Jimi Hendrix played the guitar upside down. Jake Morley has a unique style too, he plays it sideways. He’s spent 2010 juggling songwriting, gigging and recording his brilliant debut record. This year Jake Morley is coming out of the shadows. We asked him how he came to see (and hear) things from a different angle.
What are you up to at the moment?
Cradling my new guitar as if it was my firstborn, feeling hungry for food and touring, trying to finish a new song, and watching too many YouTube clips of Leslie Nielsen.
What was it like recording your debut record, did you have an idea of the sound you wanted it to before you went into the studio or did it evolve after you started?
I tend to like pressure in the studio, as it forces everyone to just feel the music and not overthink it – I wanted a classic album sound, not too polished and full of passion. We tracked the core of 14 songs in 6 days as a live band which is only really possible if you’re with the best session players and the best engineer. After we’d nailed the heart of each track we took time to craft overdubs – vocals, strings, loads of random noises like me snoring and a 15-piece choir.
How did you learn to play the guitar the way you do?
I always disliked show-off tapping techniques as it felt like egotism over music, but I was curious as to whether they could actually add to a song. One day I was frustrated at not being able to see the fretboard properly so I flipped the guitar onto my lap and tried tapping and slapping it. The first song I wrote in that style, ‘This City’, ended up on the album – we recorded it in one continuous first take. Fundamentally though, I love songs not techniques and don’t usually listen to music that goes the other way round.
Do you have a regular backing band now?
I do! And it’s totally changed my life actually. I used to be a lone ranger type when it came to music. In fact part of the reason why I got into smashing out drum beats on guitars and having such complicated parts was so I could do it all myself. Thanks to the band I can serve the music better, and I have way more fun too.
What do you like doing best? Playing live or working in the studio.
For me it’s a holy trinity of writing, recording and performing and I want them all in my life. It goes in phases though, right now I’m all about performing as much as possible and I adore it. I’m also busy writing new material.
What would you say your ‘style of music is?
Whilst I know I’m meant to have an answer to that, if I’m honest I profoundly don’t care. I suppose the best I can do is ‘singer-songwriter with good songs, elements of pop, blues, folk and rock, has a beard, sense of fun and passion and eyebrow raising guitar skillz.’ Sounds like a personals ad right?!
What are your musical influences, and who are your heroes?
Growing up I was a guitar fanatic, so my heroes were John Frusciante from the Chili Peppers and Tom Morello from Rage Against The Machine. My musical influences are much more varied now. My heroes are really anyone who finds something they love doing and runs with it, regards of how much money it might make.
Best gig ever you been to (and played at)
Ooh impossible. I love to forget things after they happen – it’s my attempt at zen. Maybe Mogwai at the Royal Albert Hall? Or Daft Punk? Best gig I’ve played would maybe be The Olympia Theatre in Dublin this year, or St Barnabas Chapel in London.
Are you touring to promote the record?
If it was up to me I’d have a 50 date UK tour, though I imagine I’d feel differently after date 50. We’re doing as many as we can so check my website (see below) or myspace.
If you could support anyone Who would you like to support on tour?
Imogen Heap. Immi if you’re reading gimme a call!
Who do you sometimes listen to that you are secretly ashamed of?
Got to be Steely Dan! LOVE that stuff.
Flush the fashion is about not being scared to try something new, do you think you’ll ever go in another radical direction?
Well I wrote a musical about zombies invading victorian london which was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe and I used to perform intense prog rocks on my own until my fingers bled, soooo I wouldn’t rule it out…
Jake’s first official single, ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me Now’ is released digitally on January 16th, and the album will be released physically & digitally on February 13th. www.jakemorley.com
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