written by Maria Arroyo
This past Friday night we had a chance to see Jake Huffman, former drummer of the band McLovin’s, kick start his solo career at MilkBoy on Chestnut. Huffman had been a part of McLovin’s for over 10 years and started with the band at the age of 14. After that, the band went silent. He decided that he wanted to continue his career in music as a solo artist.
The opening band, Rad and Kell, started off the show, and featured Matt Radomile and Kelly McGlynn. Their pop-soul sound comes from inspirations from Amy Winehouse, Bruno Mars, Adele, Jason Mraz, Weezer, and many others. Their set was a mix of pop tunes and a lot of their original material. One of my favorites from their set was “Dirty Laundry” because of its R&B and pop-fuzed sound that made for such a great feel-good song. McGlynn has such an elegant vibrato that is so enticing, which only complemented her partner, Radomile’s voice. They had quite a crowd out for them, and being a part of that experience was such a special moment for me.
Before coming to Jake Huffman’s show, I had a phone interview with him to hear about his rise as a solo artist.
Jake Huffman: This past year I’ve been working to come up with a sound for myself, wrote a hundred songs and went out to LA to work with Andy Seltzer. He helped me get the ball rolling on my solo project. I also started teaching music at the School of Rock and working at a drum shop to take the time to really revamp my sound, so this was a huge growth year for me.
That Music Mag: How was working with Andy on your album?
JH: Being able to put space between the layers in music is one of the biggest things for me. In the studio, I was able to find my true sound, both for my music and in my actual voice. Once we found my authentic sound, I found that I was singing so much harder and louder than I needed to, and when Andy asked me to sing in the same way that I speak, it was a really cool thing to realize.
TMM: So how did you start getting into music then?
JH: Well, I started playing drums when I was 5 years old and my parents were always pushing me towards that. And I’ve been on the road touring from the age of 17 to 24.
TMM: How was it being on the road at such a young age?
JH: It was awesome! It was a dream come true!
We talked more about how things got moving again since he hadn’t been playing for a little after the breakup of the band.
JH: My first show was in October in New York at the Mercury Lounge and it was really nerve-wracking because I hadn’t played a show since McLovin’s a year and a half ago. I was so excited to get back out there. I’m standing up and singing, I’m playing drums and singing, and a bunch of other things for my shows. There’s a lot of movement and I’m very vulnerable in a new way. Sure, I’m a little nervous beforehand, but the minute I get on stage everything is fine and it’s a whole new situation for me.
TMM: Do you have any favorite moments from your shows on tour?
JH: So we were in Richmond, Virginia for a show and we started playing a song that wasn’t on an album. We looked out and everyone was singing the lyrics and it was awesome! Like everyone’s connected and on the same page.
When I went to his show, I saw for myself what he meant by a lot of movement, it looked exhausting! It kept it fun and exciting and there wasn’t a dull moment in the whole set. Everything from the changeover of instrumentation to his dialogue with his guitarist and the audience was so well planned out. The hard work he talked about was evident that night.
TMM: So what kinds of things do you use as inspiration for your songwriting?
JH: The biggest inspiration is all the people that I surround myself with. Other musicians, my parents, my girlfriend. I don’t have anyone negative in my life. Every city I go to brings a different vibe. I meet other people and I try to understand their story, where they come from, and it’s one of the nicest things as a musician. I find myself trying to take these small moments with others even longer because I just love connecting with them!”
The rest of the interview consisted of me picking his brain as a songwriter.
JH: Everything is through my eyes and my story, but spun in a way so everyone can take it and connect with it. I’ve had a lot of awesome opportunities, but also a lot of heartaches. Some were my fault and some not. I’ve had crazy experiences through music, but the drive to move forward is what pushes me. I use my art as a way to check in with myself – it’s important to check in with yourself. Depression, it’s very real and as a musician, sometimes you are not supposed to make it go away, but elaborate on it. Sometimes it’s detrimental to your health, but it’s important to get out there because we are the only people that do that for other people. It’s a tightrope to walk to see how far in the deep end you are going to walk and how far can you pull yourself back out to become human again. I really think that it’s all about getting to the next step and creating something for when I’m gone by leaving a trail of music and making sure others that need it, have it, and are not alone.
We spoke more about how songwriting has been an outlet for both of us, and being able to connect with someone on the same level was a hair short of perfection. From the beginning of the show to the very end, I didn’t think there was a single dull moment. Everything felt exciting and new and just like described to me in the interview. The chemistry between him and his guitarists was nothing short of exciting. The musicianship they both displayed was amazing. There was a great mix of genres, tempos, feels, and rhythms that made for such a well-rounded show.
If this is what we have to look forward to from Jake Huffman, I think I will be at every show anywhere near the Philadelphia area!