Jake Bellows
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Jake Bellows

Band Alternative Rock


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"Jake Bellows Prepares New Album - Preview"

When I learned that Jake Bellows, formerly of Neva Dinova, had moved to LA, the part of me that is Nebraska missed the part of Nebraska that is Jake Bellows. Since moving to LA, Bellows has begun recording and playing with Whispertown — a variation on the original Whispertown 2000, still fronted by Morgan Nagler. But for fans of Bellows’ insightful if sometimes pessimistic lyrics, smooth voice and understated musical arrangements, the news gets better.

Jake Bellows is putting the finishing touches on a collection of his own songs and hopes to tour solo in the near future. I was lucky enough to talk with him about the new sound and motivation for his solo project, and if you’re in the Omaha area, you’ll be lucky enough to see him roll through with Whispertown this Sunday at The Waiting Room. The band is opening for Margot & the Nuclear So and So's starting at 9, and tickets are $12.
Hear Nebraska: How long have you been in LA?

Jake Bellows: Oh, I guess it’ll be three years in August.

HN: That’s quite awhile. Have you been playing with Whispertown the whole time?

JB: Yeah, not the whole time but off and on. They had a band Whispertown 2000, I’ve been playing with Whispertown. I went into the studio with Morgan and Andy LeMaster and helped record and produce the Parallel EP with them. Maybe not quite a year ago, something like that.

HN: It was great to see you play with Whispertown at SXSW; what was the best thing you saw while you were in town?

JB: Band-wise? I saw a pretty cool Depressed Buttons show. Icky Blossoms, they had a really good show, I thought. Otherwise, you know, I didn’t really go to any shows. I just hang out and watched. I don’t like to fight crowds, so I didn’t see that much.
HN: If you don’t like to fight crowds, how did the move from Nebraska to LA go?

JB: It’s not like LA is so densely populated. It's like Omaha, but out for 75 miles. It’s a really dramatic example of suburban sprawl. It goes on forever, it’s not like you’re right next to everybody. But I don’t go to shows much here either actually.

HN: Why’s that?

JB: 'Cause I’m poor, and I had way more friends [in Omaha]. I don’t have that many out here. I have a few, though. It takes a long time to find them when the place is spread out over 80 miles. Where do you look for a friend? But I lucked out with a couple.

HN: I hear you’re starting on a solo project, tell me about that.

JB: I did some recording last weekend with my friend Alex, did some overdubbing for the record that I’ve been working on. Ben Brodin, Ryan Fox and Todd Fink, who’ve been pretty involved in getting this together — we’re going to do some more mixing next week, I think. So I’ll finish it off, which would be great, give me a reason to travel and share some songs.

I haven’t looked into putting it out, or a record label, or if I am going to release it myself. I guess I’d need some sort of investment. Everybody has been helping me out, and I’ve been promising them back rubs, and I don’t know, late-night rides home form the bar and whatever else I can possibly provide that isn’t money. They’ve been really generous. It’s just nice to know you’ve got a few friends who care, so I’m pretty lucky that way.
HN: Do you know what the project will be called?

JB: No, I’ve been thinking of some names, and every time I think of something some band out in Iowa City or some DJ outfit somewhere has the name, so it’s kinda hard to figure something out. I don’t think it’s fair to call it Neva Dinova after all the investment everyone else made in that band. To stand on the shoulders of that time and just kind of appropriate that, that doesn't seem fair.

Not that anyone would be mad, I don’t think they would, but it’s also a different thing. The music has changed slightly. I guess you can still tell that they’re my songs. I think these guys’ influence has been really cool, I get tired of the things I know how to do, so it’s been really good to work with these talented musicians and talented minds, you know?
HN: How does the music differ from Neva?

JB: Well, for one, the arrangements are not predetermined by the band. We had three guitar players and a drummer and bassist, so that’s what we always did. Occasionally, we’d bring in [Nate] Walcott for a little bit of trumpet, so in this instance we were just like, "Whatever we think the song needs."

I came in with some full songs, I sent [the guys] 32 songs to choose their favorite 15, and we would try to record the overlapping 10, so after everyone chose their favorite 15 we found that we had quite a bit of overlap, so there were like 13 songs that overlapped, I think everyone agreed on 12, and then there were a couple of songs that I really wanted to record because they were new to me and important to the vibe and the whole reason I wanted to start recording music again.

Anyway, we recorded a bunch of tunes. We ended up with 17 or 18, and we’re going to whittle it down to an album that - Hear Nebraska

"Review: Jake Bellows & Friends with Simon Joyner at O’Leaver’s"

Wednesday’s show was not well-publicized because, well, the headlining band didn’t have a name yet.
Jake Bellows has been recording since he moved to Los Angeles in recent years and has released entire songs as well as little snippets. Those that have joined him in the studio include his Neva Dinova bandmate Heath Koontz, Todd Fink (The Faint, Depressed Buttons), Ben Brodin (Our Fox), Ryan Fox (Our Fox) and Matt Amandus.
After finishing his tour with Whispertown, Bellows came back to Omaha on his way to LA and decided to play two shows: One Wednesday and another at The Mynabirds’ CD release show on Friday. I’m told they kind of frantically practiced these songs, which they’ve probably only played as a band a few times, if ever.
On Wednesday, O’Leaver’s Pub was full with people anticipating the new music to be played at the late show.
The night started with a set from Simon Joyner and his band, The Ghosts. I don’t recognize any of the players in the group, but they were all young folks. Joyner made reference to the band having just learned some songs, but they didn’t mess up.
A lot of the songs sounded like new tracks possibly coming from hisKickstarter-fueled double album sessions (though, to be honest, I don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of the SJ catalog).
The nameless Bellows band came on shortly after. Fox and Brodin switched between guitar and drums while Amandus manned the keys, Koontz played bass and Fink did backup vocals, tambourines, melodica and some kind of effects board thingy. (That’s a technical term. I swear.)
The first song had a folk vibe, the second had a ’50s pop-rock feel and, by the fourth song, the band was fully rocking out.
The whole set had an electric singer-songwriter feel to it with all but a few of the songs escalating from quiet tunes to loud rock jams. (In case you want to listen to some song samples, head to Bellows’ website.) Many are love songs, some forlorn and bittersweet (“I miss you/No god ever gave me answers that I could tell/I’m runnin’ through these dancers/I wanna yell”) and other just plain sweet (“I know you with no makeup/I know you with no clothes on”).
Orenda Fink of Azure Ray and Morgan Nagler, Bellows’ Whispertown bandmate, took the stage to sing backup a couple times. Another pair of females (I only know their first names: Tabitha and Kendall) also sang on a couple tracks.
I loved the 10-song set, and I wasn’t the only one. Folks in O’Leaver’s yelled for more songs, but Bellows quickly started tearing down his rig.
He seemed to enjoy the opportunity to play these songs, with his band, for the people, which included music press, record label employees and tons of musicians.
“Well, this has been a special treat for me,” he said. “So, thanks.”
- Omaha.com (Omaha World-Herald)


Self-distributed digital singles
Debut full-length album, New Ocean, to be released early 2013



Jake Bellows is the voice of a giant and gentle magnet. Unassuming and disarming, his live show leaves listeners feeling nothing less than high and wanting more. Whether he is dancing fantastic laser beam guitar solos around his crooning vocals with full rock band, or standing alone in the spotlight, audiences can't help but fall in love.

He has been living and breathing music since 1993 when he formed his first band Neva Dinova. After several self-releases, their first self-titled studio album came out in 2002 on Crank! Records, followed by The Hate Yourself Change in 2005 on SideCho Records, and You May Already Be Dreaming in 2010 on Saddle Creek. Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, an influential staple amongst the tight-knit community, he was in good company. In 2004, Neva Dinova released a split 10" with Bright Eyes, One Jug of Wine, Two Vessels, which featured three of Jake's songs and three Bright Eyes songs. The album was a darling of fans and critics alike, and was rereleased, with two additional songs from each band on Saddle Creek in 2010. Neva Dinova toured the world as headliners, as well as in support of bands including Death Cab For Cutie, M. Ward, Rilo Kiley, Stephen Malkmus, Daniel Johnston, Jonathan Richman, Mates of State, Cursive, Centro-matic, Azure Ray, Pinback, and Bright Eyes.

A true and unique voice of our time, Bellows has after two decades never relented as a writer, and he now reemerges with new intention in the starkly beautiful, haunting New Ocean. The gift he bears comes across in everyday conversation with gas station attendants, homeless guys, and grocery store clerks alike. But here this intention is captured on tape and made ready for the masses. The message is unity, and it speaks to everyone. In the title track, he speaks of imagining a flood filling up the valleys of East LA, where he now resides. And instead of scrambling, every man for himself, he speaks to the possibility of a better way. "Let's lower down the ropes, and let our brothers in" he sings. "Give my body to the fish so they don't starve. And we can fall into a New Ocean."

The album was recorded in Omaha with Ben Brodin (multi-instrumentalist with Conor Oberst and engineer at ARC studios), Ryan Fox (The Good Life), Todd Fink (The Faint), and Heath Koontz (Neva Dinova).