Jake Williams is frontman and keyboardist of the acclaimed Milwaukee cover band The Toys, playing both modern and classic hits. He also plays in Americana band The Midnight Purchase – fellow Green Room member Orlando Pena’s band.
ME: How did you get involved with Wisconsin Music Ventures?
JAKE: I initially got involved when my friends in The Midnight Purchase, Orlando Pena and Jake Stanzer, were members. I knew about it through them and then actually attended an open jam hosted by Bruce Humphries at Bottle House 42. That’s where I met Allison for the first time, and she pitched the idea of the Green Room to me.
ME: Right on. So, The Toys. Would you care to give a description?
JAKE: Absolutely. The Toys have been around since I was four years old (laughs). It’s an installation of Wisconsin live music when it comes to cover bands and festival bands. I was working in a band called Party Anthem when I met a band member from The Toys, who recruited me. Basically, it’s big stage pop, rock, hip hop and everything in between that’s Top 40. It’s meant to be high energy. We’ve played some really cool stages and we’ve got thirty shows lined up this summer; we just released our calendar June through September.
ME: Awesome, that’s going to be exciting. Everyone’s stir-crazy without the outdoor live music so I’m sure it’ll be a big return to form for everyone.
JAKE: Yeah, absolutely. We definitely lost out on a lot of shows that we miss and love. Fortunately we’ve gotten some of them back. We’re bouncing back big time.
ME: Are you doing Summerfest?
JAKE: This is the first year in a long time that we’ll actually not be at Summerfest. Besides 2020 I don’t think we’ve missed a year in the last decade. But with the schedule being rearranged, it would’ve just caused some interferences so it didn’t pan out this year.
ME: Well, no worries. There’s plenty of other shit you’ll obviously be doing.
ME: That said, I was actually going to ask you what your latest cover you’ve been polishing has been?
JAKE: I can say we’ve been rehearsing and working on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme. We’re also working on bringing some classic rock back into the set too, which was what originally made The Toys great in the first place.
ME: I hope I run into you guys sometime this summer!
ME: I saw on your website that you’ve also been doing some open mics lately. Can you tell me about those?
JAKE: Yeah, so these are the first open mics I’ve hosted in the last five or six years; I used to host some in downtown Waukesha back in the day. Now, the first Tuesday of every month I’m at Vino Etc. in Oconomowoc from 6 to 9PM and it’s acoustic-based. Solos, duos, and trios are all welcome. We had a great crowd there last night. Then tomorrow night I’m going to be hosting the open mic at Local Waters in Watertown, also 6 to 9PM. We mostly get solo acoustic acts in there since it’s a real small stage.
ME: Right on. Fun stuff. It sounds like you’ve got quite a stacked next few months.
ME: What’s The Midnight Purchase up to?
JAKE: We are focusing in on which songs we want to be on the album. We’re probably going to be recording in September, so we’re going to take this summer to only play a few shows here and there. We’re going to be at Chill on the Hill as well as traveling a little bit; we have a show in Illinois as well. But we’re polishing ten or so songs to take into the studio.