behind it.
What’s your favorite song on “To Jesse”?
I can’t pick a favorite song from the album, but I do love “Go Easy On Me.” It was a great writing exercise to tell people that they have to keep going and power through it. Taking the time to process emotions is important, rather than shoving them down and being tough. If you recognized that your car was leaking oil, you wouldn’t consider yourself a tough guy if you just ignored it. You’d be a mean idiot to not take care of yourself!
For Those In Need:
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Helpline
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Phone | (800) 662-HELP (4357)
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Support Joe Overmoe and “To Jesse”