Caleb Landry Jones discusses the influences behind new album ‘Gadzooks’ (stream it)
Caleb Landry Jones is having a big year. Earlier this summer, he won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival for his lead performance in Justin Kurzel's film Nitram (about the 1996 Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania, Australia), and will soon be seen alongside Tom Hanks in new sci-fi film Finch. His acting roles may be getting most of the attention, but Caleb is also a very talented musician, and just released the ambitious Gadzooks Vol. 1 via Sacred Bones. Written while making Finch, the album is full of idiosyncratic, orchestral psych pop that cannot be pinned to a year or a style.
“The perspectives from which I write, jump erratically and can turn on a dime," says Jones. "Others grow and burn, only to sometimes vanish on the spot, just before the hat drops. . . My intention is to not rob the listener of their own fantasies by describing the annals of purpose which in turn, only unearth a fragile magic. I am interested only in the album's response by its audience. The album is there to be digested, not by the front of your brain, but by the back. It is for the lover of labyrinths and quagmires.” You can listen to Gadzooks below.
There's a lot to digest on Gadzooks, so we asked Caleb to tell us a little more about the inspirations behind it. He returned with a list featuring an influence for every song on the album. Like the album, this isn't your average list of 10 songs or bands. At all. But it's a cool look into his creative process. Read that below.
"GADZOOKS: 10 Influences" by Caleb Landry Jones
1.THE CHACO HOTEL
I spent over a month here until I was asked to leave for mishandeling their bathtub. Water was spilt and some of the art in the downstairs gift shop was ruined. When I inquired about payment I was simply told to leave. In short, this is where I wrote the fucker.
2.THE BIRTHDAY DREAM
I laid in my bed for some time. My eyes were closed and I began to sink. Everything was black until a photograph slowly appeared. A long wooden dining room table. A beautifully lit cake sat on top. I am smiling from behind the cake. It's my eighth birthday party. To the left of me is my little brother. My parents stand behind him.To the right of me is my best friend. His parents stand behind him. Everyone wears pointy Birthday Hats and smiles for the camera. The photograph has filled in color and now takes up most of the frame. Everything is still as I go over the image. Like a fly, something passes me. It's almost as if the tiny flames from the candles move. I focus on the candles. The tiny flames are in fact moving. Suddenly I clock a guest gone unnoticed. It is an old woman. I struggle to remember her. She stands just behind us. As she becomes clear, I realise we have never met. Suddenly she opens her mouth. It stretches and stretches. Her head becomes larger and larger, her black mouth, longer and longer until I opened my eyes. It's funny... But as I wrote that last line, the earth shook. My girlfriend just stepped into the room and exclaimed, "That was my first one!"
We met in New York. Broadway street. My hands were covered in mustard. I had halal in my mouth. I turned around from the weenie vendor and saw the flash of a red coat but not just any red coat. This red coat was nearly identical to the one I wore the day before in Toronto. I was acting in a film and had just landed in NY the night before. That night and the night before that, I was wearing a long red russian coat, similar to the one passing by now. I called out, "Is that a Russian coat?" The woman in a buzz cut stopped and turned to me with attitude, "No, but I'm Russian." That was that. We spent the next eleven hours walking New York until our feet and mouths gave out.
After about a month or so of filming I sat in my hotel room one wknd itching for an instrument. After watching my leg bounce up and down so many times, I left the room in search of a cheap guitar. After a bit of confusion on the road I found myself at a place called University Pawn. It didn't take much poking around till I found me a decent classical. I pulled it down and searched her for breaks. I plucked at the tired strings and bought it for sixty five bucks if I remember correctly. I'd have included a picture but it's mangled body lies somewhere in a barn. It gave out on me sometime last year. It was sad... I used the ol' chordophone to write Gadzooks, minus the two piano tracks.
I often left the thing running. I find that the constant voices and sounds from the television help at times. Though the flat screen in the Hotel Chaco was much nicer than the one pictured above which is unfortunately the television from a motel in Marfa TX.
6.THE MOTHER STONE
It may sound lame, but the previous album is a lot of why Gadzooks exists. With the album before, a process began and had yet to cease. We successfully recorded ideas and songs as they were intended while still leaving room for new proposals, whether they be insisted upon by sound, tempo, structure or technique. I allowed myself time which is something anyone hardly gets in a studio. We went down every rabbit hole I introduced and followed them each with great intensity. With Gadzooks, we wanted to further our exploration. The only big difference was I had now graduated to tape. Which brings me to...
This guy is the reason we have a lot and I mean a lot of what we hear in Gadzooks. Regardless of my writing and playing. On our first recording session, the man sat back as I laid the first acoustic track down. I remember 15 minutes later looking up after I'd finished. I looked at him through the glass and saw we were on completely different pages. I'm sure he thought the same about me. As we pushed to lay other instruments down, he made his way over and we've been hitting from there ever since. Only now, the batter swings with technique. The drive that this man has to do the job right is unparalleled. After completion of the film, I returned to Nic at Valentine Studios and told him our delima. I knew we had to mix The Mother Stone but that I was bursting at the seams with the new one I had in my head. It was his idea to do both. So that's exactly what we did. We bounced between two rooms and recorded one while mixing the other.
8.MEETING PEOPLE IS EASY
There are quite a few folks who will remain unnamed. These people, I had the pleasure of meeting. Some I got to know quite well, others I'm still befuddled by and can only presume that my assumptions are compromised for they are hardly mine at all and if I'm to think I have made a few myself, I must be met with the inkling that I am indeed most likely way off. Regardless, most of whom I met have shared with me stories of some kind. Most of the action, I've heard and a tiny bit seen. Only the liquor which swam over my lids left the idle thought to be re-inspected. Aspects of the scenario, though delivered by an individual, were taken on and folded over by webs of other bright materials which fashion the fingers of a day dream. I have mixed a lot of what was and wasn't happening around me. Many of the things I was told became a way for me to say much of the same 'something else' I've always been unsure how to say.
A lot of how I make anything comes from being alone and thinking. Regardless of what my eyes or hands are doing. Sometimes this happens on a chair, like the one pictured above. Other times on a walk or during a different action. Sometimes things come from what I see outside, other times, things layer over and become stronger, and some come out of the black and get sprinkled over other ones. Either way, I'm off and into a good day dream.
10. There's only 9 Tracks on the album.