David “Moose” Adamson’s musical tastes are as varied as his band’s musical output. But the Jookabox frontman’s roots are in hip-hop and rap – middle-school rap, to be precise.
As a 9-year old kid growing up in Indianapolis, Adamson borrowed an uncle’s 4-track recorder and devised raps to lay over the beats the two created.
“He would play drums and bass and I would make up stupid little raps,” Adamson said while hanging out before a recent show in Columbus, Ohio. “And he would dub the tapes.”
It’d be easy to assume that Adamson, now 26, has matured quite a bit since those family-jam-session days. And it would be a correct assumption. But the music that Jookabox – now a four-piece made up of Adamson and three of his closest friends – creates is certainly still infused with some childlike energy.
After releasing two albums as a one-man, lo-fi band and performing a live show with a kickdrum, guitar and pre-recorded loops, Adamson asked longtime friend Pat Okerson, 25, to join him as the drummer. A short time later, when Adamson’s loop pedal was damaged following European tour, he called on more friends. Lisa Berlin (keyboards), 28, and Benny Sanders (bass), 27, entered the fold, and the full-band Jookabox was born.
To see a live Jookabox show is to understand why Adamson and Co.’s music is so appealing. At the band’s set in Columbus, an eager crowd bounced, shook and shimmied from start to finish. So did the band. Even though the set began close to midnight, the band’s music got everyone dancing.
Hearing Jookabox on record gives one an idea of how a collage of sounds from all over the map can come together to form something of a monster-movie, hip-hop mashup that’s as fun to explore as it is to dance to live.
Adamson offered an off-the-dome description of the band’s sound with a thoughtful smile.
“It’s kind of rhythmically based, some hip-hop style beats with psychadelic delay and punkish, ratty distortion,” he said, adding “I think it’s just a product of what we’re interested in. Those sounds are all the things I look for in the music I like.”
Asthmatic Kitty took an interest in what Adamson was doing as Jookabox in 2007, and the Sufjan Stevens-run label is still the group’s home. Adamson has played in bands such as Archer Avenue – side project and early band of Richard Edwards, lead singer of Margot And The Nuclear So & So’s, a fellow Indianapolis act – but says the group he has now is one he hopes to keep rocking with.
The band traveled across the country on its recent tour. Their “tour bus,” a turquoise 1993 Aerostar van lovingly dubbed “The Squid,” recently bit the dust after the stop in Columbus. But indications are it didn’t dampen the band’s spirit much, if at all.
Such is the life of a band that drives 9 hours overnight from Debuke, Iowa to play a kickass show in Columbus, Ohio.
“It’s definitely like a rollercoaster,” Adamson said. “We definitely have some rough shows. But overall, I think we all love it. We’re all really good friends and love hanging out with each other. Really, you can’t complain: You play music, you hang out and drink beer. And we go to parties a lot.
“I have no idea what I’d be doing if I wasn’t doing this. I’m sure I’d hate it.”
Jookabox will use the summer to kick around songs for a brand new album. Adamson said he’ll bring ideas for tunes to his bandmates – Okerson, Berlin and Sanders — and then they’ll all stand around in a circle and develop the sound until they evolve into songs.
Color us here at TWJ intrigued. And excited for what emerges.
“It definitely takes it to another level when everyone gets involved,” Adamson said. “We all click really well together.”
As for whether those grade-school raps will ever make it onto a Jookabox record. Adamson laughed at the thought. But he didn’t rule it out either.
“That’d be really cool,” he said. “That’s a really cool idea. I haven’t pulled em out in awhile. I think they’re far enough away from me that it wouldn’t be embarrassing.”
“You Cried Me” By Jookabox (From Dead Zone Boys, out now on Asthmatic Kitty/Joyful Noise)
“Phantom Don’t Go” By Jookabox (From Dead Zone Boys, out now on Asthmatic Kitty/Joyful Noise) – Note: This song kicks some serious ass live.
“Zombie Tear Drops (Novar Slevik / Id Obelus Remix)” By Jookabox (From Dead Zone RMXS, a 10-song remix album available from Asthmatic Kitty here)
“Eyes Of The Fly” Bu Jookabox (DEMO from forthcoming album, tentatively titled Membranes)