An Interview with Jake Crown of Coffee Project

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2006 Demos | Coffee Project

When listening to music, you should always listen to what moves you. You can’t force it. It doesn’t matter if it’s Metal, Jazz, Punk or two guys with a tambourine and an acoustic guitar. It just has to move you and most of all, it needs to be authentic.

Coffee Project knows a thing or two about authenticity and passion. Jake Crown and Buddy Schaub write music from the heart and for the sheer joy of it. When you’re doing that, you simply can’t go wrong. Today, I’ve got Jake Crown with us. We talk about his love for La Bamba, loving Gainsville, taking a break from music to open a food truck and much, much more. If you would like to learn more about Coffee Project, you can head over to their Bandcamp here. Once you’ve done that, take some time to sit back and enjoy this interview with Coffee Project’s Jake Crown. Cheers.

Andrew:
Jake, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. This has certainly been a weird year. What have you been doing to pass the time?

Jake:
Hey Andrew, no problem. Thanks for having me! This has been a weird year that is for sure. I started working from home when COVID quarantine first started back in March, and basically have just been working a lot to pass the time. My cat and I play a lot of fetch, and I have been cooking a lot and making sure I facetime and text a lot with my family and friends.

Andrew:
Tell us a bit about your backstory. How did you get into music?

Jake:
I come from a very musical family. Singers, players, record label owners. I remember watching La Bamba (the movie), and thinking – “Holy shit. I love this so much and want to play music ASAP.” I loved Metallica, Hair Metal music, Nirvana etc. My family is from Baltimore, which is close to D.C. My older brothers were into Discord Records and once they showed me Fugazi, I basically fell in love with Punk music at that point. I started playing drums at 10 years old, and went to my first Punk show at 11 at the Kings Head Inn, in Norfolk, Virginia. I think I was 12 when I formed my first band. I have the most supportive, amazing family (can you imagine listening to a 11 year old kid attempting to learn Minor Threat songs on drums as you cook spaghetti)?

Andrew:
Coffee Project came to be when yourself and Buddy Schaub of Less Than Jake got together, right? Tell us a little bit more about how it came to be?

Jake:
You are correct! Buddy and I are great friends. We were great friends for a while before starting the band. I was floating around Gainesville, admittedly lost with where I was and wanted to be. I was working in a restaurant, living in a shoebox studio apartment, and really wasn’t even good at guitar whatsoever. The original CP songs just sort of…happened. There was no plan, it was very organic. Buddy would have really fun parties at his house, and we would just gravitate to his little studio and write songs on acoustics. We had played together in this fun band called PBNJ, which was more electric/Punk songs, but the acoustic stuff just sort of came to be. Buddy is a good guitar player and probably taught me how to tune my acoustic. Sometimes, when life is extra crazy, and you feel lost, songs just sort of spew out of your head. I remember cranking out songs all the time back then. All I wanted to do was write Coffee Project songs and hang at Buddy’s house to drink beers.

Coffee Project music, videos, stats, and photos | Last.fm

Andrew:
One thing I’ve always wondered was how the band got its name. Can you tell us a little bit about the origins of the name?

Jake:
I wish I had a better response for this, however I don’t. We both love coffee and I think we gave up on saying “no” to the other weirdo names we thought of. Sorry man! I could make up a cool story about how we were in this top secret mission from the government or something, but it is what it is…

Andrew:
Coffee Project is originally from Gainesville, right? Gainesville seems to have a really rich musical history, especially for Punk music. What was it like coming up in that area? Any interesting stories to tell?

Jake:
We are! Gainesville is home. I have lived in Gainesville longer than anywhere else in my life. Gainesville is known for Punk music, however it’s music history is all over the place and outstanding. I remember moving here and thinking, whoa, everyone here is super nice and every fucking band is amazing. Any show I went to, any genre I was blown away. I was blown away by the community that supported the music and art scene.

I remember early on, in maybe 2004, being at a party with members of Hot Water Music, Less than Jake, and Against Me and no one was like all up in their shit trying to talk to them or freak out on them as a fan. Gainesville has this magical vibe where everyone is regular, yet special. I thought that was so cool and it stuck with me. I don’t think we could have started Coffee Project in any city BUT Gainesville. Go look at alligators, meet friends for happy hour, and write songs in a sweaty warehouse.  

Andrew:
Aside from your work with Coffee Project, you’ve been involved with Rehasher and Savage Brewtality. Tell us more about those projects.

Jake:
Those bands both existed before CP. I was in Rehasher as the drummer on the first two records. Savage Brewtality was an insane Punk/Hardcore band I was in that had 50 second songs about zombies, Saturday Night Live, and being drunk all the time. I played drums in both of those bands. I think playing the same fast Punk beat gets a little stale, and maybe that’s why I got so motivated to do CP with Buddy, so I had a few different musical styles going on.

Coffee Project | Moved On by Coffee Project - Amazon.com Music

Andrew:
What’s your primary inspiration as a songwriter? I know oftentimes songwriters are merely telling stories, but other times lyrics are intensely personal. Which is it for you?

Jake:
All of the songs I wrote are real, for better or for worse. With that said, I remember thinking “Damn, these songs are a bummer and now I have to sing them all the time. Haha.” Now that it has been a decade since we wrote them, they are fun to reflect on. Life is short and weird; I recommend writing from the heart.

Andrew:
My personal favorite Coffee Project album is Moved On. What can you tell us about that album?

Jake:
Thanks Andrew, it is my favorite too. Our first record Easy Does It was us basically learning and writing as we go. Buddy recorded every song we ever wrote in his home studio. I think by the time we went to record Moved On, he dialed in the recording part, so we hyper focused on the songs. We went “all in” with Moved On. I remember thinking, “I have no idea if people are going to like this record, but this shit is real, and we did it ALL ourselves.” Moved On was written during my last years of my 20s, and as Buddy was very busy with LTJ.  We were really inspired by Billy Bragg and The Ramones at the time. I am a very silly person outside of the band, so I think it was my chance to show a different, more serious/darker side.

Andrew:
In 2012, the band released Leftovers. At the time, this was to be the band’s final album. Why did you two choose to end the band at that time?

Jake:
In 2010, I was in a really bad accident and left me unable to walk for a few months. It was a game changer. When I was able to get back on my feet, I remember wanting to really ramp up the band by touring everywhere all the time. The only thing was, it was really too late for that. Buddy was still really busy with LTJ, and I decided to go buy a food truck with my dad and try to get a career going. The band “broke up,” but I missed it too much. Playing FEST every year has really helped CP stay alive in a lot of ways. Thanks Tony 🙂

Wasted Love | Coffee Project

Andrew:
In 2017, we saw Coffee Project regroup for Wasted Love. Why did you two choose to restart the band?

Jake:
I was gone living in Virginia 2012-2016 running the food truck. When I eventually moved back to Gainesville in 2016, it was a no-brainer to do a record. I texted Buddy and Kim and the rest was history. A-F Records are great people and wanted to help. Those songs were written at a very hard time for me personally.  

Andrew:
You two have been a part of many projects. What makes Coffee Project different? Is there a different approach to how you write and compose your music?

Jake:
Coffee Project is my favorite band I have ever been in. The fact that we just literally did whatever we wanted, without worrying if it would make us less “popular” or not fit in with the music scene at the time. That kept us hungry and wanting more (how many bands are just an acoustic and a trombone? Haha). I would write a 2 minute song without a traditional bridge, and the song would be about cats or something. Haha. Coffee Project was mainly songs about breakups and heart ache, also had a few silly ones. Looking back, I think I wrote the cat songs so that I wouldn’t have to sing 10 songs in a row at a show about being dumped. Buddy and I are like brothers. CP was special because we were friends first. We are still just as close, we just don’t play music that often.

Andrew:
What other passions do you have? How do they inform you musically and as a songwriter?

Jake:
I really love to take road trips. I feel like every time I get in the car for a few hours, I am inspired to write a song or a joke. I hosted trivia and do stand up comedy pre-COVID, and that sort of became my outlet post Coffee Project putting out records.

Coffee Project | Band Lineup | The FEST 19

Andrew:
Are you into vinyl? Cassettes? CDs? Or are you all digital now? Where do you like to shop for music?

Jake:
I have a decent record collection, spanning from Marvin Gaye, Weird Al, to Fugazi. I prefer to buy records while at shows; that has just always been my preference. I have some records that I might not even love, but the memory of the show makes it all worth it. I don’t collect cassettes, but think it’s rad that they are still alive. I recently gave Randy from Dikembe all of my CDs and he sold them on Facebook Marketplace. Hahahah.

Andrew:
This may be a hard question, but what are a few albums that mean the most to you and why?

Jake:
I will forever be inspired by The Ramones Self Titled album. Fugazi’s In On the Kill Taker means a lot to me as well. The La Bamba soundtrack got me into music, so that it’s the most important to me. I also sang “La Bamba” at my Aunt’s wedding with the band (there is VHS somewhere). There are so many records that mean a lot to me, but those are the special ones.

Andrew:
It’s been a weird year, but we still saw a lot of great music released in 2020. What are some of your must have albums of the year?

Jake:
My favorite question yet! SOOOOO much good music came out last year. As a music fan, I was thrilled with 2020. Here are some of my favorite records that came out in 2020:

Maxwell Stern – Impossible Sum

The Burning Hell – I Want to Drink in A Bar

Jeff Rosenstock – NO DREAM

The Office Ladies – Podcast

Other bands I really love right now: Prince Daddy and the Hyena, Torche, Pkew Pkew Pkew, Youth Avoiders, John Prine (forever), Fucked Up, The Menzingers, PUP,  Magnetic Fields, AJJ, Lizzo, Deertick…I could keep going forever…

Andrew:
Once COVID-19 calms down, what’s next for both you and for Coffee Project?

Jake:
When COVID-19 calms down, I will give my family members huge hugs. I will appreciate every single thing in my life a little more. I will travel. I will kiss someone deeply. Coffee Project just released something on Christmas 2020 (Link here)!

Andrew:
Last question. You’ve had a long career, with many more years to go. Looking back, what are some of your fondest memories?

Jake:
Looking back, I think my fondest memories were playing music with my friends and doing it exactly how we wanted. Keeping integrity with the bands, songs, and most importantly playing music with friends. That is what its all about. Playing music with people you don’t love doesn’t seem worth it.  

Thanks Andrew!

Coffee Project Unveils Live Acoustic Music Video for “Concrete Boots” from  FEST 10

Interested in diving deeper into the work of Coffee Project? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interview

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, Andrew has always loved writing and collecting physical music. Present-day, Andrew is proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict for fellow music addicts. Andrew lives on Long Island and works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer Music website by night.
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