The more the music industry goes the way of digitalization, the more elements of album releases like lyric booklets, liner notes, and album posters seem like fanciful relics of a listener landscape that doesn’t want to devote time to those parts of a record’s development.Yet even now, every once in a while, what starts out as a typical album release project blossoms into a multi-medium work of art that is so unexpected and creative that it’s difficult not to stop and explore with fascinated interest – like the 2018 graphic novel project that accompanied Wayne Shorter’s release, Emanon, or Sturgill Simpson’s 2019 album and anime film project, Sound and Fury.
These kinds of projects aren’t exactly a dime-a-dozen and so that may be part of the charm. Regardless, the exhilaration is a welcome change of pace and with Raleigh, NC roots rock band Jack The Radio (George Hage (Vocals, Guitar); Danny Johnson (Guitar, Keyboard, Lap Steel, Vocals); Dan Grinder (Bass); Kevin Rader (Drums, Vocals) announcing a multi-medium music project of their own, there’s definitely plenty worth getting excited about.
Due out July 10, 2020, Creatures is the fifth full-length in Jack the Radio’s discography. Past being a sonically cohesive collection of 14 new tracks, the album is being released in tandem with a comic book of the same name. Written entirely by Jack The Radio’s front vocalist and songwriter George Hage, Creatures Anthology combines Hage’s creative writing with the designing instincts of artists from around the world, and the independent publishing platform of A Wave Blue World.
In the meantime, Jack The Radio have released the album’s title track and premiering today on American Songwriter, its accompanying animated music video serves as both an isolated visual for “Creatures” the song, and as a teaser of sorts for the kind of imagery fans can expect from the forthcoming anthology.
“Creatures” the song isn’t nearly as wild as its new pictorial music video counterpart would suggest. Jack the Radio’s roots rock arrangement holds strong, though the production polish on the primary clean toned electric guitar and its thinner, mildly tinny timbre makes each strum add a flash of psychedelic rock style in the mix. Paired with the animations designed for “Creatures” the song however, that touch of the psychedelia eventually seems much more apropos.
The roughly three and a half minute video introduces viewers to the character of Jack – a skeleton figure dressed in classic cowboy garb. As the visual story unfolds, it takes viewers through all manner of settings, initially realistic but gradually unraveling to all manner of colorful, fantastical, and at times psychedelic in scope. It begs many questions surrounding metaphors, imagination, intent, and perhaps most fundamental of all, how did this project come about?
Speaking ahead of the video and comic book’s release, Hage and Justin Zimmerman – the video’s director, and the mind behind production company, Bricker-Down Productions, that produced the video – shared insight behind “Creature’s” visual symbolism, the song’s message, and how this atypical collaboration, as well as the one with A Wave Blue World, came to such ambitious fruition.
What it’s like working with A Wave Blue World?:
George Hage: It’s been a pleasure working with such a tight knit group whose focus is on delivering the best quality book possible. I’m grateful they took a chance on a nontraditional comic, which is something they do well. [A Wave Blue World] seemed like a natural fit after meeting Tyler Chin-Tanner and his family at a comic convention in 2019.
What was it like collaborating with George and the band?
Justin Zimmerman (Director) with his Bricker-Down Productions® team:
Jack The Radio’s Bandlands is an incredible record and an important part of my vinyl collection. I can honestly say “Moonlight” is one of my favorite songs of all time. And their new album Creatures, is even better. I’m a fan, first and foremost. On top of that, working with George on his comic, with A Wave Blue World, was amazing, as he’s not only a great songwriter, [but also] he’s a great guy. When George asked if I’d take on the “Creatures” music video with my team, I said yes.
The timeline and turnaround were pretty intense – I’m not going to lie. But Jack The Radio’s music has been my official soundtrack these past several months, and I wasn’t going to let him down. This was also a unique collaboration with www.AWBW.com, as co-publishers Tyler and Wendy Chin-Tanner donated book trailer assets to help the music video’s progress. In every way possible, the “Creatures” music video showcases a true team effort and the artistry of an astounding number of partners. I’m truly proud to have served as the director of “Jack The Radio: Creatures.”
How did this music video come about?
George Hage: I met [A Wave Blue World]’s COO, Justin Zimmerman, while putting the finishing touches on “Jack The Radio: Creatures Anthology.” I had the opportunity to work with Justin while he directed and edited the animated trailer for the book and learned about his extensive experience directing and producing film through his company Bricker-Down Productions. Creating a fully animated music video seemed like a no brainer between he and his team’s talents and the wellspring of eye-catching artwork that I had just pulled together from professional artists from four continents for the comic anthology.
Who is Jack, [the character in the video]? What does Jack represent throughout the piece?
George Hage: I wanted Jack to have a distinct look and feel while leaving gender and ethnicity up to the artist and the viewer with the hope that they see themselves in the character. We are all skeletons underneath our external identities, and I hope Jack’s resilience reminds us to stand strong as we ride out the highs and lows of what life throws at us.
Jack confronts creatures both real and imaginary on an extraordinary visual rollercoaster created by some of the comic world’s finest artists. Jack emerges triumphant and reborn… and the lead singer of the best band around to boot.
What does the song “Creatures” mean to you?
George Hage: The song talks about finding balance in the world. Jack is a character that’s running through life searching for that balance.
Photo Credit: Samarco Photography
Artwork by: Khoi Pham, Morry Hollowell, Matthew Allison, Jorge Corona, Jean-Francois Beaulieu, Tommy Lee Edwards, Chris Visions, Rico Renzi, Justin Mason, Simon Gough, Roberto De La Torre, Aaron Conley, Robb Mommaerts, Chris Brunner, Nick Cagnetti, Rich Tommaso, Alexis Ziritt
Thank you to Tyler Chin-Tanner, Wendy Chin-Tanner, Pete Carlsson & A Wave Blue World.