By Jared F. Cranke
A CD almost ten years in the making has finally made its way to store shelves and online outlets for digital purchase. Tired of Being Nice is the debut album from the Jake Moffat Band and captures Stillwater’s most intimate and honest singer/songwriter during a definite upswing in his life, personally and professionally.
Jake Moffat has been on the music scene for the last twelve or more years and has played all over Oklahoma and into the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. While mostly an acoustic show starting out, he has shared the stage with No Justice, Stoney Larue, Cody Canada, Mike McClure, Jason Boland, Reckless Kelly, Jack Ingram, Texas Jack, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Bleu Edmondson, Wade Bowen, Telegraph Canyon, Sara Jaffe, Harris and Ryden, The Stragglers, Red Dirt Rangers, Scott Copeland, Badwater and, most recently, Ellis Paul.
In the early 2000s, he formed the band Remede, which focused mainly on covers. After a few years, Jake took time off to refocus on his dream and began writing new material. These new songs made their way into his solo acoustic gigs and, musically, things could not be better for the up-and-comer.
Behind the scenes, though, Moffat was dealing with a substance abuse problem, a habit he started when he was 16, which was having an effect on his family and private life as well as complicating his burgeoning music career.
“There was no gateway drug for me,” Jake says of meth amphetamine, his drug of choice. “I dove right into the good stuff, I guess. I got pretty deep into that with some guys. When I was playing with Remede, I think everybody [in the band] had enough of me. I had enough of myself. It was sad because when I started playing with Ryan [Wahpekeche] and the Remede guys, I was playing with the best group of guys in the world.”
After Remede broke up, Moffat took to the road almost solo. His father, Stan Moffat, became a sort of manager/chaperone for the troubled performer. Stan also became one of the biggest fans of the local music scene you will ever meet, attending multiple shows per week with camera in hand to take pictures.
“I ended up getting in some trouble and moving back home,” Jake adds. “I got lined out for a year or two and that’s when I started playing acoustic shows. I wrote a lot of songs. That was when dad would chauffer me around to shows all over like in Dallas to open for No Justice.”
During that time, Moffat was honored with one of his proudest awards to date -- OklahomaRock.com readers voted him singer/songwriter of the year in 2003, beating out some of his own personal heroes like Mike McClure. Jake calls 2003 “his last good year.”
After that, he was tempted by his addiction again and to make matters worse, he also began cooking meth. Shortly after that, he left his wife, Trish, and young daughter, Isabella. His wake up call came when he was served with divorce papers, which was immediately followed by the arrival of a Payne County Sheriff’s officer who proposed a very drastic ultimatum.
“I knew it was time,” he continues. “I went home, was there for one night, and [Deputy] Rockford Brown, the best guy on the face of the earth, came out with another deputy and said, ‘Look, you’re either going to go to rehab tonight or we’re going to put you in jail.’ After a while of talking to my family, I figured out what I had done and I said ‘Let’s do it.’”
Without insurance, Jake says finding a rehabilitation facility for less than $15,000 was nearly impossible. Instead, he began outpatient counseling at University Heights with Paul Jones and going back to church. His friend, Brown, also checked in on him regularly and followed another strange order from his boss, Payne County Sheriff R. B. Hauf.
“[Brown would] parade me around town with an arm around my shoulder,” Jake says. “My old friends would split and, luckily, that’s what happened. I don’t talk to anybody because I know if I’m going to stay away from it, I’ve got to stay away from all of it. It feels good this time because before, the max I’d ever gotten cleaned up was maybe a year and I felt like I had it. But I didn’t have anybody to fall back on. I wouldn’t be where I am right now without my family. I realized too that what a lot of people don’t have is a support system and I have an awesome support system with family and friends that care.”
After more than a decade of ups and downs, Jake decided to form a new band and with his new direction, the Jake Moffat Band was born. The Jake Moffat Band is a giant step forward. It’s something that Jake has been wanting for a long time, and now after the great wait he is joined by three very talented musicians that bring it all to the table -- Jake Brown, bass; Don Fahrney, lead guitar; and Luke Tallon, drums. Jake was also able to salvage some of those songs written around 2002 and finally get them recorded and released. Two songs that have been floating around Jake’s set list for a while include Clarksville, TN and the song No Justice founder and lead guitarist Jerry Payne called “Jake’s anthem,” Detox. Detox, lyrically, hasn’t changed at all in the ten years of its existence, but thematically, the meaning has changed somewhat for Jake.
“I wanted to leave Detox organic just because how I wrote that song back in 2002,” continues Jake. “Through trials and errors of what happened, I hold it even more dear now. The line there, ‘I’ve been clean a year and I’m feeling great,’ was a lie up till now. It just means a lot to me. This is what’s creepy, the lyrics were spot on for what happened and what was going on and what would happen five or six years later. Now they’re true for everything that did happen. I’ve got two or three songs like that and it’s just awkward like I’m telling my future.”
The irony of writing and performing a song called Detox while he was still dealing with addiction is not lost on Jake. He admits, now, that it was like a cry for help and a slap in the face to those that wanted to help.
“I wanted to get help and at the same time I was being a rock star for no apparent reason,” Jake says. “There’s a lot of tracks on the album that refer to those days and I wanted to get them out because I think that no matter where I’m at, I think they need to be heard.”
One special night occurred when Jake was playing, not only for some younger members of his Sunday School class, but also for about ten people who wandered in from an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting around the corner.
“I talked to them for a long time after the show,” Jake says. “They thought it was so cool that somebody could sit up there and open up about stuff like that in front of anybody. It was also cool that they could see that you can do it if you want to do it. I hope my story can help some people.”
The title track on Tired of Being Nice was one of the first songs Jake wrote with the band and may be more indicative of Jake’s anthem now, because he feels he has to say no to some of the bad influences that used to be in his life.
“My history, and I’m not saying this in a bad way, was that I could never say no and that got me in trouble,” Jake explains. Now I’m tired of being nice. That’s a big step for me to overcome. I still hate saying no, but I’ve learned to do it.“
Jake says the album literally covers the last ten years of his life, the ups and downs, swinging from desperation to hope.
“It’s the times of my life,” he says. “That’s why I like the song choices because it’s a good ten-year run of what I went through. I wear it on my sleeve and I’m not afraid to tell you about it.”
The album was co-produced by Tony Pearce and the Jake Moffat Band and recorded entirely at Flatland Recording Studio with mastering by four-time Grammy nominee Howie Weinberg in Los Angeles. Weinberg, who has also earned 200 Gold records, has worked on some of the biggest albums of the last 25 years, including Nirvana’s Nevermind, Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic, the Killers’ Sam’s Town and U2’s Pop.
“I don’t know how we hooked up with that guy,” Jake laughs about Weinberg. “He told dad straight up he didn’t want to do it anymore. He’s got five or ten clients that pay the bills. I’m pleased with it. Just to have him on there is impressive to me.”
The recording process, which took about five months, was the first true recording studio experience for Jake and the rest of the band.
“Everyone, I think, had done recordings at home, but this was fairly new,” Jake adds. “I couldn’t be happier with the speed and the turnout of everything. That’s another thing I love about these guys, everybody is one hundred percent business. We’re friends and family but everyone knew we were paying money to be there and everyone showed up to work.”
Working with Pearce as engineer and co-producer was also a pleasure, according to Jake.
“Tony was awesome to work with,” he continues. “I hate to say it to give him a big head, but he’s a creative genius. We had it set the way we wanted but he would come in and add something or say ‘Try this instead.’ Tony actually did the vocal harmonies on the CD, which are incredible. He brought a lot to the table. I told the guys, if we don’t do the next one at Flatland, we’re taking Tony with us.”
The album art is another special aspect of the CD for Jake. Rather than featuring a photo of the band, or Jake himself, the art features a photo of Jake’s grandfather, Lt. Colonel Harold Shaklee standing in front of his plane, the Sheridan Express. The plane features the painted face and hair of a mystery lady named Sheridan, too.
“That meant a lot to me,” Jake says of the album art. “The guys thought it was a cool concept. It means more to me to have Grandpa Shaklee on the cover. He was in the Army Air Corp, flew in World War II, and I think he was active in Korea. That’s why I’ve fantasized about planes since I was a kid. There’s a lot he wouldn’t talk about so I don’t know who Sheridan was but she looks like a classy redhead to me.”
For other bands out there, Jake has some additional words of wisdom to help in your career that he received from his dad.
“Stay true to yourself, stay focused, have a plan and have some kind of goal in mind, so you know what direction you want to go,” he says. “You’re doing what you love, but treat it as a business, if you want to take it to the next level. In Remede, we used to party, play and split money up four ways. Now, we run our band as a business. We never have to worry about gas money. It’s already taken care of. It’s hard to get down the road when everybody has already spent their fifty bucks.”
Tired of Being Nice was officially released April 20 and is available locally at Hastings and Daddy O’s as well as multiple online outlets. Last month also marked Jake’s two year sobriety anniversary and he feels with that weight lifted from him, and the love and support from his family, he is ready to finally pursue the musical career that has eluded him for so long.
“Bella just turned four at Easter,” he says of his daughter. “I think that’s what will be my saving grace this time. Looking back, I wasn’t around for the first two birthdays my daughter had. As dad said, I finally grew up. He used to say I have a 28-year-old son who’s going through his terrible two’s. I feel ready to do this, especially with the guys I’ve got. It kind of makes me sad that when I was still playing in town, Stoney was still here, Boland was here. I feel like I missed out on a good eight to ten years of what I should’ve been doing.”
For more information about the Jake Moffat Band, visit their official website at www.jakemoffat.com.