Photograph by Sam Volkmer.

Jens Lehman and the Time Cops: Crafting a unique sound

Every year, hundreds of Lincoln bands and artists spend countless hours in basements and studios preparing for the next gig, the next single or the next album. They’re actively creating and contributing to a unique sound and music culture in Lincoln, a scene that is showcased each year at Lincoln Exposed.

Lincoln Exposed is an annual wintertime music festival held at several venues in downtown Lincoln. This year, it runs Wednesday, Feb. 7 through Saturday, Feb. 10, featuring bands from almost every music genre. Up-and-coming band Jens Lehman and the Time Cops draws from many hometown influences, creating an enjoyable and familiar but unique sound.

What started as a solo project of Lehman’s transformed into the Time Cops as a way to bring his songs to live audiences with a full band. After two years of practicing and performing, the Lehman and the new Time Cops became one, and now they’re near completion of recording a new original EP together.

Jens Lehman and the Time Cops, as they would describe themselves, are “The E Street Band trying to play a set with Prince, and getting really close to pulling it off.”

And I think that’s a really apt description. Where some bands might take that as critical, they take it in stride. That missing of the mark is not from lack of effort or talent, it’s from the band forging their own unique sound out of a variety of influences.

Seeds Entertainment recently sat down with frontman Jens Lehman along with Time Cops John Borstelmann and Thai Nguyen to discuss those influences.

Photograph by Sam Volkmer.
Photograph by Sam Volkmer.

Besides the main starting point of Bruce Springsteen, there’s also Joni Mitchell, The Beatles, some heavier rock, and even Chance the Rapper. Lehman told me, “Those are the artists you reach for that you eventually fall and become yourself.”

The result is a funky jazz-rock sound that allows for Lehman’s vocals and piano to mesh seamlessly with the Time Cops differing unique sounds: Thai Nguyen on Guitar and Luke Morris on drums bringing a rock sound while John Borstelmann (saxophone), Taylor Cobb (trumpet), and Marc Mason (bass) bring jazz/R&B and blues.

They don’t always keep strictly to those roles, but the mixture of genres lends to each of their songs being an enjoyable twisting road through musical genres. Lehman also has an undeniable writing talent that gives the Time Cops a base that flexibly works with the different musical themes.

Jens Lehman and the Time Cops are playing for Lincoln Exposed Thursday, Feb. 8, at Duffy’s Tavern and have a currently untitled EP coming out soon.

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