Hello Jake, you have been in the Rock'n'Roll scene as a musician for ages. But please introduce yourself anyway, for those who don't know you yet.
My real name is Hervé Loison & I was born in 1964, in the North of France.
Yes I started in the Rock’n’Roll scene at 13 in 1977 when Elvis passed away.
Collecting records of Elvis & then Gene, Eddie, Jerry Lee, Chuck & more..
Discovering the Rockabilly early in the 80’s when I went to Record Hop & first gigs, listening Johnny Burnette, Charlie Feathers & some new Rockabilly Band like The Blue Cats or Crazy Cavan.
That’s how I started in this music.
You have already made records long before Jake Calypso and His Red Hot, in the 80s. So how did you come in touch with Rock'n'Roll and in which bands did you play in the early years?
Since 1979 when I was 15, I played in several different bands.
I had the great chance in 1982 to record my 1st single for Mac Records (Belgium Rock’n’Roll Label). We used to call Mac Bouvrie (the owner), The Belgium Sam Phillips. He was a good friend & my mentor. I’ll never forget him.
In the 80’s, my band was The Corals. We were young, & we did famous stage shared with famous artists. I can remember with Johnny Olenn or Freddie Fingers’s Lee and more.
Later with my band Mystery Train, we recorded for 2 Rockabilly labels in the 90’ : Rockhouse Records in Netherlands & Eagle Records in Germany.
End of the 90’s, I started with a new power trio called Hot Chickens. Today this band still plays after 7 albums released. I can’t count how many gigs we did. For sure, Hot Chickens is probably the oldest Rockabilly Trio in France.
You have a very wide range of songs and sounds, from slow Blues to fast Rockabilly songs.
What are your musical influences and which instruments besides guitar and bluesharp do you play? I think I have seen you on bass as well.
Yes I’m influenced by different music. But always around the Rock’n’Roll, roots with the Blues & sometimes Country. The children of Rock’n’Roll’s like 60’s, Surf too. Little bit early Soul Music. Each time I feel than the music is good for me, for soul, I listen ! I enjoy and finally I buy the record when it’s possible. Of course Rockabilly has been the music that took a large place in my life. And recently, early Blues from Mississippi.
And about instruments. I started with the Bass Guitar in the Corals. Upright Bass in Mystery Train. Now I try to play the Guitar the best that I can. I’m not a good guitar player. It’s the same for Harmonica. But anyway, it works !
The Hot Chickens, Nut Jumpers, Wild Boogie Combo are other bands you are active in. Tell us a bit more about these projects.
I talked about Hot Chickens. I can add than this trio used to play covers, classic of Rock’n’Roll. On stage it’s lot of energy. A real power trio. About Wild Boogie Combo. The project started as a duet. Influenced by Hasil Adkins. But quickly we took a different way when an Harmonica player joined us. We decided to play uptempo Blues & Boogie. Our 3rd album has just been released.
And about the Nut Jumpers. A crazy project with Ricky Lee Brawn (Stargazers, Big Six, Space Cadets) & Helen Shadow (The Queen B’s, Johnson Family)..
I was so touched when Ricky asked to do something together. We have a lot in common : New projects, to try to do something new, the sound & always be busy with the Rock’n’Roll everyday… The LP ‘Boogie In The Shack’ is awesome. Great sound cause Ricky & his Valve Mobil Studio. And we did some great gigs and sometimes creating surprise. We hope to release a 2nd LP & more gigs together.
You are active in so many bands, you play a lot of shows – is there still time for a normal "job" or can you live from your music?
I’ve the chance than Musician is my Job. Since 2006. Before I was owner of a record shop. And I worked during 12 years in a Record Company too. So I can say than it’s a chance.
Back to Jake Calypso and the Red Hot. How did this band come together and who is in it? I’ve seen you with some different line-ups. Who is a permanent member of the band and who plays in the band from time to time?
The story of Jake Calypso & His Red is an unexpected story. In 2009 I decided to write 2 songs for a project alongside of Hot Chickens. I wanted to do something different. Back to the 50’s sound. Original song & no cover. I wrote ‘My Baby Rocks’. A real Bopper, with a beautiful blue Label on the 45rpm, rough sound & it was immediately success for the DJs all around the world. It was a great surprise. One year later, we did our 1st gig but with no upright bass player. We started with the 3 original members of Hot Chickens (Christophe Gillet on the guitar, Thierry Sellier on the drums). I changed my Bass Guitar for a Rhythm Guitar. Later we decided to hire a Bass player in the Band. Since, several different musiciens played with us. We have no regular bass player. Except now perhaps Ben D.Driver.. But he plays with the Hoodoo-Tones too.
Your Yodeling Blues/Rock'n'Roll style is very special and everyone can recognize immediately that this is Jake Calypso. How did you come to this, how did this style develop?
Oh Man ! I don’t know why I do this.. I never tried to learn or develop Yodel .. And sometimes it's not just a Yodel. But it's a mix of strange noises (hihi) or even some kind of Tibetan sound (hahaha).. Anyway, you can hear Jerry Lee Lewis or Hasil Adkins Yodeling sometimes. I was perhaps little bit influenced by Bloodshot Bill. I love when Bill do something crazy with his voice. About the Tibet, it’s perhaps because long time ago I had a band named Maharadjah Pee Wee Jones & we mixed traditional Blues with world music from Tibet, India or the songs of the American Indians. I just hope the audience is not scared or worried when I do this on stage (haha)...
It's always great to watch your live shows, you always give everything, from handstands to crowdsurfing. Is this planned or does it develop spontaneously during the show?
As Yodeling, it’s perhaps a strange attitude in the Rockabilly scene ! But I can tell you than nothing is planned. Each concert are different. Of course there are the little habits for this or that song. it depends on the energy of the song. Madness, the atmosphere of the moment. But there is also a lot of communication and exchanges. If I feel than the audience is starting to burn, then I throw out more gas on.
You know, I'm a big fan of gospel and spiritual ceremonies too. I saw Pastor Al Green in Memphis. I learned a lot with this music.
You recorded an album at Sun Studios in Memphis and also recorded an album with Archie Lee Hooker, the nephew of John Lee Hooker. What’s the story behind this?
Yes I recorded 3 times at Sun Studio. The 1st time was for my 50th Birthday. I decided to do a travel to Memphis. I did as I dreamed. I bought a guitar in Tupelo. I went to Sun Studio. I recorded 6 songs. One is ‘My Happiness’ like Elvis did in 1953. I offered a 78rpm with this song & b-side ‘That’s when your heartaches begin’ to my mother. I released a EP with the 4 other tracks. The 2nd time was in 2015 & with my band ‘The Red Hot’ for the LP ‘Downtown Memphis’. We had a special guest with Jimmy Van Eaton on the drums for one song. The 3rd time, I worked with musicians from Arkansas. Friends of Mack Self. Each time I worked with a different sound engineer. You know the sound & the equipment used in Sun Studio is very important. The 1st time was awesome cause Matt Ross Spang was the sound engineer. He has great reputation in Memphis. And he worked with all vintage equipment that it was possible to use in Sun Studio.
About Archie Lee Hooker, I met him in France. Because he stayed in France for a love story. I knew his girlfriend. It’s why we used to play together when it was a possible to do, like a ‘jam’. And after the show, we took time to talk and talk about Mississippi & John Lee Hooker. And one day, I said : Archie, are you ok to do a LP with me ? This is the story. We played played in Famous Blues Festivals. But I introduced Archie to the Rockabilly scene too. The most important was Viva Las Vegas. John Lee Hooker’s daughter did the travel for the show. He was an honor for me to do something with Archie. And it was the right thing at the right time when we did.
Do you have further plans for collaborations with blues musicians or recording sessions in Memphis?
I don’t know yet. But I planned to go back to Mississippi & Arkansas in 2021. I prepare a setlist than I could play alone with guitar & harmonica. Only Blues. I would like to play in several festivals. In the street or on the stage. It’s my plan.
About sessions, I think no more with Sun Studio. I recorded last year in Nashville for a single on Migraine Records. It was another great experience. But perhaps there is some other great experiences to do in other Studios in Germany, Uk or somewhere else.
You seem to like the US Southern States very much, what fascinates you about this area?
Yes I fell in Love with Mississippi. This state & other nearby states like Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and of course Tennessee, those are the states where the music I love was born. Authentic Blues or Rockabilly. The roots Rock’n’Roll. And I learned than for the musicians & the audience of this area, there is no bigotry. You can play Blues, Country, Rock’n’Roll, Cajun and Gospel in the same time on stage. That’s why I love this part of United States.
What are your plans for the future, which bands or projects will you focus on?
My 1st plan, it’s just enjoy each day when I wake up. Early in the morning I don’t know if I gonna put some Rock’n’Roll, Blues or Country on my turntable. It’s the same for the music I do. You know, I’m very interested in the philosophy of Taoïsm. Just enjoy the moment when I do something. To record, to play, to write new songs, to imagine a new project.. That’s all. Just enjoy. And never look back. When it’s finished, it’s Ok, I start something new. Yes, I look back a little bit cause it’s sometimes necessary to do the promotion of a new album (hihi). Anyway, for the future I can say than I would like to build my own home studio. If it’s possible with vintage equipment. And I would like to record a new album in this studio. Perhaps alone like my hero Burt Allis (Mac Records) did in 70’s. Comeback to something rough, authentic. But this project was unfortunately stopped cause the Covid-19.
Let me tell you this story. In February I had not project for Wild Boogie Combo. In March, I wrote 10 songs in one day. Few days later, we recorded in my shack these 10 songs in only one day with a small tape recorder and with my band (Harmonica & Drums). Early in April, the CD was released. And he received a real good feedback. That’s what I like. Next please...
You have played all the big festivals, you have been on stage at Viva Las Vegas, Rockabilly Rave, High Rockabilly and so on, is there anything else you would like to do?
Yes I had the chance to do some big festivals. Of course I would like to play again at Viva Las Vegas or Rockabilly Rave.. But I love to discover smaller & new events too. With my band Hot Chickens we played many times for different Showbike . I would like to play more for Motorcycles meetings. I enjoyed the Big Twins in Spain. And the line-up was Rockabilly. I would like to comeback & play at Hemsby Rock And Roll Weekender. It’s smaller now than in the 90’s. But it stills one of my favorite Rockabilly meeting. Lot of ‘souvenirs’ for me. I love to play in UK. As I told before, Blues Festivals in United-States, that’s I would like to do.
Do you have a final message for the Rock'n'Roll community out there?
Oh a message ! it’s a big responsibility ! What can I say except please continue to support the music. Respect everyone's choices. Mainly in music. There is so much to discover and a lot of new talent even only in our community and by going a little also towards the Blues and the Country which are essential too. Everyday, when you wake up, just start with a LP on the turntable, a cd if you want or why not streaming ? Do as you want but listen to music.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.