Jake La Botz To Release “most Depressing Album Ever”
Jake La Botz has fared well professionally this year, with a significant acting role as a "singing redneck mercenary" in Sylvester Stallone's recent blockbuster Rambo film. But some personal struggles led him to record what he deems "the most depressing album ever, " titled Sing This to Yourself and Other Suggestions for a Personal Apocalypse. The album, which he describes as "11 sordid tales of human misery and redemption, " is due out on Charnel Ground Records on August 2, 2008.
August 2 doubles as the date La Botz will go on the road for this third annual five-week "Tattoo Across America Tour" of tattoo parlors, which will hit big cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Phoenix and San Diego, as well as smaller burgs like Longview, Texas, where Jake has established a fan base from his annual appearances. (In fact, it was in Longview that he received a tattoo of a raven at a cemetery across the street from the Garage Art Studio parlor.)
"It's so much more interesting this way, " he says. "Playing tattoo parlors, you can be who you really are and relate directly with your fans. There are no dressing rooms, no backstage, nowhere to hide. In a way, this is an evolution of my roots — playing the streets and subways of my native Chicago. It keeps it real."
If the blues and folk genres have gotten a bit fat, happy and rollicking in recent years, the new Jake La Botz album will bring them back to their roots of moans, hollers, and murder ballads. Weaned on Chicago's Maxwell Street, where he learned from and played alongside legendary blues musicians, La Botz at various times lived in his car. And at age 14 he self-administered his first tattoo ("street-style, with India ink and a needle").
Things changed, however, when the bluesman moved to Hollywood, where he developed a cult following as an indie film actor, appearing in Steve Buscemi's Animal Factory and Lonesome Jim, and Terry Zwigoff's art-house hit Ghost World, which starred Buscemi along with Thora Burch and Scarlett Johansson. In Ghost World, Jake played in a blues band from hell, Blues Hammer. And then it was off to Thailand, where he appeared as "Reese" (the singing redneck mercenary) in the 2008 version of Rambo, and had songs on the soundtrack ("The Wishing Well" and "Tiny" from his Graveyard Jones album).
He even auditioned for the lead singer spot in Velvet Revolver. But it was probably better for all that Scott Weiland received the nod. After all, La Botz has gone on to carve out a one-of-a-kind career as a singer/songwriter/actor/creator of the "tattoo circuit."
Although he may not sound like a happy camper, judging by song titles like Depression Brings Me Flowers or The World Ended Yesterday, La Botz claims "I'm not a sad-sack, I just believe it's important for us to feel all of our emotions fully and then let them go rather than denying or clinging to them. There's so much information arising from within the body. Seeing depression as a pivotal part of the creative cycle has saved my life. My hope is that these songs could be a comfort to those who are struggling."
La Botz has received much positive press for his recordings and tattoo parlor tours. The Chicago Sun-Times said: "La Botz is skilled at crafting talking-blues numbers that are pure poetry. His storytelling roots lie deep in the Delta and Piedmont, and his material is at one timeless and totally fresh." And, added the Nashville Scene, "The songs pierce and scrape at the listener's skin like the needle of a tattoo gun — his harsh, grainy rasp, not unlike Tom Waits', spewing forth blunt, morbid narratives about threadbare lives and the nearness of the grave."
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