5 writers, 5 questions, 1 band, hand-picked by MWA. Welcome to FIVE x FIVE. This week: Chicago multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, Jared Rabin.
Having played many instruments in many bands across many genres, Jared Rabin is no stranger to the Chicago music scene. After spending time with groups The Hue and Falldown, Jared has just released his solo debut, Something Left to Say. Before celebrating its release with a show tonight at Martyrs’, Jared gave us a few minutes of his time to chat about the record for this week’s FIVE x FIVE.
As a multi-instrumentalist, is there an instrument that you connect most with when performing live? One that you most enjoy writing music with?
When I perform live it’s really only on guitar, violin or mandolin. I perform most overall (by far) on electric guitar, just because there is more for me to do out there in the music business on guitar than there is on mandolin. There are instruments I can play like piano, and I would not hesitate to record parts for my own songs in the studio, but at the same time would never get up onstage and try to play live in front of people.
With so much happening musically in your career, what fueled your desire to start work on a solo record?
It was something I always knew I could do. I was about to turn 30 and felt myself getting comfortable with where I was at so decided that it was a good time to start something new/keep pushing things. I got tired of trying to keep a band of my busy friends together and wanted to go in and take care of business and come out with something that I could use to start establishing myself as an artist in this genre, start playing gigs, keep pursuing original music, hopefully make more records, and all of that fun stuff.
As a solo effort, how did the writing process of Something Left to Say differ from that of releases with The Hue, Falldown, or any other collaborative projects?
I took more time writing this music than I have with past projects, not because it was a solo thing but more because I am wiser and care more than I used to. I tend to try to rush through things as fast as I can, whether it’s writing a song or buying groceries. I didn’t want to just make the record to have it, but wanted it to be something I am proud to show people. So I wrote the songs, played them live, re-wrote lyrics, and revised them more and for a longer period of time than I ever had before. There is a lot to be said for taking your time with things.
Do you feel like the depth of the Chicago music scene has encouraged your eclectic sound? Would you have ended up with something different if you lived elsewhere?
It has influenced me a lot—from the local bands that I idolized as a teenager, to the teachers that I learned from, to the array of people I have been playing with for the last ten years. I’m sure living somewhere else, I would have had some different influences and this could have sounded totally different. A lot of the sounds on this record are the really diverse and strange combinations of things I have listened to since I was a kid that are and also really ingrained in my head.
Having played within so many genres including jazz, blues, and prog rock, what do you find yourself listening to most for inspiration? Does something in particular influence you more than others?
Like I started to mention in the last question, I didn’t really listen to anything in particular for inspiration when writing these songs as much as my influences got inadvertently expressed by the end results. While I tried to be careful and thoughtful and creative throughout the process, I also allowed myself to revert to some of the innermost, ingrained sounds that I could bring out, which are really how I think I get at a unique sound within this well covered musical terrain. You can hear combinations of stuff that I was really into at one time, or still am into, being molded into whatever type of song I was trying to work on: Chris Thile + Boston + Grateful Dead…Miles Davis + Umphrey’s McGee + Waylon Jennings…Not on purpose, but they are all in the mix somewhere. People frequently tell me, this song sounds like X band, which I would have never meant to happen, but makes sense because I know every album by X band.
You can stream Something Left to Say in full on Bandcamp and if you’re in Chicago, Jared will be celebrating the album’s release tonight at Martyrs’ with Glass Mountain and Mad Bread. Details here.