Sunday, July 12, 2015
JESSICA LEE WILKES: LONE WOLF
The venomous surf swing of opening track “Groove’s Too Shallow” explodes with Sonics aggressiveness and a crushing vocal that stays soulful but beautifully menacing. “Love Like Crazy” comes next and hits with a classic Shangri-Las bebop that delivers the hooks and sophisticated grind of a musician in her prime. Jessica takes on electric bass duties for this recording after serious time plucking the upright with the legendary Dirt Daubers. In her first solo outing, she never flinches and the beat never gets stale.
One of my favorite cuts is the grindhouse go-go rocker “Lone Wolf”. The slicing punkabilly of Los Straitjackets guitar hero Eddie Angel is on fine display here and all throughout this sacrilicious Friday night high school dance of decadence. Closing tracks “Go Ahead Baby” and “Something’s Goin’ On” provide the perfect roadhouse finale with dirty luster, edgy melody, and a twisted pretty twang. This five song collection is a must-have and restores my faith in real down and dirty rock n roll that never forgets its swamp born evil blues roots. Jessica recently took the time to do an interview with me about her music and life. Check out her hot new video and read the interview below.
Who is Jessica Lee Wilkes and how would you describe yourself to someone unfamiliar with your illustrious background?
Well, I've been touring around the world with my other band, JD Wilkes & The Dirt Daubers, for the past five or six years and I've just recently stepped out on my own with this new EP. I'm writing, playing bass, and singing Rock 'n' Roll music. That's about it!
After playing in the Dirt Daubers for a solid amount of time, is it liberating or intimidating to be doing a solo act?
A little bit of both, but it feels like the right time for me. I don't know that I would have been ready before now. Playing in the Dirt Daubers has been a great education. I got to play on stage with some of my favorite musicians. That only makes you better.
How does the title of your record “Lone Wolf” describe your own attitude?
Aside from the obvious "solo career" thing, I guess you could say it sums me up! It's a bit cliche for an artsy-type to describe herself as an introverted loner, but, in my case, it's true! I was a weird little kid and I mostly kept to myself. It's kind of an anthem for me in that sense. It's difficult to be alone like that as a kid. As an adult, I've not only embraced it, but I'm making a living writing about my experiences. It's kind of redeeming.
When I heard “Groove’s Too Shallow”, it stopped me dead in my tracks with its menacing grind and edgy vocal. What inspired you to go for a more aggressive approach?
Well, cool! It's a fun tune to play! I never really made a conscious decision to take an "aggressive" approach. I just write and play what comes naturally. Maybe that means I have some deep-seated rage issues to deal with? Haha!
When did you first start playing bass, was it your first instrument of choice?
I've been playing bass for a little over two years. I started on the upright. It really was more out of necessity. The Dirt Daubers needed a bass player at the time so I bought an upright, and two weeks later I was playing it on stage. I don't recommend that, but we got through it!
What artists shaped your perspectives and style growing up?
As with most people, I listened to my parents’ record collection growing up. It was mostly classic rock stuff, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, etc. The one that really stood out to me was a John Lee Hooker record my dad had. It stopped me in my tracks and I started seeking out more blues music like Howlin' Wolf, and Muddy Waters. Those were the earliest influences on me.
What is the most intense form of music you listen to and what is the mellowest?
Well, it depends on what you mean by intense. If you mean heavier rock stuff, I dig AC/DC, ZZ Top, which I realize isn't that intense for most people. If by intense you mean in an emotional sense, I'd have to say soul singer, Lee Moses. His music breaks my heart. I consider that a pretty intense experience! As far as mellow goes, lately I've been digging on Steve Allen with Jack Kerouac. That's some pretty mellow stuff, right there!
Having spent so much time on the road, do you prefer life on tour or at home?
I need both in order to stay sane. If I'm home for too long of a stretch, I'll drive both myself and my poor husband crazy! If I'm on the road too long, it just wears me out and I'll start to hate it. It's definitely a balance thing.
Are there any current trends in modern music that bother you?
Well, aside from the overall lack of melody in most of what I hear on popular radio, I really can't stand the overly produced quality, i.e., vocoding and overuse of auto-tuning. I can even forgive that if there's a good, catchy, pop song underneath it all, but it's becoming very rare.
Is this just the beginning of your solo career or is it a one-time project?
It's just the beginning! I'm in it for the long haul.
Do you write all of the music and lyrics, where do most of your ideas come from?
Yes, typically. As far as the writing process goes, most of my ideas come in weird little fragments. I'll get a catchy melody line in my head, and then the lyrics seem to follow. I often wake up in the wee hours of the morning with an idea that I'll record on my phone. Sometimes it's terrible, other times it winds up as a song on the record. I'd say about two thirds of the song writes itself and comes together rather naturally. When it's time to record I'll sit down and start to arrange things, I might add a bridge, etc. It just depends on what the song needs.
If you could have one wish come true this year, what would it be?
Hm...I probably should say something that isn't completely selfish, but no, I wish for a moderate amount of success with this record. Nothing crazy, just enough traction to keep moving forward with this whole "touring musician" thing.
Where can fans find your new record and follow you online?
I'm on all the usual forms of social media:
Facebook as Jessica Lee Wilkes