Based out of Corpus Christi, Texas, Jake Ward and his band, The Coast Riders, blend classic country, folk and rock into a winning combination that is gaining them new fans all over the Lone Star State and beyond. Their high energy live show blends harmonies, fiddle and harmonica into a show that you soon won't forget. The band has just released their second single, "Ignorant Bliss," and is gearing up to release their full length debut later this year. Jake graciously took some time to talk about the single, the album, and more.
You started performing when you were seven years old, did you know then that you wanted to pursue music professionally?
That was the first time I performed for people and I really got a taste for it. It was then that I kinda realized what I wanted to do and so far, I guess I have followed my childhood goal (laughing). [Ward is 22years old]
Both of my grandparents are Baptist missionaries, so I grew up singing in the church, as well as performing a lot of musical theater. I remember once being on stage and messing up because I was nervous. I was so embarrassed, but the crowd just started cheering for me! I realized then that there was no reason to be scared when performing because if you’re scared you won’t put on a good show. I’m comfortable and confident on stage….more than I am in my normal life (laughing).
Your sound blends rock, country and folk. Who did you listen to growing up and who would you consider your influences?
You know, I grew up listening to George Strait, but I also listened to the Bee Gees, The Beach Boys and Elvis. I have this weird conglomeration of music that affects my songwriting and style. I don’t know if we sound like anybody; I think we’re very unique, or I like to think we’re very unique (laughing). A lot of people come up to me after shows and compare me to different artists, but I have never heard the same comparison twice.
When did the band, The Coast Riders, come together?
The band was in flux for a while as we tried to find the perfect fit, but the guys we have now, they’re amazing--probably the best in town. My guitarist [Paul Teltschik] and I have been together two and a half years. We found our drummer [Daniel Hawkins] about a year ago and the remainder of the band [Mitchell "Sunshine" Williams, Bass and Owen Fitzsimmons, Fiddle] followed suit after that.
Being that you are starting out, is there anyone in the Texas music scene that you admire?
Zane Williams and William Clark Green, who is just blowing up right now. Both of those guys work really hard.
You’ve opened for Zane, Whiskey Myers and Reckless Kelly, among others. Do you find that other artists have welcomed you into the music community?
Oh yeah, I haven’t met one person who hasn’t been super nice and welcoming. It's not what you would expect from guys who play to thousands of people, but I think they remember what it was like when they were coming up. It’s pretty amazing how supportive everyone is of one another.
Your first single, “Hit the Road,” reached the Top 20 on the TRRR, and you recently released your second, “Ignorant Bliss.”
“Ignorant Bliss” is doing really well for us. It debuted three weeks ago at #85 and last week was at #56. We are an independent band; except for our radio promoter, we do everything ourselves, so we are really excited to see how far the song can go.
We’re currently on a radio tour, but because I am still in school [Jake will graduate at the end of the summer with a degree in Criminal Justice], I only get to go to a couple of places a week, which makes it a longer process for us compared to other artists. It’s sometimes difficult to balance going to school, taking tests and driving places to promote the single, but it’s all worth it.
“Ignorant Bliss” is a very up tempo, relatable song. What is the story behind it?
I wrote that song while I was staying with my grandparents for a couple of weeks during the summer. We got to talking and I asked them what it was like for them in high school. As we were looking through yearbooks, they graduated in 1947, they were talking about the “good ole days” and how easier life was back then. I thought that was a great idea for a song because I find myself talking that same way about freshman year of college, which was only four years ago! “Ignorant Bliss” is a song people can dance to, but it’s also a song that has meaning and is about something to which people can relate.
How do you go about writing songs? Do you write alone or do all of the band members take part?
The song “Love Don’t Live Here” we all wrote together, but I usually write the lyrics and melody to a song then bring it to the band and everyone adds something to it.
I recently started co-writing, which is a new thing for me. I have a cousin in Nashville, so once a month I go there and co-write with different people. I only have my own perspective on life, which is reflected in my music, and I like that, but I also like getting someone else’s perspective on a song. When two people bring their life experiences to the table the end result can be a really great song.
You are currently working on your full length debut, Love Don’t Live Here. What are your plans for releasing the album?
We finished all of the songs last week, and as soon as our producer returns from his honeymoon, we will finish it up, hopefully late March. We recorded about fifteen songs, and are shooting to put ten to twelve on the album. There were a few songs that I was on the fence about, so we put them on our website in order to get feedback from the fans. Turned out they liked all of them, which was great!
We funded the record ourselves and it has been a long process, but we are really proud of it and are very excited to get it out for people to hear!
Alongside promoting the single and the new record, what other plans or goals do you have for the year?
We plan to just keep playing for as many people as we can because that’s what it’s all about: having people see you play live and enjoy the music.
We have very supportive family and friends, who are really our number one fans. In music, as in anything really, you need a good support system who will fight hard for you to make it. We’ve been very blessed to have that. It’s a lot of hard work, especially being an independent band, but it’s all worth it.
Finally, I always love to know if there is one recent release to which you cannot stop listening?
Well, it’s not so recent, it already went to #1 on the Texas charts, but William Clark Green’s “Sympathy.” That’s probably the song of the year for me right now.
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Listen to "Ignorant Bliss" here