Poetic Memory: Jail Weddings (List)

Photo credit: Sarah Morrison Photography

Jail Weddings‘ 2009 EP, Inconvenient Dreams, has spent the last few months in constant rotation at the Owl and Bear offices, waiting defiantly for a new record to oust it from its spot at the top of our playlist. Picking up where Phil Spector and his wall of sound left off, Jail Weddings fuse doo wop, rockabilly, and soul into catchy, theatrical pop. It’s a disarming and seductive combination, which is why their EP has been getting such frequent play.

But now, at long last, an album has toppled Inconvenient Dreams from its throne, and wouldn’t you know — it’s another Jail Weddings record.

Set for release on October 12, Love Is Lawless is the Los Angeles band’s debut full-length, and it contains all the ballroom waltzes and barroom brawls we’ve come to expect. From the sublime “I Thought You Were Someone I Knew” to the cathartic “Somebody Lonely,” Love Is Lawless is not only a passionate tour de force, but a rollicking good time.

Lead singer Gabriel Hart was kind of enough to share his top influences with us (in no particular order). We’ve done a lot of Poetic Memory features here at Owl and Bear, but this has to be one of the most fascinating and revealing ones to date. Check it out, along with the video for “I Thought You Were Someone I Knew,” below.

2007: A wonderful woman I dated confessed to me after the first JW show that she wished “everyone in the club would go away so she could rape me”. This made me feel warm inside. I have been trying to clone that moment ever since.

Antonin Artaud – The Theatre and Its Double: His best known collection of manifestos that sought to sever the barrier between audience and performer. Contains one of my favorite quotes of all time: “And if there is still one hellish, truly accursed thing in our time, it is our artistic dallying with forms, instead of being like victims burnt at the stake, signaling through the flames.”

1994: A mysterious white van that most likely had undercover cops inside had been spying on me and my friends all summer. It would pull up to where ever we were loitering and we would see a camera flash through the tinted window of the passenger side, as if we needed a reason to be even more paranoid than we already were. One day we were walking up to our friend Mitch’s house and we see that van coming right towards us. As it snapped another picture, it also ran over Mitch’s cat that was crossing the street. Like a fish out of water I watched it go through its death throes while doing its best impersonation of a blood fountain. This was the first time I saw something die right before my eyes. It made me realize how precarious life is and re-affirmed my hatred of authority.

2001: At a Chuck E Cheese somewhere in the Valley, “coming to” out of a particular alcoholic blackout, in which I found myself standing in front of a skee-ball game surrounded by a crowd of shrill, screaming children cheering me on. Still to this day I have no idea how I got there, but these kids loved me because I was just hucking the balls overhand into the holes and winning hundreds of tickets which they were grabbing greedily as they came out of the slot. Shortly thereafter I was escorted out. This moment ushered in my acute fear of youth.

2006: Finding out my girlfriend of 4 years had left me for another man, her unflinching excuse, “But Gabe, I WANT A FAMILY!!!” This made me realize that I indeed just could have been anybody, and that our unwavering instincts in our DNA sometimes trump anything sentimental.

Johnnie Ray: Reminds me that, no matter how weird I look doing it, I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.

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