Love Jones, shown here around the time of their debut album in 1993, will perform Thursday, Jan. 10, on “The Tonight Show.” | Courtesy of Love Jones

It was 1991 when Louisville-formed band Love Jones moved west to California, becoming a core part of a musical movement called Cocktail Nation, and eventually landing a recording contract.

They would go on to make appearances in motion pictures, perform on Conan O’Brien’s “Late Late Show” and land a song on the soundtrack for the cult classic film “Swingers.”

As the 25th anniversary of the band’s debut album “Here’s to the Losers” approached, the members of Love Jones considered a celebratory vinyl pressing, eventually deciding to launch a Kickstarter campaign.

“Here’s to the Losers” was released in 1993. | Courtesy of Love Jones

It was then up to the fans to decide.

“We couldn’t afford to do it,” bassist and band co-founder Barry Thomas tells Insider. “We said, ‘We’ll see what happens.’”

It happened, all right. The campaign exceeded the $6,000 goal and the album got made, with 500 of the records pressed in red and black vinyl, multiple bonus tracks included.

But as the campaign progressed through 2018, the story quickly got more interesting.

Last August, Thomas posted something on social media about plans to re-press the album, which originally was released in late 1993 on the Zoo Entertainment label (Tool, Matthew Sweet).

Thomas was surprised when Jimmy Fallon’s representatives got in touch out of the blue, asking the band to appear on “The Tonight Show.”

NBC’s official promo for the performance | Courtesy of NBC

“They contacted me on Facebook,” Thomas says. “Apparently, he’s a longtime fan. I think it might have been from the ‘Swingers’ soundtrack, I don’t know.”

Band co-founder Ben Daughtrey offered a different theory. “When Jimmy Fallon’s staff was trying to decide what to have on the show this week, they said, ‘We can have Justin Timberlake, Ariana Grande or a 25-year-old band that nobody’s ever heard of,’” he says.

Whatever prompted the invitation, the band will appear on Thursday, Jan. 10, and perform a song. The other guests are actors Bryan Cranston and Lana Condor.

Thomas said the studio stage will be designed to recreate the album cover from “Here’s to the Losers,” complete with a bar and the lonely-looking blonde woman with cigarette holder and cocktail.

“But we won’t be wearing red,” Thomas jokes.

Love Jones, shown here performing at Headliners circa 2011, reunites a couple of times each year. | Courtesy of Love Jones

They will perform one song, but since Love Jones doesn’t have a bona fide hit song to its credit — the band went on to release two more albums, one with Zoo and the other an independent release in 2010 — there wasn’t a clear choice of which song to play.

They decided to ask Fallon to choose one, and he picked the title track to the debut album, which was timely and appropriate to the re-release.

“If you had asked five different band members, you probably would have gotten five different answers,” Thomas says about the song choice. “So we rolled the dice and asked him, and he picked that one.”

Love Jones will appear on “The Tonight Show” as a 10-piece ensemble, complete with a three-piece horn section. Also, fans of the band will notice minor changes to the song; the band added a bridge to the cool lounge arrangement to give it a bit more zip.

As Thomas puts it, “We added some dynamics.”

“We made it better,” says guitarist Chris Hawpe.

The night after the appearance, Love Jones, which now is split between California and Louisville and reunites a couple of times a year, will perform a full set at The Cutting Room in New York. And while most of the 25thh anniversary albums have been sold, there are still some available to the public via the band’s website ($32).

What if album sales blow up after the performance on “The Tonight Show”? Thomas says the band’s Twitter feed has more than doubled since the performance announcement on social media, so who knows? Just in case, Thomas already has an order for more records cued up.

“We have zero idea what effect this going to have,” he says. Somewhere, Cocktail Nation will be watching.

“The Tonight Show” with the Love Jones performance airs Thursday, Jan. 10, at 11:30 p.m. on NBC.

Kevin Gibson
Kevin Gibson tackles the 3Rs — retail, restaurants, real estate — plus, economic development. He loves bacon, loathes cucumbers and once interviewed Yoko Ono. Check out his books, “Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft” and “100 Things to do in Louisville Before You Die.” He has won numerous awards for his work but doesn’t know where most of them are now. In his spare time, he plays in a band called the Uncommon Houseflies.Email Kevin at [email protected]