Listening to a record from this week’s #FridayFind is an experience unlike many others brought forth from today’s traditional country scene. Infusing grunge-influenced rock undertones with an alt-country style songwriting, the Tennessee-grown, New York-newcomer Jake Winstrom creates a modern musical discovery worth enduring.
Once performing and touring with the alt-rock band Tenderhooks (who you can find on Spotify here), Winstrom is now operating out of Brooklyn, NY and writing and releasing music under his solo act. His most recent project, the full-length Scared Away The Song was released last Friday and serves a musical journey through time and across America, highlighting a handful of this country’s most historically-influential tempos and tones. From inching, acoustic-based ‘90s grunge cuts and riff-driven Cali-rock renditions to slightly less loaded banjo ballads, each of the album’s ten tracks showcases Winstrom’s unique ability to comfortably embed his signature vocals over a steady, percussive heartbeat and create and environment that makes the listener curious for more.
The fourth track, a heartfelt homage to his brother’s dog, Turbo (the namesake for “Big Black Dog”, who also happens to be very near full-slobber on the record’s cover), focuses its energy on vividly descriptive lyrics and is supported by poignantly-energizing electric guitar and violin solos. While including self-reflective lyrics like “Tell me what it takes / tell me what it takes to be / somebody to you, because you’re everybody to me”, Winstrom adds that he and his brother decided that “[this song] was going to be the emotional centerpiece of the album.”
Turbo the Black Lab doesn’t solely lend his inspiration to Scared Away The Song in a musical sense, however. In the physical sense, aside from acting as the centerpiece for the album’s artwork, the playful pal’s physical touch appears through Winstrom’s decision to press each vinyl copy of the LP onto a “Turbo tongue red” colored record. Regarding the album artwork, Winstrom entirely credits Jarred Elrod of Jet Pilot Designs, as well as his brother, Sam.
Describing the decision-making process behind the record’s physical appearance, Winstrom comments: “My brother took the picture. Once we cropped the photo and put it in the template we knew that was *it*. It’s a very musical-looking image to me. The colored vinyl was fun to figure out. We actually did some trickery with Turbo’s tongue to get it to match the record.”
— Jake Winstrom & Co. releasing #ScaredAwayTheSong in style. (June 2018)
Sonically, Winstrom’s latest record is an audible journey that examines each of his various musical influences throughout life as an artist. The combination of alt-rock-obsessive influences like Weezer as a young teenager (“as every 14-year-old should!”, Winstrom points out) with heavier, classic rock sounds like Thin Lizzy and Cheap Trick together serves as the musical groundwork above which Winstrom’s country singer-songwriter emerges.
As the album progresses from heavier opening tracks such as “From Here To The Moon” and and “Caroline, Ugh” all the way to the traditional country closing numbers like the honkytonk-centric “Creature of Habit” and acoustic-heavy “Lightning Rod”, Winstrom gives country and music fans alike a refreshing and informative taste of his genre-blending abilities.
Now playing shows in his home base of New York City (as well as his once home base of Knoxville, TN), Jake is riding the airwaves of his new record release by connecting on Facebook with his fans and hand-mailing them signed copies of his new album. If you’re in the New York City area, come by Brooklyn’s own Pete’s Candy Store on this Monday, June 4 at 8:30pm for the official Scared Away The Song record release show, when Winstrom will be showcasing the new album live and in person!
Last but not least, see below the article for the full Rhythm & Boots NYC interview with Jake!
– R&B NYC
Backstage with Jake Winstrom:
Rhythm & Boots NYC: Jake, it’s an honor to speak with you! Right off the bat, what are you able to tell me about your songwriting process? Do you tend to sit down in peace and quiet when constructing a song, or do you feel like you’re always writing on the go?
Jake Winstrom: I kind of do both. I lot of times I’ll come up with the kernel of a musical idea when I’m strumming the guitar by myself in my apartment. But then I typically flesh it out on the go. New York City is great for that. Lots of little hideaways to burn away the hours with a moleskine notebook.
Rhythm & Boots NYC: I saw you’re gigging in July back down in Knoxville. What are some of the best parts about be able to head back down south to play shows every now and again?
Jake Winstrom: Well, most importantly in the south, venues feed you and pay for your drinks! But yeah, I’m playing my buddy Wayne Bledsoe’s Six O’Clock Swerve show in Knoxville. Playing there is a blast!
Rhythm & Boots NYC: Now to talk about music! I hear a bit of a classic ‘90s 2000s alternative rock blend coming through certain songs on the new record (as well as on your material with Tenderhooks). I grew up a huge fan of bands like the Goo Goo Dolls, blink-182, and weezer, among others, so I’m super curious to know what you grew up listening to and how it might affect the music you’ve been making.
Jake Winstrom: I loved Weezer’s first two records, as every 14-year-old should! They’re such a great gateway band to Cheap Trick, Big Star, Thin Lizzy, etc. I remember buying an amp when I was a teenager in Knoxville. I bought it from Rick’s Music, and this great guitarist Chris Cook was working there. I was eyeing this solid-state amp with all these crappy built-in effects. Chris asked me what kind of bands I listened to and I told him Weezer. He very sweetly steered me toward a Fender Twin Reverb and suggested I check out some Big Star. I owe him big time, haha!
Rhythm & Boots NYC: As an artist I’m sure you’re a huge fan of live music as well. What do you think is the best concert you’ve ever been to (or one of them!), and who genuinely inspires you as a live performer?
Jake Winstrom: Emmylou Harris with Buddy Miller at the Tennessee Theatre. I get chills just thinking about it.
Rhythm & Boots NYC: If you had to make an all-time supergroup out of any musicians, past or present, who would be your:
Singer and Leadman – Tina Turner
Guitarist – Link Wray
Bassist – Klaus Voormann
Drummer – Ziggy Modeliste
Pianist – Alan Toussaint
Rhythm & Boots NYC: Speaking of, tell me a little more about the album you have coming out. I’m incredibly curious to find out how you chose the animalistic album artwork and the red vinyl pressing. What led you to decide what this record would look and sound like, both musically and in the physical sense?
Jake Winstrom: It was quite the process! All credit goes to Jarred Elrod of Jet Pilot Designs and my brother Sam. We decided “Big Black Dog” was going to be kind of the emotional centerpiece of the album, and that maybe the cover should reflect that. My brother took the picture. It’s his dog Turbo, who the song was written about. Once we cropped the photo and put it in the template we knew that was *it*. It’s a very musical-looking image to me. The colored vinyl was fun to figure out. We actually did some trickery with Turbo’s tongue to get it to match the record.
Rhythm & Boots NYC: Last but not least, the official two-part question of Rhythm & Boots: What are both the pair of shoes and the instrument that you absolutely cannot live without? Either presently, or of all-time, what are your favorite footwear and music-maker of choice?
Jake Winstrom: Converse All-Stars (the Chuck 2 version with extra padding!). And a Rickenbacker 360 12-string. Black & white (both shoes and guitar).