In the sometimes gloomy world of rock and roll it’s refreshing now and then to hear a band like The Sweater Friends. This isn’t your average happy folk-rock duo. Their songs are sweet, fun, and catchy. Jake and Allyson met as children in the same neighborhood, and their friendship grew long before their music did. Their lyrics are interesting and insightful, but are not bogged down musically like lots of insightful lyrics can be. They will be playing soon with Mindy Gledhill on April 24th at Kilby Court. More on that later.
To find The Sweater Friends at iTunes, click here.
First of all, let’s get this out of the way. Are you two married?
ALLYSON: Um. No. We did both get married within 2 weeks of each other though to two wonderful people. Jake is like a brother to me. I think I may have insulted him the first time I told him that.
JAKE: Ha, I was never insulted but Allyson summed that up nicely.
How do you classify your music? It’s light-hearted and funny at times, but not really comedy.
ALLYSON:We pride ourselves on all of our songs sounding different. I think our music and lyrics reflect how we approach life. Neither one of us is really uptight, I love to just sit back and see what life brings. I learned a long time ago, it takes too much energy to obsess about everything.
JAKE: I kind of came to the conclusion that it was more important to be different than be the best. I think as we shot to be different and express ourselves with the talent we had, the quality came and continues to do so. But as far as a classification goes, folk rock sounds good. Though, a local DJ here coined the phrase Sweater Rock. We have been using that ever since.
Where did you both grow up and how did you meet each other?
ALLYSON: We both grew up in Murray about 2 blocks away from each other. I honestly can’t remember the first time I met Jake – I just know I can’t really remember my life without him being there.
JAKE: Aw, that’s cute :) I think my first real concrete memory of Allyson is when we were in 6th grade and we both sat on the back row. Who knew that it would lead to this.
Did you have musical families?
JAKE: I do, my grandpa played tuba in the Air force and was the BYU organist for a while. He played in a dancehall band for like 30 years. He is the one that got me started playing, giving me a guitar he had in his garage.
ALLYSON: Yes and no. My mom is quite musical with singing and the piano, my dad plays the guitar but can’t sing to save his life. Both of my siblings are talented with music but would never admit to it.
What kinds of music do you both listen to? Any musical influences?
ALLYSON: Before the Sweater Friends, I think my musical tastes were pretty limited. I listened to a lot of the stuff on Fat Wreck Chords label and anything else that had that punky pop vibe with a melody. After taking voice lessons and then playing with Jake, I was so much more willing to listen to anything different just to hear new ideas. My influences are Rocky Votolato, Butch Walker, Colby Stead, Mindy Smith, Marie Digby and I’ve really come to love P!nk in the past few months.
JAKE: I played guitar for the jazz band in high school which really effected how I play. As far as what I listen to, I love Rocky Votolato, Allyson got me into him. I’m a pretty big Thursday fan, along with Saves The Day and RX Bandits. Johnny Cash, Aimee Mann and Dustin Kensrue from Thrice have really influenced me lately.
What general themes can our listeners hear in your music? Love? Hate? War? Pirates?
ALLYSON: I know I always write about what’s on my mind. Those nagging thoughts in my head when I lay down to go to sleep at night. From friends making dumb, rash choices, breakups and the loss of loved ones.
JAKE: Same. That is one thing I can say, I am proud of about our music. It really comes from our hearts and lives. I do like to write about important things to me in a fictitious way, such as trying to keep my group of friends together with a moat. Every part of our latest release, Everyone We Know, is about something real. I guess overcoming could be one of the themes.
It seems that The Sweater Friends didn’t start out trying to rock the world, but grew into something people have been really digging. What are your plans for The Sweater Friends?
ALLYSON: ROCK THE WORLD! I just want to see us keep doing what we’re doing. I think people like us because we’re just doing something we love. If it ever gets tedious, the whole project would feel empty and old in a minute.
JAKE: I would like us to make an impact, like a dent in your kitchen table that you can point out and say “I did that.” We have decided to start donating 10% of our music sales to help fight hunger. We are also working on a new project called “The Ghost and The Guest” which is gonna be a combination EP/short novel. Again, different over being best, we are doing a blog and podcasts called “SweaterCasts” about the creation of it. They can be found on iTunes and our blogspot, myspace and youtube pages if interested.
Tell us about the show you have coming up with Mindy Gledhill.
JAKE: Well my wife, Jessica, was a fan of hers and I knew her a bit from my mission CDs. Jess just happened to be friends with her on facebook so she mentioned I was in a band to Mindy. Mindy wrote back that she thought The Sweater Friends were great. I asked her to play a show here in Salt Lake at our favorite venue, Kilby Court, and she loved the idea. We are really looking forward to it. My friends have asked, “are you playing with that chick we listened to on our mission?!” It should be a cool evening.
How has your faith influenced what you do? What are your testimonies?
ALLYSON: When we first started the band we started band practice with a prayer – no joke. It was great. We should start doing that again. I know on the night of our first show, I said about a million prayers to calm down. I actually really don’t like people hearing me sing so I was so nervous. I love my Savior and am so grateful for his sacrifice for my infinite number of sins. I am so grateful for the Restoration of the Church and the amazing influence it has had in my life and the lives of those around me. I am grateful for a living prophet that is here to lead us and guide us every day. I love the fact that I know my purpose here on this Earth and that I know our lives and relationships don’t end here. I am so grateful for a wonderful husband who stands by and loves me every day. I am so lucky to be surrounded by an amazing family and such great friends that accept me for who I am.
JAKE: My faith has molded me really. From my demeanor and goals to how I plan and organize the band, having a testimony and 2 years of full-time missionary work under my belt has bettered me in more ways than I will ever know. I love knowing that Jesus Christ is real and loves me. He went through every hardship, pain, trial and temptation that I have, and experienced them in a personal yet all encompassing manner, thus making him the perfect person to have as a best friend. His church has been on the earth many times throughout history, with a true Prophet at its head. Though there have been times of rejection and darkness, he has always restored his power and love when it has been forgotten or lost. That has happened today and by that same power I can be married forever to my wife Jessica. My favorite song I have written, Yellow Bookend, is about that. “When I say I mean forever, that’s just how long it’s gonna be.”
Jake, where did you serve your mission?
JAKE: I served in the California Roseville Mission, Spanish-speaking. One of our songs is actually based heavily on this. I wrote Us and Them about a lady I met on my mission named Alejandra. She was a nurse in Mexico City with 2 boys. She grew unable to support her family and decided to come to America illegally. The song is about if the United States and Mexico traded places and you were the only one to notice.
ALLYSON: I found the letters you wrote me from your mission this weekend. I laughed so hard reading through some of them. Good times. Sorry for answering your question with a random comment.
How can your fans support your music? Where can they go to hear more of The Sweater Friends?
JAKE: We are found all over the internet, namely MySpace, facebook, reverbnation, and iLike. Showing us to friends and family, telling us what you think of our music, and coming out to see us perform is always awesome. Of course, people can support us by purchasing our music on iTunes, Amazon and other places. We do sell thru CD Baby and love it, that is the cheapest place to get our music.
Why are you called The Sweater Friends anyway?
JAKE: That is knowledge known by only a select few. Come out to a show we might let it slip.
To listen to Jake Workman’s podcast interview on June 27th, 2009, click down here: