Jake and the Leprechauns

10th Annual Alt. Country Song Winner

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Record Label: Landlocked Records
www.jakeandtheleprechauns.com

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Home Base: Sherbrooke, QC.

Genre: Alt. Country or Indie Folk. We call it Lit. Americana!

Category Entered: Alt. Country Song

Work Submitted: “Busy Bee”

Artists Featured: Other than band members, special guests: Patrick Watson’s drummer Robbie Kuster, Jérôme Dupuis-Cloutier on trumpet and Karl Surprenant on upright bass. The track was recorded by Grammy award-winner Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire)

Label: Landlocked Records (distribution by Darla Records in the US)

URLs:
www.jakeandtheleprechauns.com
www.sonicbids.com/epk/epk.aspx?epk_id=252712
www.myspace.com/jakeandtheleprechauns
www.facebook.com/JakeandtheLeprechauns

Influences: We are all big fans of Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, The Band, The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Grateful Dead. Our greatest contemporary influences are probably The Dirty Three, Daniel Lanois, Lullaby For the Working Class and Wilco. Lyrically, I am mostly influenced by poets like Robert Hass, Michael Ondaatje, WS Merwin.

What’s the meaning of your band name? The name of the band is an old joke my Irish grandfather used to tell. There were no other contenders!

Describe your nominated work: “Busy Bee” is a song that was initially supposed to be built around a children’s choir. I wanted to write a simple song that was almost like a nursery rhyme. But it began taking on a life of its own when were recorded it, and with the fabulous guest musicians we had working on the record, it turned into what it is now. I am quite happy with this song.

Why did you choose to submit this work to The 10th IMA’s? I think it’s a good representation of what we do best: lyrics-based songs with different, sometimes even marginal instrumentation.

Did you use any unusual effects or instruments in this recording? Yes! Robbie Kuster is playing a set of pots and pans, and a musical saw! There’s also a ukulele, and a marching band bass drum! As far as effects go, Hotel2Tango, where we recorded, has a room whose sole purpose is reverb. You open a sliding door, put a mic in the room and just record the echo!

Were there any happy accidents while in the studio, or did everything go as planned? Robbie Kuster (Patrick Watson’s drummer) came into the studio to play his pots and pans, and had an idea for musical saw in the chorus. Unfortunately, he forgot to bring his. We went scavenging into the studio’s closets and found one! He played it, and it made it into the final version of the song!

Did fans help you fund this project? Kind of, by attending our shows and buying our records!

Who’s sitting in your audience? At this point, all kinds of people. Literally people from 8 to 80 years old who love music.

What makes your fans unique?: They are amazingly loyal, devoted and enthusiastic. Some people have been following us on tour and basically showing up at gigs all over the place. They buy everything we put out, and keep telling people around them about it and us. We’re incredibly lucky and thankful for that.

Are there any songs you wish you wrote? Lots. “Hey That’s no Way to say Goodbye” by Cohen, “Ruby’s Arms” and “I Don’t Want to Grow Up” by Tom Waits, Wilco’s “Impossible Germany”, The Band’s “It Makes no Difference”, The Counting Crows’ “Anna Begins”, most of the Weakerthans’ catalogue, too!

What artists are you listening to that would surprise your fans? Because our music blends a lot musical genres and is often fairly dense and eclectic, I think our fans understand that our tastes really run the gamut. But I listen to a lot of Bach, as well as classic soul music.

What is your dream show lineup?: Contemporary: Lullaby for the Working Class, The Dirty Three, Wilco, Arcade Fire. The four all-time best live bands for me. Classic: Van Morrison playing with The Band, Cohen, The Dead

What are your guilty pleasures on the road? Buying records and eating well despite often being pressed for time. Reading the local papers.

Any close calls or mishaps while on tour? Nothing too dangerous or crazy, but we’ve had our share of technical malfunctions. My guitar amp actually blew up on stage at our last show. There was a huge blue spark at the back and it died right there!

Do you have any rituals before you go on stage? We often will go for a walk or hang out downtown, outside the venue, but just before going onstage, there’s always a little pep talk and a group hug to wish everyone a great show. We have a lot of fun playing together.

Should music be free? No. Playing music should be recognized as a worthy profession, one that is deserving of a decent salary. Career musicians shouldn’t have to have side jobs just to make ends meet. If music became entirely free, I think we’d lose a lot of amazingly talented people to day jobs.

How has digital affected your career? We’ve gotten an incredible number of rave reviews for all our records in Europe, most of which have translated into very tangible sale numbers in the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, etc. Our songs have been featured on radio programs around the globe, and even reached number one on college radio charts at the other end of the continent. They’ve played on intercontinental flights between LA and Germany. We got distribution in the US and Asia and have been nominated for prizes as well. It’s really helped to get the music heard across the world, especially in countries we haven’t yet played in.

Are digital singles vs. full albums the future of music? I have no idea. I don’t think anyone could have predicted where things were going to go ten years ago. If I had to bet, I’d probably say digital singles, but I wish it won’t be the case. People call me romantic because I still buy and love physical albums. I believe in the value of full albums as works of art that are created as a whole, with a specific order and sequence, not just a random gathering of separate singles or tracks. I still believe in the idea of concept albums. I love the artwork, the lyric sheets, etc.

Finish this sentence: The music industry is… in a state of flux. It’s such a cliché, but it’s true. Other than that, I don’t know. We try to focus on the music more than the business aspect of it. It’s easy to get bogged down by all the other stuff that, in the end, has little to do with why you’re into this in the first place. That’s why we still love doing what we do.