Jump Back Jake
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Jump Back Jake


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"How I Got to Memphis: Jake Rabinbach followed his muse to Memphis and started an R&B band."

Jake Rabinbach was wasting away in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood when he decided to come to Memphis and start an R&B band.

The son of a Princeton history prof who raised him right on Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf records, Rabinbach had long had designs on a music career but wasn't sure how to make it happen. He spent two years at Wesleyan University in Connecticut but split for New York, in part, because he thought it would help him further his music goals. Instead, he watched former Wesleyan classmates and friends Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden (son of Flyer editor Bruce VanWyngarden) strike it big when they took their college band — MGMT — global.

"I loved it there but wanted to move on," Rabinbach says of Wesleyan. "I was young and had a lot of ideas about being successful in the music field, and it seemed to me that Wesleyan wasn't the route to do that."

Rabinbach will try to follow in the footsteps of his more famous classmates this month when his little Memphis R&B band, Jump Back Jake, releases its debut album, Brooklyn Hustle/Memphis Muscle for Ardent Music.

After leaving Wesleyan, Rabinbach tried to get his career going in New York but found the going rough.

"New York is a tough place. I could never get a good band together, so I played solo acoustic a lot, which is not a lot of fun," Rabinbach remembers. "It was Williamsburg in 2002, right when everyone was writing those articles about how it was like going to San Francisco in 1967 — which was probably a bad idea then, too."

Like so many before him, Rabinbach got the Memphis bug after reading Peter Guralnick's classic book Sweet Soul Music, a work that synthesized Rabinbach's already considerable love of Memphis musicians such as Otis Redding, Al Green, and Booker T. & the MGs.

"It was this story about people operating like a family," Rabinbach says of the inspiration he got from Guralnick's book. "It seemed like people were less interested in making it than in getting together and having a good time. And through that, they created an original and creative sound. I really felt like Memphis was calling me. I decided I didn't need to be in this cultural epicenter [Williamsburg] and that maybe it would be better to go to Memphis and try to put an R&B band together."

Rabinbach first test-drove the city with a couple of brief trips and found it easy to work his way into the local music scene.

"I got invited to play a few pick-up gigs. One was at a place called XYZ, which isn't there anymore. It was an after-hours place and I think the gig started at like 4 a.m., after other bars had closed," Rabinbach says. "I was playing solo electric, mixing my own songs with punky versions of Otis Redding songs. I just wanted to play. All of a sudden I heard this drumbeat behind me — I was opening for a band — and there's this guy, shirtless, sweating, who'd just sat down and started playing. So I started yelling out cues." It was Greg Faison, then a drummer for the Memphis Break-Ups and Antique Curtains, who is now laying down the beat for Jump Back Jake.

According to Rabinbach, "We became friends pretty quickly, and when I decided to move back, I called Greg. He said, well great, he'd find a bass player and we'd start doing stuff. We had the first incarnation of the band going within two weeks of me moving here in June 2006."

Rabinbach and Faison are joined by bassist Brandon Robertson (best know for his work in Snowglobe) and guitarist Jake Vest (Third Man, Bulletproof Vests) in the core group, with Paul Morelli and Nashon Benford sometimes adding horns and other local musicians (notably, organ/piano wiz Rick Steff) filling out the sound in the studio.

You might think a group of white, ostensibly indie-rock-schooled musicians would be self-conscious about forming an R&B band, but Jump Back Jake isn't, in part by drawing inspiration from their blue-eyed-soul predecessors. Rabinbach cites artists such as Tony Joe White, the Sir Douglas Quintet, and Dan Penn as influences that helped him approach R&B-based music without self-consciousness.

"I felt like I could do this, and it wouldn't be weird, because people have been doing this for generations," Rabinbach says.

Rabinbach isn't shy about paying tribute to the band's influences.

"Most current bands borrow from music of the past," Rabinbach says. "We all do it. But I couldn't understand why nobody was trying to zero in on this thing, when it was the best thing that ever happened to American music. [With Jump Back Jake] we tried to zero in on a set of influences, knowing that all that other stuff would find its way in. But we committed to creating this sound. We don't have to talk about it as much now."

by Chris Herrington

December 18, 2008

http://www.memphisflyer.com/memphis/Content?oid=oid%3A53365 - The Memphis Flyer

"Back to the future for Jump Back Jake"

Earlier this year, the U.K.'s Big Beat Records released Thank You Friends: The Ardent Records Story, a two-CD compilation that's been one of 2008's most widely hailed reissues.

The disc documents the music spawned by the famed Memphis studio, Ardent, and its offshoot label, highlighting the company's glory days in the late-'60s and early-'70s.

Now, Ardent is looking to recapture some of that magic. After a long hiatus, the company is getting back into the pop music business with a new imprint called Ardent Music, and its inaugural release, Brooklyn Hustle/Memphis Muscle, the debut album by local rock-soul combo Jump Back Jake. The band will celebrate the release of the disc with a show at the Hi-Tone Café tonight.

The history of Ardent is a long and labyrinthine one that began in 1959. It was then that a teenaged John Fry began recording and putting out 45s from a makeshift studio/office in his family's East Memphis home.

Throughout the 1960s Ardent continued to release numerous singles. But, by the end of the decade, as the studio's business expanded, it

began operating more as a production company, making records that it leased or distributed through larger labels.

Then, in 1972, Ardent Records re-emerged under the aegis of Stax Records, and operated for several years, releasing numerous titles including the first two Big Star records.

After the collapse of Stax in 1975, Ardent was out of the record business for almost two decades. In the early '90s, as part of an arrangement with EMI, Ardent was revived and released LPs by Spot, Two Minutes Hate and Jolene, as well as a trio of solo titles from erstwhile Big Star leader Alex Chilton. Though the Ardent pop label soon faded amid distribution problems, the company has continued to operate a highly successful contemporary Christian music label, putting out some 40 plus albums in the past decade or so.

Finally, in late 2008 -- almost 50 years after the first Ardent single was issued -- the company decided to get back into the secular record business with the Ardent Music label.

"This may be the best timing or the worst timing economically for doing something like this," says Ardent founder and head Fry. "But, really, our motivation was seeing so many artists -- locally and elsewhere -- that had good material and were doing great things creatively, but because the business had changed so much they didn't have the same opportunities. With the contraction of the large labels, the old idea of 'Let's record four demos and get a record deal, and somebody will give us $400,000 and we'll all be happy' is over."

At the same time as the old major-label model has been dying, Fry notes there have been a number of small, independent success stories. He cites Brooklyn band Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah! as a prime example. "They scanned some 125,000 copies of their album in the U.S. with almost no radio play, and little touring," says Fry. "And that's really the influence of the music blogs, Internet radio, playlist sites -- Pandora, iLike -- and social networking sites."

Fry says the idea of a new kind of label appealed to him. "Our feeling is if the music is good -- which it's got to be, first and foremost -- there are ways to reach people and spread the music by word-of-mouth and computer-based outlets that didn't exist even a decade ago," says Fry. "And, so basically we said let's give this a shot and see if it works."

Around the same time, several Ardent staffers, including producer Pete Matthews, had recommended Jump Back Jake as a potential flagship act for the fledgling label. With Matthews (Evanescence, B-52s) producing, the group spent early '08, recording Brooklyn Hustle/Memphis Muscle.

For Jump Back Jake frontman Jake Rabinbach, a New Jersey native who relocated to Memphis three years ago, the alliance with Ardent is a dream come true. "All the stuff that Ardent has had a hand in has been very inspiring from a musical perspective," says Rabinbach. "From the Staple Singers to Big Star to the Replacements."

"Also, if you look at the organizations that were involved in putting out all the records I loved in the '60s and '70s -- places like Atlantic or Stax -- those companies are either totally different, run by different people or long gone," he adds. "Ardent is one of the only places left where you have the same core of people there and running things. That's a really great tradition to be a part of."

Initially, the Jump Back Jake album will be available digitally, through online retailers like Amazon and CD Baby, as well as select indie stores. "Then, as response develops to that, then you go ahead and see if you want to try and promote to conventional media, and to general distribution at big brick-and-mortar retail stores," says Fry. "Because, today, there's almost no point trying to force product into that system right off the bat."

For Jump Back Jake, that slow, measured approach will work just fine. "It's one of the things that appealed to me and why I trusted going into this," says Rabinbach. "There's an understanding that we're going to try and figure out a new model together."

By Bob Mehr

Thursday, December 18, 2008

http://www.gomemphis.com/news/2008/dec/18/jump-back-to-the-future/ - The Commercial Appeal

"Jump Back Jake and the Sound of Memphis"

I get invited to review new music all the time. It’s not that I’m particularly special—bands and record labels will blast dozens or hundreds of blogs with e-mail solicitations, hoping to get publicity, which is fine. That’s how promotion gets done nowadays. But I rarely respond because 99 percent of the time, I can tell from the description that neither I nor you will be remotely interested in 99 percent of them. We don’t devote a lot of space to hip-hop, techno, or metal around here, but those three genres comprise most of the solicitations I get.

A couple of weeks ago, however, it was a different story when I heard from a guy at Ardent Music in Memphis. The label is based at Ardent Studios, which opened in 1966 and recorded some famous Stax hits including “Soul Man,” the Isaac Hayes album Hot Buttered Soul, and Booker T. and the MGs’ magnificent Abbey Road tribute McLemore Avenue. Ardent’s most famous client, however, was Led Zeppelin—the band mixed Led Zeppelin III there in 1970. ZZ Top, James Taylor, Cheap Trick, and lots of others recorded there as well, so the place has got a significant pedigree. The e-mail invited me to check out Jump Back Jake, describing the band like this: “Jump Back Jake plays raw soul-flavored rock and roll with dance grooves and horn lines that tout a modern writing approach.” Hot damn, I thought. That I’ll listen to.

Jump Back Jake’s debut album is called Brooklyn Hustle/Memphis Muscle, and hot damn, indeed—it’s exactly as advertised. The record is inspired by classic soul and blues, full of good horny horns, a mighty Hammond B3, and guitar work both sweet and stinging, but it’s not the work of a nostalgia act, either. According to a Memphis newspaper profile, leader Jake Rabinbach is the sum of his influences, growing up on Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf and diggin’ other white soulsters like Tony Joe White and the Sir Douglas Quintet, as well as author Peter Guralnick’s classic Sweet Soul Music, which describes the sort of communal music-making Rabinbach wanted to engage in. He realized fairly early on that while most bands borrow from the past, precious few were borrowing from the Memphis soul of the 1960s. He moved from Brooklyn to Memphis in 2006 and formed Jump Back Jake shortly thereafter with guitarist Jake Vest, drummer Greg Faison, bassist Brandon Robertson, and horn players Nahshon Benford and Paul Morelli. The band’s mission is to take that classic Stax sound and make it relevant right now.

Mission accomplished. Brooklyn Hustle/Memphis Muscle is a party record in spots and a smoky late-night groover in others. Picking a favorite track is a tough assignment: I especially dug “Samson,” “Won’t Leave the House,” and “X-Mas Time,” although “The Flood,” “Terrible Mistakes,” and “Too Cool for Love” are strong tracks as well. But you don’t have to take anybody else’s word about Brooklyn Hustle/Memphis Muscle—stream the whole thing right here and decide for yourself.

April 29, 2009

http://jabartlett.wordpress.com/2009/04/29/jump-back-jake/ - The Hits Just Keep On Comin'

"Q & A with SXSW Artist Jump Back Jake"

Though they’re no stranger to SXSW, Memphis band Jump Back Jake will be performing at their first official SXSW showcase this year. Founded by Williamsburg refugee, Jake Rabinach, Jump Back Jake performs a solid mix of rock and soul that is evidently catching a few ears.

Read on after the jump for my Q & A with Jake Rabinach. You can see Jump Back Jake’s SXSW performance at Mother Egan’s on Friday March 20th at 7pm. Visit Jump Back Jake’s SXSW page for a free download of their song The Flood from the new album Brooklyn Hustle / Memphis Muscle.

Ana Wolken : How would you describe Jump Back Jake?

Jake Rabinach : The tag line is generally “modern rock and soul music” but I would expand on that and say that it’s more that we try to emulate the approach that old house bands and rhythm sections like Booker T. and the MGs, Hi Rhythm section and The Swampers in Muscle Shoals would use towards building an arrangement for a song. We’ve tried to simplify the formula by starting with a song and then finding a groove that makes it come to life. In that way maybe we are a soul band, but the music takes on a lot of shapes and sounds within that structure. And of course vocally I’ve always been influenced by Memphis and New Orleans Soul singers like Otis Redding, OV Wright, Lee Dorsey, and James Carr.

AW : What prompted you to leave NYC for Memphis?

JR : I had the idea to do this kind of music for a very long time but I couldn’t articulate it and I couldn’t find anyone in New York who understood what I was trying to do. The music up there has a really different feel. I don’t wanna sound down on the New York—I mean I’m still an active member of Francis and the Lights, a New York band, but in order to find this particular soul influenced sound—my sound, I needed to go to the place where it was invented. After reading a lot about the history of Memphis soul music (particularly in Peter Guralnick’s “Sweet Soul Music”) it seemed that the city hadn’t really changed that much and that vibe that gave way to the old records I loved was still there, but also that there were young musicians who would be more open to a more modern take on this music. When I went to visit, I met folks like Greg Faison (drummer in JBJ) who got what I was doing immediately so I decided to move down and we formed the band shortly after.

AW : Like Austin, Memphis has a world class music scene. What are your impressions of the scene there?

JR : I don’t think people realize how similar the scene is now to what it was in the 60s and 70s in terms of quality and community. Sure there’s competition and politics like any big music town, but I really believe that that is outweighed by a sincere respect and sense of support among the musicians who all range in genres and styles. Everyone in Jump Back Jake came out of the indie-rock world and each of us play in other bands that are totally different from Jump Back Jake. I don’t think that’s uncommon here. I think in general musicians in Memphis don’t think see that much risk in trying a lot of different things and doing what’s artistically satisfying, because the emphasis here is not on “making it.”

AW : Will this be your first performance at SXSW?

JR : We played the 6 degrees of Memphis day party the last two years, but this is our first year playing an official showcase and promoting a record.

AW : What does this showcase mean to the band?

JR : We’ve been touring around the south quite a bit this year and we’re all very happy with where the band is right now. We are looking forward to bringing this show, on which we’ve worked very hard, to a more national stage.

AW: Are there any other bands playing SXSW that you are looking forward to?

JR : Without being too much of a cheerleader for Memphis, I’ll say that I always look forward to seeing all the other Memphis bands play to people who’ve never seen them before or don’t get to see them all the time. Jack Oblivian and Harlan T. Bobo are some of the best acts working today as well as John Paul Keith and the 1'4'5’s. I’m looking forward to seeing them win over the non-believers.

AW : What are Jump Back Jake’s plans for the near future?

JR : Well, it’s hard to say. We’ve got a record out and we all want to spend more and more time on the road promoting it. We’re always working on new material so that really isn’t any different. In this business the only thing you can really plan on for the future is working hard and getting better at what you do and hoping that a few people get something from it.

March 2, 2009

http://www.austinsoundcheck.com/q-a-with-sxsw-artist-jump-back-jake/ - Austin Sound Check

"Jump Back Jake: A Little Bit Of Rock With A Lot Of Soul"

When you write for a rock and metal blog you get offers for reviews from various places. Sometimes it’s a PR group and sometimes it’s a label. Some of the bands are big and some are small. The bigger names and labels you kind of have an idea of what you’re going to get. With smaller labels and indie bands you never really know what to expect. Sometimes it’s really good and sometimes it’s so bad that you wish you never heard it. Thankfully this time it’s one of those pleasantly surprising bands.

Jump Back Jake first reminded me of a southern rock act, almost sounding too closely to Bo Bice and The Black Crowes in the beginning of the first track on Brooklyn Hustle/Memphis Muscle called Easy Answers. That all changes after the first song though. They keep a southern rock vibe yet it all gets infused with a lot of soul and blues sound and even has a bit of an Al Green feel to it. The horns in songs like The Flood, Sampson and Pay It Out The Front End keep things interesting all around. You just don’t hear mush horn work from a modern band. It definitely made this album a pleasure to listen to. The slower ballads like Maybe Tennessee and Too Cool For Love both have such a nice and easy solidarity to them that you just don’t get with many bands these days.

You can learn more about Jump Back Jake and their debut album Brooklyn Hustle/Memphis Muscle at Jumpbackjake.com, where you can also stream the Brooklyn Hustle album and find links to buy it on iTunes if you dig it. Jump Back Jake will also be one to watch out for at SWSX this year.

February 12, 2009

http://www.therockdose.com/jump-back-jake-a-little-bit-of-rock-with-a-lot-of-soul/ - The Rock Dose

"f10 interview: singer/guitarist Jake Rabinbach (Jump Back Jake, Francis and the Lights)"

Some people go on long journeys in order to escape or leave something behind. Jake Rabinbach’s journey was a means of finding something.

Rabinbach spent time at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where he was buddies with Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden of later MGMT fame. He left after two years for New York with the hope of achieving his musical aspirations. But Rabinbach’s vision needed something more, something with a deep, engrained musical history. That desire took him down to Memphis, where he formed Jump Back Jake, a “modern Memphis rock n’ soul” band that was soon signed to the newly relaunched Ardent Music, the label that launched legendary power pop band Big Star many decades before.

With their debut album, Brooklyn Hustle/Memphis Muscle receiving critical praise (you can read f10’s review here) and the band playing multiple shows at this year’s South By Southwest, Rabinbach is seeing his vision finally come to fruition. Splitting time between Memphis with JBJ and Brooklyn with his other band, Francis and the Lights, has turned Rabinbach into a musician with lots of frequent flyer miles, but he’s not complaining. Just as JBJ’s debut title mirrors the duality of Rabinbach’s two distant bases of action, Rabinbach enjoys the freedom and opportunity to explore many different musical avenues, no matter where they take him.

(Interview after the jump.)

F10: What was your inspiration for leaving Brooklyn for Memphis? Were you tiring of the scene?

Jake Rabinbach: Well, New York is hard for anybody - trying to fight the fight. I don’t know if I have negative feelings about Brooklyn so much as I thought that, I guess from understanding how music was made in Memphis historically, in whatever small way that I could having never been here before, it seemed to me that it might be a more conducive environment for me, to be creative there. And because I was so interested in Memphis music, and there were so many different kinds of music that I loved that came from Memphis, I felt maybe there could be some magic that I could pick up here.

F10: You’ve called your band a “soul band” and said you try to emulate the qualities of musicians like Booker T and the M.G.‘s. With a lot of the young bands today trying to emulate Joy Division or My Bloody Valentine, do you ever worry about how you would be received by audiences outside of the southwest - maybe back in New York? Or is that what makes you unique?

JR: I try not to worry too much about how I’ll be received. I think about it, I think you sort of always have to think about the delicate balance of an artist, of thinking about the vision versus the audience, but I think that the most important thing within that relationship is to try to see there’s a process of translation, how what you create musically goes out into the world more than focusing on what people are interested in hearing. In a way, I think what you’re saying is what we’re doing isn’t necessarily fashionable, and to some degree, I completely agree. I think that that was part of my desire to do it. I think that there’s elements of Brooklyn Muscle/Memphis Hustle that were deliberately un-hip. I think people have associations with certain kinds of music - I think the Allman Brothers Band are a great example of that. The Allman Brothers Band today, who are more on the jam band tour circuit, people have really parodied that. But the first Allman Brothers Band record, which is really the only one that I ever listen to, is one of the great white boy psychedelic soul records ever made.

F10: What was it like working with the team at Ardent Records? They seem like kind of a family over there.

JR: They really are. They’ve been a wonderful home for us, incredibly supportive. Getting to work with someone like [Big Star’s] Jody Stephens and [Ardent founder] John Fry on a daily basis is really wonderful. They’ve been a part of a very rich history that I really admire, and to have people like that supporting you in a very familial way, it really does a lot for you as an artist. It did a lot for me.

F10: You’ve played South By Southwest before, but this was the first year you had a showcase. How was that different?

JR: Well, it was also the first year we played more than once, it was the first year that I was there with two bands, so I was incredibly busy. I think I played eight [shows], four with each band, and it was an absolute blast.

F10: Your record has a pair of boxers on the front cover. Do you feel like your north and south elements are sparring for predominance?

JR: I never really felt like the two boxers represented north and south - other people have said that. To me, Brooklyn Hustle/Memphis Muscle was borne out of the concept of - it was almost like a tagline that one would use for one’s fight; in my head the narrative would be a boxer who had spent half of his life in Memphis and half of his life in Brooklyn and was sort of embodying the two elements to take that into the ring, and I would say that’s what we were trying to do.

F10: Now, you also play guitar in the New York band Francis and the Lights. They have more of a Prince/Phil Collins thing going on - it’s more electronic. What’s your attraction to that? Is that more your New York sensibilities coming out?

JR: I don’t know if my attraction to the music has anything to do with any set influences. I have been working with Francis since 2001, so I’ve been in that band for quite a long time and it’s a very important part of my life and artistic expression, so that’s certainly what my attraction to it is at this point.

F10: It must be tough balancing time between the two bands, especially geographically. Do you see yourself veering towards one focus at some point?

JR: Oh, I don’t ever want to have one focus. I’m really attracted to artists who have their hands on a lot of different projects. I love Tom Waits, he’s done so many different collaborations with people and also so many great solo records. I love the way that he’s gone about his career. I don’t ever want to be in a position where I have to say, ‘this one person, this is who I am and that’s it.’ I just can’t imagine that.

May 10, 2009

http://blog.favorite10.com/2009/05/10/favorite10-interviews-singerguitarist-jake-rabinbach-jump-back-jake-francis-and-the-lights/ - favorite10.com


Jump Back Jake: Brooklyn Hustle / Memphis Muscle - December 19, 2008 (Ardent Music - http://jumpbackjake.bandcamp.com)

Jump Back Jake: Already Sold
2007 (self released)



Jump Back Jake is a Memphis based rock and roll band led by Jake Rabinbach, who formed the band in 2006 after moving from Brooklyn to Memphis. Their debut record, “Brooklyn Hustle / Memphis Muscle,” produced by Pete Matthews at the legendary Ardent Studios, is the first release from the studios’ recently launched mainstream label, Ardent Music.

Jump Back Jake will be appearing in the upcoming Kentucker Audley independent film 'Open Five,' which was written by Rabinbach and Audley and is slated for release in the spring of 2010. The band will also be releasing an EP in the Spring of 2010. Rabinbach also plays lead guitar for the NYC based band, Francis and the Lights.