On Friday, May 29, Jack the Radio, a local roots rock group made up of Raleigh locals, released the first single, “We’re Alright.” The single is part of their upcoming album, “Creatures,” which will be released on July 10. A comic book inspired by the album will be released on June 24.
The group is made up of four members:
Kevin Rader - drums, background vocals
Dan Grinder - bass
Danny Johnson - guitar, keys, lap steel, background vocals
George Hage - guitar, keys, vocals
George Hage, an NC State and Technician alum, spoke with Technician about the founding of Jack the Radio, the band’s new music and the impact that Raleigh has had on the group. Hage reviewed CDs and concerts for Technician and graduated with a degree in communications and minors in computer science and music.
How did Jack the Radio get together?
The band actually started in 2005 with A.C. Hill and I. So A.C. and I met while we were students at NC State. I was playing guitar outside of the dorm and he was walking by and we started talking because he played guitar. From there, we started hanging out more, and in 2005, we wrote a short EP and recorded it ourselves and put it on Bandcamp… In 2010, we started playing together again and we got a full band and Danny Johnson joined. We put out a couple records, but over the past five years, people have started families and started jobs, so it’s just Danny and I from the original lineup. We got a new bass player, Dan Grinder, three years ago and just got our latest drummer, Kevin Rader, almost a year ago.
Can you describe your sound and genre?
It’s tough. We’ve gone with roots-rockers and partially, because the alliteration is fun: Raleigh’s roots-rockers. It’s a mix of a lot of different genres. I feel like rock-and-roll is the foundation and living where we live and the music we grew up listening to, there’s definitely country in there. There’s definitely blues in there and funk in there. I feel like that’s all come together in the past five years as people call it Americana. People call it alt-rock, but it’s really a mix of blues rock, country rock, pop rock. We just say roots rock.
Who do you all look to for inspiration?
As far as from my angle as the primary songwriter, I draw from my life experiences or things happening to people around me. Musically, there are so many influences. I grew up listening to classic rock and blues and a little bit of country as a kid, but in the past six years, we’ve been looking more to bluegrass. We’re not bluegrass by any means, but just the traditional instrumentation and harmony has been a big influence in the past decade.
Can you discuss the new music?
The new record is called “Creatures,” and it’s coming out July 10. It has 14 studio tracks on it, and it’s the first record we’re putting out with the new four-piece lineup. Previously, we had split the vocal duties, so this is the first record I’m singing myself which is exciting, but nerve-wracking. We’re very proud of the songs. It’s music that I’ve written over the past five years. I was able to spend some time in Nashville with another band that I play with, so there’s some amazing talent that’s inspired some of the new songs.
Some of the things that have happened during that past few years, like family loss and job loss and highs and lows with the band, have really influenced everything. One of my favorite things on the record was being able to collaborate with other local musicians and singers on this record. We have Tamisha Waden, a phenomenal singer out of the Triangle. Also Jeanne Jolly, who’s an amazing singer in town, and Lydia Loveless, who’s this kind of country and punk rock singer who moved to the area a couple years ago. I feel like the songs that they sing on, they really bring a life that I couldn’t bring with my voice and the band couldn’t do as a whole.
How has Raleigh influenced the band or made an impact on your music?
It’s been crazy to see the city grow and one of my favorite parts of the growth, and I know there are areas that aren’t as good as others, but one of my favorite parts is the music festivals that we’ve had the past couple years. Between Hopscotch and Dreamville and World of Bluegrass that the IBMA’s put on. The big thing that I like is the level of talent that they’re bringing to the city through those festivals is pretty inspiring, but also the amount of music-loving people from out of state that it’s bringing in. It makes you feel like there’s the opportunity that, if you try hard enough, you can play on one of those stages that some of the world’s best talents in those genres are performing on. Not every city can say that. Not even every state can say that.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
We’re also doing a companion comic book with the record that I feel like is worth mentioning. We were able to create scripts based on the record and reached out to 30 illustrators and colorists to create a 56 page anthology book based on the record which we’re super excited about.