For Squirrels Alum Tooke Cooks Up 'Artichoke'
Gainesville, Fla., musician Travis Tooke is back after an eight-year hiatus from the music industry with "Artichoke," his first solo album.Gainesville, Fla., musician Travis Tooke is back after an eight-year hiatus from the music industry with "Artichoke," his first solo album. Released last December on Indigo Planet Records, the record represents Tooke's personal musical vision, recorded almost entirely by himself in a local studio over the course of the past half-decade.
The founding guitarist and principal songwriter for Epic-signed rock band For Squirrels, Tooke's life took an unexpected turn in September 1995. When For Squirrels was returning home to Florida after an appearance at New York's CMJ Music Marathon, a single-car crash took the lives of two band members and the group's tour manager.
Tooke eventually reformed the band as a three-piece with himself on vocals and guitar, and in 1997 released an album on Epic with the power trio Subrosa.
"I was beaten up psychologically for years," Tooke says of the aftermath of the tragedy. "I had a tough time just existing. [But] I don't try to let it eat me up anymore. As Michael Stipe said recently, 'Living well is the best revenge.' I just try to be the best person I can be in any situation."
Since the breakup of Subrosa, Tooke has been living in Gainesville, raising his two young children and building tools for a living. In his spare time, he recorded demos in a local studio. "I'm still trying to continue with music but I have a little more of a realistic view of it now," he says. "It's not quite so starry eyed. It would be great to have a music career, but I'm more level-headed about it."
Tooke had recorded 19 of the 30-odd songs he says he's written over the past eight years "mainly for posterity" when he was approached by Dave Kosciolek of Indigo Planet Records, who convinced Tooke the material was worthy of releasing as an album. Kosciolek helped select the track list for the album, Tooke explains.
"Dave has a wise head on his shoulders, and he seemed more like a true fan than some of the label people I'd dealt with in the past," he says. "Plus, I love all the demos I'd done, so I let him help guide me."
Tooke plans to play a few shows in support of "Artichoke" with his newly formed trio Lettuce Olive, with For Squirrels and Subrosa material mixed in with the new songs. Of the latest chapter in his musical career, he sums up, "I'm really excited about playing with these guys, and I hope that some attention comes back. I have high hopes and no expectations."