Izabel Rose (@miss.roseizzy) delves behind the music industry with Push Baby’s (@pushbaby) Jake Roche (@jakeroche), also discussing their latest track “Holding On Is Holding You Back” - premiering on Mission Statement Magazine.
Today marks a very important day for Manchester-based band Push Baby and their newly revealed record label Wow, big legend (@wow.biglegend) - as they release the track "Holding On Is Holding You Back" and its visuals. This track is the first single to be released by Push Baby since starting their own record label. "Holding On Is Holding You Back" is completely self-produced and is bursting through the seams of authenticity, a word Push Baby live by, and live for.
Push Baby - originally called Rixton in 2014, who moved in and out the pockets of many corporate record labels such as Scooter Braun, Interscope Records and more. As Rixton they made it to number 1 on UK Top 40 with "Me And My Broken Heart" and toured alongside Ed Sheeran, Arianna Grande and Demi Lovato.
The band decided in 2019 Rixton was not who they were, they ended up having no say over the creativity of the band and they wanted to start fresh. Since re-discovering their desired direction and life goal with Push Baby, the independent record label Wow, big legend was born, and Push Baby were their first client. Push Baby has now sold out headline shows in both Manchester and London and has spent lockdown in frontman Jake Roche’s Mum’s garage, creating lo-fi authentic pop music with visuals to match. Which is where the new single "Holding On Is Holding You Back" was created.
In a detailed interview with Jake Roche he outlines what Push Baby is all about as well as supplying advice, knowledge and personal opinion for the next generation of musicians - when it comes to the music business. Also, find details below about their latest single “Holding On Is Holding You Back”.
IR: Izabel Rose
JR: Jake Roche
IR: What brought you guys together and inspired you to form a band?
JR: Oh, man. Well it was through mutual friends at first and it was never a serious thing, it was just mates making music. It’s funny now that we've gone back to that, like when it all started kicking off, obviously, we were Rixton originally. When that started happening and we were fortunate enough to get a number one record and everything, we were like this is bullshit. It's just not fun, we just wanna make noise and just be kids again. So yeah it was just word of mouth, my friend knew this person's friend who said: "Oh I'm looking for a bass player come along".
IR: In 2014 you guys were under the name Rixton and released the track “Me and my broken heart” which gained over 600 million streams online. What made you guys change the band image and music you make?
JR: Jheeze, ummm, just growth really. Everything felt different, our attitude towards creativity and our goals changed and it was just a no brainer for me. The team we had at the time took some convincing but when my minds set on something, it’s that! Before Push Baby we were very clean-cut, polished, slightly manufactured pop and then I just fell in love with art and creativity and I thought I don't know if I want Rixton to be a conduit for my music anymore. Which was a bit of a risk because we built up a huge fanbase at the time, but to say take 4 years out and come back with something different was a no brainer to me.
I wanted to get signed by a major label, I remember being like 16 saying Scooter Braun is gonna sign us at some point. Just because I believed in it so much as he was the biggest pop manager at the time, and still is. There were really really really rough moments but it's hard because everything about me is grateful and understanding. We went on tour with Arianna and Ed, we got to experience all these amazing things, but I know this sounds sooo fucking cringe but when I kinda woke up it was like this is fucking bullshit, like who is that? this person doesn't care about me. My confidence got knocked because all the songs were being written for us, we had stylists, we had no control over the creativity. At the time we all said this is sick, we'd just turn up and play shows, but, once you realise the money train starts slowing down for them then everyone as to jump ship. Everyone we met along the way that was on the payroll - as soon as the money stopped coming in, they'd jump ship. Then all that was left was me, sinking along with the ship as captain. Instead of re-building that Rixton ship I decided let's just leave it to sink and build another ship.
IR: Now having more freedom over your music, what inspired the name Push Baby and the new band aesthetic?
JR: I always say, if you're starting something and you are trying to think of a brand name or a band name, the name chooses you. The number of times we would sit down and write stuff we'd have to remind ourselves; but why are we choosing that, what's the point behind that - Push Baby at the time was a feeling. Me and Charley, the guitarist was having a conversation and I can't remember what we were talking about, but I remember saying push it more, go for it more. I've always called my friends baby as well, so at that moment I said push baby, push it baby and it was a eureka moment. The name just bled into the music. We don't wanna go left on purpose or be alternative on purpose, it’s never a conscious decision but I think Push Baby now for me, is pushing it and seeing how far it can go. Instead of recording a guitar in a normal way or a vocal in a normal way, record it through a fucking jar or something, hang the drums up on some wires and just bang them and tune them. We really explore the parameters of how far it can go.
IR: From what you guys as a band have experienced, what is your opinion of today’s music industry?
JR: Well, fucking hell how long have we got haha. For me, it would be so so so stereotypical of me to sit here and say it's fucked and I'm conscious of sounding bitter because I'm absolutely not! But you soon realise it’s called music business, business being the strong point - it can chew you up and spit you out. It's like a tornado it will take you up and it can dump you in the middle of nowhere and it WILL just move on without you. It took a lot to get over that, my beard grew out, and my hair was a mess - it literally did feel like I had been through a tornado. Funnily enough, I went and got intense therapy and the therapist I sat down with said, you show signs of someone who’s had PTSD. I would NEVER EVER compare it to someone who has come back from war, it’s the opposite. But in terms of adrenaline, every single night your adrenaline is up and then all of a sudden when it stops it's like what the fuck? It sounds crazy but I remember going to bed, trying to fall asleep and I would hear crowds, noises, music and my ears were ringing, it was really rough. So that took a while to get over and with that, you lose your confidence. I had to keep thinking "just chill, get back on the horse when you're ready". I feel like now we are back on the horse and it really is our fucking horse this time, it's no one but ours, it’s exciting!
IR: And what advice has helped you get to where you are today?
JR: Instinct, I've fucked up too many times because I thought someone knows better and they do know what's better, but for them. It's instinct, don't think about it. I really really really can't stress that enough to anyone starting out. 100% your instinct and don't question it. I believe if you have a goal in mind, your subconscious thought will lead you to that place. But the moment you start compromising that or thinking about it, you can just overthink it and before you know it you've gone off the idea and you haven't executed anything. So now we have a rule at Wow, big legend and especially for Push Baby - if you have an idea, just fucking do it. Who knows you don't have to put it out, you don't have to expose it. Don't be scared to piss people off, there's a lot of corporations and it's not as formulaic as you think. I used to think I have to do a certain thing to get to the place I want - but nah! Rip up the rule book and write your own that's what I'm trying to do, every morning I wake up and do things in my own way. Authenticity is a big thing, self-awareness and just being grateful, man.
Jack (Wow, big legend manager) and I wake up every day and we look at each other and say this is the best fucking job in the world, I can't even call it a job and there are fans there. As soon as you get your first fan, then your second fan - the fact anyone gives a shit is mind-blowing.
IR: You track “Thor” released in 2019 which has gained over 1 million streams on Spotify provides very strong and soulful vocals, what was your creative process behind it?
JR: We were in a really weird place, we released a song called 'Mumma's house' which was in the oven for 4 years and by the time it came out, I outgrew it. We wrote it as Rixton and it just didn't feel very Push Baby. We shot a music video which the label pumped pretty much all of our budget into it which we were incredibly grateful for, I'd probably do it again, but I was mad decisions on my behalf. If you try and control something too much, you're being very linear in the way you’re thinking.
So, we did 'Mumma's House' then we were set to release loads of other singles under Rixton but I said no I'm not, sorry, I'm going to make some new music now. The music we did then was like 4 years ago and it felt like looking at your baby pictures and thinking that's not me. For my creativity, I always wanna put stuff out now, so I can still connect with it and hopefully, other people connect with it. So yeah 'Thor' was written by Push Baby and we were going through some trouble with our girlfriends and we were feeling incredibly insecure. Danny played it on the piano, and I said that's it. That's the next one. I asked if I could play with it and put my own stamp on it which was the video and all the weird sounds you hear in the track. Within a week it was mixed, mastered shot the video in front a green screen in my mates flat in London. We uploaded it ourselves then as soon as we did that it got taken down by the label, we uploaded it again and we kept doing that until it connected in a really weird way. I had a lot of men reach out to me, like men! Football lads and fucking lads who were relating to the song. I could talk about toxic masculinity all day and it's rife and ‘Thor’ was that. To be honest, we didn't set it out to be that, but it kinda became it and it was a really awesome time. I am really proud of that song.
IR: And Push Baby is set to release the debut single ‘Holding On Is Holding You Back’ on the 14th of this month, could you tell us what the concept is behind this track?
JR: I've hit it so hard on the nose with how obvious it is, it's so straight to the point and its spoken word. It's still very pop, very early noughties guitar-driven, garage-band pop, we mic'd up the guitars and the drums. As a joke I started talking over the top of it, I always do that with our tracks as a joke, like to pretend to rap. But then, I was listening to a podcast with Rick Rubbn who is just a guru of producers and a phenomenal artist and he had a podcast with Andre 3000 and was talking about how he would rap by accident as a joke and then I thought… I do it as a joke. Then I recorded it and when I listened to the phonetics of what I was subconsciously trying to say, I thought fuck it lets see how far this idea will take me. I started joining the dots and within half an hour it was done. I can't remember what I say in it, one line is "there's only so many dicks you can suck until your knees start to bleed and your jaw starts to lock as you mumble set me free". We shot the music video on our trampoline over lockdown and I only had a projector and my apple mac. I felt like I had arrived and found what Push Baby really is, it’s authentic.
IR: Your music videos are so creative and fun, why do you guys think it’s important to have fun whilst making music?
JR: Because you're making music! I'm not a doctor, I'm not on the frontline. I'm literally in a studio getting stoned with my friends, making sounds, bashing them together, singing over the top of it and putting it out. I mean listen, there are artists out there that I look up to who are very serious, and their art is very serious, and I actually take my job seriously. But I never take myself seriously and the approach isn't serious. When you're having fun your subconscious kicks in, and you are carefree. If you sit there with a guitar and a notepad and pen and you’re like I need this verse - that process doesn't interest me. For us, its press record and I might fart into the mic and we are gonna tune it and see if we can get a melody out of it.
IR: I can image you guys have actually done that?
JR: All the noises you hear in ‘Thor’ are real, we always record our session but one day I had this idea and I set phones all around the room with microphones. We wrote the song, recorded the song and I said right let’s put all of these sounds together and let's choose the ones we like and drip-feed it throughout the song. ASMAR was like massive at the time and it creeped me the fuck out, so I said yeah put it in a song, so all the coughing and everything is what actually happened.
IR: What do you guys usually listen to?
JR: I'm into film music at the moment, the Uncut Gems soundtrack was amazing. I also have a game with my friends which I'm thinking of making into a podcast. It’s listening to music under 1,000 streams on Spotify. They are so hard to find but when you unearth this gold that no one has discovered before it’s incredible.
IR: You guys have been described as “The Manchester three-piece pushing boundaries” by Wonderland, what were your first thoughts when you heard that?
JR: Ummm oh gosh. So humbling and awesome and WOW. But I don't listen to the bad stuff which equally means I shouldn't and don't really listen to the good stuff and it's not that I don't care. It's just that, every bit of opinion goes down the same drain whether it's good or bad but the fact Wonderland straight out the gate said we are pushing boundaries and genre-bending I was like holy fuck! But if I get wrapped up in that, I try to do that and we never try and push boundaries, we just kinda do. It was great to get that recognition, but you just have to forget about it and get on with the next song.
IR: What is your Mission Statement?
JR: I think I've been incredibly fortunate to recognise my passion and I want to get good at my passion. It is absolute bullshit; it doesn't mean anything. But, I wanna do stuff that when I die means something. I want what I've done through pursuing my passion, to outlast me. I don't mean a song - I mean like if I ever make money, I would be the poorest rich guy ever. I'm from Blackpool and some of my friends there who wanted to pursue what I wanted at the time are in prison now, I think the system failed them. It's my duty now to give back, I feel my message would be: Just know this isn't about you, it never has been and as much as you pretend it is and you go on stage and people cheer, people tweet you that they fucking love you or whatever, this is all just so you can give it away on your death bed. That’s what keeps me going.
Photographer: Henry Nash (@hnry.uk)
Photography Assistant: Erin Doneathy (@erinkatedone)
Interview Credits: Izabel Rose (@miss.roseizzy)