This past summer, Jake Giesige made his triumphant return to his hometown of Dayton, Ohio. With his bandmate Angel Allende alongside him, the weekend trip consisted of not only having a show lined up at one of the venues, but spending some time with family to catch up. Giesige and Allende, who together make up The Judy Blooms, unwind at the patio that is connected to one of the bars around downtown.
While living in Dayton, Giesige started playing guitar when he was at the age of 14. Actively involved in groups like Quiet Anthem, The Years, Wild & Free, Giesige was widely prominent in the music scene back in the early 2000s.
It’s been several years since Giesige has returned to the city that he grew up in, and for this night-he was able to experience a warm homecoming. As the evening went on, a stream of people that Giesige hasn’t seen since his departure start to emerge. There was the cluster of individuals who knew that he was going to be in town, and the others that were surprised to see their old friend. The pitchers that were filled with beer started to pile up on the table, and the stories of days past became told in more detail. Allende’s laugh when he hears or says something funny was contagious, as it has a young, vibrate spirit to it. On the other side of the patio table we all sat at, Giesige is calm, and jovial. He shakes his head, and sports a grin when he hears Allende.
As much as the love of Dayton still burns within him, the city Brooklyn has been called home for Giesige since 2008. Swiftly moving on a whim, a couple of friends/ex-bandmates recruited him to move up to the popular borough. They spoke to Giesige about how exhilarating the city life was, and how much they loved living there. As he began establishing himself within the confines of the city, Giesige had some early struggles on where he could continue making music.
“I didn’t have a place to make noise in anyone to make noise with,” Giesige added.
With the only alternative free to him at that moment, he quietly began to record what would be the album Ape/Beast in his bedroom. Ape/Beast primary consists of Giesige’s woeful vocals of lyrics that detailed misguided love, infatuation and some self-loathing. Played alongside a mix of acoustic and electric guitars, rhythmic drum beats with some other percussion included-the sound of the LP according to Giesige’s is limited and raw, but charming and earnest. When the entire set of songs that would accompany Ape/Beast was done, it was placed alongside the expansive collection of cassettes that featured close to twenty years’ of material that Giesige has taped.
“It wasn’t what I wanted to be doing at the time, so I never put it out,” Giesige explained with that same chilled out demeanor during our phone conversation.
That is until a short time ago. Giesige began listening to demos and music of his while digitizing. When he stumbled upon Ape/Beast, Giesige really started changing his mind about the album and started to really enjoy the EP. Giesige at the end of January announced on Facebook that he was going to be releasing Ape/Beast after seven years of dormancy. Ape/Beast is a compelling album that is refreshing and gentle to the listener. The echoing vocals in what could be the album’s strongest song “Meg, You’re Starting To Slip” and the album’s opener “Anna” are lasting, yet soothing. Giesige’s somewhat vulnerability is exposed throughout his lyrics, which are some of his most personal to date.
Going under the moniker The Judy Blooms once he arrived in Brooklyn, Giesige enlisted bassist Josh Wickersham, guitarist James Webster, and drummer Elliot Ward to start playing shows and record music. Before splitting up in 2012 due to the members moving on, and even some leaving Brooklyn, The Judy Blooms recorded an album that was never released.
With the need to fill the drummer spot in The Judy Blooms, Giesige tapped Allende to take over. Allende himself is a transplant to Brooklyn. Around 2008-2009, Allende left his home country of Mexico, along with playing in the Mexican progressive-rock band The Tacits, and began his satisfy the desire to play music more. When Giesige and Allende started to flesh out some songs, they released their first EP, Judy. Judy highlights a lush blend of both musicians that incorporates indie and prog rock, layered with synthesizers, soft drums. The duo’s 5-song EP has been well-received by fans across the United States, and including outside of the country. While doing a small tour in France, The Judy Blooms saw Judy featured on a “best 2013 releases” list.
The Judy Blooms have recently seen the lineup grow from two people to now three, as they have added a bassist. With live performances in the past, Giesige and Allende had to relay a lot on pre-recorded tracks to go along with their parts. What’s the quietness and still that both Giesige and Allende showcase quickly goes away once they are onstage. The duo together blaze through their sets without fear or remorse. Now having another member to the group (and the potential to include another person or two in the near future), The Judy Blooms are slowing to see what is looking like a more energetic band that has a promising future on the horizon.
“It’s been easy playing as a two piece, and playing with recorded tracks, but ultimately I think that it was always a stepping stone of having a full band,” Giesige explained.
Currently, The Judy Blooms are wrapping up their follow-up EP to Judy, along with working on a full-length LP also. Currently recording at Continental Studios in Long Island, Giesige mentions that some vocals and mixing are still needed to be completed. The soft-spoken Giesige begins to get a little more amplified when he speaks about wanting to release the new material. Although they haven’t toured much, they have plans on hopefully getting out more in the near future. Giesige even spoke of a possible return to the city that he grew up in.
“Hopefully we can get back into town in the summer this year.”
(To hear the EP’s Ape/Beast and Judy, visit The Judy Blooms Bandcamp website: http://thejudyblooms.bandcamp.com/.)