Interview: Alec Coiro
Photo: Vera LeSavoy
The only reason I’d say with confidence that you’d know Jake Weary more from his acting work than his music is because his first EP recorded under his own name hasn’t dropped yet (you’ll have to wait until August 3rd). However, as one of the few who’ve heard it, I can say it’s a pretty close toss up which side of his career is more deserving of praise.
The great downfall of comic actors like Steve Carell and Jim Carrey and countless others is that the abandon their greatest gift in search of validation in dramatic roles. As an actor, Weary does not suffer from this insecurity. While not known as a comic actor like Carell and Carrey, Weary fortunately does appreciate the fact that he’s often cast as villains, and recognizes the fact that the villain is always the better character. Actually, Weary doesn’t go that far, but you get a sense from talking to him that he is the sort of artist who can engage in an artform that obviously does require a certain amount of ego without acquiring any ego baggage. In otherwords, for someone who plays a lot of villainous characters, he seems like a really good guy.
This aspect of his personality no doubt accounts for the warmth and personality in his music. At least it certainly comes across in “Jesse Don’t Dance,” the exemplary track he sent over from his forthcoming 5-song EP Reflections of the Dead.
Weary tells us more about both sides of his career in the interview that follows.
You’re currently working a short entitled Crossbow with Jack Falahee and Karla Souza. Can you tell us a little bit about the project? And is this your first time working on the writing side of film?
Crossbow is a short film that I wrote with some friends (including Jack Falahee) around this time last year. Jack and I were both on hiatus and really wanted to make something of our own. We got a great team together and shot it in 2 days. Crossbow has been such a huge learning process for me in that it’s the first time I’ve ever written, produced, acted in, edited and scored a movie. I was very lucky to have a team that supported me enough to let me take on such a wild task. It was extremely challenging and yet so fucking fun. I would do it all over again if I could. Crossbow is a dark buddy comedy that revolves around two drug dealing friends taking on one last job to provide one of them with enough money to get out of the game and start their own bed and breakfast. Needless to say, things don’t go according to plan and turn south fast, leaving the guys to rely on each other to survive their last job. We’ll be submitting it to festivals this summer.
I literally just finished listening to “Jesse Don’t Dance” before getting in touch. It’s great. Is that all you, or is there a band involved?
“Jesse Don’t Dance” is the first single off of the EP. I write and produce all of my music and seldom do I let other people’s eyes and ears make their way into the creation process. I am a bit of a perfectionist. Not to say I don’t enjoy collaborating. I’ve performed with bands in the past. There is nothing quite like being on stage with people you care about and feeding off each others energy, its very special. I would ultimately like to do a mini tour with this record and hopefully incorporate some sort of live ensemble element.
The song is part of a 5 song EP. Can you tell us a little bit about it? Does it have a title yet? And how similar in style are the other 4 songs to “Jesse Don’t Dance”?
The EP is titled Reflection’s of the Dead and comes out on August 3rd. It contains 5 songs that I had originally started working on back in January. I definitely wanted to make something that people could dance to, although I wouldn’t necessarily say this is a dance record. The songs vary in tempo and tone but rely heavily on my 707 drum machine and go-to synth’s. I also started experimenting with writing songs on the guitar for the first time, as opposed to “winging it”, I think that plays a big role in how this record took shape. I am extremely excited to finally put something out there for people to listen to, it’s been almost 7 years since I’ve put out an EP. I was making music under the pseudonym “Agendas” then, and a lot has changed obviously.
It Follows and Animal Kingdom are both pretty dark (although not in the same way). Do you think that sort of mood suits you particularly as an actor, or is that just one aspect of your range?
I’d say at this point in my career, I’ve primarily played “bad guys” in some way or another. Which is fine with me because I’ve always found the villain to be more interesting than the hero. If the villain can be endearing and make the audience root for them and yet still have that menacing nature and mal-intent, it can be very rewarding. There are times where I tend to feel lost when portraying my character on Animal Kingdom, which is basically about a family of looting sociopaths. However, there tend to be these “aha” moments where, despite the awful things my character does, I can still find the humanity in his actions.
You’re originally from N.J. and now you’re L.A.-based. Did you move out west to become an actor, or did you start acting and follow the work out west?
I was raised in California ‘til the age of 5 so in a way, when I moved to LA in 2008 to attend Calarts it was sort of a homecoming. I guess I followed the work out west because as soon as I got out there, I started working pretty consistently. I love LA and NY the same. I can never pick favorites between the two. They both have their own attractive qualities.