Jake Ward is best known as one-half of Athens, GA-based indie rock act Eureka California. Ward recently took to his home studio and completed a solo album, Never Had A Touch To Lose, which finds him stepping out into the spotlight as solo artist. performing as Mild Mild Country.
Mild Mild Country is a decided sonic departure from Ward’s work with Eureka California: Never Had A Touch To Lose is a purely instrumental. mostly synth-based, 80s influenced affair, unlike the crunchy, literature indie-rock he’s best known for. The album’s material finds Ward composing the soundtrack to an imaginary detective movie, set in Los Angeles, where the album coincidentally was recorded.
While the album is mostly synth based, you’ll hear subtle nods to post-punk, the blues and some inspired guitar playing. The album is slated for an October 22, 2021 release through HHBTM Records. To build up buzz for the album, Ward and HHBTM Records recently released a digital only bonus track off the album, an indie rock leaning cover of Depeche Mode’s “Everything Counts” featuring a subtly different arrangement. While centered around heavily arpeggiated synths and industrial clang and clatter, the song also features buzzing guitars and a lengthy vocal coda. which pushes the song past the five minute mark.
Ward wrote a lengthy statement to me about Mild Mild Country’s sound and the new cover. I’ll let him speak for himself, below:
“I don’t know if it was a conscious decision to necessarily change my sound – I certainly didn’t think it was something that I had to do as much as it was that I wanted to try something new. There’s a quote by Warhol that I think about all the time – ‘Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.’ I think over the past year or so, I’ve really tried to adopt that mentality and to focus on making things (music, paintings, etc) that are interesting to me and then putting them out into the world. I’ve always enjoyed tons of different kinds of music and really the genesis for this new project was watching a documentary on Primal Scream’s Screamadelica and going ‘I want to try something like that.’ The only conscious aspect of it was that I didn’t want people to hear it and automatically go ‘oh, it’s a quarantine record.’ My thought was having it be an instrumental doesn’t really link it to a specific time than if I was singing about not going out, spending too much on GrubHub, etc. At the end of the day, I hope this isn’t my Hudson River Wind Meditations but that’s not really up to me.
I’m not going to sit here and say I’ve been a huge Depeche Mode fan for years and years. Honestly, before this year I maybe knew 3 or 4 songs and my biggest Depeche Mode memory was back in the winter of 2019 when my neighbors were blasting mariachi music for roughly 14 hours and the only break was at about hour 8 when they played ‘Policy of Truth,’ twice. And then on a random Thursday in August while I was doing some painting, everything changed. I put on a DM playlist because I wanted something with vocals but no guitars (sorry Aphex Twin), and put on the first song I knew, ‘World in my Eyes.’ But it was the second song, ‘Everything Counts,’ which was one I didn’t know that blew my shit wide open. It was so catchy, and intricate, creative, and clever in it’s arrangement. I’m writing this in October but I’m certain my Spotify wrapped is going to show this as my top played song of the year. And then every other song that followed just left me dumbfounded. I felt like I had stumbled upon a huge secret which is a hilariously sad thing to think about when hearing one of the most successful bands all of time. Still, where had this been all my life? What followed after this first listen was a blur. By Friday, I had listened to just about everything they’d released prior to Alan Wilder leaving and then on Saturday, because I’m a glutton for punishment, I spent the entire day learning and recording this cover. Ya know, for fun. And with that in mind, I hope when you listen to this you get a sense of the immediacy of someone discovering their new favorite band.”