Jake Ian
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Jake Ian

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Folk Country




"A Pint At A Time"

Whether you're 18 or 65, Jake Ian's new band knows how to get you moving.

The local country/folk stalwart is back with three Edmonton music scene vets who call themselves the Haymakers.

"This band can play any crowd, any room, any time," says guitarist "Fat" Dave Johnston, who describes the quartet's songs as "working man's beer-drinking music."

Jake Ian and the Haymakers will release their first album together, Honey I Lost My Way, with a show at DV8 Tavern Saturday. River City Rat Band and Michael Dunn will open.

Ian has turned things up a notch on the album, recruiting Johnston - known from a slew of local bands including Old Smash and Happy - as well as drummer Shane Oranchuk and upright-bassist Tony Mellor.

Oranchuk, who played in punk band PiND with Ian before doing a year with metal act This is War, is just starting to get used to his new project's widely varied fan base.

"One of my favourite things is to see an old person in the crowd bobbing their head to the music. I've never had that before in any other band," he says.

Ian, real name Jacob Feniak, has long grown accustomed to life outside of punk. But he's still inclined to crank up the amps if need be.

"This type of music that we're doing right now is kind of good in the sense that we can play a mellower type of show with folky bands, or we can step it up and we can play a rock show," he says. "We can get pretty loud and we can get pretty heavy."

The guys haven't softened up in their musical leanings; Oranchuk says he barely listens to country or folk.

But they're all having a blast hammering out some of Ian's most focused and versatile work.

"You don't need to listen to the type of music you're making. It's almost better sometimes if you don't," says Ian, who is a shop teacher by day.

"What you're good at and what you enjoy listening to are different things," Johnston adds. "I don't listen to that many guitar players."

Ian laughs, "I don't even listen to music that much."

The country genre is a perfect outlet for storytelling, which Ian has a penchant for. But beware: don't believe all the tales of heartache and woe on Honey I Lost My Way. Some of Ian's lyrics are pure fiction, and he won't tell you which ones . because some of the true stories are too embarrassing to admit to.

"I like making up stories. I'm a good bullsh--ter," Ian says. "That carries over well into songwriting, I think. To be a good songwriter, you have to be a good bullsh--ter."

The guys have had to cover for him on occasion when fans reference his lyrics, as Johnston recalls with a chuckle.

"We played the Black Dog and this guy came up and he was like, 'Where are you guys from?' I was like, 'We're from here.' He was like, 'Well then how do you know about running from the law in Saskatchewan?'"

Jake Ian and the Haymakers are currently on their first tour across Western Canada, with plans to head out east in the summer and make another album later this year.

Ian admits his past lineups haven't lasted very long, but this foursome is moving ahead at a lightning-quick pace.

So far, so good.

"We're just playing it by beer," Oranchuk quips. "It's a long way to the top."
- The Edmonton Sun

"Jake Ian: From Punk to Folk"

For a punk-rock kid to turn into an acoustic singer-songwriter, there has to be a good reason.

For Jacob Feniak, a.k.a. Jake Ian, just blame it on dad if you suddenly find yourself rekindling your appreciation for John Prine.

"He got me into him when I was young," Feniak says. "He was always playing his stuff. Back then, I was like, ‘Ah, screw this -- I want to listen to punk rock. This is lame.’ Along the way, I started digging it -- stuff like John Prine, Tom Waits, Neil Young. I’ve been listening to a lot of Billy Bragg lately, too."

Feniak released four albums with local punk band PiND between 2001 and 2007. But after graduating from university, he found himself having to move to Hinton to work as an industrial arts teacher (ie. "shop class"), and was forced to discontinue the band.

Feniak ended up living in a trailer park "where your average pick-up truck the guys use on the rigs costs more than your trailer."

Feeling down and rather lonely, Feniak picked up his acoustic guitar and played, thinking about his experience and the people around him.

"I started writing a lot more story songs," he says. "Some of them were based on truth, but most of them were just stories, you know?"

The result of a year’s worth of songwriting, rough demos and open mike sessions is Jake Ian’s solo debut, Sunset Estates, a nine-song album that takes its title from the name of the trailer park where Feniak lived.

Being in Hinton, Feniak had to finish the album with Edmonton-based musician/producer Liam "Harvey Oswald" Copeland via e-mail, sending tracks back and forth with production notes attached to them.

"It turned out pretty good," Ian says. "The difference between mixing this kind of stuff as opposed to mixing punk music is just that there’s a lot more going on -- getting the acoustic guitar EQ’d properly as opposed to an electric. It’s a lot more intricate of a process. The mixing took a long time. Sometimes you listen to it on a different day and everything seems different."

Jake Ian’s debut will be released through local indie label Face-For-Radio, and Feniak now plans to pursue a full-time solo career, having recently decided to move back to Edmonton after quitting his job in Hinton.

Feniak will be touring as Jake Ian over the course of the summer, and he hopes his collaboration with Face-For-Radio will lead to some airplay and, perhaps, more albums in the same vein as Sunset Estates.

"There’s no big national distribution or anything like that, but (having a label) does help quite a lot," he admits. "It kind of gives you peace of mind knowing that there’s somebody else in it with you, especially when it’s something you’re doing all by yourself."

- Edmonton Journal

"Jake Ian: A prairie home companion"

After eight years of playing in a pop-punk band, Jake Ian is carving out a new career for himself as a folk/country singer-songwriter, and he'll soon be celebrating the release of his second solo CD, An Awful Sky.

"I started doing [folk] more, and focusing on that. I always enjoyed folk and country, so I wanted to take my songwriting to a different place," he admits, adding with a grin, "the fact that I'm doing a lot myself appeals to me, too."

An Awful Sky is a confident collection of rootsy two-steps and prairie-tavern anthems that serve as a nod to Ian's small-town origins. The fuller arrangements are thanks to the new band he's assembled this time around, in contrast to the scaled-down simplicity of his solo debut, Sunset Estates.

"The new musicians are all friends of mine," Ian explains of organizing the ensemble for An Awful Sky's recording process. "We didn't really rehearse before going in—we built the songs in the studio, which was fun. We had arranged drum and bass parts, and told the other guys to write what they wanted."

- Vue Weekly

"New Sounds - Jake Ian"

Mike Garth / michael@vueweekly.com
One need look no further than Jake Ian's sophomore release, An Awful Sky, for a true slice of Alberta. Songs of heartbreak, travelling well-worn paths through small towns, and working on a thrashing crew are all balanced beautifully with instrumentation that doesn't overstep its boundaries. The irresistible title track embodies this effective approach as harmonica, steel guitar and backup vocals do just enough to help the song along, Ian's fundamentally strong songwriting bringing each track to life. His quivering, urgent vocals purport a compelling sense of longing, heard in the downtrodden essence of "Broken Hinges": "It's hard to reach for the sky when you're passed out on the floor / I used to love you but I can't any more." An Awful Sky proves that Jake Ian is on track to success in Alberta's alt-folk music scene.
Jake Ian
An Awful Sky

- Vue Weekly


Still working on that hot first release.



Down the cold, lonesome gravel roads of a northern Alberta hamlet, lay a peaceful paradise that Jake Ian once called home; a place that time forgot; a place that has shaped the shady, genuine, honest, and desperate characters that find their way into his wonderfully authentic songs. Ians deep respect for the working man and obvious soft spot for the underdog makes its way into countless themes of real life, real love and heartbreak.

Ians influences are planted deeply in the past, drawing on such songwriting greats as Townes Van Zandt, Gram Parsons and such blues artists as Mississippi John Hurt and Lightnin Hopkins. These vintage inspirations shine through in Ians music, a ragged combo of folk, country and blues that will touch even the toughest of souls.

Dubbed, Albertas Country Road Troubadour, Ian travels the country, preferring to perform in small hamlets, villages and country settings more often than bigger urban areas. Its within these rural settings that Ians music thrives, playing his songs for the very people who influenced him to begin with. It is by these means that Ian strives to oppose the corporate music takeover and create music that is real, music that comes from somewhere pure and true, music that is for the people.

Having released 4 albums including 2008s Sunset Estates, 2009s An Awful Sky, 2011s Honey I Lost My Way and 2012s Sad & Lonely Broken Man, Ian is currently hard at work with producer Shuyler Jansen, on his fifth full length studio album which will be released in the spring of 2014. In the meantime, Ian continues to travel the dirt roads of Alberta and beyond, singing his songs for the hard working people of this world, forever searching for that perfect melody.

Band Members