JCK contacted me through Instagram about eight weeks ago now, asking me to check out their music. One gig and an interview later, I'm blessed to say I've become friends with the band.
I managed to catch up with Jack Parker lead vocals and guitar player from JCK a few weeks ago one night after work; only a week after their gig supporting Dolphin Centre along with Hurray For Tuesday (gig review) - here's how the conversation went.
Debbie: I'm not going to ask you where the name JCK came from because your name's Jack.
Debbie: ... and people were chanting JCK at your gig. Jack plays guitar, Harrison plays bass and Harry plays drums so we know that too. There is the Manchester/Eastbourne connection and I know a little bit about that, but how did you guys meet?
Jack: I used to have a friend that was really close to me that I hung around with in Year 3 and she left.
Debbie: Ahh... where you really good friends?
Jack: Yeah we were thick as thieves... She moved away but her Grandma stayed up here and so she used to come up like twice a year. When I got old enough I was like yeah, I might try going down there.
I went down, but before I went down the first time, there was a guy called Harry Hibbs (the drummer) he dropped me message on Instagram saying I've heard some of your stuff, I really like it and I was wondering if you wanna jam?
I wasn't in a band at the time, so I said, definitely - I thought let's see what happens. I sent them a few songs and then they picked their favourite ones. Harry and Harrison came up with their own pieces to these songs and then I went down to see my friend and then nipped out for a bit of band practice. We got it right first time with one of the songs.. I forget the name, as it was before we actually named songs!
Debbie: Do you remember what it was like the first practice?
Jack: It was just easy and fun. I didn't know these people but as soon as we started jamming we clicked as a group. We loved it, but we thought there's no way we can push this as a project because I'm all the way over here (Manchester) and you're all the way over there (Eastbourne)..... Obviously I could do it when I'm down, but there's no way you would even dream of doing it. I think that itch to do this wouldn't go away for any of us; then I tried to do other stuff. I went to music University jamming with other people and it just wasn't the same. Even to the point of coming up to our first gig we weren't really sure if we'll do it... we promised to practice every other weekend to see how it went for us... it was incredible for us!
Debbie: where was your first gig?
Jack: It was at The Eagle in Salford; tiny, tiny venue and it was packed out as well.
Debbie: No way... Was that a headline gig?
Jack: No, it was supporting Dolphin Centre and they gave us the opportunity so we're really grateful because without that opportunity this might not have happened. Loads of Harrison's mates came up I think he brought up about 20 people, which from where he comes from is amazing for such a small local gig. It just doesn't happen. So they brought the atmosphere and it all went from there.
We said let's stop saying no; let's stop saying if; let's give this a go and see how many people feel the same way as we do about it.
Debbie: The stuff that Harry saw of you, was that online?
Jack: Yeah. I used to write my songs and post a few bits on Instagram and got a few nice comments and I was just like.... oh that's cool.....not to go on too much of a tangent, but I think that when you do your own stuff you sometimes can't see what other people can.
It feels like it's just you and that other people wouldn't be that interested. But they were, and I was like this is cool. Obviously to the point where Harry got in touch with me and we started to jam. I think that it's just not to get in your own bubble too much, worrying about what people will think.
If people aren't gonna play it; they're not gonna play it.
You know maybe one day people will get involved in a negative day, but I'm sure they'll get drowned out by the amount of people who are being positive and pushing it in the right direction. It's all about being round people who do like you, who are pushing you in the right direction.
Debbie: The thing that really struck me when I first met you was that there's a real electricity between you all. You all came up as one to meet me. I was expecting Joe your brother who messaged me through Instagram to come up so when you as a band came up to see me I was taken aback! The energy you guys have; the fact you took time out to come and speak to me before the gig that was really special! I really appreciated it.
Jack: Yeah. I think that's important. It's something we've discussed as a group. That you know the basis of what we're doing is we're a pack of brothers and we want to share that feeling with everyone, and that's at the core of everything. Obviously we might have our difficulties and we might be wrapped up in getting ready for the gig; but if people come to see you and appreciate you, us three need to appreciate that. I'm more surprised at the fact that you're saying that's special, because I think that's the least you can do. If people are taking time out of their busy schedule and spending their money to come and see you, you can at least take the time to come and say hello to them.
Debbie: What's the best thing about being in JCK?
Jack: The best thing, my absolute favourite, favourite bit is when us 3 are together and we might have been jamming for 2 or 3 hours and it's going absolutely appallingly. You know Harry's tired..... Harrison wants to go for too many cigs...take too many breaks and it all comes together at the end and we write a new song. Our favourite way of being, and I think a lot of writers are like this. We like to be in a continuous flow of writing, so we might have been working for 3 hours and it's not happened and we take a break and come back and it’s all done in 15 minutes.
We can feel it in the room, you forget that you're playing instruments and once we felt that, you know we get excited. That's gotta be my favourite.
Debbie: So who does most of the writing?
Jack: I do both mine and the lyrics. Harrison is getting more into writing too. Harry does his bits too. I think for the initial idea most things start with me because I come to the practices with more up my sleeve.... but without Harrison saying come on, let's pull out this or let’s try this that's where the details come from. Harry brings a bit more energy to the music. He's like nah we need more.. I think left up to me, we would probably do slow acoustic ones. So to summarise... I'm the initial idea, Harrison's the developer and Harry's the energy.
Debbie: So who's on your playlist at the moment?
Jack: We've found with doing these interviews is that we don't come from a massive band background. We love our hip hop.
Debbie: That's cool.
Jack: American hip hop, UK hip hop... So Hypho, we listen to a lot of them. Ocean Wisdom. I think what we get from that is.... that we get a lot from playing in a band, we love our instruments but we love the story telling that you get from hip hop, you know some of the emotion that you get from hip hop. I love Big L. He passed away quite young. There's this interview he did with JayZ before he got really massive and he's absolutely tearing the mic up.. I just wish he could've lived longer and made more music you know?
Debbie: I love JayZ ! I think The Black Album is phenomenal.
Jack: It's good.
Debbie: I used to listen to Ice T too, I've seen his rock band Bodycount. It was one of the craziest gigs I've been to. There were 2 guys either end of the stage smoking cigars the whole time! If you look at films from that era; Boyz in the Hood and bands like Public Enemy....
Jack: Yeah my brother listens to Public Enemy... but you know we can't pull off the gold teeth (laughs)
Debbie: It's really funny but your energy is so visceral, and it's not like some indie 3 piece bands you'll see.. You're so bouncy on stage and other bands just don't do that.
Jack: Yeah it's a big thing for us just to make it a dance. You know I write lyrics and I sing melodies and I as a listener, when I go to gigs, I'm not really singing. I'm just dancing and it doesn't really matter if I don't know the words.
I want people who come and see us to feel like that. I don't want them to feel like they have to know all the words... I love it when they sing it's great to be as one together - I also don't want people to feel alienated by not knowing all the lyrics.
I want people to come to the gig for the first time and even though they don't know all the songs or lyrics, to feel part of it. I want it to be inclusive of everyone and hopefully that comes across.
Debbie: It does and I'm not just saying that because you're sitting opposite me either. Obviously you guys brought your crowd. I'd listened to Night & Day, but the other songs even though I didn't know them I still felt a part of it.
Jack: Exactly yeah, so it's going the way we want it to.
Debbie: If you weren't a musician what would you do?
Jack: I would actually take my job far more seriously (laughs)..... I'm an accounts assistant which is as far from rock n roll as you can get... I did grow up loving maths and call it geeky but I love it.
Debbie: No it's good because when you guys get signed you won't get ripped off so it's all good.
Jack: I really enjoy numbers, the business aspect of it and being aware of business start-ups and playing your money right. So I'd probably do that.
Debbie: So outside of music what do you really like doing?
Jack: I've started doing this again recently, I absolutely love skateboarding. For the same reason that I enjoy music and accounting. when I'm doing it I'm not thinking about anything but doing it and that's it. You take away from any worries or anything else going on that might be negative.. you're just in the moment and I love it.
Debbie: It sounds quite meditative the way you're describing it.
Jack: If I could be like that 24/7 I'd love it.
Debbie: If you could bottle it and sell it you would be rich (both laugh).
Debbie: So what's next for JCK?
Jack: Release more tunes; get more active on gigging; get to a position that we're not just putting on gigs; playing more radio slots. Going places where we meet other people who are doing what we're doing.
I'm not gonna lie I want to find as many people who feel the way as I do about music, and maybe people who feel excluded from other things that they can find a home that we're making.
What I wanna make, what would be completely ideal is if this time next year; we've got some kind of community and I don't mind if it's not for being in a band.
Debbie: It almost sounds like Bang Bang Romeo's Army (BBRA). It's just one big community that looks out for each other.
Jack: Yeah exactly.....
Debbie: Like a brotherhood and as a trans woman it's really funny saying that...(both laugh).
I have to say that Gulliver’s was amazing! Is every gig like that?
Jack: Thank you. Erm... the majority seem to be like that - a lot of dancing. Obviously we've had our empty rooms we played a few months ago.
That was one of the first punches to our gut. Obviously we understood that it's not just writing and rocking up to the venue and playing. So rather than being defeated by it, we're learning from it and we're learning to avoid as many empty rooms as possible (laughs).
Debbie: How long have you guys been rehearsing?
Jack: It wasn't regular at first, but about 3 years ago and maybe once every 3 months...So we used to chase our tail a little bit.
Debbie: Was the magic there even then?
Jack: Definitely! We've always managed to write something with every session. We'll always try and finish what we're doing. If you've got a window and you're not going to see each other for a few months you can't come away with nothing can you?
Debbie: Nah not really.. a hangover maybe? (both laugh) So how many gigs have you guys done?
Jack I think about 6 or 7? We started April this year. One of the biggest advantages of the north/south split is I can get my family involved in promoting the gigs up here and they can do the same down there. We're taking a bit of a break now; we've got 2 more this year. One down south 26th October The Cross Bar in Eastbourne and on the 1st November we've got another one in Manchester details to be released soon....
Debbie: Finally what's the most embarrassing album in your collection? I'll share you mine, it's Spice Girls - Spice!
Jack: That's some classic! (laughs)... It's probably a greatest hits album. I think it's actually Elton John.
Debbie: That's actually really cool as a song writer and lyricist he's amazing.
Jack: Yeah he's done some good bits... he's coming up!
Thanks to Jack for taking the time out to chat to me, I love his passion for music and his whole philosophy around inclusion for all.
Check these guys out live, they will blow you away!