Fort Wayne has plenty of guys and gals that work behind the scenes to help make the community the thriving, creative space it has become. One of those people is musician, studio runner, and jack-of-all-trades Jason Davis.
As owner/operator of Off The Cuff Sound in Fort Wayne, Davis has recorded bands as diverse as Legendary Trainhoppers, Addison Agen, Heaven’s Gateway Drugs, Water Witches, the D-Rays, and James and the Drifters.
But when Davis isn’t recording other artists, he’s booking studio time for his own band, Streetlamps for Spotlights.
“Streetlamps formed around 2004 as a way for me to escape the confines of the studio I had built,” Davis said. “Initially a two-piece, we put out a couple singles and toured around the Midwest. When the original drummer left I decided it was a perfect time to add a bass player. I always liked three-piece rock bands and figured if 764-Hero had done it, so could we.”
The band has always had one constant, Jason Davis. But bass player Jay Hackbush isn’t far behind when it comes to band seniority.
“The band has changed members a few times over the years,” Davis said. “For nearly a decade, Jay Hackbush has been my right-hand man and four-string melodic wizard. Bands are perfect melting pots. I love the collaboration.”
The goal for most bands is to gig, gig, and gig, and you write songs in-between those gigs so you can record an album. Davis had a different aesthetic in mind when it came to recording.
“I wanted the band to only put out seven-inch 45-rpm records so that when it was all said and done it would be an amazing historical box set. Sound and Color (Streetlamps for Spotlights’ debut full-length from 2014) changed the plan. Eventually you write too many songs to only release two at a time. So we made a full length… and now an EP.”
That EP is SfS’s excellent new release that will be dropping on August 10, Millennium Summer. It’s another shot of hard-edged jangle rock in the vein of Television, The Feelies, and the lighter side of Sonic Youth.
“I’m very excited about the new record,” Davis said. “I don’t know if there was anything intentionally different about how the record was made. I feel good songs develop and ask for what they want, or quite possibly present the parts. When recording the songs, I like to think I made more out of less.
“There are not 96 tracks or 15 synth parts. Vocals weren’t comp’d from eight takes and then tuned. Drums not quantized or pocketed. Nor are there stacks of guitar tracks. There are keyboards, Hammond organ, electric piano, and baby grand piano on the record, I like to think, tastefully sprinkled where appropriate. Just because the studio has an arsenal of instruments doesn’t mean we have to use them all,” Davis said.
The inspiration behind Streetlamp’s newest release was a random conversation about love and relationships.
“Songs are strange creatures. ‘Millennium Summer’ was spawned out of a conversation I had with our previous drummer, Ryan Holquist. We were talking about young love and how silly relationships are when you are kids. He told me a story about this girl he dated whose name was Laura Lapinski. What a ring to it, right? Instantly we compared it to Winnie Cooper in the ‘Wonder Years’ and all things you love as a kid. We had a good laugh.
“The next day I couldn’t get Laura Lapinski out of my head. The double L thing was contagious. We tried changing it to protect the innocent, but it was just too good. Soon enough, a song of summer love had been born out of a cent of truth, some sarcasm, and an amazing name.
“On that same note the middle rant in ‘Long Distance’ is a true story. A lady came up to me and told me it verbatim. I laughed, and in the next rehearsal it found a nice place to exist.”
With every album release must come an album release show. Millennium Summer is no different.
“The record comes out August 10,” Davis said. “We will be playing an all-ages in-store at Neat Neat Neat Records at 7 p.m. and then a late night show at The Brass Rail with March On, Comrade.”
If you an’t make either of those gigs, but you still want a copy of the album, you can pre-order the 12” vinyl (first 100 on White vinyl), CD, and download through Streetlamps for Spotlights’ Bandcamp page at www.streetlampsforspotlights.com. The album will be available for preorder at iTunes and other online music distribution sites August 3.
How does Davis find the time to write and record as well as run a constant flow of artists through the studio, give music lessons, repair instruments, and still get some sleep? His answer is humbling.
“I love what I do,” he said. “I feel very lucky to work with the people I work with and to have carved out a little space in this world. Songs come when they come. You never know when they may strike. They may keep you up all night or just one piece keeps you reeling all week. Sometimes it’s a catch phrase, sometimes a guitar riff, other times they come fully formed. I love to rehearse, develop, and work an idea into something bigger.”
Keep up with Streetlamps for Spotlights at www.facebook.com/streetlampsforspotlights.