INTERVIEW: Front Porch Step [June 2014]

By Georgina Langford

If you haven’t yet listened to ‘Aware’, the debut album from Front Porch Step (it came out at the end of 2013) and you are in the market for an acoustic, emotional treat, then we recommend you head over to Pure Noise’s Bandcamp page immediately. Front Porch Step is Jake Mcelfresh, his acoustic guitar and a whole heap of feelings, poured out in a full-disclosure way that will occasionally make you wince at the brutal honesty, but will mostly make you remember every girl/boy who ever pissed you off and wish you had had these songs available at that moment to make the perfect ‘I’m getting over you’ mixtape.

Punktastic spoke to Jake as he makes the final preparations to play the Vans Warped Tour Acoustic Basement stage all summer.

Firstly, are you all packed for Warped? Three months is a lot of clean socks. 

I am mostly packed but still have a few more things to get (I leave in a week). I’m a nervous nancy, so packing to be out this long is very nerve racking. I’m really excited though.

As a solo, acoustic artist heading out on what is essentially ‘punk band camp’, do you anticipate your Warped Tour will be a different experience to those in bands? 

Well, not only am I acoustic, but also I have been straight edge for almost 8 years so I think my experience will be different from a lot of people’s. No hangovers! Haha. I have less labour than a full band but I also am my only member so I will be doing all of the work, with the help of my new friend/tour manager Doug. I plan on selling my own merch most of the day. I just want to meet and connect with people.

Was it always an ambition of yours? 

It was never an ambition because I never fathomed it. It’s beyond what I could have ever expected.

The lyrics on ‘Aware’ are, at times, seriously raw and full of pain. Are you drawing on real life heartbreak or have you just got a great imagination? 

Most of the time they draw from experience.  But ‘The Day You Took The Good Away’ is a first person short story I wrote in song form.

Conversely, ‘If I Tremble’ is a perfectly romantic song. How do you approach singing so openly about love without falling into cheesy clichés? 
I just write how I feel. Some people do think my lyrics are cheesy. Opinions are like assholes. Everyone’s got one. But to each their own.

When performing these very honest, revealing songs live, do you feel exposed or empowered?

When you watch me perform, imagine me either on a psychiatrist’s couch, or out in the rain in front of a girl’s house just venting everything out. That’s how I feel when I sing these songs.

“How dare you say you miss me/with his spit still on your tongue” is one of the most acute putdowns since ‘Seventy x 7’ – and you’ve previously covered Brand New live. Are they a big influence?

That’s a huge compliment. And yes. I actually did an entire piece on them for Property of Zack for their bands on bands feature. They are one of my all time favourite bands.

Your melancholy and storytelling approach to songwriting reminds me a little of Frank Turner – have you ever crossed paths? 

I love Frank but I don’t even think I’m on his radar. He’s an amazing songwriter and I look forward to the day our paths do cross.

Your record label Pure Noise currently has a stellar roster; how does it feel to be part of that family? 

I can’t say enough good things about Jake Round and this fantastic label. Hit the Lights and Four Year Strong now?! The shit is hitting the fan in the best way. I’m so happy for Round and his accomplishments and am honoured to be a part of the chaos.

Music aside, what inspires you creatively (movies, books, art?) 

I’m a huge movie watcher. Romantic movies are my favourite but I also enjoy comedies and crime dramas. Romantic movies are a huge influence on my more romantic lyrics.

Are you able to write songs anytime, anywhere – will you write while you are on Warped?  

YES AND YES. I’m crazy excited to be out with so much going on. It really gets my mind moving. I am extremely excited to write while I’m out.

The debut album ‘Aware’ by Front Porch Step is out now, he plays Vans Warped Tour this summer and will (hopefully) play in the UK later in 2014


Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]