Raleigh Band Jack the Radio's New Album, "Creatures," Has a Timely Sound
Tuesday, June 09, 2020, 10am by David Menconi
Note: Authored by David Menconi, this piece has been produced in partnership with Raleigh Arts.
Raleigh, N.C., band Jack the Radio’s new album “Creatures,” which is due out July 10 (pre-order here), has been in the works for years. But even though the music was written and recorded long before the quarantine shutdown paralyzed everything this spring, a lot of the album’s songs sound as if they could have been ripped straight out of the headlines.
“One lyric that really sticks out is from the title song,” says George Hage, Jack the Radio’s singer, guitarist and songwriter. “’We’re all creatures just trying to survive.’ We’re all here together, is the sentiment, just trying to make it through with respect for each other. When we started thinking about how to present this album, it seems like everything has culminated at this point. The struggle is always there, but the problems have become more prominent than ever. It seems to resonate more now.”
That also goes for the “Creatures” track previewed below: “Trouble,” featuring Jeanne Jolly in a cameo-vocal role with her pedal-steel player Allyn Love.
“That one is about persevering during times of struggle,” Hage says. “When I was originally writing it, it was more about losing a friend. Now, obviously, it feels like it has a totally different meaning. Anyone furloughed, fired, having a business close, I hope they take it as a message that we’ll make it through this, even though I don’t know what that might look like.”
In addition to leading multiple bands, Hage is also a multi-media powerhouse—a visual artist and graphic designer whose logos and designs have appeared all over town. One of his latest projects is cover art for Jason Adamo Band’s new album “Looking Glass.” Another is a comic book to accompany the new album, “Creatures Anthology,” with comics by an array of artists based on all 14 “Creatures” songs.
“Last Oct., when we were putting together the record, it dawned on me that ‘Creatures’ and ‘Don’t Count Me Out’ had more of a story and almost a comic book element,” Hage says. “They seemed like they’d be really cool as short comics. I’d never written a comic book or a script before, so those were the guinea pigs. Then I tried another and another, and by the end there was a script for every song on the record. We were able to recruit a lot of great artists from the world of professional comic book artists. I was happily surprised at how many said yes.”
As to how all this might fit within the confines of whatever a music career is at this point, that’s hard to say. Touring is not an option, so Jack the Radio will have to resort to alternative means to get the word out.
“It’s a weird time to be putting anything out,” Hage says. “What to do next is the million-dollar question we’re trying to figure out, just like everybody else. We’re not American Aquarium doing 200 dates a year, but we had shows planned regionally. Since those are off, we’re shifting to focus to creating content. We’ve got a system where we can record as live as we can, doing tracks from all our homes to put together virtual videos. We’re trying to be socially responsible. We’ve not all been in the same room since shelter-in-place began.”
You can pre-order "Creatures" on CD and vinyl—plus band merchandise—here. You can also stream on Spotify (or listen below), plus follow the band on Instagram and Facebook.