Sometimes things just fall together in the right way and you find yourself in a band where the sum of the parts may be greater than the whole; and you make great music cooperatively. Case in point: Jake Cassman (piano and vocals), Austin Wells (lead guitar and vocals) and Ryan Jordan (rhythm guitar, keys, mandolin and vocals), as individually talented a trio as you can find today in New England. Determining whether your own presence in your own circumstances is pre-planned and fated or just a simple situation of your own free will and making the right choices needs a healthy dose of drunken logic. Read on. You have no choice.
Noise: Your band just played First Night Boston in Copley Square. What are the pluses and minuses of playing outside in the freezing early morning at that New Year’s Eve event?
Jake Cassman: We lucked out – we actually started playing at 7:30PM on New Years Eve, before the freezing rain and wind started. The crowd was great for all of the bands, but Air Traffic Controller and Tigerman –Woah definitely got caught in the weather. Turns out that if you’re shivering and soaked, getting blasted with confetti is something of a mixed bag.
Noise: Drunken Logic was formed at Berklee in 2012. Does the group’s name have anything to do with your curriculum or attendance there?
Cassman: Not Berklee necessarily, but Boston for sure. I’d spent months trying to come up with a band name, but for every idea I had, there was already a band with that name. Then I heard a friend say the phrase when we were out in Mission Hill one night. I googled it, it wasn’t taken, and that was that.
Noise: What music knowledge learned at the jazz school contributes to your current folk rock sound?
Cassman: The best thing about Berklee is the community – I don’t think you can find a better pool of young, dedicated and diverse musicians. I’ve learned so much from Austin and Ryan, who’ve played with us the longest. Ryan has opened my eyes to a lot of folk artists I didn’t know, while Austin has introduced me to a ton of classic and prog rock.
Noise: Is folk rock a fair genre to describe your music?
Cassman: Sure. I came up with the term power folk about a year ago too.
Noise: Who are the band’s major influences and how do you bend these factors to make your own music?
Cassman: I’ve always wanted to capture the energy and majesty of the Who. Green Day taught me how to write a pop song. And bands like Frightened Rabbit and Arcade Fire gave me a deep appreciation for how to arrange music and instruments. Our list of influences on any one song can be very divergent – our most recent song is part Monkees, part Tom Morello.
Noise: Your debut CD, Something New To Burn came out in 2013 and your sophomore release, Long Day’s Journey To The Middle, came out in 2015. How are the albums similar and different? What are your plans for your next release and what can we expect to hear on it?
Cassman: The songs on both of these albums are autobiographical and chronological, for the most part. Something New to Burn was recorded in two and a half days, before we’d ever really played a show. For the second record, we went out of our way to play pretty much everything live before we hit the studio.
We’re going to take our time recording our third album, much more so than we have in the past. This album is going to be a lot more conceptual too, and focus on how divided we are as a country – politically, demographically, generationally, technologically, morally…
Noise: You donated your song and the video of “What A Beautiful Morning” to the 30 Days 50 Songs Project for a Trump-free America along with Death To Cutie, R.E.M, and dozens of other major artists. How did you guys get involved in this and now that Trump has been elected are you planning to move to Canada or do you have any optimism at all?
Cassman: We knew we wanted to put something out before the election – I was really disturbed by the nostalgia for a very oppressive era of our history that the slogan “Make America Great Again” seemed to imply. So we wrote a song about someone who bought into that, and made a really great video out of newsreels and PSAs from the ’50s and ’60s. I was as convinced as anyone that Trump wouldn’t win, and I’m definitely still shocked and depressed by it. But I think we’ve learned as a country that we can’t take progress for granted anymore, that complacency is never productive. And while I’m worried about the years ahead, I’m so proud and grateful that we had the chance to take that sort of stand alongside bands that have inspired me throughout my life.
Noise: Drunken Logic plays a lot of gigs at Faneuil Hall. How is playing for tourists different than playing in a suburban bar for regulars?
Cassman: We’ve played at Hooley House a couple of times, but mostly we busk at Faneuil Hall itself, taking requests for covers and selling CDs out of a guitar case. There’s nothing quite like it – each set is either divine or bizarre in some way that ensures you’ll have a good story to tell. I love a good Boston bar show as much as anyone, but there’s something really magical about getting parents to dance around with their kids and playing to completely spontaneous crowds.
Noise: The band won the R.A.W 2013 Musicians o the Year Award. How is this independent organization’s pageant different from the Boston Music Awards and does winning awards like this really help out?
Cassman: RAW Artists does shows on a much smaller scale than the BMAs, but they’re a nationwide organization that puts on these incredibly eclectic events involving music, fashion, art and so much more. Artists from all walks of life and every stage of their career get to mingle and learn from each other. I’ve never been one to exaggerate the importance of awards, but I think they have a use – especially early on, when you need to fill out lines of your resume.
Noise: What’s in the future for Drunken Logic in 2017 and beyond?
Cassman: We’re going to record a new album over the course of the year and keep playing shows. You’ll hear from us – apologies in advance if we turn it up too loud after your bedtime.