The Judy Blooms at Jimmie’s Ladder
By Brandon Semler
Photo: Jake Giesige and Angel Allende of The Judy Blooms; photo: Kristen Swiat
After relocating from Dayton to Brooklyn and cycling through several band members, Jake Giesige thinks he has finally found a winning combination with his indie two-piece, The Judy Blooms. He will get the opportunity to perform for his former city on Saturday, June 14 at Jimmie’s Ladder 11.
The project consists of vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Giesige and drummer Angel Allende. Giesige is a Dayton area native, and previously played with Dayton bands The Years and Wild & Free. Allende, hailing from Puebla, Mexico, previously played in the Mexican progressive-rock band The Tacits before moving to Brooklyn five years ago to pursue music.
The band’s calming and powerful presence on their debut album Judy took shape when Giesige began writing with a loop pedal, something he had never tried before. Three out of the five songs on the album consist of only two chords, but are layered and atmospheric, often adding elements as the song progresses. The new writing method opened several creative doors for Giesige.
“Sometimes it helps to impose your own restrictions on a creative process, just to see where it will take you,” Giesige said. “It’s a good exercise, to see how interesting you can make two-chord songs sound.”
The first track, “Released/Unbound” is one such two-chord track, beginning with an aquatic flurry of noise, and slipping into to a calming progression with subtle lead guitar licks and psychedelic synthesizer sounds. The last track, “Gonna Catch Up to You,” includes a hypnotic clean guitar arpeggio throughout the verses, soaring into powerful instrumental breaks with the same progression in between.
The duo will take off on a small tour in support of Judy this summer, hitting Dayton, Columbus, Boston, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. Giesige said the switch to a two-piece format not only changed up the writing process, but enhanced live performances as well.
“Playing live right now is a lot of fun because it’s just the two of us playing to prerecorded tracks, which gives us a very consistent sound for every show, and I love that,” Giesige said. “Not having to worry about five different members’ sounds and volumes lets us concentrate more on performing.”
The Judy Blooms did not start out as a duo. The project began as a solo album recorded by Giesige shortly after he moved to Brooklyn in 2008. After completion of that album, Giesige’s former bandmate Josh Wickersham entered the picture on bass. Another Dayton native, James Webster, commuted from Philadelphia to play guitar. The lineup recorded one unreleased album before splitting up in 2012.
Shortly after the breakup, Giesige and newcomer drummer Allende began fleshing out the songs that would become Judy.
After only a few months of playing as a duo, the band took their talents overseas in 2013, embarking on a tour of France. Giesige said the opportunity gave the brand-new Judy Blooms some real momentum. Though neither of them spoke any French, Giesige said the two felt welcome there, performing small, but high-energy, shows.
“France was a great experience,” Giesige said. “People were very warm toward us.”
They did an interview for a university radio station, for which about ten fans accompanied them on the bus. Giesige said the radio spot got them on a “best releases from 2013” list.
“They really seemed to appreciate the music,” Giesige said.
Though he has lived in Brooklyn for six years, Giesige said the Judy Blooms have never identified themselves as a Brooklyn band, as Allende and most members of the previous lineup found their roots in Dayton.
“I think there’s a lot of talent [in Brooklyn], because it’s so big, but the people seem less genuine,” Giesige said. “We’re a blue-collar band, and New York is not blue collar.”
Giesige grew up in the Five Oaks area, receiving his first guitar at the age of 14. At 20, he started taking music more seriously. With some high school friends, Giesige formed Quiet Anthem in the early 2000’s, which would eventually turn into The Years. After another lineup change, The Years morphed to Wild & Free.
About a month ago, Giesige started thumbing through the demos his projects had spawned throughout the years. He began to compile and digitize around 100 hours of cassette tape demos, some dating back to 1995.
“Really, even dating back to stuff I was writing when I was 14, it’s just been one long project,” Giesige said. “It’s very strange to re-experience almost two-thirds of my life in song form.”
The Judy Blooms plan on keeping busy after the tour. Giesige said the group is working on a follow-up EP, which should be out by the end of summer. They have also begun work on a full-length album due out early next year. Their current live set is made up of songs from the EP and songs the upcoming releases.
The Judy Blooms will perform on Saturday, June 14 at Jimmie’s Ladder 11, 936 Brown St. Also on the bills is Me Time. Show starts at 10 p.m. No cover charge. For more information, please visit the judyblooms.bandcamp.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Brandon Semler at BrandonSemler@DaytonCityPaper.com.