With the emergence of Raleigh, NC as a rising destination for artists, rockers Jack The Radio have remained at the area’s forefront. With a steady sound foundation in the roots of music by great American, southern-specked songwriters, the band leave no stone unturned when incorporating further influences leading to opening slots with varies acts such as Hall and Oates and the Avett Brothers.
Jack The Radio’s new LP, Badlands, explores and indulges larger narrative concepts, lending it an unfurling epic quality, rewarding repeat listens. Speak Into My Good Eye caught up with the band to learn more following the album’s formal release.
Hey Jack The Radio, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. How was 2015 treated you so far
Chris Sayles: Not too shabby! We got to do a bunch of really cool things at really cool venues and with amazing folks.
George Hage: 2015 has been a big year for us. We’ve been building up to this moment between live shows, mixing and mastering the new album along with working with some amazing artists like David Paul Seymour, Alexis Ziritt, Gorgeous George and Plastic Flame Press.
We had an amazing time also working on the “Moonlight” music video, unplugged performance videos, creating handmade and screen printed patches with Raleigh Denim and hand printed posters and being able to brew the BADLANDS beer with Mystery Brewing. OH and having our name/poster in a killer comic book this month!
You recorded your new album, Badlands, over the course of three years. What was the writing process like? When did the album really start to take shape?
GH: We’ve developed a routine over the past 5 years where we generally go into the studio every 3 months. That gives us time to write, rehearse and try out new ideas in at shows. We recorded 18 songs over the past 3+ years and ended up with 12 on the album.
As you might imagine we didn’t have a firm concept at the start and we quickly realized some of the songs would not be on the album. I think it was after the 3rd session when we had about 9 songs recorded that we had a better idea of where the album was going and developed the 2 act, cinematic concept, but we really didn’t know the final split of songs until the last batch of songs was recorded.
The hard edged southern sound exhibited on the record comes paired with a world weary, yet hopeful message. As seasoned music veterans, how you do feel about where you’re at now as musicians and songwriters versus when you started?
GH: Things have really taken shape over the years for the better. A.C. and I started playing almost a decade ago with two acoustic guitars, a wurly and a laptop for years. We added drums and bass and Danny with lap steel and baritone some years later.
That slow growth really let our sound expand organically. We’ve definitely found our footing as five separate people working together as a unified front and hope to continue to build on that.
Danny Johnson: I definitely feel like we’ve started to find out groove when it comes to a consistent instrumentation and writing. Musically speaking, quite a few of us have picked up instruments that were foreign to us a mere five years ago, so having put in the time has paid dividends during studio sessions and live shows!
Badlands was inspired by sci-fi Spaghetti Westerns. How did that come about?
DJ: You listen to enough Ennio Morricone, Raconteurs, and Muse, and you’ll start dreaming entire screenplays.
GH: Haha. That and mixing in comic books like East of West, Saga, Space Riders and classic Tales of Suspense stuff.
If you could have listeners walk away with one thought after listening to Badlands it would be…
DJ: “I’d like to listen to that again… right now.”
CS: “I’m glad I paid for that”
You’re a part of the growing and great Raleigh, NC scene. Tell our readers a little bit about what makes Raleigh unique and a hotbed for new talent?
DJ: Raleigh is a bastion of collaboration. Lots of great writers and musicians, and a pretty established mutual admiration society that leads to a lot of musical crossover in projects and performances. Some of our favorite artists are from our hometown!
GH: That mixed in with the fact Raleigh and the Triangle continue to grow with art, businesses, jobs, restaurants and nightlife, which continue resulting in a growing scene and richer culture.
It’s been amazing to see art publications like Oak City Hustle flourish from that growth and see the Triangle bring events like Hopscotch Music Festival, IBMAs and soon with MoogFest.
I saw that you have your own IPA out. How did that collaboration come? Can you recommend a main dish pairing?
GH: We have been long time beer and micro-brew lovers. Mystery Brewing’s Public House has been a regular spot for us to workshop songs and connect with people in a great listening room. We had the wild idea of doing a Jack the Radio beer to celebrate the release and Erik Myers at Mystery was receptive and excited about the idea after discussing the idea one late night at the bar.
DJ: Pairing: Fresh chicken/apple sausages, and warm German potato salad.
Plans for 2016?
GH: We plan to keep on truckin. We’ve got some more music videos in the works, a lyric video we plan to release soon and some regional touring we are planning. We are also working on some licensing opportunities and are talking about celebrating the 5 year anniversary of our first studio album, Pretty Money, in April 2016 which sold out early on.
Most of all we plan to continue pushing ourselves, collaborating with talented artists, musicians, etc and continue connecting with new fans through music, art and beer.