Jake Walden Rocks The Folk OUT
By Justin Ocean
Hot on the heels of December's East Coast smash, Out magazine and here! Tunes' Rock the Folk OUT! tour heads west to bring the folk-rock talents of gay singer-songwriters Stewart Lewis, Tom Goss and Jake Walden to fans from Salt Lake City to Missoula, Flagstaff to Seattle -- and of course at our fave Cali venues.
In between promoting the 'beautiful and dark, heartbreak and hope' of his album Alive and Screaming, songs from which were featured on MTV's Real World: Brooklyn and recently performing at the opening ceremonies of the Las Vegas AIDS Walk on April 19th, the 28-year-old former actor (spot him in the Friends' coffeeshop?), Orlando theme park ride guide and smoldering Los Angeles hottie Jake Walden (yes, boys, he's single' 'very single') sat down with Out to discuss the upcoming tour, the pleasures of BandAids and what exactly gay folk rock might be.
Out:What do you consider folk music? Does it mesh with the sounds of the Rock the Folk OUT tour?
Jake Walden: I think using 'folk' in the title is more a play on what people think folk is, which really is what it isn't. People tend to think folk music is boring, old timey''folksy.' I was raised on Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Bob Dylan, artists that were considered folk artists but really just were singer-songwriters. It's mostly semantics I suppose. 'Folk' has come to mean the singer-songwriter genre: people that write their own music that's very personal and mainly acoustic. That's what the tour is, but the three of us are very different in who we are and the type of music that we play.
So is there such a thing as 'gay folk music'?
No, not really. For me, my music has nothing to do with being gay or not, but has everything to do with being honest and understanding who you are. It has to do with truth. There's a perception still in the mainstream world of what 'out art' is or who 'out artists' are. And I rebel against that. So this tour is very topical and of the time. Especially in the smaller towns that we're playing, the communities, gay and straight, have really risen up to make each concert an event. The crowd is really mixed: half gay, half straight, young and old, male and female and that is to me, says a lot. It is the most important thing for me. I'm trying to get rid of definitions. I want people to just be people. What connects us is more interesting to me than what makes us different.
Certainly with what's happened in Iowa and Vermont, there's definitely a lot to celebrate, a big high to ride.
There is, really! I could have been like a lot of gay artists who aren't out, out of fear or greed or what have you, to just be another cog in the wheel. I thought of it as a chance to be a part of an evolution -- a revolution -- of our time. That's a real opportunity. I'm not really a social advocate or a political person, but there's such movement. I chose to fight with a one-on-one sort of thing by being myself.
How do you, Stewart Lewis and Tom Goss all fit together as artists?
I'm definitely the least rocking of the three, but not for a lack of passion. My music is more piano-ballad driven and Tom and Stewart are a little more upbeat. I think I'm kind of like the dark poet, ya know? Tom is very light. And Stewart is kind of all over the place. He has incredible song writing and harmony skills, and is just a beautiful singer. He uses a loop machine to create a big choral, kinda big band effect with just his voice and a guitar. And Tommy is Mr. Wisconsin. He's an advocate, and I think his music really is based on his goals for gay rights and the gay community. It's a lot more upbeat, up-tempo and fun, yet serious, too. What I love so much about him is his willingness to talk' he's such a great storyteller. He has this kind of uppity do-do-do thing and then he'll sit at the piano and get serious and do a monologue before each song. But I tell ya man, the three of our voices together is something to be heard!