Interview: Jake Bellows of Neva Dinova

words by Jackson Ellis | photo by Tony Bonacci
| Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
Jake Bellows (center) and his band play SXSW 2013 on Wednesday, March 13th at 8 p.m. at The Parish Underground

Jake Bellows (center) and his band play SXSW 2013 on Wednesday, March 13th at 8 p.m. at The Parish Underground

For more than two decades, singer and songwriter Jake Bellows fronted the Omaha, Nebraska-based band Neva Dinova. In an indie rock hotbed such as Omaha, Neva Dinova were frequently glossed over by the press in lieu of many other acts from the area — but those who caught wind of their albums (released via Saddle Creek and the now defunct Crank! label) were treated to thoughtful, unpretentious, and laid-back tunes accentuated by Bellows’ storytelling and allegorical lyrics.

Though Neva Dinova appears to be on a bit of a hiatus, Bellows remains active. He has since moved to Los Angeles, and continues to perform and collaborate as friends, and even forays into the studio in a technical capacity, having co-produced Whispertown’s 2012 EP Parallel. His debut solo album is expected to be released in 2013, as are reissues of Neva Dinova’s catalogue.

Bellows is making the trek to SXSW 2013 and is performing Wednesday, March 13th at 8 p.m. at The Parish Underground. He took some time to answer a few questions on the eve of his travels to Austin.

Later in 2013, you’re due to release what I believe will be your debut full-length solo album. Will you continue to work with Neva Dinova’s label Saddle Creek Records?

It’s all a little up in the air right now, but we may get the chance to work together again.

For your forthcoming album, you’ve collaborated with many talented musicians, including Todd Fink of The Faint, and even your Neva Dinova bandmate Heath Koontz. Are these musicians performing with you as a regular backing band, or do you have a rotating cast of collaborators?

We have done several shows together, and also with Ryan Fox, Ben Brodin, and Matt Amandus. I wish we could always play together, but they all stay pretty busy so we do it when we can.

I’ve heard rumors that Saddle Creek will be re-releasing Neva Dinova’s earlier albums. Which albums will these be, and when is the expected release date? I only recall one album being released on Crank, so I’m curious if there are some rare recordings that you’ve unearthed.

We found some interesting (deep cuts) recordings that we decided to put out on a cassette. It has all kinds of trippy demos and B-sides. It’s called “Help” and is available on the Majestic Litter website. I think it’s really fun to have cassettes!

Your music video for “Super Computer” is really interesting, and it appears to make use of some odd vintage stock footage. Is video editing a burgeoning hobby of yours?

I’m glad you got a chance to check out the video! An artist friend of mine, who goes by Morgan’s Brother, was inspired to make that video from clips he collected. I love it! The thought was that he could track the path of the human relationship with machines. We gave them more and more information, made them smarter. We began to defer to them when a question was difficult, when there was any fact that we wanted, or when a job seemed too important to risk human error. Maybe, we are slowly creating the god that we have been searching for. A boy building his missing father from silicon and glass.

I see from your Twitter account that you’ve left behind your hometown of Omaha for Los Angeles. As a musician, have you experienced many benefits to living in such a large city? Is it a comfortable place for an admitted homebody such as yourself?

I haven’t noticed any musical benefits from living in Los Angeles. I’ve learned many things from living in LA for the the last few years, but none of those things have made me feel more comfortable. I have to say that home is where your brother is. And my brother is in Omaha. That said, Los Angeles can be a very lovely place.

This year you’re performing at SXSW — will this be your first time playing the festival? Who will be onstage with you?

Neva played SXSW several years back, and last year I played there with the indomitable Whispertown, so this will be a welcome return to one of my favorite cities. My friends; Ryan Fox, Heath Koontz, and Matt Bowen will be with me in Austin this year and they’re all wonderful people and great musicians, I’m so grateful to have them!

Do you ever foresee Neva Dinova performing again in the future? You guys had a great run!

We will most definitely play together again! Love those guys.

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