So, our mod email occasionally gets solicitations for reviews. As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve recently tried to look through them to see if there’s any members interested in reviewing or interviewing the artists included. Seeing this was a local band, I jumped on the chance to give them an Artist Spotlight and they helped out by agreeing to an interview, as well. Folks of the Avocado, I present Jack the Radio!
Out of Raleigh, NC, Jack The Radio has recently released their latest album Creatures – along with a companion comic book – and I was able to interview their lead singer, George Hage about both the music and the art.
The Kappa – Hey George! I have been listening to the album for a few days now and reading the comic book and I’ve found myself hankering for some westerns. For me, I like to pair music with video games and TV shows, so I’ve been getting into Red Dead Redemption 2 while listening to Creatures. Also put on some Hell on Wheels here and there. For you, it seems like you prefer to pair your music with comics. Can you talk about where that comes from?
George Hage – Sure, a lot of it comes from some of my early days listening to old vinyl from a local record shop. Parliament Funkadelic was one I remember most. I always loved the combination of comics and music. It’s been something I’ve really been lucky to be able to combine all of that on this album with the help of some great visual artist friends.
TK – Genres can sometimes be a little unfair. Country, Rock, Blues, folk, Americana… all can have some pros and cons when describing your sound. How do you describe Jack The Radio’s sound?
GH – We’ve kind of adapted “roots rock” for that. Some of our songs have more of a blues rock sound and others are more country or folk, so it’s hard if someone just hears one or two songs to call just that our “genre”. “Getting Good” is an example of one of just one of our sounds while “Creatures” is another. I always take genres with a grain of salt because to you, country might be outlaw country and to another, it might be bro country. And it might not be what you’re looking for.
TK – So the comic adaptation describes at least what you were thinking or feeling when writing a certain song. How does that process work for you?
GH – The comic came towards the end of the writing process. The visuals though were in my head almost the whole time I was writing it, things like the themes and looks of certain songs. I also kept in mind the artists I knew I wanted to work with and what would work best with their styles and art.
TK – Speaking of comics, you were in a Gambit comic. Any chance you have insider info on the movie?
GH – (Laughs) Last thing I saw was something about Channing Tatum but no, nothing good to follow up with.
TK – You’ve done a lot of artistic work lately. What are some that you are really proud of?
GH – Outside of the band, I got to work with J Coles Dreamville festival and did some great art projects that came together well. I also got to do some work for other local festivals that were a huge opportunity to create some funky bright colored art that I enjoyed doing.
TK – So what do you think about Raleigh as an artistic scene, overall?
GH – It’s really unique. Lots of different festivals that bring really different types of music to the city. Hopscotch, Dreamville, Bluegrass festival… all feel unique and do a great job of representing their genres and their fans.
TK – Listening to the album, you had some help and brought in a few guest vocalists. Lydia Loveless, which – Maybe best country artist name ever? – for example, How does working and collaborating with different guests come about?
GH – Similar to the artists for the comics, I wanted to find people that I knew and would be open to that style or type of song but also allow them the ability to elevate the song in their own way. Lydia, Tamisha Waden, and Jeanna Jolly were all amazing to work with. They all bring a unique sound to their songs.
TK – So what is releasing an album like in the time of COVID and quarantine?
GH – It’s tough. There’s a silver lining in that people are home more, with maybe more free time than normal and looking for an opportunity for something like a multi-medium project like Creatures. Maybe they have a little more of an ability to enjoy it. But not being able to tour and be on the road is difficult because I really enjoy that aspect of music. We’ve tried to engage our fans in other ways, streaming live shows and things like that. But what’s going on is bigger than music and everyone is trying to figure it out – from movies, to sports to us. It’s a tough time.
TK – So in a normal day, do you think “Today is a visual art day?” or “Today is a music day?” or do you just see where the day goes?
GH – It’s definitely a feeling of a strong need to do one or the other. That’s why this project was so great. I was able to put it all together and work with other artists and explore all these different creative outlets. It was definitely something that fed my desire to create art.
TK – Where can people check out Jack The Radio and Creatures?