I caught up with the talented Jake Bellows, best known for his work as frontman of one of indie rock's hidden gems, Neva Dinova. I chatted to him about his new solo album, New Ocean, his touring plans and the future of Neva Dinova. Check out his new album, I guarantee you won't be disappointed.
What are you up to at the moment?
Iím at work. I was going to put together some doors.
Cool. So, how did the idea of doing a solo album come about? How did you decide that you were going to release something on your own?
Well, I guess I just wanted to keep making music but I didnít have a band anymore. laughs
How different is it, working without a band?
Well, I still had a group of friends, musicians, that I was working with so I wasnít working on my own really. I wrote the songs, I guess, and then I worked with an eclectic group of musicians, all really talented people and so it was awesome. I wouldnít say any more awesome than working with the band but just as awesome. Just different because they have different sets of skills.
How was the process behind the album? Was it quite intense, or was it pretty laidback?
Pretty laidback. And yíknow, I hadnít planned on recording an album and my friends Ben Brodin and Ryan Fox were really the impetus for it. They came in and recorded some demos and were like ďyou got to record a record! Youíve been waiting too longĒ, so I was like ďwell... okay! Weíll give it a shot!Ē. So we just started. Iíd drop the songs to them, I sent them like 30 songs and they chose the ones they liked the best and so then I chose from their overlapping choices and tried to figure out what songs would be the best to put on the record.
When you were writing the album, were you consciously trying to write music that was different to what youíve done with Neva Dinova or was it what was coming naturally?
I think it was pretty organic. It was just was coming naturally. I kept writing songs even though Neva wasnít playing anymore and so I had kind of a stockpile of stuff Iíd been working on. So the songs kind of came out of that batch. There wasnít anything particularly different about them apart from the group of musicians that helped to record them.
What was your favourite part of making the album?
Probably, my favourite part was when we were picking out how to play ďFrequencyĒ. We had a bottle of tequila and everyone had ideas and then Iíd run outside and jot down a couple of words and chord changes and then Iíd come back inside and weíd figure out how to do it and then everybody took a guitar solo, which was really fun and we only got one try at it, so it was like ďAlright... GO!Ē and if your guitar solo sucked, well that was what it was going to sound like.
Whatís the album about? What inspired your lyrics and the songs?
Well, I donít know. I guess over the last few years Iíve come to think of music a little differently and the arts, in general and just how you control your own thoughts and I guess the album was an attempt to paint the world as Iíd like to see it, with some focusing on the commonality of the human experience and also, how I would like to see everyone treat each other, just a little better.
Did moving to LA have any impact upon your songwriting or how you see things?
I donít think so. I think that people are pretty much the same everywhere you go and thatís good, I like people and thereís a bunch of good people in Los Angeles, I have a bunch of friends in Omaha and family of course, that I miss and love. There are good people everywhere, I donít think Los Angeles has had a huge impact on the types of songs or anything like that.
New Ocean seems more positive than some of the stuff you did with Neva Dinova. Is there any particular reason for that?
Yeah, thatís what I was trying to say before. Thatís a major toy of the philosophy of, kind of like.. the ideology behind what Iím doing.. I felt like I kind of lost touch with some of these other songs off other records and I regret that and so, I guess, New Ocean is an attempt to, not just reflect the world that I do see. but to project the world that Iíd like to see.
Whatís your favourite track from the album? Do you have any particular favourites that youíre excited about people hearing?
I think that as far as they turned out, the songs, the recordings are kind of like photographs and I feel like ďI Know YouĒ turned out real nice.. itís like a nice photograph. Thatís probably my favourite right now.
Cool! How was SXSW for you?
SXSW was alright. Itís a fun place to go and I had a couple of friends come down to play the show with me, so it was great to see them and get to play with a band. Itís a total rat race, yíknow, thereís so many people and thereís so many bands and itís hard to park and itís very expensive and Iím not sure itís worth very much to a band to go there these days, you donít really get much out of it, as far as the bands go. I feel like the city itself probably makes millions off the bands alone, let alone the fans, so.. I donít know. I think itís cool but I donít know if Iíll be doing it again.
Do you plan on making more solo music? Do you plan on making a follow up to New Ocean?
Yeah, Iím already working on new music. Iíve got a few more songs and stuff and Iíll put something into whatever project Iím involved in and I think, as long as everything goes well, Iíll continue to make more music. I think Iíll do another solo record.. I mean, itís not really solo, I am playing with people but, yeah, however I have to make music, Iím going to keep doing it. Itís what I love to do.
Can we expect any more music from Neva Dinova?
Itís possible. The guys have children and pretty busy lives and stuff so I think they would all, when their kids get a little older, take some time and put it into music. I think that weíll probably do more stuff in the future. Maybe a little way down the road, hopefully.
What are your touring plans for the rest of the year?
Iíve got a European thing in November and weíre trying to something together to go up to Alaska, which sounds fun. I totally intend to tour the whole US as well. I donít know exactly when itís going to be, but as soon as I can.
What can fans expect from your live show, when youíre touring New Ocean?
Well, I think for the first couple of tours, Iíll try to be out solo, by myself, just playing guitar and singing, maybe Iíll bring my dog with me. Then, if things go well and people are interested in hearing and seeing a show, then Iíll bring a band along too, I think.
Any final words?
Oh no, not really. Iím just glad you called, it was nice chatting with you.
Jake Bellows is one of my favorite artists. I saw Neva Dinova and the band Mayday on tour randomly while they were touring The Hate Yourself Change and fell in love. Been waiting for new music for a long time!
On a side note, if anyone reads this and happens to have a copy of The Hate Yourself Change on vinyl, please sell it to me!