Drunken Logic’s music is aimed at ordinary people trying to move forward from where they are now, with highly personal lyrics, several mentions of the Occupy movement, and a number of politically charged tracks. Though the styles vary as the album moves from song to song, the whole thing is tied together by its distinct piano lines. With percussive chords and rapid upper-register runs, the songs that feature these lines are strongly reminiscent of Ben Folds, which was what drew me in from the first song. Later, heavier punk influence takes over for several songs, but the music stays approachable and melodic throughout.
Drunken Logic’s music is available for download on Bandcamp. The group will also be playing a number of shows in during June, so if you are in the Boston area, take an opportunity to check them out. I got to see a set at Faneuil Hall a few weeks ago and the live show is just as clean and striking as the recording. The group was added on as regular performers at Faneuil Hall, so keep an eye on their Twitter account to see when they’ll be playing free shows there. They also have a three week residency at PA’s Lounge in Somerville, beginning June 5th. Check out Drunken Logic’s website to keep up with their performance schedule.
I also got the opportunity to talk to lead singer/keyboardist Jake Cassman through email earlier this week. He very generously answered questions about his music, other people’s music, and the fair commonwealth of Massachusetts.
What are your major musical influences?
First off, the Who. I can’t think of another band that can write music with that kind of rawness and energy, but at the same time captures so much beauty and thought at the same time. That’s the approach I try to take every time I sit down to write. I also feel like Green Day taught me how to write pop songs, and to do so with concision and style – they can do so much with so little, writing such different tunes within their genre, and constantly breaking its barriers as well. I hope we hold a candle to Ben Gibbard’s eloquence and Bruce Springsteen’s passion as well.
What music did you listen to growing up? How does it influence your work today?
My earliest memories are of listening to the Who and the Beatles with my Dad in the car. My ‘90’s were mostly dominated by Goo Goo Dolls and Barenaked Ladies, but as I got older, my taste definitely moved more into alternative – Muse, Weezer and Foo Fighters defined much of my life before college. And that’s just skimming the surface. I listened to a whole lot of music while growing up, and what I think the best lesson I pulled from all of it was that there were a lot of different ways to rock and to be original, and that I could explore and experiment with all of them. There is no orthodoxy, except unorthodoxy (that’s a word, right?).
What is your musical background?
My parents started me on piano when I was five. I have a friend who says I picked out the theme from the movie Homeward Bound before I got to second grade, but I only remember realizing that I could use the piano to pick out songs I heard on the radio once I was in middle school. The Yamaha upright in our living room became a lab for experimentation pretty quickly after that, where I would spend hours dissecting the tunes I loved and slowly Frankensteining them into my own. Most of that stuff was crap though – my first serious writing project was a rock opera based on Albert Camus’ The Stranger, set during the Iraq war. It was preachy, and obsolete before I ever finished it. But that penchant for the theatrical and the personal definitely remains in our music, even as I’ve focused more on moments and short stories.
What are your immediate plans for Drunken Logic? Long term?
Sam, our bassist, and I just graduated Berklee – the other three members are still there. So in the short term, Sam and I are just trying to sort out post-grad life while maintaining our band’s incredibly busy schedule next month. Long term? We plan on rocking the free world, and maybe the not-so-free world too. We’re talking over making an EP in the coming months, and we just want to keep giggity giggity gigging wherever they will have us.
What is your guilty pleasure music?
There was definitely a period of obsession with the Backstreet Boys and that Michael Jackson song from Free Willy in elementary school. I work at a piano bar now, where I can belt that stuff out with any shame whatsoever. I’m pretty happy about it.
What is Drunken Logic’s origin story? How did the band come to be?
There came a point as I was approaching my last year at Berklee where I realized that I had nearly three albums worth of material, and nothing to show for it. So I just started asking friends and friends of friends if they’d help me make a record. Surprisingly, a few said yes. Our lineup has changed since we began this process last June, but we have been lucky that some great guys who also happen to be staggeringly talented musicians have stepped right up and picked up where others have left off.
What’s one book everybody should read before they die?
Maniac Magee defined my childhood, and Slaughterhouse V really helped me answer the question “Why are we here?” – or rather, not to worry about that question so much.
What are your interests outside of music?
I was a political science major before I transferred to Berklee. I still keep up on current events and politics, and it informs a lot of what I write – “Something New to Burn” and “Common $ense” come to mind. I also love my sports – I played baseball, basketball, football and ultimate at different times in high school, and I still try to exercise six times a week.
What is your favorite thing about Massachusetts?
I’ve only lived in Boston, so I won’t speak for the state. But there is a Bostonian toughness that I’ve come to admire and that I hope I have adopted as well – “St. Botolph” is about realizing that living in this town was going to involve getting my ass kicked, and resolving to take that beating anyways. I always felt that it was a chilly toughness, until I watched my neighborhood and my city get completely shut down the week following the Marathon. I think I learned that week that there is an expectation here that you can look out for yourself and deal with whatever the world throws your way, but when times are truly tough, the entire city will pull together, not just to heal and to move forward but to pursue justice as well. It was remarkable and moving to be here this past April, and I feel I’m a better person for having been through it.
And lastly, can you tell a story, good or bad, about an experience you had as a musician?
My first ever concert happened when I was 15 – Flogging Molly and Jimmy Eat World opened for Green Day on the American Idiot tour. There were 47,000 people there at AT&T Park, where the SF Giants play baseball. I totally caught the bug for music that night. Last month, Drunken Logic was invited to fly out and play at AT&T Park for educational charity benefit. We didn’t have the same pyrotechnics and audience for the gig – we didn’t even have our own sound tech – but it felt like I had come full circle, getting to play two hundred feet away from the spot where I decided I was going to be a musician. Drunken Logic is only just getting started, but we’ve already gotten to do some amazing things. I think the best part of being a musician is how grateful I get to feel every time someone offers me a mic or claps when we’re done with a song. It’s really indescribable.