DC has rich music history that includes major players in the genres of punk, jazz, indie rock, and it’s own musical style of funk called go-go. And while some of the bands from the past are legends, we thought it would be fun to delve into what’s happening today. In our DC Music Series, we’ll introduce you to the creative and talented musicians producing new sounds and playing gigs around the metro area.
First up on our magical musical tour is DC music scene veteran Jake Starr. For 16 years, Jake Starr was the frontman of the very popular band Adam West that produced hard-hitting rock and roll music on their independent label Fandango Records. The band broke up in 2008 and Jake has been busy with his new projects Jake Starr and the Delicious Fullness and Go Mod Go! — 60s garage punk and 60s French pop, respectively.
Jake was gracious enough to allow us to pick his brain about his career and the state of the DC music scene today.
1. You’ve been part of the DC music scene for a long time. How did you get your start?
Well, my parents were very much into all kinds of music, so I got exposed at an early age. Growing up in Philadelphia was great because the amazing soul music (The Philly Sound) was everywhere in the 1970s. I also got into hard rock (Kiss, Aerosmith, Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin, etc.) when I was just a kid. By the time I got high school [in Bethesda, MD] in the very early 1980s, I discovered punk rock and found that DC already had a thriving punk and hardcore scene. I formed my first mod-punk band in high school and have been essentially performing ever since. My most popular band was Adam West and lasted for 16 years. We got signed in the USA and Europe and were able to release albums and tour. When I broke up Adam West in 2008, I took some time off to recharge and came back with my current band, Jake Starr and The Delicious Fullness. We’re a garage punk band straight from 1966.
(Video courtesy of Jake Starr)
2. DC is known for it’s punk scene, was there a rock and roll ground-swelling as a reaction to bands like Bad Brains, Black Flag, Minor Threat and Fugazi that had been at it for a while? How did Adam West fit in and get it’s music heard?
Yes, there was indeed a rock scene thriving as well. Bands like The Razz and Slickee Boys were more rock-n-roll than punk and remained popular in the 1980s. I formed Adam West because I wasn’t hearing or seeing the kind of bands I wanted to hear and see. Haha. As the DC scene started moving away from rock-n-roll into sub genres like emo, indie pop, post-hardcore, etc., I wanted to do a 1960s British Invasion sound. That was not in step with the DC scene at the time, so Adam West was really not a part of that.
3. What’s happening in DC now, musically? Who do you listen to?
If you’re into punk, indie pop, etc., DC is the best city on Earth. There are lots of vibrant bands playing all kinds of music. If you’re into rock-n-roll, however, DC is a wasteland.
There are a handful of bands that play rock and it’s hard to draw big crowds. My band does pretty well because I’ve been around so long, know so many people, and we’re really fucking good at what we do. Haha. What do I listen to? Mainly 1960s garage punk. There are some great rock bands in Baltimore that we’re friends with and play with. Baltimore has always maintained a solid rock-n-roll scene.
(Video credit novamuscifan)
4. What are your current projects and how has your music evolved?
My current projects are the aforementioned Jake Starr and The Delicious Fullness and a similar band with a 1960s focus: Go Mod Go! This is the brainchild of former Adam West drummer Tom Barrick. He wanted to put together a 10-piece band focused on 1960s mod, garage, and French Yé-Yé pop music. Besides my ubiquitous baritone and Tom Jones persona, this band also has a super-talented female vocalist, four horns, and keyboards along with guitar, bass, and drums. We just recorded a full-length album and have a limited 7″ single coming up, too.
5. Where can people see you play?
We have a few shows coming up very soon:
Friday, April 24 @ Comet Ping Pong in DC
Saturday, May 23 @ Metro Gallery in Baltimore
Tuesday, June 2 @ Black Cat in DC
Many thanks to Jake Starr for taking the time to chat with us! For an energetic, rockin’ good time, go see him play live.
Have a favorite local band you’d like to see featured? Let us know!