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This Is How Dave Jakes Made His Incredibly Special Debut Solo EP

Jack Rogers
Jack Rogers 21 December 2020 at 16.48

From a moment of inspiration to an EP of beautiful and boundless music, Dave tells us everything. 

Photo: Lomas Gration

It's been nearly three years ago since Dave Jakes revealed that he was to be stepping down as Lonely The Brave's vocalist. It's so lovely to reveal that he has just returned with a brand new solo EP. 

Full of psychedelic guitar lines, curious melodies and pulsating atmospheres, all held together by Dave's incomparable vocals and incredible control, it's a wonderfully vibrant collection of songs that deserves to have your time and attention poured into them. 

But where did this batch of songs come from? We caught up with Dave to talk about where his inspiration came from and how that sprouted into this incredible collection of music we see before us...

How do you feel as though your personal relationship with music as a listener rather than an artist changed after your departure from LTB?
"I must admit, I haven't listened to a great deal of new music since leaving LTB. I've got a daughter, so there's been quite a lot of pop going on. I've spent most of these last few years trying to figure out how to put my own songs together, to be honest! Watched a lot of YouTube tutorials on how to play the guitar and piano. Watch a lot of early Pearl Jam and Springsteen gigs on there as well!"

When was the first inkling that you felt like you wanted to explore making music again? What do you feel like the catalyst was? Did you miss the creative side?
"I was definitely missing the writing side of things, 100%. The first thing I had in mind on starting something by myself was to have a crack at trying to write some songs for other people to play and sing. Because I'd never really learnt how to play the guitar properly, I got my head down for a few months - at the age of 40 - and got the basics learnt so I could push on. Really early on I was writing different verses and choruses and then getting a bit stumped on how to combine them together. It took a while! I'm a lot better now, but still struggle with the whole middle eighth thing."

What was the first track that you started working on? Where did you go from there?
"I think 'Been In My Dream' was the first one I got down from start to finish on my acoustic with vocals. I went through a stage of quite a few months of just sitting down and writing and recording as much as I could on Logic Pro in three or four-hour sessions most days. I'd say, 80 per cent of the recordings were pretty loose and rudimentary, but they'd be these few bits of music in there that I'd want to return to and start working around."

When did you realise that you had a whole record to work with?
"By the time we'd finished recording all the tracks that we went with, we had 11 songs down. We were definitely looking at putting out an album-length record, at one point but ended up just going for the 7 track EP, in the end though. I wasn't too happy with the vocal melodies on the others, or not as happy as I could be, so I decided to leave them out! Matty Moon did an amazing job on them - as with all the others - but I didn't think they were strong enough to go on there. I'm not a big fan of filler on albums. I guess it's a lot easier to make them decisions when you're doing a record by yourself and not have to worry about other bandmates having a problem with it. There was one track that we left out that I'd like people to hear. A bit too happy though! It didn't fit in very well with the rest of it. Think we might put it out separate from the record, though."

There are some rather off-kilter songs on this EP, ‘Been In My Dream’ and ‘Lean The Light’ being two examples. What were you attempting on a sonic level and how did that take you into these almost psychedelic and dream-like places?
"That was all Matty Moon that took the songs to those places! The way we recorded was by me meeting Matty at his studio, I'd put down the basic acoustic and rough vocals for 2-3 tracks - get all the tempos sorted and then it'd be a case of, 'I'll see you in a month or two!' He'd then come back to me with all the music as it sounds on the record and then I'd get the finished vocals down on it. We were really happy to get some other great musicians on the record to take the songs to new places. Jamie and Rachel from Cambridge's The Last Dinosaur near improvised piano and strings... then Charlie, Bugs, Mel and Grace laid down additional guitars, drums and backing vocals."

What does this project look like to you from a visual aspect? What did these songs look like in your head as you were creating them? What story were they telling?
"I guess the stories of the songs are fairly similar to the way I used to write with LTB. There's a song on the record about the responsibilities of being a parent. A song which addresses the breakdown of a relationship. I've been doing quite a bit of agency work over the last few years and "Echelon' is a song I wrote about a horrid couple of nights I spent over at a well-known workplace, that I shan't name. There was a story coming through when I was writing 'Been In My Dream', about a relationship between two ghosts also."

Who did you go to help you bring your initial vision to life? How has what these songs have become changed from those early blueprints?
"Matty Moon was always going to be the man I went to do the recordings. I knew him really well from all the work he'd done with LTB, so I was really comfortable with him which is important for me. The record definitely feels as much his as it is mine. He put a huge amount of time and love into it, so I'll always be really grateful to him. I mentioned to him that I wanted to call the project Jakes and Moon, but he thought it'd be better if it was just a solo thing."

What was it about creating these songs and these sounds that you enjoyed the most? What do you remember feeling as they started to really start taking shape?
"I found it quite interesting in the early days of writing by myself. Because I hadn't really been playing the guitar properly for very long, the stuff I was recording was pretty entry-level in terms of structure and chords. A lot of simple strumming. But because I'd spent so long writing vocal melodies and doing lyrics with the band, I could find some pretty useful stuff to sing on top. I think that because the guitar stuff I was writing was so basic, deliberately sparse, there was a lot of room to try different vocals out over it."

What did you learn about yourself that you didn’t already realise before starting work on these songs?
"I did think quite a few times that I wish I'd stuck with the guitar and piano lessons when I was at school. And not to bother writing or recording when you've got a bad hangover as nothing good will come from it!"

Do you have plans to extend this sonic universe further now that you have planted the seeds?
"I've got a few new tracks coming together, with the view of doing some more recording in the future, whenever that might be. It'd be cool to actually get into a rehearsal room with people and make some music again. Because the whole of this record was put together and recorded in Matty's studio and from my home, I've yet to meet Jamie, Rachel, Melissa and Grace in the flesh, so it'd be nice to actually play something live with people instead of sitting in my bedroom hunched over a laptop doing it!"

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