The call from the JFP catches Jucifer grocery shopping in Arizona.
JFP: What are you doing right now?
Amber Valentine of Jucifer: I'm grocery shopping.
What are you buying?
Amber: I'm a vegan, and we have been looking all over for a health food store. We finally found one today. The fridge [in the r.v.] shut down on us, so I'm not only looking for vegan food, I'm trying to find vegan non-perishables!
That can't be very easy. Where are you guys right now?
We're in Casa Grande, Arizona. We had a blowout in Tucson and missed a few shows, which I feel really lousy about, but we finally got it fixed, and so we're back on the road.
Somebody told me you guys were living out of a r.v.
Yeah, we're in a r.v. It wouldn't be possible to live in a van for this length of time, especially with a dog! It is a lot more expensive to have the r.v., though. Like changing tires on a van is no big deal. Changing tires on a r.v. is a really big deal.
What kind of a dog do you have?
He is a wonderful mutt! He's got every time of herding dog in him. He likes herding people and cats, mostly [laughs].
What's his name?
His name is Go-go.
Yeah, we were in a really big go-go music phase when we got him [laughs].
OK, I'm going to ask you the obligatory question about "when is the new album coming out?
Well, when we get off tour we're going to do an e.p. We wanted to do a double album, but that's really expensive, and our label convinced us to just do the e.p. We're very popular in France right now [laughs], which is remarkable, and a new thing to us. They're very excited about us over there, so the e.p. gives our label something to send over and then we can tour behind it.
Are you touring with anybody right now?
No, we're headlining right now. We just got off tour with Local H.
Uh . . . Local H? The kind of rap-metal yelling band?
Yeah, that's them [laughs]. I didn't know about them, but it was really interesting. I wouldn't have figured on liking something that mainstream, but I really liked being around them. I have a lot of respect for the guitarist.
So you're from the South, right? Are you actually from Athens?
No, I'm from a little town about 150 miles outside of Athens, around the Alabama and Mississippi border. No one has ever heard of it!
Maybe not a lot of folks, but we have tons of towns like that here, too. That part of Georgia and Alabama reminds me of bits of Mississippi a lot. What do think about the South?
I think being southern is something very strong and powerful. To deal with growing up in the South and being a weirdo—to even get out of high school is a triumph! [laughs].
Do people act weird to you when you're on the road because you're from the South?
Yeah, people look at us sometimes. It's the accents, you know?
What is your favorite place to eat in Athens?
The Grit! I worked at the Grit [an all-vegetarian restaurant] for six years, and that's my favorite place to eat in Athens.
Isn't that the place Michael Stipe [lead singer of R.E.M.] owns? Didn't he own that at one time?
No, but everybody thinks that. Michael Stipe owns the building, but everybody thinks because he's a vegetarian that he owns it.
When was the last time you guys were at home?
We haven't been in Georgia in a year—we've been on the road for a year now.
Have you ever been to Mississippi before?
I've only driven through it before—I've never stayed there.
So you're not scared of us, huh? Sometimes we get these bands here that are actually a little taken aback, because they're not so sure about how we're going to act. I went to a house party a while back, and this punk band from up North with tattoos and pierced necks and stuff was all scared of the local kids, because we're Southern.
[Laughs] I'm not scared, because I've been through all those regions. I'm not frightened of the South, or even the world now. I used to be, but now I'm always excited when we're in new places.
You're still in the grocery store, right? So what did you just pick up?
I just picked up some Ice Dream [a non-dairy ice cream]. I'm getting Ed [Livengood, the other half of Jucifer] his favorite, Mint Carob Ice Dream.
How did you become a vegan? Were you a vegetarian before that?
Yeah, I was a vegetarian for about a decade before I went vegan. I used to just love cheese, and I was always saying that I would never give up dairy. Then I just gave it up for a week, and I felt so healthy. I've been a vegan now for about five years. After that, I hated serving cheese at the Grit—it just seemed so disgusting [laughs].
What are you guys listening to on the r.v.?
We just got two CDs we've been meaning to get for a while. We just got—don't laugh at me—we just go this old Sheryl Crow record—the first one, that she got famous on.
Saturday Music Club [sic]? Or something? I have no idea.
I'm not sure. I don't think that's it It's not the one with "All I Wanna Do." All of the hit songs are the ones we don't like. Some of the songs are amazing, and the production is brilliant.
We just got the newest Destiny's Child record—that one about halfway through goes downhill, but at least they put all the good songs first.
I would have never, ever thought your answer would have been Sheryl Crow and Destiny's Child. Ever.
[Laughs] Well, we like all kinds of music. I know people say that all the time. But we just have some many influences. My friend's little sister has loved us since she was 14, and we were riding around and put on a classic rock station. She was all 'I hate classic rock!' And I told her that I knew she couldn't hate it, because she liked AC/DC and she liked us, and that's pretty classic rock! You can't hate it completely, it's not just horrible. Everybody likes the Beatles!