Interview – Avid Dancer at the Sinclair

As their name implies, Avid Dancer will get you moving. When they opened for BØRNS last month at the Sinclair, there wasn’t a still body in the house. Frontman Jacob Summer’s contagious enthusiasm and genuine joy spilled out into the crowd, creating an energy rarely seen during an opener. The band’s first album, First Bath, is a mélange of frothy pop-synth sounds, psychedelic vocals, and driving rhythms. It’s interesting, complex, and weird. But most of all it’s fun.
This dichotomy in their sound can be partly be attributed to Summer’s own diverse life experience. Coming from an extremely conservative Christian upbring, he went on to be a nationally ranked drumliner in high school, before joining the Marines for a spell, and then eventually moving to California to pursue music. Melisma talked to him about his upbringing, the tour, and what gets him dancing.

First off, amazing job last night! You guys put on a great show. What’s your favorite part of performing?

Thank you! My favorite part about playing… Probably having the opportunity to show people what kind of person I am. That’s not something you can really show on a record. Ye know? Like I can be myself and hope people like my music even more because they know me a little more. I hope that makes sense!

What’s it like touring with BØRNS? How do you think your music complements his?

It’s great! Honestly, it’s a little intimidating having to share a stage with such a talented and handsome guy you know? But I think we both write pop songs in our own ways. We aren’t coming from that different if places musically. At our first show GB was singing one of my songs and said he couldn’t stop listening to it. I was immediately like, ok- this is gunna be a fun tour 🙂 good people.

What can fans expect from Avid Dancer in the near future, in terms of new releases or performances?

I finished a few covers and want to release them in the next few weeks- just for something fun to share with the folks we’ve been meeting on the road. Been working on songs for a second record as well!

I was surprised to see that you didn’t drum at all last night, knowing that drums were your first instrument. How has your background as a champion drum liner influenced your music? What other artists or genres inspire you rhythmically? Do you ever see yourself going back to drumming?

I actually considered being a drummer/singer for my band but honestly, hate singing and drumming at the same time! Every band I played in always had me singing while drumming and it always killed my joy a little to have to keep my head up and sing into a microphone! Drums, I just like to rock out. How drumming has influenced my music– that’s hard to say. I mean, it certainly helps me to get a good demo recorded on my own. I can play guitar well enough to write songs- so where I really define my song structures is on the drums. Like, here comes the chorus cause I’m totally guiding you to it from behind the kit. I dunno. Hard to say. I absolutely would love to sit behind the drums for a song or two some day. I drum on my recordings and in the studio with other bands – so I get my time in!

I know you come from a unique background. Do you think your upbringing has affected the way you experience or make music now? If so, in what ways? Has that influence changed over the course of your career as a musician?

That’s hard to say too! Such hard questions! (sigh). I mean I’m sure it has. I used to sit around with a couple Christian a Capella albums and would make up my own parts to every song. New harmonies mainly. Trying to find a unique 5th harmony wasn’t easy- I think that’s probably where I learned to harmonize. Not that I’m the best at it… But it comes easy. Watching how music at church could heighten people’s emotions in such a serious way had a huge effect on me. There’s a lot you can do besides just make cool sounding albums. Things can sound like shit and still rule- if it feels right and has some emotional content.

What was the first album that you fell in love with, outside of what you grew up listening to?

When I was in the Marines I found a music sampler in a magazine- Death Cab For Cutie’s “soul meets body” was on it and I honestly sat in my car a changed person. It was my first real experience with “indie-rock”. I immediately went to a record store and bought every album and EP of theirs from Plans on back. I was pretty obsessed.

I’ve read that you’re not a big fan of dancing in public, but like to jam when you’re by yourself. What song always gets you dancing?

Hahahaha, best question ever. Ummmm, Whitest Boy Alive: Burning

One of my favorite songs on 1st Bath is “All Your Words Are Gone.” As a college student trying to figure out this adulthood-thing, the lines “Throw away all things not worth living/Open your eyes and start believing” seems like solid advice. Do you have any other words of wisdom?

Know your worth. And know you can do anything!

And finally, of course, what are you listening to right now?

Reverberation Radio. All day every day. It’s a playlist curated by the Allah Las posted every Wednesday. It’s my jam. You should get into it! Great for cleaning days, beach days, rainy days, and making out.


Photo by Tess Hinchman

Børns at the Sinclair. Photo by Tess Hinchman

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