We’re really excited to be teaming up with the Make It Funky SF collective to put on a series of showcases in California highlighting local talent. Launching this Saturday, February 21st at El Rio in San Francisco, the first installment will feature experimental indie band Feed Me Jack and the folky, electronic vibes of Mosaics with support from acoustic soul duo, The Kakaroaches making for an eclectic mix of styles. As part of the series, we’ll be catching up with some of the performers to shed light on up ‘n coming musicians. RSVP at the link below. 

’Feed Me Jack – Knight Fork’

Since we were first introduced to Oakland-based Feed Me Jack a couple years back, they’ve quickly become one of our favorite up ‘n coming indie bands. The collective musical talents of the group have allowed them to perfect, and build on, a broad range of musical styles and influences. Their 2012 debut, Chumpfrey, recorded during their time at UC Santa Cruz, embodies their prowess and versatility, but the follow-up Anatolia EP saw FMJ combining their skill set with a seemingly endless amount of creativity for a cohesive, flowing sound all their own. We caught up with Sven Gamsky (guitar/vocals), Cameron Lampert (bass/vocals) and Jake Thornton (keyboard), 3 of the 5 members of Feed Me Jack (Robert Luisi on guitar/vocals and Eric Lawson on drums are the other two), in advance of their upcoming show. Enjoy the interview below, head to FMJ’s website to grab a bunch of great music and catch them at our showcase at El Rio this Saturday, it’s not one you’ll want to miss!

RSVP: Make It Funky & Music Ninja Present: Feed Me Jack, Mosaics and The Kakaroaches


TMN: So, you all first met at UC Santa Cruz. Can you talk a bit about how you all got together?

Sven: It was freshman year when I first met Robert. I was just in the quad, around the dorms, and heard some beautiful guitar wafting down from up high. I just kind of followed my ears and found the room where the guitar was coming from. I didn’t know Robert before that but I introduced myself and showed him a song that I had written. He recorded it and wrote a bass line for that song. That later became “Pirate Muse.” Then, we added a friend of ours who was our old drummer. So we had him and two guitar players, but we played one of the guitars out of a bass amp and had a sub-octave pedal to lower it to that range.

Cameron: So, the original bass player was not actually a bass player, it was just a pedal.

Sven: From that point on, we were kind of moving around until we found the right sound and group. We added Cameron as a permanent bass player and collaborator along with Eric as our new drummer.

’Feed Me Jack – Definitely You’

TMN: There are so many different styles infused in your sound—ska/reggae,  jam bands and sometimes even stuff like The Strokes just to name a few. Who are some of the bands and artists that influenced your sound?

Cameron: The Strokes are definitely an influence and Grizzly Bear. But really, music is derivative and we definitely acknowledge that. I think we love listening to all sorts of different stuff and really, I hate to use the classification of World music because all music comes from the world, but all music finds its place in our sound. Especially guitar music, plus The Beatles and classics like that.

Jake: I would say the first album, Chumpfrey, draws on a lot more of the influences that you mentioned first. We all think that was more of an accessible sound, a little more pop influenced, than some of our more recent stuff. We’ve really been striving to come with different sounds and go in more of an experimental direction while maintaining the influences that are still with us.

TMN: How did that process of putting together something as cohesive as Anatolia compare with the experiences behind Chumpfrey? Was that shift a conscious effort? 

Sven: Yeah, I think it was kind of a conscious effort. The Anatolia EP was an attempt to go with a little more of an atmospheric and visceral sound focused more on the composition, which is just writing a song that doesn’t have any recurring parts. It was kind of a journey from beginning to end. We’ve been messing with the idea that we want to have one piece of music as an album with all the songs bleeding into each other. So, we kind of tried to create transitions that connect the songs to make one larger piece of music—basically like a twenty minute song.

Jake: It was definitely more of a concept album for us and it also marked our transition from college, house-party type of music into a more identifiable sound.

’Feed Me Jack – Open’

TMN: One of the things, especially on Anatolia, I noticed and really liked is the way you change tempo a lot in your music giving it the feel of a jam. When you’re writing music, what is that process like?

Sven: There’s no one way really. It kind of starts with a riff and someone will hear it and be like, “let’s work on that.” Then, we write a part to that and will expand by layering. It honestly has no set way of coming about. Whatever happens, happens. If it doesn’t happen then it dies and if it doesn’t die then it grows into a song.

Cameron: From what I’ve seen and experienced, the process is very much one of refinement. I hate to use oil as an analogy but someone kind of strikes oil with an idea. Then it’s a progressive process of refinement that leads into a finished product. I think that you can really apply that to all of the songs on Anatolia. It took a really long time to refine them. I would also say that it’s quite to the contrary of a jam because each part is thought out in some way. Sometimes the composition itself is just intuitive with the instruments.

TMN: When you graduated, was it a hard decision at all to take the leap and really pursue music as a career?

Cameron: No, and I think we’re all on the same page there.

Jake: Also, coming toward the end of our time at Santa Cruz, by the time we were graduating, we were getting a lot of support from our friends and the general community there. I think that, when there’s no support, there’s not as much motivation. You’re always doing it for yourself, but to have other people support feels really good and I think that definitely gave us the confidence to go into a new city and keep working.
’Feed Me Jack – (Da Da Da Da)’

TMN: Now that you are out of college with the band, what have you found to be the most rewarding parts? Most challenging parts?

Sven: I think our social media campaign is the most challenging thing. We’re all picking our brains to find ways to get our name out there and stuff like this is a huge help to us. But that’s probably the hardest part right now is trying to get our names out there.

Cameron: Also making money, paying the rent. We all work full-time jobs. In the ideal world we’d be getting paid to make music but we live in the real world and it’s hard to come home after work and be super motivated to write. We do that, but some times it’s easier to just sit back on the couch with a beer and not do anything. Any working musician knows that.

Sven: One of the more rewarding parts is definitely live shows for us. We are working a lot so when we are able to play it’s a de-stress situation and a chance let everything go.

’Feed Me Jack – Berring Stone’

TMN: Do you have a favorite show or moment from a show?

Sven: Yeah, we were playing at The Crepe Place a little while ago and things were just getting really intense. It was really packed and sweaty. I looked over and I see this dude just yelling at Cameron, during one of his solos. It seemed really harsh, I thought he was getting up in his face and was about to beat him up. But he was actually just egging Cameron on through the most insane bass solo I’ve ever heard. It was just a beautiful moment of sheer energy being passed back and forth.

Cameron: It was kind of like in a mosh pit—everyone’s super aggressive but they got your back. That’s kind of how I felt with this dude. I still don’t even know who this dude is, but he had my back. He was giving me shit but it was tough love. Punk rock.

TMN: Do you have any favorite spots in Oakland? Favorite places to eat? Go out?

Jake: There’s this taco place by the lake called Tacos Mi Rancho that’s great. There’s also a dive bar called the Ruby Room that we went to one time. The facade was very unassuming it didn’t have a sign or anything, just a brick wall. It reminded it us of the Red Room in Santa Cruz.

Cameron: Also, The Shoreline in Oakland and Hayward, you get a really nice view of the city and it’s kind of like what the Bay looked like before people were there.

’Feed Me Jack – Chapel Perilous’

TMN: If an extraterrestrial came down to Earth and asked you what music is, what song would you play them?

Jake: Probably “Ocean Man” by Ween.

TMN: Anything musically you’re working on that you want people to know about? Any new sounds you’re experimenting with?

Jake: We’re currently recording a new EP of original material and then a full length hopefully done by the end of the year.

Sven: It’s going to feature a few new sounds, some more psychedelic stuff, just weird shit. We have a new micro-Korg synthesizer so that’ll have a bunch of new sounds. We’re going into the studio to record drums for the new EP in less than a week so it should be out in the coming month.

Thanks to Feed Me Jack for taking the time to chat with us. Follow the band on social below.

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