Thursday, May 12, 2011
Jakob: nice day for an earthquake!
For New Zealand Music Month, I've hauled out some old magazine articles on local musicians that I wrote a while back. They give you a snapshot of artists earlier in their career... This interview with Jakob was originally published in Pavement magazine, 2001. Jakob are playing two shows soon; Auckland - Kings Arms on June 4 and Wellington - San Francisco Bathhouse on June 11. Jakob member Jeff Boyle is also playing as part of the lineup for Rhian Sheehan's live show Standing in Silence at the Mercury Theatre in Auckland, May 23.
Set of Subsets is the moody debut album for Napier band Jakob. Its a heady concoction of minimalist guitar, offset with bursts of distortion and melodic delights. Following on from their entrancing EP, the album finds them still inhabiting a world of swirling guitars and thunderous dynamics. The band started out in the middle of 1998.
"Maurice (Beckett) our bass player had just come back from Sweden and Germany, and was ultra-keen on getting things happening," says guitarist Jeff Boyle, who, along with drummer Jason Johnston, makes up the Jakob lineup. "We'd been jamming together before he left, at the start of the year, and we just pushed things along a bit, and the ep songs just came out of nowhere, and we recorded it, and its just been snowballing from there ever since, really.
"The first recordings we did, for the ep, was just a fleeting idea. We had a friend with a bit of studio gear, and he said 'flick us $300 to do a little experiment with you', and so we did it over a weekend, and it was basically one-take stuff, and it ended up being sweet as. With the album we tried the same thing, and it didn't really work too well. So we re-did everything with a lot of overdubs and samples. We started recording the album in late November last year, and finished in May this year."
Playing live in the studio is crucial to the band. "That's how we write, that's how we play, so that's how we record. That's the whole basis of our approach. There's no actual physical song writing ever involved in our musical creation.
"It comes down to us getting into a room and just taking whatever comes our way basically. We try and keep all preconceptions of music out, and just let something come to us, or just fiddle around til something happens naturally between the three of us, and then once something does, then we work on it. That's just one way of trying to keep our music completely original and completely ourselves. We've got a standard-o-meter, you know what I mean? It basically comes down to if we enjoy it enough, if we all end up with nice big smiles on our faces then that becomes a Jakob song."
Once the album was nearing completion, their thoughts turned to the next step; getting the music out there. "We didn't have any plan, release-wise; all we wanted to do was record the songs we had, cos we were sick of them! We'd been playing these songs for about a year, and everyone liked them, and we just wanted to get them out, and move on to the next step. We know Paul Maclaney, who released his album Permanence through Kog, and he's been a friend and a fan of ours for the last few years. He told Kog 'check these guys out', and they gave the album a listen and they loved it. So they said 'do you want to go with Midium?' (Kog's guitar label) and we said 'yeah'. They treat us like brothers; whenever we go up to Auckland, we stay at the Kog studios. They treat us real good, we're absolutely over the moon to be on that label."
The band are quite content to continue to call Napier home, and have no burning ambition to move to the Big Smoke. "I'd much rather be in a band here, than in Auckland. There's a lot of crap you have to deal with in Auckland. I was living up there in 96, 97, and I tried to get a few things together with a couple of people, and that went nowhere, basically. It's just really hard to focus when you're in Auckland, for me it is.
"Everything is much more relaxed here, there's no media bullshit you have to deal with. There's no 'hip' scene down here in Napier, there's just a bunch of musos hanging out, jamming with each other and coming up with cool music. No one's like, keeping up appearances, trying to be real cool. Its makes it easier to just sit back and create music."
There's plans afoot for a few music videos, some travel around our fair shores and also further afield.
"Our main goal is to get overseas and play, mainly in Europe, because that's where a lot of the bands we're influenced by come from. Bands like Godflesh, Slint, Bardo Pond, Mogwai, etc etc. We just want to keep going and keep progressing, and never do the same thing twice. We think there's a whole huge space in music that hasn't been filled yet, and we want to fill it up." ok?