Jake Hull & The Great Victory
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Jake Hull & The Great Victory


Band Folk Rock


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Jake Hull & The Great Victory @ Cafe Stella

Norfolk, Virginia, USA

Norfolk, Virginia, USA

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One of the most talented musicians in the region, Jake Hull, is releasing his first solo EP, “The Fool”, this Saturday at Cafe Stella.

We talked to the virtuoso about life after his band, the Momentary Prophets, the reverb-chamber in his skull, the real world falling short of your imagination-world, and the new album.

AltDaily: For our readers unfamiliar with your work, let’s start them out with a nice youtube clip to get them in that tahini-scented Jake Hull mood. Have a favorite clip of you performing to suggest?

Jake Hull: Do I really smell of tahini? I hadn’t noticed that before. This clip is actually one of Kelsie and I performing one of her songs at a house show. It’s a great song, and I hate most any picture or video I see of just myself. Saturday, Kelsie will be singing with the band so it’s topically appropriate!

AltDaily: Around Hampton Roads you’re probably best known as either being a part of the Newport News-based group Momentary Prophets or for being that kind gentleman with the long hair at Trader Joes who knows an odd amount about nuts. How’s life been since the Prophets took their hiatus?

Jake: Difficult. After the Prophets stopped playing and touring I was left in this weird creative purgatory. I knew I could write and that I wanted to but everything I wrote was crap. Actually, the original version of ‘The Fool’ was part of that same embarrassing litter. I scrapped it for almost a whole year before remembering that a few portions of it were salvageable. Anyway, I think I felt out of place and out of context for a while. Despite that half of my life being a little out of control, things are great. Life is so steadily getting better.

AltDaily: For a minute there you were a leader of a local supergroup, of sorts, The Later Sun. I loved your sound–thought you guys had huge potential as a collective. What did you take away from that experience? Do you see your future as band-centric or solo-centric?

Jake: The massive realization that I have to make music happen. I left that experience with a very solo-centric attitude. I had an album’s worth of music, fully arranged in my head, and I knew what I wanted. So after a brief period of moping and pitifulness I took even newer songs, finished them up and decided to record The Fool. Because The Fool is the first chapter in a series of full-length albums, I’m not sure I can approach the creative side of the house collaboratively. I am going to record these albums and they are going to sound exactly how I want them to, because it sounds great in the reverb-chamber of my skull. But I just started playing with a couple guys and it sounds pretty awesome so I’m excited to see where that goes.

AltDaily: So, “The Fool”. I listened to this on repeat the other morning for a few hours. I was reconnecting with my sister, who I had been estranged from for a number of years. It provided the perfect backdrop for an open, healing conversation. So thank you for that. When you go into writing/recording an album are you thinking about the mood you’re setting for listeners, the potential catharsis found through the music? Or is it more about crafting some sort of magic, multi-dimensional mirror of your feelings on a certain subject or personal narrative?

Jake: I think about all of it, at some point or another. I rarely go into a song trying to write a certain emotion or mood but I find it by the time I’m done. It’s important for me, because I need that feeling when I play the songs live. I want every song to be an evocation, not just a recitation. With recording, by the time I’ve laid down instrument tracks and am starting vocals all those thoughts start crashing around my head even more. The voice is where the truth is. The voice tells you what to feel. That’s got to feel absolutely real. And I think when it feels real, not contrived, that’s when the potential for catharsis opens up. And that’s why I’ll do forty vocal takes: I want the right one.

AltDaily: Let’s talk about the album title for a minute. In the song “The Fool” you sing, “With the clouds ’round his head / He sees only the dreams he can’t keep.” Will you share where this image derived? How does this encapsulate what you were trying to achieve with the record as a whole? As a sidenote, don’t all dreams seem un-acheivable until the moment we reach them?

Jake: The EP is sort of a snap-shot of this character, The Fool – what’s going on with his head, his heart, his relationships. ‘The Fool’ as a song is about the real world falling short of your imagination-world. The Fool happens to be someone who sees so much in his head, wants so much, that there’s no way all of that can be real. So what do you get? Can you choose which dreams materialize? Do you have to sacrifice one for another? Why can’t we have everything? Why?

Those questions define this song. Those particular words had the right rhythm and sound and happened to mean exactly the right thing. So while dreams always do seem so distant until we reach them, this music is more about whether in the process of trying to reach them we forget what we had in the first place.

AltDaily: John Lennon knew he wasn’t the only dreamer–there’s Jake Hull too. In the song “Echoic” you sing, “Guide me / For I cannot see anything but stars / I stagger at the sight / A field of distant giants.” First of all, if you find a way to this vision of love, community, humanity, music, and/or dreams that you sing about, please send a line back for all us sinners. Talk about the relationship between the world you live in, the world you dream, and the role your music plays in that dynamic.

Jake: Music is like a valve that releases all this built up pressure from me spending too much time in my own world of stories and fantasy and bad ideas; so maybe it’s more like a sewage drain. Music is my prayer, my catharsis, my message, my dream. It’s the part of my made-up, imaginary Jake kingdom that I can grab onto and make real. I can rip it out of my body and send it cascading away, hopefully to reach someone.

AltDaily: Your collection of musical instruments–and abilities–would be the envy of the most euphonious gypsy in all the land. How many instruments are we hearing on this album, and what are they? How do you choose what is the right sound for a certain song?

Jake: I used Guitar (classical, steel-string, 12-string, and electric), Harmonium, Cello, Hammered Dulcimer, Piano, Timpani, Native American flutes & drums, autoharp, and a stripped down drum set. And we also used a gong that we found at the Wells Theatre in a box of dust-drowned trinkets.

When it comes to choosing the right sound it’s a split between actually hearing the textures in my head and instinctual, often improvised choices to make the song come alive. Songs are like human bodies: they need bones and blood and lungs and hearts. Some of that just comes from the tones of each instrument, some of it comes from the notes, chord progressions, and voicings. The rest comes from the combination of it all. You hear it as one thing, breathing and full of meaning but like a human body it’s just smaller parts woven together.

AltDaily: In “Oh, So Far” you sing about home being a place “Where there’s nothing left to conquer / There’s nothing left to find,” a place you’re far from at current moment.After so much time on the road with the MoPos, do you struggle with the issue of feeling settled in a place? Does any part of you worry that once you find ‘home’ the place where all of this beautiful music comes from might somehow become blocked, built upon?

Jake: HOW DID YOU KNOW???? Yes. That is the answer. So, if whatever we have isn’t enough and we need more of something, what is our response? To go out and seek that something more. We get out into the world, into the confusing din of everybody rushing to find the ‘more’ that they need before someone else eats it up and then we realize that we’re all in the exact same situation. We think to ourselves, “damn. I miss my home. I want to go back. I want what I had. Why can’t I have it?” And I’m not sure we can always get that back. Creativity isn’t a concern for me. Even when I get to wherever I think I’m supposed to get to, I’ll always write. Music is dedication much more than inspiration. I know how to work hard, so I’ll just keep my eyes on infinity.

AltDaily: The big release party for The Fool is this Saturday at Cafe Stella. Please give your elevator speech for why people should come out, hang out, and maybe throw down a few bucks for a CD or commemorative stuffed eagle.

Jake: It’ll be everything you like about life: a free show. The more people come, the larger the choir and the greater our victory. There will be a band for some of it too. And not only does Café Stella have the best coffee in all the land, but they have great beer, and the show is free. If you like the music and you buy an EP, you’re going to help me do something even greater in the next few months. And if you don’t like the music: the show was free, so drink more beer.
- AltDaily


The Fool EP (2012)



After sharing festival stages with Amos Lee, Neko Case, and Chris Thile as part of the folk-rock/world-beat trio Momentary Prophets, Norfolk's Jake Hull releases his first solo project, an EP of expansive folk rock: The Fool.

Jake's classical training in world music and experience composing for theater play a large part in his inspiration and versatility as a songwriter. Written, arranged, and performed entirely by Jake Hull, 'The Fool' acts as an introduction into a story that will span across two subsequent albums.