Jape is the solo project of Richie Egan, bass player with Irish instrumental rock group the Redneck Manifesto. Very much the band's musical alter ego, Jape has little in common with the Redneck Manifesto, excepting perhaps the left-field but accessible approach both take to their styles of music. Jape's music is primarily of the folky singer/songwriter mold, with alternative rock and electronic overtones, and comparisons have been made between Jape and both Beck (a noted influence) and David Kitt, with whom Jape collaborated to produce the 2004 single "Floating."
Richie Egan earned his stripes as a multi-instrumentalist in the hardcore punk scene of late-'90s Dublin, before forming the Redneck Manifesto in August 1999. Taking musical and methodological cues from the early post-hardcore (Fugazi) and post-rock (Slint, Shellac) scenes, the Redneck Manifesto issued their first single on their own Greyslate Records in 2000, and a year later were signed to nascent French label RedF Records. Their 2001 debut, ThirtySixStrings, won the band plenty of admirers both at home and in Europe, and less than 12 months later the follow-up, Cut Your Heart Off from Your Head, was issued. The following summer saw the band headline above the Mars Volta at the Witnness Festival, then Ireland's largest music festival. At the same time, Egan was preparing his debut album for release via Dublin's Volta Records (the Frames, Messiah J and the Expert); Cosmosphere was released in a limited run of 5,000 copies.
In 2004, both Jape and the Redneck Manifesto were signed with Dublin indie label Trust Me I'm a Thief. A double release was planned for September: the Redneck Manifesto's third full-length, I Am Brazil, which was recorded in the south of France with producer Dave Odlum (Kila, the Frames), and Jape's second album, The Monkeys in the Zoo Have More Fun Than Me. Widely acknowledged as a superior effort to his debut, The Monkeys in the Zoo gave rise to the minor hit "Floating," which was co-produced by fellow Dubliner Kitt. The single made an unexpected fan of American power pop artist Brendan Benson, who heard it by chance in a bar in Dublin, and wound up covering it regularly with the Raconteurs on their 2006 tour. ~ Dave Donnelly