Here’s How the Recently Reunited Jacksonville Indie-Rock band The Julius Airwave Makes Their Crunchy, Confident Sound

The Julius Airwave gear heads image
The Julius Airwave in the early 2000s, their formative, industry-interest-peaking years. The group is back with new music | Photo courtesy of the artist, graphix by Bonnie Zerr

When Rick Colado, Chris Gibson, and Mark Hubbard started making music together in the late ’90s as The Julius Airwave, their teenage sound was confident and wild. “Our music eventually became restrained and unsure,” says singer and guitarist Colado, “and now, it’s just fun. But we are an indie rock band.”

This year, the band has released two new singles—Slow Erode and 3 x 2—and has a few new songs in the hopper. It’s been decades since the band has recorded together at all, but these new tracks maintain the thoughtfully driving feeling that The Julius Airwave became known for around Northeast Florida in the early aughts. 

“We just liked playing music with each other,” explains Colado, who in recent years has been performing as frontman of Rickolus and other projects. “Back then, we were just kids smoking cigs, stomping on distortion pedals, smashing drums, and screaming into crappy PA systems.” 

Julius Airwave press photo
The older, wiser, less commercially ambitious Julius Airwave returned to the studio and the stage in 2023 | Courtesy of the artist

In their formative years, the band pursued commercial success, “which influenced everything,” according to Colado. “During this time, we were more influenced by the people around us,” which included producers and industry representatives who didn’t seem to have the band’s best interests in mind. Citing industry influence as the reason, Colado felt that the music the band were making at the time sounded “uncertain.”

After relinquishing a commercial focus, the band took a DIY approach, but the trio eventually moved on to different projects. Now, they’ve re-joined forces to record new songs and play live. “We just are having a good time,” says Colado. “It’s really relaxed. We have no expectations for these new tunes or the band aside from having fun.”

Colado told us about the changes in the band’s gear makeup from the late 1990s to the early 2020s. In Colado’s own words, here are The Julius Airwave’s recording essentials—then and now.

Gear Essentials: Then and Now

Guitar Amp

THEN: Fender Hot Rod Deville 410

NOW: Vox AC15

Vox amps are bright most of the time. I usually play through a more muddy-sounding amp—I like lots of mids and lows—but this has been cool. It cuts through everything.

Guitar Pedals

THEN: Boss RV-5

NOW: Plumes Overdrive and Aqueduct Vibrato

I got the RV-5 back in 1999. It was one of my favorites, but it recently crapped out. It was the first pedal I ever played with that let me adjust how much of the raw or affected sound I was getting. For instance, I could hit the pedal, and all of a sudden, you just hear the reverb. Add some distortion to that, and my guitar sounded like Kevin Shields. It was awesome. Also, the reverb didn’t sound incredibly real. It has its own weird sound. 

Plumes is a solid overdrive pedal—nice crunchy, fuzzy sound. It still has roughness to it. The Aqueduct makes my guitar sound funny as hell, and I like that. It makes my solos sound like Zelda 2 on Nintendo.

Vocal Mic

THEN: Shure SM58

NOW: Telefunken M80

I first really noticed the M80 at a show at Blue Jay Listening Room. The sound engineer had one up for me, and I loved how it sounded with my low-ass voice. My voice has a ton of bass, and this mic just reacts really well with that. It brings out the highs and balances the lows.


THEN: Jetglo Rickenbacker

NOW: Gibson Thunderbird

Chris has had so many different basses. I love the Rick, but his new Thunderbird sounds dope. They both look cool. I think the Thunderbird sounds a bit rounder than the Rick, which is probably cool since I’m playing through the Vox and have a brighter sound. It balances things out. The Rick has a cool, crisp, high-end sound that can make the bass pop out more.


THEN and NOW: Rat 2

Chris has had the same Rat pedal forever. We love distorted Rat bass. I haven’t done a shoot-out with other pedals, but the way Chris plays a rat on bass always has teeth. It bites and roars like a monster.

Drums and Hardware Bag

THEN and NOW: Pearl and Gretsch Catalina kits (plus the Doo-Dad Bag)

Mark still uses the same drum kits. He finally got some new drum heads. We joke about the bag that he carries his hardware in. It’s just a camo duffle bag that we call “the doo-dad bag.” He’s had that thing forever.

Other Essentials: Then and Now

Practice Space

THEN: The Green Shed

NOW: Warehouse Studios

The shed behind my parents’ house in Jax Beach is on its last limbs. The end of an era. That was our practice space and my home studio for nearly 20 years. The building has some problems, and now the leaks have gotten into the walls. It’s a mess.

We now practice at Warehouse Studios, which has been a great place to practice. The folks running the studio have been instrumental in this new chapter of Julius Airwave. I think having a bigger room to work in—one that isn’t at one of our houses—has affected how we work. It’s like a neutral zone that we’ve built into our own. That place has history, too. Good vibes.


THEN: Slim Jims + cigarettes

NOW: coffee + water + meds

Chris used to eat Slim Jims, and we all smoked cigs. Now, we all drink coffee and water, and we take some kind of old-people medication to cope with our aging bodies and brains.

Watching Sports

THEN: Who cares?

NOW: Mets and Jags

Chris and I have become mega sports fans. I’m way into baseball (let’s go, Mets), and he’s a huge Jaguars fan (let’s go, Jags). When we were younger, none of us gave a damn about sports.

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