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We caught up with Jacob Summers of Avid Dancer at the Red Bull Sound show in Los Angeles to talk about the cathartic release of his new album, 1st Bath. We discuss the backstory of the album’s cover art and his collaboration with producer Raymond Richards.
GroundSounds (GS): We are here with Jacob Summers of Avid Dancer, how are you?
Avid Dancer (AD): Good, I’m really good.
GS: You just released your new album 1st Bath, and there was a lot of hype in the community and everyone has been really pumped to hear this. Do you feel there was a lot of pressure when you released it? How did you take it?
AD: It was a relief to release it ‘cause I’ve had a lot of these songs recorded for a long time and I signed a record deal almost a year ago and the plan was to release it a year after I signed. So, it was just like, so much waiting and you know, finding the right band to play with. So, the album actually coming out, I mean I feel really good about it. Obviously, I love it, it’s my album, it’s my music. So, I’ve just been waiting to be able to share it with people and that’s just like, 1 or 2 songs you know what I mean? It’s just like, here it is, everything I have. So, I’ve been really excited.
GS: Awesome, so if we talk conceptually about it, you worked a lot with Raymond Richards, who produced the album. Tell us a little bit about that. How did you come up with the sound? Especially since you are a drummer by trade and 1st Bath has more of a “pop-edelic” sound over heavy percussion.
AD: “Pop-edelic”, I like that! (laughs) Well, I do play drums. I don’t want to say I hate drummers. I just don’t like when drums get in the way. At least for my record that I did, I just wanted them to be a backbone of the songs, you know? And not focus too much on, ‘hey look what I can do’, you know what I mean? On, the drums, like nobody cares. But I actually was a fan of a band Raymond Richards was playing guitar in called, “Count Fleet” and they recorded a record that never came out unfortunately. I own it and listen to it all the time. But, Raymond Richards was playing guitar in that band and I begged him for like, 6 months to let me drum in their band and finally they were like, ‘fine’. So, I was playing in a band with him and I gave him a couple of demos of my own songs, and was like, ‘Hey if you’re interested in recording me, I know you’re like, a real producer and don’t just like, work with anyone, but here are some of my songs’. He had it in his car and I guess his wife was driving his car and a couple of days later, was like, ‘who was that blank CD in the car, I love it’ and he told her, ‘Oh, that’s Jacob’s CD”’ And she said, ‘It’s great you should listen to it!’
GS: So, you owe it to his wife, since she gave him the extra nudge.
AD: I think…Yeah, I think that’s probably when he was like, ‘Alright fine, you know if my wife blindly listened to this and liked it then I guess maybe I should listen my wife’. Which I guess is good advice, listen to your wives.
GS: Tell us about the cover art of the album, since you were really involved with the conception.
AD: My tattoos are on there and then I did write the band name in my own blood
AD: Yeah, I mean, kind of. Yes, I mean, I want everything to be really personal. You know how you see some bands, and granted, I love this band but this is an example, like “Interpol”, you see photos of them and they are all just distance and the artwork is angular and that’s not really an approachable image, you know what I mean? I have definitely always wanted to give off the vibe like I’m really accessible and a real person. Like, this is really me. I did do the handwritten lyrics and the blood you know, stuff like that. So, I was kind of going through fonts with this guy Sean Harris, who did the artwork. I didn’t really like any of the fonts or the way it looked on there. So, I was like, let me just do it myself, you know with my blood. He actually made a stick and cut off a lock of his own hair and taped it to the stick and trimmed his hair down to a brush. So, it was like his hair as a paintbrush and my blood. It was pretty crazy, the whole thing, cutting myself that was intense. It took 30 minutes to figure out how to get blood out of my body and I was like, come on. I was almost going to cut my hand with a knife, then I asked him to cut me, and he was like, ‘no way!’ Then I just stabbed my hand like 10 times with a needle to squeeze enough blood out.
GS: Well visually, it looks really cool on the album cover. It adds that extra touch
AD: Yeah, people think it’s a crayon or chalk or something
GS: If they only knew.
AD: Yeah, it’s like nope, that’s my blood. So, I have the original one at my house, it’s just sitting there.
GS: What story were you trying to tell with this album? You said you’ve been working on it for a while. What do you want the listeners to know about it?
AD: Well, I mean, honestly, there’s not like, a story. I mean every song I write comes from my own life. You know it’s like my stories, my feelings and thoughts and all that stuff. But I mean, when I started recording the album, I literally thought, I was going to record 2 songs as a gift to myself and Raymond agreed to work with me. So, I was like, great. And then I just kept going back and recording more and more and then ultimately, I had enough to record an album. So I mean, there was no story, I honestly didn’t think I was going to record an album. So, there’s not like a general message kind of thing. Each song has a story in my life and the album is really a collection of all those days.
GS: What’s your favorite song off the album right now?
AD: That’s hard. I mean, I really like them all, probably my favorite song is “All the Other Girls”. It’s the first song on there. I wrote that song in Alaska, which is really random, but I sound check to that song all the time. I’ve got like, 3 to 4 different versions of that song recorded. So that’s probably my favorite. But, I like them all for different reasons.
GS: It’s interesting that you didn’t think you were going to make an album and now you’re touring with this album. So, tell me a little bit about that. How did you get the band together; are they buddies or people you have met along the way?
AD: One guy in the band, the bass player. He’s probably my best friend…Yeah, he’s my best friend. I tried playing with friends in the past. I’ve had a few different line ups and that didn’t always work out. You know, because you try to tell your friend you don’t like something or you need to change something or whatever and it just gets a little weird. So, when I put this band together about a year ago. We played a Red Bull show and that was our first show with this line up and I didn’t know any of these guys at the time. One of my friends just suggested a couple of people and I had them come over and they all kicked ass and I was like, ‘you’re my band now’. They’re my friends now, we’ve been playing together for a year but at the time they were not, they were just musicians I heard of.
GS: GroundSounds is all about doing what you love.
AD: I like that.
GS: We call it “Grind Time”. So, the last question I have for you is what do you like to do on your “Grind Time”?
AD: I love playing music obviously. Man if I could be doing anything though, I would be at Six Flags Magic Mountain every flippin’ day of the week. I love roller coasters, that’s fun. I love going to the beach in Venice. You know, I would just ride my bike down there every day last summer and just swim in the ocean. Even though I’m terrified of sharks. I’m trying to wean myself off that fear by swimming farther out than everyone else and just being like, ‘ok, if there’s a shark out here, that’s going to eat somebody at least I’m the first target. Then I’m like, ‘ok I didn’t die today, good, now maybe I’m a little less scared’. But yeah, going to the beach, riding my bike and going to Magic Mountain, that’s what’s up.
GS: Sounds like a good day.
AD: Yeah, if you’re a girl out there that’s into doing those things, hit me up.
GS: We’ll plug that for you.
AD: Definitely! Jacob is looking for a girl to go to Magic Mountain with and go to the beach for some “Grind Time”. There’s somebody out there who’d be into that, you think?
GS: I think so, we could find someone
AD: Smoke weed, in California, totally. Hell yeah.