Dubbing Minneapolis native Jake Manders as a songwriter is partially accurate; he is also a raconteur who has carefully crafted a collection of songs that narrate his life.
Manders' self-titled project is rooted in 1994, when he first picked up the guitar and harmonica. A prolific writer, Jake has more than 200 original songs in his collection to date.
His upcoming album is a poignant compilation of music that draws you in while revealing many truths, something that is not easily shared were he not hidden behind the guitar.
Jake shares with Gimme Noise the process that went into producing his latest pursuits prior to his CD release at the 331 Club on August 5th, and August 9th at the Kitty Cat Klub.
8/5 (331 Club) with Alyssa Bicking (Formerly of the Floorbirds), Matt Walvatne (the Pistol Whippin' Party Penguins), Ben Kyle (Romantica)
8/9 (Kitty Cat Klub) with Alyssa Bicking, Caitlin Robertson and friends, Dave Simonet (Trampled by Turtles)
Both 21+, Free, 9:30 pm
Gimme Noise: Some of the songs on your latest album were written 15 years prior, why release them now? Any polishing up that you had to do when you went back to listen to them for this album?
Jake Manders: There are two songs on the album I wrote 15 years ago, "Time" and "Can't Say Goodbye," for some reason those two songs stayed with me. I think that is because the lyrics seemed to re-invent themselves and stay relevant in my life. The arrangement for those songs have stayed the same; I added other instrumentalists to help fill out the songs.
You have a collection of over 200 original songs that you recorded. Are you constantly writing?
I can only write a song if it comes to me. I read in a Rolling Stone interview with Neil Young that he said something like, "Songs are up in the air, once in a while you can capture them and make them your own, but who really owns these songs?" I thought about that article a lot and as a songwriter it makes sense. When I feel the moment to write a song it's usually very quick, so the melody, lyrics, and instrumentation all come together at the same time. A song only usually takes me a couple minutes to write but those moments don't come around very often. That is why I must record it at that time with whatever means possible or else I might lose the moment.
What was the goal of this album when you were writing?
The songs I chose to record on this album are all scattered in terms of when I wrote them. I spoke about some of my earliest songs, "Time" and "Can't Say Goodbye", while songs like "Plus One" , "M.I.W" and "Back Porch" were songs I came up with within the past year. I know I have common lyrical themes in all of the songs on the album so maybe that is why I chose to put them all together. My goal when recording was to capture the songs in the most honest way possible while staying true to the original arrangements.
I hear a lot of blue-grass and blues influence in your music; coming from a Minnesota childhood, what did you listen to growing up? Did any of that influence in your writing?
Sure, as I child I remember my aunts and uncles sitting around my parents kitchen playing Patsy Cline and Hank Williams. At that time I didn't know it would influence me the way it did. As a matter of fact, I never liked that kind of music until my late 20s. When I was a teenager I was really influenced by the Seattle Sound and other bands playing grunge music, but the specific point that I can remember for influencing me to want to pursue music was when I was 14 and I went to see Soul Asylum two nights in a row at the Midway Stadium. I loved the energy they had live and the honesty/poetic nature of Pirner's lyrics. I was lucky to be invited back stage the second night and when I went to meet Dave he had Winona Ryder on his lap smoking a cigarette, with a beer in one hand and signing autographs with the other.
Have you always wanted to be a musician? Was there anyone in your life that pushed you into playing?
Ever since I can remember it has always been an interest and passion of mine and since I was exposed to live music at such a young age I believe it is in my nature to want to pursue it. Nobody really pushed me into playing; once I learned how to play guitar and write my own songs I couldn't help but want to take it further. My family has always been very supportive and active in music, I was taught to follow my own path.
How are you finding people to collaborate with when writing and playing?
I find collaborating with musicians is very easy to do in this incredible Minneapolis music scene. Playing with the Pistol Whippin' Party Penguins has given me the opportunity to meet and perform with many local talented artists. When I started to record the album I laid down the guitar, vocal, and harmonica tracks then after listening I felt the recordings to be dry. I then passed on the recording to musicians who I knew and respected from the music scene and invited them in the studio. Over the two and a half years it took me to record the album, I knew what sound I wanted and who could provide it. Although it took a while, the songs really came together the way I wanted.
What artists are you listening to these days? Locally? Non-locally?
Living in Minneapolis, I feel lucky to be in a place that supports local music the way it does. Everyday because of radio stations like "The Current" and "KFAI" I am exposed to new artists that I want to check out live. The local musicians and venues are what truly inspire me to want to perform. On a national level right now my favorite artist is Gregory Alan Isakov. Check him out!
Finish this statement: "Never have I ever..."
...performed at the Cedar; I hope it happens!
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