Interview With One Way Out Guitarist Jake Schaefer
Washington, D.C.'s five-piece rock band One Way Out will release their sophomore full-length studio album, The Sun, The Moon, The Truth, on August 20th. To coincide with their forthcoming album, the band has announced a small trek of late August tour dates of the east coast of the United States that additionally includes an album release show. Jake and I discuss their new album, their recent return to the stage, who the band would collaborate with if given the chance, and more!
You recently announced the release of your second album, The Sun, The Moon, The Truth, out August 20th. How does it compare to your debut album? Jake: This record was a huge step forward for us. We went in more different directions stylistically on this one than our debut, Cosmic Beat, which I think is a reflection of what we were listening to as we recorded both. Cosmic Beat sticks a lot closer to the sounds of classic rock, while The Sun, The Moon, The Truth expands further into the sounds of psychedelic, punk, garage, and jazz. This record also was a lot more collaborative than Cosmic Beat. For a lot of these songs, I can point to a moment where we were sitting in a room, and things came together, which didn’t happen as much on the first record.
You wrote and recorded the entire album with producer Ben Green, guitarist of Fairweather? How was that experience?
J: Working with Ben is always awesome. It's good to get a fresh perspective on our music from outside the band, and his ideas never fail to improve what's going on. I love recording guitar with him because he turns each part I come in with into multiple layers of sound that really add a lot of depth to the song. Watching him and Josh record vocals together might be my favourite part of recording. There's a back and forth between them where Ben keeps pushing Josh until he ultimately ends up doing something with his voice that we've never heard him do before. It's pretty magical to watch.
Do you happen to have a profound moment from the recording of the new album?
J: My favourite moment was recording the track "The Moon/The Truth." It was the only song on the album that was fully recorded live, and it's a ten-minute jam, so we really didn't know what would come out of it. After we had cut it a few times, it was feeling monotonous. Ben suggested we have the whole energy of the song fluctuate like waves, and the very next take was the one we ended up using. It was just one of those moments that felt like it couldn't be captured again.
So do you have any favourite tracks off your forthcoming album?
J: "The Moon/The Truth" seems to be our consensus favourite at the moment for that reason, it just perfectly captured the vibe of us all sitting in a room playing music together. It's really hard for me to pick an absolute favourite though. "Cruel Procrastinator" and "Groove Inside My Mind" are also up there right now because they take our bluesy roots and add some heavier progressive elements that we had never done before. I don't know... I could name every song off of this album and tell you why it's my favourite that day. They're all very different from one another, so it depends on what sound I'm feeling at any moment.
Could you walk me through the typical songwriting process of the band?
J: The process varies from song to song, but generally, a member comes up with some foundation -whether that be a completed song or just a part or two- and brings it to the band. Once it's brought to the band, it may stay the same for the most part, or it may become a completely different song. There was a significant shift after the pandemic began because we couldn't all get in the same room for months at a time. Geist and I would fully demo songs on our own before bringing them to the band, which was definitely different at first since the songs were a lot more fully orchestrated than usual, but once they were brought to the band, things went on as usual; parts changed and we each added our own touches, and eventually, the songs began to sound a lot more like a One Way Out song than just a Geist or a Jake song. Now that we've been able to get back together more frequently, we've been able to mix the two. Some songs come in fully demoed, while others are just basic foundations that we build together from scratch.
If given the chance, are there any musicians that you would like to collaborate with? Rather this is past or present?
J: That's a hard one. This question would vary pretty drastically depending on which member you asked. On the classic side of things, it would be pretty hard to leave Jimmy Page and Jim Morrison out of this answer. We've often found ourselves asking the question, "What would Led Zeppelin do," when writing a song, so having Jimmy Page there to collaborate would certainly make answering that question more convenient. And lyrically, it's hard to beat Jim Morrison. He just makes everything sound so effortless. When we were recording this album, we were unsure about what the vocal delivery on a song should sound like, so we played "When the Music's Over" for inspiration, and all the uncertainty cleared up pretty quickly. On the modern side, playing music with Stu Mackenzie from King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees would be pretty awesome. It's inspiring to see how they always find a way to make their music fresh and different and also have such high-energy live shows.
So far the four singles you have released off The Sun, The Moon, The Truth, all have a distinct sound and feel to them. Does this continue on the remaining tracks of the album?
J: Absolutely. We had some trouble picking singles since we felt there wasn't really a song that represented the full sound of the album. Each one lives in its own little world. A couple of the songs get into some heavier stoner rock territory, one is more in the folk/pop/jazz range, and everything else is in between.
Shifting topics slightly, recently you played your first show in over a year at The Bowery Electric in New York City, opening for Soraia. That must have been thrilling?
J: Yeah, that was a very surreal experience. It was the first Friday after New York City's reopening, and after the last year and a half, it was weird enough just being in the same room with so many other people, let alone playing a show in front of them. I felt like we had to remember how to play live music again. It was a ton of fun! And opening for Soraia was amazing as always. They sounded like they hadn't missed a beat since March 2020.
So now one show under your belt this year, you five must be eager to get out on the road again at the end of August? J: We're so excited! Touring like this is something we've been looking to do for around two years now, and we can't wait. We've found our ways to keep making music during the pandemic, but ultimately, nothing beats a live show. Everyone in the room is focused solely on enjoying the music, and I don't think you get that through any other medium. It's been strange to release our singles this year since we haven't had any real human feedback at a live show. Normally after a release, we'll get to play the song in front of an audience and see people's responses firsthand, but this year we've just had to press a button and send our song out into the void. Thankfully we've gotten as positive of a reaction digitally as we could have hoped for, but I'm really looking forward to seeing the energy those songs have in a room.
Do you have any plans to tour past those eight dates of the East Coast?
J: Nothing is on the books currently, but we're looking to keep building in the cities we're touring to and expand to some places we've never been before. The bright side of only being able to release music digitally during the pandemic is that we've been able to get our music to people outside of our usual spots in D.C. or New York or wherever we're playing. It's been real heartwarming to message people in Dallas or Chicago or even Berlin that are enjoying the singles, and hopefully, we'll be able to get to all of those places soon.
I would assume on the upcoming tour you're going to debut some new tracks? Obviously, don't give too much away, but are there any brand new songs you're looking to perform live in front of an audience?
J: When we played our last show before the pandemic, there were three songs off of The Sun, The Moon, The Truth that we hadn't yet played in front of a live audience. After our show in New York in June, that's been cut down to just one, "The Moon/The Truth," which I'm super excited to play since it's very loose and improvisational. As for songs post-Sun-Moon-Truth, we have a number that have been written and rehearsed, but I'm not sure they're quite ready to be performed yet. Maybe they will be in two weeks, who knows. We've also discussed adding a Doors and a Soundgarden cover to our repertoire. Hopefully, at least one of those will be ready by the start of the tour.
Finally, what would a One Way Out's dream tour look like if you could book it right now?
J: There are so many places we'd all like to travel to, so our dream tour would be getting to travel the world and play in places we've never been. Giulio is from Italy, so we've always talked about eventually getting there. More than anything, I think the dream is just getting to play music with people we love every day, which makes our next couple weeks seem pretty dreamlike. But maybe in this version, we'd also have our Page/Morrison/Mackenzie/Dwyer band on the road with us.
Thanks for the time, Jake. Is there anything else you may want to add before you go?
J: Thank you, Sam! The only thing to add is that if any readers live in the Northeast U.S. or have means of transportation to get there, we'd love to hang out and meet you at our shows in the coming weeks!
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