Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Jon Drake & The Shakes feel a bit like a carrousel and a prismatic sky. The ride and the atmosphere aren't necessarily fighting with one another, but they're a bit at odds. It's as if the ride - the ups and downs, the constant and non-jerky circular motion - are jealous of the colors, of the oohs and ahhs, jealous of having any of its thunder stolen. There can only be one spectacle in the room at once and yet the substance drapes over it all. That sky just falls over the contraption and creates this brilliant form of trespassing. There are just as many people at odds in these brassy, funky and soulful tales of folks at the ends of their ropes and dealing with days that are going to find ways to tangent into nights that are heading toward disconcerting, two-packs of smokes evenings full of shakes and discomfort. Or, it could all turn around, with the breaking of the clouds and the peskiness of a sun.
The Daytrotter Dream Interview, Starring Jon Drake:
Jon Drake on the first time he met his bandmates:
Well, there's eight of us, and a few have come and gone. In 2008, I had been fed up with the music I was making and the Chicago music scene in general. At the time, I was in a somewhat progressive-punk-pop-indie thing called Don Russian that was near impossible to describe and bogged down with three writers with different directions. In Chicago, there were punk bands, electro-dance bands, shitty 90's rock bands, and folk was out of the question. I quit. I quit music. Or so I thought. Within six months, like a lover that you just cant leave, I was back in the thick of writing. I booked three shows: Martyr's, The Whistler, and Borders' Books in Lincoln Park (RIP). By the second show I had a tuba, trumpet, trombone, and a second guitar player(s). From all things in this world, this came about from a craigslist ad I had posted. Master trombonist and composer Ellis Seiberling and I hit it off over drinks at a shitty bar down the road from my place post rehearsal number one. We named the band The Shakes, as we both had a fairly sever case of them. Before I knew it, the new year had passed and my band grew to an eight piece motley crew- complete with drums, bass, cello, violin, horns, keys, and a goodly amount of hoots, hollers, and drunken nights. I didn't really know anyone in the band at that point, aside from longtime friend and trumpeter/urban pirate Evan Porter. It was in these late nights that we got to know ourselves and each other, forging bonds that I can only hope last a lifetime. In the following years we changed out drummers and bassists, ending up with the irreplaceable Matt Wilson (The Mood, Fat Book) and "Sweet Beans" Daniel Villarreal (Jaime Rojo) who hails from Panama. I met our studio drummer, Daniel Joseph Dorff, outside Martyr's after my first gig as Jon Drake. He had just moved to Chicago, was unkempt, poor, drunk, and maybe even a bit smarmy. I didn't really know about him at first, but we soon became great friends and have since toured the world in our separate projects. Dan and I came together in 2011 with Matt Wilson and Joey Mietus, headed out to Galena Illinois, set up a studio in a cabin in the dead of the winter, and tracked the beginnings of our LP, "Dear Ulysses".
Jon Drake on his morning habits:
In the morning I wake up and ignore the busy world. I sit in silence with a glass of water and a cup of coffee. I read. I meditate. I cook breakfast. I set intentions for my day. I think of everything and everyone that I love. I give thanks to my wonderful home and meal. I fill my heart with good. Then I get showered, get sexy, throw on some killer sunglasses, and head out the door with my chin high.
Jon Drake on his nighttime habits:
At night I stumble home after a fourteen hour day, generally a bit tipsy on wine and a girl I like, climb three flights of stairs, open the door to my wonderful home, give thanks, grab a guitar, hit record on my cassette player, and play till the sun comes up. I don't sleep much.
General advice from Jon Drake:
Life is love. It can be anything. Live with gratitude and love always. You are the only person like you. You are wonderful.
Jon Drake & The Shakes Official Site
Grape Juice Records