Who says rock is dead? Not the four guys from Los Angeles known as The Jacks. This band formed a few years ago with the intent to marry their love of British Invasion and Southern Rock with a framework that is consistent with today's sound.
The band is made up of Jonny Stanback (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), Tom Hunter (lead guitar/vocals), Scott Stone (bass guitar/vocals) and Josh Roossin (drums/percussion). They got their band name from a fan who pronounced them as "jacks of all trades" for their ability to accurately capture the sound of many different eras during their epic four-hour shows.
"We're trying to push the boundaries of the rock & roll genre by incorporating modern elements, but still keeping the core structure of a four-piece band," says Stanback. "We are creating a sound that feels familiar, but is completely ours."
The guys won a battle-of-the-bands in 2017 with a recording contract as the prize. Feeling the situation was not quite right for them, they passed on the offer, opting instead to sign with EDGEOUT / UME. Their self-titled debut was released last year to much acclaim and the band hit the road for a rigorous schedule that also included appearances at the NFL Super Bowl pre-party and the NHL Winter Classic.
Last month saw the release of their sophomore release Remember You. Like their debut, the record is full of high-energy rock with no filler. Josh Roossin took a few minutes to answer some questions about the record
antiMusic: Listening to the new EP. there is an energy that drives the whole set. I'm getting a Strokes vibe but also a faint Stones kind of aesthetic that hangs in the background. Aside from "Olivia", the energy is apparent throughout. Was it the intention to make an EP to help keep things upbeat, rather than go a full-length record? Or did you just want to lead with the five strongest songs you had?
Josh: It was always our plan for the first year with EDGEOUT/UMG to release two EPs and to hold off on the full length album until the second year. These EPs showcase songs that we cut our teeth on touring during some of the earlier stages of the band. We love all the songs off both EPs, they are staples in our live set and they hold a lot of historical and sentimental significance to us. We are constantly writing and look forward to sharing all the new stuff that we are putting together for the album.
antiMusic: "Threw It All Away" features an infectious melody and memorable hook. What came first, the hook or the lyrics? Tell us about this song.
Josh: I remember Jonny coming to rehearsal with the main bones of this song. The hook and the lyrics for "Threw it All Away" were there during the first rehearsal, but the rest of the lyrics were pieced together further down the line. It's a very energetic song and it gets the heart rate up when we run it together as a band.
antiMusic: "We Were Only Young" shows the band in a reflective mood. What's the background on this one?
Josh: Tom actually wrote this one. This is his first song as the primary songwriter that we've recorded. I think Tom's writing takes a different approach and mood than Jonny's. I'm grateful to have both writing flavors in the band. I actually talked to Tom recently about this song as we were driving back from a show in Vegas. He said it's reflecting on moments in time in his life that he appreciates and remembers fondly and accepts he can never revisit them. It's kind of an introspective look on appreciating your time on earth, reflecting on the past with fondness yet remaining grounded in the present. Creating memories and enjoying them for what they are, but not living in a memory.
antiMusic: They say that the best way to know if a song is good is whether it can stand on its own in a stripped-down format. "Olivia" sounds like it would be a perfect campfire song, although it could also work in a ramped-up design. Give us the background on this song.
Josh: This song was always an acoustic tune. We tried playing it with a full band, but it never felt genuine enough to us in that arrangement. I never discussed the lyrics with Jonny actually, but my take is that "Olivia" deals with the emotions of a short-lived and naive young love.
antiMusic: "Only One" would be a great set-closer with its high energy tempo. However, one can only imagine you guys will look forward to leaning into this one wherever it ends up in the set. Anything you can tell us about this song?
Josh: This was the most recent song we wrote on Remember You. We collaborated a lot on the arrangement with our producer, Joe Chicarrelli. We loved the experience of bouncing ideas off of each other and experimenting on this tune.
antiMusic: I understand that "Just a Little Bit" was one of your earliest songs. Why is it only showing up now on your second record? Has it changed very much from your first version?
Josh: We love this song and have always closed our live set with this tune. We felt the original recording of this song didn't reflect the growth of the band, and since we wanted to continue to play it live we wanted the recording to match the raw vibe of our live show. Some lyrics and the arrangement were tweaked from the original recording, but we love the new spin we put on it.
antiMusic: For those of us that are new to The Jacks, please give us a bit of history on the band?
Josh: Tom Hunter (lead guitar) and Scott Stone (bass) have been childhood best friends since kindergarten playing music together in talent shows and garage bands. They met Jonny Stanback (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) at an open mic night in college and were blown away by his voice and original songs, and asked him to join. I got a phone call from Scott in 2017 as I was graduating college (we had a mutual friend that told him I played drums when they were looking to replace their first drummer) and I had my first rehearsal the day I got off the plane returning home from college.
We cut our teeth playing four-hour long cover shows at local bars to make money to record our original music. A lot has happened between now and then, but what hasn't changed is our love for creating the music that we want to hear in the world, and using all our energy to keep rock n roll alive.
antiMusic: With COVID-19 doing its thing, how is the band filling in the down-time?
Josh: The two things we've been really focusing on is writing songs for our first full-length album and engaging with our fans. We constantly talk with our fans online and get their input on what they would like to see more from us. Jonny and Tom have been writing non-stop. I'm very excited about all the songs I've been hearing and the engagement we've had with our fans. I think we will be a stronger band after the quarantine.
antiMusic: In a perfect world, everything would be back to normal by summer and live shows can be a thing again. What would you hope to happen in terms of touring once everything gets back to normal.
Josh: In a perfect world, all we can ask for is the safety of our fans to be secured and that everyone can safely enjoy the live show we are so eager to put back on. There are a lot of places we are excited to play on our rescheduled tour, but only time will tell if that can be a reality in the near future. Safety is our number one priority and we will hold out from touring as long as we need to.
Morley and antiMusic thanks Josh for taking the time to do this interview.
Preview the new record here