Jake Smith

 

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"There is nothing very odd about disliking birds of prey, but this is no reason for holding it against large birds of prey that they carry off lambs. And when the lambs whisper amoung themselves,'These birds of prey are evil, and does this not give us a right to say that whatever is the opposite of the bird of prey must be good?' there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this argument, although the birds of prey will look somewhat quizzically and say,"We have nothing against these good lambs; in fact, we love them; nothing tastes better than tender lamb". - Friedrich Nietzsche

 

Jake Smith, you played guitar at Faith No More's first show. Here's part one (from YouTube), what do you think?

I had no idea that was up there. I'll have to listen. I left after the first show and never really was close to the FNM guys after that time. We had a bit of a falling out over the show recording - they never asked me if I would mind them releasing it, and I hated the mix, which seemed to lack guitar. Imagine that bothering me? I was surprised when a review showed up in MRR, which was how I found out it had been released to the public. I'll have a listen to it now.

 

Faith. No More's first live show ever - Part 1 (1983)

 

 

How did you get involved with Faith. No More?

I met Mike Bordin in Sacramento where we both were playing drums in our respective bands. I was with a band called Bad Attitude with Chuck Prophet, who went on to Green on Red and now a successful solo career. We liked each other's playing and became friends as we were both from the Bay Area. Mike was attending UC Berkeley then, and would stop by my house in Berkeley, or we'd go up to Telegraph Avenue and he'd ask my advice on what reggae records to buy. We'd get high and bond over our mutual love of Killing Joke and The Stranglers. When I left Bad Attitude, Mike played with them for some time. Mike and Billy played with me in Police State for several shows around the Bay Area.

After Police State, I joined Crucifix, did the "Dehumanisation" LP and some tours with them. FNM was in between Crucifix tours. After I split Crucifix (1984), I was playing guitar in a reggae band called Vince Black & Crucial. We toured the US West & Southwest, sometimes backing Jamaican artists like Sister Nancy ("Bam Bam."), who we did a CA tour with.

M Morris: «Many possibilities were bandied about including adding a second guitarist - Jake from Crucifix».
Did you audition for Faith. No Man?

I was a big supporter of Faith no Man, and would go to their shows and even tried to help them get distro through my Rough Trade contacts. Billy and Morris didn't get along, and I tried out on bass once. I sucked. I don't recall being asked to play guitar for FNMan. They may have discussed me playing 2nd guitar, I just don't remember being asked.

The Snapp
After Vince's band, I wound up on drums in an R&B/funk band with a bunch of older black guys. We were called The Snapp. Not the 90s dance act Snapp. That was like 85-87. Full-on 7 piece funk band with horns and multiple singers, choreography. We played locally in the Bay Area and self-released an LP. I showed them what I'd learned from the punk/DIY days. We ended up signing to a local independent label and doing another LP but it never went any further than that. One of the guys in the band was trying to rap on a song and it sucked. These were older guys, coming from a 70's/80's funk/r&b background, and they weren't following this new hip hop stuff like I was. I told the guy his rapping wasn't good, and he was like "why don't you do something?" So I did. I would rap for 2 songs each show, and one of the singers would fill in on drums for me.

The Snapp - You Knock Me Out (1985)

 

1-Take Jake

1 Take Jake

1 Take Jake

1-Take Jake, Single Cover (1988).

The name 1-Take Jake was my rap name, given to me by a guitarist I knew, when I was bragging about a recording  session where I had been paid to do 3 songs on drums, and had nailed them all in 1 take. I quit the Snapp and started sending out my demo to labels. A local label that had distribution rights to some popular rap acts of the day, Danya/Reality records, ended up signing me to do a 12" single with 2 songs. This was like 88. I was never going to be an amazing rapper, but making the record really helped me focus on production. I did 1-Take Jake shows in the Bay area and NY, including opening for bigger acts like Too Short, Tone Loc, Young MC and others. That all led to me trying to make it as a producer.  An artist (Tara Kemp) who was signed to my production company got signed to Warner Bros, and had 2 hit singles, including a gold record. I rapped on the 2nd single and appeared on Soul Train and some other similar shows. I am as far as I know, the only person to play both CBGBs and Soul Train. Did the production thing in LA for a few years, but kinda killed my career when I moved back to SF. This was 1990-93. Played in different local bands off and on but nothing notable. In 2010 and 2011 I did 2 US tours on guitar with British Ska legends Bad Manners.

I also should note that I produced Desmond Shea's band Trial's first EP. The singer was the younger brother of Crucifix's bass player. For some reason when the EP came out, the credits read "Produced by Trial & Jake." No last name, and they really didn't co-produce. It was their first time in the studio, and I did everything from picking the studio, to attending practices, to providing the drums and guitar and literally producing the record. That was the first of many times where production credits weren't properly attributed in my career. It's a common thing in music and it sucks. The fucked up credit still bugs me to this day.

Back to that first Faith No More show, still hate the mix?
Yes, I listened to that recording for the 1st time in 29 years....and I'll tell you what I told Billy when he asked me what I thought: there's no guitar in the mix. It's a soundboard recording, and my guitar was loud in the room (marshall 1/2 stack) so it's not going through the PA much. The intro is all keyboards. I'm in there, but you can't really hear it. Like the rest of the set. It's an interesting document for FNM fans though, to hear the sound developing.

 

Jake Smith 2012

Jake Smith 2012

Jake Smith, 2012.