Illiterate Light

Illiterate Light release live performances as part of its new “In the Moment” series 

Ever since coming together as students at James Madison University in 2010, singer-guitarist Jeff Gorman and drummer Jake Cochran knew they wanted to create music together.

“We’re both multi-instrumentalists, which early on was a big connecting point for us,” Gorman said. “We jump around rhythmically and melodically and we can switch instruments and there was a great polarity thing happening. We bring out things in each other in an opposites attract sort of way.”

“Musically, we both just clicked right away,” Cochran added. “We have a natural ability to read each other and jam and lock in, and that’s only gotten stronger through time.”

Cochran, who was part of the drum line at West Potomac High School in Alexandria, first started doing percussion in fifth grade and although he didn’t study music in college, took jazz band and got involved with the music scene at the school.

“I ran into Jeff, who was playing some rock music, and we started playing heavily during my senior year, and that’s when I decided I wanted to take my music career more seriously,” he said. 

Gorman grew up just north of Baltimore and knew he wanted to be a professional musician since he was about six, following in the footsteps of his Uncle Steve Gorman, who is the drummer for the Black Crowes.

“I grew up with large guitars and southern rock blasting in my consciousness,” he said. “When Jake and I started playing together, we really clicked and we’ve spent the last few years running around trying to figure out how to do this.” 

They tried getting some bands up and running, but it wasn’t until 2015, at a show at the former Sehkraft Brewing in Arlington, that they decided being an indie rock duo was the best chance for success. Thus, Illiterate Light was officially born.

Last October, the band released a self-titled album and NPR included them on its prestigious 2020 Artists to Watch list. Since the pandemic began, Illiterate Light has been releasing high-energy past live performances online as part of the band’s In The Moment series. The latest, “I Want To Leave America,” came out earlier this month.

“We put out our album last year and we had been playing some of the songs for the last five years, and when we went to go tour the album, we were playing in these cool venues, and we wanted to show our raw, dangerous side, where we may hit the wrong notes and have so much fun doing it, and we wanted to capture that,” Cochran said. “In the midst of the quarantining, a lot of these venues are struggling and shutting down. At the time, we saw this as a really beautiful part of our career and our focus is to get to those big venues—9:30 Club, Anthem—but we wanted to share how fun and exciting these other venues are.”

Eventually, a live album will be released featuring all of the fan-favorite tracks.

“We always get such great feedback at our live shows, and the music is just so different than our recorded music, and we wanted to capture that,” Gorman said. “In the moment, we lose ourselves and the crowd goes with us. These are dream-like rock-n’-roll experiences and we just wanted to capture that." 

The duo has written a number of new songs during the pandemic and are already planning the next album of new material. 

But it’s not just music that draws the two together. They both have a strong interest in biking, are involved in environmental activism, and both even interned on a farm their senior year of college, which led to managing the farm for two years together.

Currently, the duo is also working with the non-profit organization HeadCount, encouraging voter registration.

“We want to raise awareness and get people signed up to vote,” Cochran said. “We’re taking time each week to make sure people are registered and know where their polling place is. We need a lot of voter turnout this year. I know what it’s like to be 18, 19, 20, and be toned out to the whole thing. We want to help them pay attention and be involved.”

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