Los Angeles-based outfit the Jacks will issue their self-titled debut EP on June 28 on Edgeout Records/UMe. The group proudly distinguishes itself as a rock ‘n’ roll band at a time when subgenres have seemingly overridden the music in its purest form. A heavy emphasis on hooks and good old rock ‘n’ roll attitude reveal themselves on the single “Walk Away”. Raw and sincere in all the best ways, the track is specifically designed for the live environment where the listener can throw up their sweaty hands and sing along in unapologetic glee.
“You can fall into a pattern, a routine. You know something’s not the best for you, but you keep going back to it,” guitarist/vocalist Jonny Stanback says. “Everyone understands that cycle, and we wanted to express that feeling in a song.”
Stanback also spoke with PopMatters about the band’s formation and future.
What’s the musical landscape in Southern California like for a band like yours?
I think we’re at a weird point. There’s a lot of electronic music, hip-hop. Rock is probably not as strong a genre as it used to be. But we’ve found this small group of bands who are all excited about playing live music. I think even though rock ‘n’ roll isn’t as popular as it once was the tide is turning a little bit.
You distinguish yourselves as a rock and roll band as opposed to a rock band.
It was what we were all excited about. I feel that there was a distinction between the bands we listened to and the mainstream rock genre. The bands from the ’60s and ’70s, then Cage the Elephant, Oasis, we think they have a certain roll to them. There’s a laid-back feel; they’re not trying too hard.
There has been that fragmenting of “this is post-hardcore grind, not post-hardcore post-rock screamo”. But the bands you mentioned, they don’t really sound alike. They’re playing the music and not the genre.
It doesn’t have to be cut up into those niche genres. We’re making music we like, and we think it’s rock ‘n’ roll. When there are divisions like that, it becomes, “If you’re a post-hardcore band, you can’t play that chord.” With rock ‘n’ roll it’s a little more open.
How did you select material for this record?
Playing them live is a good vetting process. There are certain songs that we think are good, then we play them live and see that maybe they don’t work in front of an audience. We’ll go back, make it better, figure out the arrangement. We feel like this is the best material we have at this time.
The members all see the lyrics before a song’s finished. That’s unusual. I know so many guys who hear their records, let’s say they’re a drummer, and they go, “Oh, that’s what that song’s about?”
[Laughs.] It can be tough at times, but it’s never going to be as good when everybody’s contributing. We like having songs that everybody’s excited about.
You’ve started a rock ‘n’ roll band in 2019.
[Laughs.] We’re crazy.
Why do that at a time when all the signs say it’s a terrible time to be a musician?
People can chase success, the charts. We’re playing music that we’re excited about. I don’t think the four of us could do anything that sounded different. Time will tell if the world can respond to this style of rock ‘n’ roll again, but this is the music we had to make.