New York City-based gritty rock and rollers A Shadow Of Jaguar dropped their debut LP, RAW, back in October. The duo is made up of Brian Hubbert (lead vocals, slide guitar, bass) and Andrew Oakley (drums, vocals), who connected in their hometown of Boulder, CO in 2015, both driven by a desire to make music they weren’t yet hearing on the rock scene.
With RAW, the duo aimed “to stick a big middle finger up at all the fears and doubts that plague us. The goal was to force upon people the uncontrollable urge to scrunch their faces and nod their heads”. They definitely accomplished this, delivering a tour de force that is an explosive, heavy and truly cage-rattling rock and roll experience. The album oozes with bravado, tapping into the bluesy Southern swagger of acts like the Black Crowes and the charged up, psychedelic 70s proto-metal done in a modern way by acts like Wolfmother. As a duo, these guys make a shitload of noise and it’s clear they have every intention of blowing away your eardrums and melting your face.
Critics can write all they want, but sometimes the best way to understand what the artists are saying with their lyrics and music, it’s best to hear it in their own words. That’s why we invited Brian Hubbert and Andrew Oakley to give us the lowdown on what each track on RAW is truly all about. They were also generous enough to share the tracks so you can listen while you read…
The song came from the idea that I don’t believe in much. It’s meant to challenge people with rigid beliefs who think it’s ok to impose their beliefs on others. Almost like teasing “Your momma praise the devil with us.”
“Too Many Knots”
It started as wordplay when I had long hair. All the knots in my hair had me frustrated, thinking “Too many knots up in my f*ckin’ head”. It also served as a declaration of my mental state. “I’m not crazy, or maybe so”. It’s a song about feeling like you might be crazy, but you aren’t sure, and so you have that awkward feeling that everyone is judging you, which makes everyone treat you like you’re crazy, which in turn makes you crazy.
“Don’t Want to Die Here”
It’s the story of when we decided to take the scenic route in Utah and almost wound up stranded in the middle of nowhere with nothing but our music gear. Spoiler alert: we made it out ok.
It was created based off of a nightmare I had. There was a home burning on the far side of a field, and standing right in front of me was a little girl and she was covered in blood and screaming and crying. Her family was in the home.
“All She Has To Be”
A good motto for anyone trying to sleep with a woman: “All she has to be is willing”, everything else isn’t really that important.
Inter-ludes. Simple wordplay. We brought Borahm Lee from Break Science and Pretty lights live band, into the studio with us, and while he was just messing around on some of the gear in the studio, we hit record. Andrew edited and mixed it, and on the first take I told him “don’t touch it, it’s perfect.”
What started as a classic love song, was altered by the impeding notion that the music industry doesn’t give a shit about you. That’s where those desperate lines like “who do you want me to be” and “I will do what it takes” come from. Our good friend John Demitro of Bandits, and The Velveteers, came into the studio and really boosted this song with his bass lines.
“25 20 Gauge”
I bought a box of 25 rounds of 20-gauge shotgun shells to go shooting with a friend. We didn’t get to go because there was a high forest fire danger, so they banned shooting. I kept this box for maybe 4 years, just sitting on my nightstand. It pissed me off because I didn’t know what to do with them. You can’t return them. You can’t Craigslist ammunition. So I decided to write a song about them.
“The Devil’s Come to Take Somebody”
Just wanted to create a true horror scene. There is nothing you can do. The devil is going to get one of you. I haven’t heard too much about the devil in rock n roll music these days, and I wanted to pay some respect to the character that inspired a lot of the music we love. Thank you to Vincent Ellwood on the bass.
Another Borahm Lee track. This was just the most beautiful piece. It’s my personal favorite on the album. It felt like an old French film with the girl smoking a cigarette in the café. I wanted to drown in that feeling of blissful melancholy, and when Andrew edited and mixed this, again it was perfect. On the first take I told him “it’s perfect, don’t touch it”.
“Veruca Bath Salts”
This is just a fable that was born of wordplay. We were talking about Willy Wonka, and got to the topic of Veruca Salt, and one of us said “Veruca Bath Salts”, and a story was born. I got to thinking about what that spoiled little girl would be like on bath salts. The carnal depravity that befalls an individual going through a heavy addiction, particularly to bath salts. We wanted to capture the chaos of someone truly freaking out, dipping in and out of reality, and becoming violently defensive out of fear. It’s a powerful scene to imagine, and we wanted to capture that moment.
A Shadow Of Jaguar’s RAW is out now. For more info visit ashadowofjaguar.com.