...until I got my first guitar on my 13th birthday, I was just a sad, lost little boy who went to youth group to make out with girls.
Jake Touzel Holds Nothing Back
Puking on a Benz, Getting Deleted From Facebook and Punching Paul Giamatti in the Face
I met Vancouver rock dude Jake Touzel, late one night on the edge of Vancouver’s Chinatown, at an art show at the late great Ayden Gallery. We met through our mutual friend, Vancouver singer-songwriter Tylor David—who also sometimes plays in Jake’s band. The two of them are both music scene social dragonflies.
Jake’s been playing music since he was 13 and he’s been a fixture in the Vancouver rock scene for many years now. Lately he’s been navigating through the rocky waters of his twenties and then writing about it, putting his own spin on rock music. He recently released his first solo EP, BAD FAITH. Here’s my chat with Jake.
Scott Wood: Hello Jake Touzel! Thanks for chatting with me. Let’s start with one of your songs.
Jake Touzel: Hey Scott! Thank you for taking the time to e-chill with me. This is a song called “Reservations” from my new EP BAD FAITH. It’s a dark and smoky song about the transition between being in what you think is love, and how that “love” can turn into the desire to do physically to their heart what they’ve done emotionally to yours.
Scott Wood: You’ve said you got into music at the age of 13. What was 12-and-a-half-year-old Jake SUPER into?
Jake Touzel: Oh, you know... Little league, pretending I knew how to smoke weed... Just normal 12-and-a-half-year-old suburb kid shit. Can you really be into anything when you’re that young? I guess up until I got my first guitar on my 13th birthday,I was just a sad, lost little boy who went to youth group to make out with girls.
Scott Wood: Sometimes the first artist you latch onto as a kid can be a bit embarrassing as an adult. What was the first CD or record you bought or artist you got into (and why) and how long did it take you to find the stuff that you continue to play on your phone today?I want to hear something I haven't heard before... when the music sounds like it's the result of a cookie cutter formula, you�ve totally lost me.
Jake Touzel: The first CD I ever got was the Black Sabbath compilation We Sold Our Soul for Rock ‘n’ Roll. My parents gave it to me when I was 5 or 6, so I would say my taste in music was and still is heavily influenced by theirs. I’m sure that much is true for most kids, leastways until you’re old enough to go to elementary school, but not yet smart enough to make your own decisions. Then your taste begins to cater to whatever the other kids think is cool. Nowadays I'm drawn to anything FRESH. I want to hear something I haven’t heard before, a new genre, a new voice—when the music sounds like it’s the result of a cookie cutter formula, you’ve totally lost me.
Scott Wood: You create music under your own name but like to do shows as a band. I’d love you to talk about why...?
Jake Touzel: I write music for a band—I always have! I spent a great deal of time in different projects as the primary songwriter, but we were always called something else... When it came time to release my BAD FAITH EP, I realized there was no better name than my own. I think in a lot of ways it’s to excite myself—playing solo bores me half to death. Normally when you hear one person’s name, you expect a singer-songwriter with an acoustic guitar, not a fucking rock band!
Scott Wood: Your press bio states that your BAD FAITH EP is a “collection of songs about admitting who you really are and not being afraid to leave people behind.” I’ve noticed that in general when you are in your 20s, learning to let go of bad influences and toxic relationships is so painfully difficult. I see so many people holding on when a friendship or relationship is clearly never going to work. Why do you think it's so difficult for people to let go?
Jake Touzel: It’s because of how scared people are of change. A relationship ends and suddenly your life is over, you don’t have the will to live, you shut out the world and hope that it’s all a bad dream... I’m sure I can speak for both you and me when I say we’ve all been there. The thing is, though, you ALWAYS come out stronger, and if you’re smart—closer to your goals. I honestly would not be where I am today, if I hadn’t let go of some people. It’s like I always say to those people who “try to stay friends”... You’re basically saying, “Hey, the dog is dead, but we can still keep it.”
Scott Wood: You’re also a musician which means you can sing about all the shit you’ve gone through. Does being able to write songs about all this stuff help? How?
Jake Touzel: Totally. All my songs are based on personal experiences. I feel like I can only truly express myself through music. That being said, I think it’s my duty as a songwriter to make it interesting and break the mould, where I can, since everyone interprets songs differently. Maybe this song’s about how I felt on November 16th, 2009. Maybe it’s about a sandwich. I like that the listener will never truly know what I wrote the song about, unless they read this interview.
Scott Wood: The new EP was produced by Jeff Zipp (and Matt Drake) at White Hart Studios. You once had a house party and I watched you GUSH when he walked in the door, “He came. He actually came!” It was sweet to see such a powerful mancrush in action. What's one thing Jeff taught you about making your music?I want to hear something I haven't heard before... when the music sounds like it's the result of a cookie cutter formula, you've totally lost me.
Jake Touzel: I was just blown away that he showed up! Jeff’s a great dude whom I’ve known for close to ten years now, but between owning White Hart, producing and engineering records and working with 604 Records, I rarely see him outside the studio. I’m really grateful to have him on board, though. He’s really receptive to emotion while recording, and always works to trigger whatever will make me sing better. The best example I can give is when we were tracking vocals for BAD FAITH, I told Jeff how I sing better when I’m pissed off, so I always imagine myself punching Paul Giamatti in the face. Can’t stand that guy. Anyways, Jeff decided to channel my rage and blew up a picture of that motherfucker on the studio TV. For the rest of the day, my hate fuelled some of the best vocal performances I’ve ever done.
Scott Wood: You're also on LinkedIn as a musician AND your day job. (Congrats on doing Tough Mudder BTW.) I know so many artists who are on LinkedIn ONLY about their day job and keep the music stuff a secret. Did you get tired of having a secret identity?
Jake Touzel: I actually had a top secret plan for when I joined Old People Facebook (Linkedin)—that was to make all the connections I could under the ruse of my day job, but change it up when BAD FAITH was released. 500+ new eyes and ears are definitely not a bad thing. I’ve never been one to keep my music a secret. If somebody’s willing to listen, I’ll tell ‘em. I don't understand why anyone who plays music would hide it! If you're proud of what you do, share it everywhere you can! Nobody ever got anywhere by pretending to be normal.
Scott Wood: What’s the most difficult thing about being a musician starting out today?
Jake Touzel: Well, I think it’s as evident in this scene as it is in others that it’s not always what you know, but who. I think the hardest thing is finding out who actually has your best interests at heart, and who’s full of shit. And once you’ve figured out the latter, you have to distance yourself. At the end of the day, it’s just business, but it’s hard because sometimes that business can get in the way of friendship.I honestly would not be where I am today, if I hadn't let go of some people.
Scott Wood: At your house party, you told me afterward that someone puked on your bathmat. Gross! Where’s the most embarrassing place you've lost it?
Jake Touzel: I recently puked ALL over a Mercedes Benz outside the Met. I’m really glad the owner didn’t see me do it, because that’s definitely a punch-in-the-face worthy offence.
Scott Wood: Thanks for answering these questions, Jake Touzel! Please introduce another song of yours.
Jake Touzel: Here’s “These Roads” from BAD FAITH. Total banger and quite literally a “bridge burner.” This song will resonate with anybody who has the balls (or lady balls) enough to say, “I don't give a fuck about your feelings” and leave someone in the dust. For me it was my ex-bandmate who couldn’t handle the fact that I decided to pursue music on my own. He sold all his gear and deleted me off Facebook.
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