Jake Andrews – interview:
Austin Texas singer/songwriter/guitarist Jake Andrews has recently released his new album, In the Shadows, via Spectrum Music Group. The single, “In the Shadows”, is a powerful pop/rock track with explosive harmonies, passionately, sexy, bluesy guitar riffs, and heartfelt lyrics.
Jake learned to play guitar beginning at age 5, inspired by his dad John Andrews, an accomplished musician. At age 8 and up, Jake was already jamming with icon masters such as B.B. King, Albert Collins, Jimmie Vaughan Otis Rush, and Buddy Guy, in the famous club, Antone’s.
More recently Jake has played festivals including San Francisco Blues Festival and Madison Blues Festival with Ray Charles. He has also been featured on CBS, Austin City Limits and Vintage Guitar.
I was able to speak with Jake in the midst of tropical storm Harvey, about his career, his music, and his awesome his new release.
Louder Than War: You started learning guitar at a really early age?
I did. My father is a musician, all through the 60’s and 70’s so I was around music before I was born. I was around the stuff he was doing since I was a little kid, but he started taking me out to shows when I was 5 or 6 years old, going to the blues clubs here, especially Antone’s. It’s kind of a world famous blues club here. I’d go down and see a lot of the great blues guys that were still alive and well, and coming here to play a lot. Soon enough when I was about 8 years old I started sitting in with those guys.
I played there with Albert King when I was 8 years old. Then after that, I really started opening the show for those guys all the time on the weekend. The Antone house band would back me up. I would open for all these guys, Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, B.B. King, Otis Rush, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds. That’s how I got my start here.
What was it like playing with B.B. King?
Well, actually I played with him at his club in Memphis. I played with him maybe when I was about 15. It was amazing. I’d open the show for him and go hang out with him on his bus afterwards. When I was really young, like 10 years old, playing with a lot of these guys were great experiences but at 10 I couldn’t appreciate it as much as I did when I got older. I didn’t have any reference to who these guys were that I was playing with other than they were the guys on records my dad was making me learn.
When you think back now you most think how special that was.
You know it was something that could only happen back then, most of them are not here anymore. It just would never happen that way again. There weren’t a million young kids that played blues guitar, so it was a different experience.
So you write all of your songs as well?
The thing was when I was a kid my only reference was what he was making me learn. He started making me learn all the stuff he grew up listening to in the 50’s. So I started playing Chuck Berry, Elvis and Buddy Holly, all that kind of stuff. After a couple of years, he started teaching me blues stuff, a lot of those greats. At that age I didn’t sing. When I would perform and do a set it was completely instrumental. So I probably started singing because everyone was always pushing me, telling me that you can’t just play, you’ve got to start singing. I probably awkwardly started singing when I was 13. I gradually started singing more. So once I started singing I started writing my own songs. My first record I did a hand full of cover songs, and for the most part, all of my other records are all songs that I’ve written.
Aside from the music that your dad made you listen to and learn, what did you listen to on the radio when you were growing up?
Well, growing up here in Austin there are so many great guys that came out of Texas. The music that I was influenced by was because I personally knew them, grew up watching them play. Besides my dad’s influence, some of the younger guys that are from here, I mean they were younger then but they are probably 10 years older than me, were guys like Charlie Sexton, and Jimmy Vaughan, The Vaughan Brothers, and one of the other greats Doug Sahm. So there was so much influence with local Texas music, that I was influenced by. Of course, when I was a teenager, I started listening to stuff like Hendrix, and The Cream.. But, there were so many local artists that I was influenced by, by personally being around it.
Do you believe that music can be an influence on the world?
Absolutely. Music really is universal. Even without lyrics or understanding the lyrics, even just melody is so influential. Humans in general, I mean everybody responds to it. It can help raise people’s consciousness, awareness, and it just brings out certain emotions that sometimes can’t be tapped in other ways. Like I said, even with a language barrier with the lyrics and stuff it really doesn’t matter.
So then which one of your songs would you choose to have an influence on the world?
Wow, that’s a big question. For me the spiritual side of life is important. Awareness of how we treat each other as human beings is a big theme that I like to write about in songs. I don’t write much that’s kind of frivolous, so that’s a big thing you can hear in some of my stuff. There is probably a lot of that in a lot of the material.
What’s the title of the new album, and tell me a little about it?
The title of the new record is called “In The Shadows”. So “In the Shadows” is the title track, and this is the record that Spectra is releasing. This record is pretty cool for me because I went about it in a totally different way that I haven’t done before. I had never done any crowd funding projects that artists are doing so much today. I did a kick starter campaign to fund this new record, and I didn’t really know what to expect. It was very successful and they actually exceeded the budget I was working towards. I had so many fans that wanted to be part of it. So it really made it exciting in that way, that everybody else was involved and supporting it. I recoded it here in Austin with a great local producer who has worked with a lot of local artists here. We started recording last spring. The thing is this record and the overall sound that we were consciously being aware of is, that it doesn’t just sound like a lot of records that have come out of Austin. My foundation and background is kind of blues rock, but it’s a pretty heavy record, much more of a rock record, and it’s a little more aggressive with the material, and the overall sound of the record.
If you could have your ultimate stage fantasy, what would you need to happen?
My ultimate stage fantasy …..wow!
Musically…ok. It would be hard to single out artists that I would love to have performed with. You know a year and a half ago I met Stevie Wonder back stage at a show. That was pretty mind-blowing. Once again that might sound a little cliché but to be able to perform on stage with a guy like Stevie Wonder, or perform on stage with someone like Prince, that would be amazing. I was so fortunate to play with so many of the blues greats, but I actually never played on stage with Stevie Ray Vaughan, the most well-known guy from here, even though I grew up playing with Jimmie Vaughan. I never performed on stage with him before his death.
Do you plan to tour?
Absolutely. That’s my main priority with this record, to support it and tour here in the US and internationally.
If you could say something to your fans and followers, what would it be?
I’m just so grateful to have people that support me and enjoy my music and enjoy the live performance experience. For me more than anything else I love performing and having the opportunity to record music and to have a fan base out there of people who support me and allow me to do that. That’s just the greatest feeling in the world they both feed off of each other. I wouldn’t be able to travel and tour and perform live with out having my fans.
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All words by Eileen Shapiro. More of Eileen’s writing can be found in her author’s archive.