Lucas Jack
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Lucas Jack

San Antonio, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

San Antonio, Texas, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"After Leaving Music for Law, Lucas Jack Returns Home to Kalamazoo"

Saturday night, singer and pianist Lucas Jack will return home when he takes the stage at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe. Jack’s musical journey has wound its way from Michigan to Chicago to Texas. But it all started in downtown Kalamazoo, inside a wine bar called Webster’s Prime. Jack was all of 17 years old. And his fans didn’t dance or jump around as much as bob their heads to his piano melodies.

Listen Listening...4:12 WMUK's story on singer-pianist Lucas Jack
"Yeah, it was definitely not the punk-rock club, the indie-rock club experience that you might think it was," he says.

Jack says the job was simple: play a few Billy Joel covers and keep people happy. Not exactly rock star stuff, but a start.

"I could probably only play 30 songs or something. But it was a really good experience of learning how to interact with crowds and getting people involved," Jack says. And learning how to sing a song and have people interrupt you and play a different song. That's something that every piano player has to deal with. That's something I certainly have grown accustomed to."

But once Jack left Kalamazoo and headed to college, he was forced to confront the classic conundrum for a young artist. Do you pursue your dream? Or go for a stable career?

Jack chose stability. In his case, that meant majoring in accounting. Then when he didn’t like that, he set his sights to law school, then a lawyer job in Chicago. He says he never liked the job – too much paperwork and day-to-day monotony. But what kept him going was his double life, as a musician.

His band played late at night, very much a side job. But they were successful nonetheless, even playing four straight years at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee.

"And that really gave me a taste of what it would be like to be a full-time musician playing in front of thousands of people all the time," he says. "And really, playing all those years at Bonnaroo, is what got me thinking, I don't want to be a lawyer anymore."

The breaking point for Jack was a moment in 2011. He was talking with his then-girlfriend (now wife). She was in the Air Force, about to be stationed in Texas. He planned on going with her. So when she asked him what he’d do in Texas, he said:

"You know, I want to quit being a lawyer and I want to play music."

"I thought she might buy that," Jack says. "She didn't realize that you make no money doing it. She may have been a little naive to that. But she just said, 'Oh, okay, that sounds good. You should do that.'"

"And I was shocked that she said that. And from the moment she said that, I decided I'm gonna do what everybody's been telling me to do my whole life and just write songs and sing songs," he says. "And from that moment, that permission, I guess, that this wonderful woman would still marry me, even if I was just this broke musician, that moment in time was when my whole life changed."

Suddenly, life was music, 24-7. Jack was writing or performing every night. It all made him reconsider what kind of music he was playing. His style used to be more theatric. Soaring ballads that went on for seven or eight minutes. Not exactly the stuff you want to hear at a club.

"But I've moved away from that now that I'm at that these clubs, realizing that I need to be a little more accessible and something that rocks a little more and drives a little more," he says. "So over the last year, my sound has definitely transitioned from ballads into more straightforward rock songs."

Jack says it’s not just the music that’s changed, either. The office is gone, now replaced by just his family and his piano.

“I walk my girls to school in the morning, with a stroller," he says. "And every minute of every day I'm doing something that I really, really, really love to do. It's actually a lot harder, it's a lot more time consuming cause I can never just leave work and forget about it. I lay in bed and I think about it.”

Jack continues: "I have a lot more passion for every moment I'm alive, because I have this huge goal which is just to get my songs in front of as many people as I can. And I'm always working towards it. I feel like my life has more purpose rather than just being stuck on cruise control in the office."

That passion will take Jack back to Kalamazoo. It’s here that he’ll try to show his old friends – and himself – that taking the risk was worth it.


"From Law Man To Piano Man: Lucas Jack Connects With His True Passion"

A few years ago bankruptcy attorney Lucas Jack discovered that law wasn’t his real calling and decided to pursue his true passion—music.

Listen Listening...7:15
When attorney-turned-songwriter Lucas Jack sat down to write material for his latest album, Before I Forget, he was faced with an unusual task. He had to learn to write songs all over again—mostly at the insistence of his producer, Mack Damon.

“He didn’t like any of the songs I brought him. He said, ‘I think you need to write new songs that are pop friendly.' I was writing songs that were five or six minutes long, and they had five, six, seven verses—all kinds of weird instrumental stuff in the middle of them," Jack says. "He said, ‘Look, you need to cut out all the fat and maybe start over.’ So, I just wrote a whole bunch of new songs under his guidance. He said, ‘Make ‘em between three and four minutes. He really helped me to become a better songwriter.”

He admits that working with Damon wasn’t always easy but his background in law prepared him for some of the more heated arguments.

“I fought with him a lot on tons of stuff but I think iron sharpens iron, and we fought and fought and fought over a lot of stuff," he says. "But I really didn’t ever take it personally. I just wanted the songs to be better. So, it wasn’t really that difficult for me, especially coming from a background of being an attorney—that’s a pretty confrontational environment to be in all the time. Everybody’s arguing with each other constantly.”

Working in this new pared-down style still provided its challenges, such as on the album’s opening tune “You Belong To The City Now.”

“That song had much simpler chords than I was used to writing," Jack says. "And that, to me, was a very poppy sound that I didn’t used to write with but that’s what we were going for. "I sat there at the piano for hours and hours and hours and tried to think, ‘What would this piano intro sound like if it were something I might hear on the radio.’”

This new style didn’t just require Jack to consider simpler chord structures. He also had to more carefully choose his words for lyrics.

“I used to have an unbelievable number of internal rhymes and alliterations," Jack says. "I was just sort of acrobatic and I had to really simplify that. There still is a lot of internal rhyming and wordplay and stuff like because I really do enjoy smart lyrics or interesting rhymes, but I had to cut most of that out and I think it makes for a better song.”

It just doesn't feel right to me, sitting at a have to see the guy's ankles. It just looks so much cooler to have a piano. There's nothing more lame than seeing 'man ankles.'
And better became a word that Jack returned to several times throughout the recording of the album, including on the song “Go,” a tune that came about at producer Mack Damon’s insistence.

“We were sitting around in the studio and he said, ‘You know, we need some more up-tempo songs. We need some fun stuff, we need some summery kind of songs. We need a song like that.’ So I tried and tried to write a song like that," Jack says. "I’d had the opening riff for a long time but never knew what to do with it. So I decided to write a song with a chant in it, that ‘Gooooo.’

“And then I moved it over from piano to a Wurlitzer sound," he says. "That really made it into more of a funky sounding song. Then we added a bass line that was funky, and it turned into a funky, light-hearted summery kind of song.”

Jack is currently supporting the album with a run of dates through the Midwest with his brand of upright piano rock. True to the name he dreamed up for his brand of music, it features Jack playing piano—a piano that he brings with him to each city. That’s not the easiest instrument to bring to a gig.

“It’s extremely heavy. But it’s part of our show," Jack says. "I want to bring back an organic sound of someone playing a real piano and someone playing a real bass and someone playing real drums. Also, it just doesn’t feel right to me, sitting at a keyboard. First of all it’s kind of lame to look at because you have all of these wires sticking out the back of what is essentially just a big computer with keys. Then you have to see the guy’s ankles. It just looks so much cooler to have a piano. There’s nothing more lame than seeing 'man ankles.'”

Lucas Jack performs this Thursday evening at Barleycorn’s.

LUCAS JACK - KMUW 89.1 Wichita Public Radio

"NAPTOWN VIRGIN: Lucas Jack makes his first Indianapolis appearance at Union 50 tonight!"

I’ve been following Houston songwriter Lucas Jack now for several years, since the first moment I heard his album Sun City and wrote about it here. That album unfortunately never got the traction he wanted (explained further in the Q&A below) but he’s had the option to “trim the fat” and relaunch the album under the name Before I Forget, traveling the country and giving these cinematic songs the live treatment they clearly deserve.

I sat down to talk with him by phone earlier this week, in advance of his Union 50 debut here in Indianapolis. It’s a free show, so there’s no excuse not to spend your Friday evening downtown hearing some great music. Show starts at 10:30! And read on below for his take on turning Sun City into Before I Forget, the cinematic lyricism of Billy Joel, and why he’s really excited to start playing Indianapolis on a regular basis.


It’s funny, because I recently was sent a copy of your new album for possible review, and after listening I realized it was mostly the same songs as Sun City.

Yeah, I sold out of Sun City, I sold all my CDs and I got a new manager, and the new manager was like ‘we need to work on new product,’ all of this stuff. And he basically said I had too many slow songs. We needed to take the five or six slow songs out and get it remastered to make it a little bit louder. Then we were able to re-release it in a better way, because the first time I released it I just put it on iTunes, you know? I didn’t do it right. So this time I tried to do things the right way. For the thousand people who bought Sun City and they come to a show and say ‘is this the new album?’ I tell them they can just have it because I know they already bought it. But for the most part, most of the world had never heard Sun City, so Before I Forget is new to them. I have a ton of new songs that I just can’t wait to get back into the studio and record. And I usually don’t bring this up, I just bring it up with you because we did talk about Sun City before [back in 2013].

Plus I’m old school, right? I’ve been following you for a while.

Yeah, it was my first release and I just didn’t do it the right way so not enough people heard it. But Before I Forget is really a remastered, re-released trimming-of-the-fat edition of my first record. And I’m really actually much happier with the way the songs flow and the way the whole album works. I do have a couple new songs I like to play at shows.

I was going to say, because you’d talked in the past about all the new songs you had ready, and you were excited to get around to recording them. It sounded like that kind of got put on hold.

We play all the new songs live. We recorded a live album when we played at the Majestic Theater in San Antonio, the show where we opened for Foreigner … we recorded that show and that has a bunch of new songs on it.

How did the Foreigner fans react to your music?

Man, it was by far our best show. Everyone there was really into it. When people pay $80 for a ticket they’re usually a little more attentive. We made so many new fans at that show — I still have people who come up to me and say ‘hey, I haven’t seen you since Foreigner, but I’ve been following you online!’ We must have made a thousand fans that night, we sold two hundred CDs, it was phenomenal.

Of course in general the days of selling music are over. CDs are the promotion for a live show, and I’m thrilled about that because I’m much happier on stage than I am in the studio. I like recording and I really enjoy songwriting, but what I really like is performing. And I want to sell people music if they want to support what I do, but I would rather have them come out to a show and sell the ticket to a show than a piece of plastic with my songs on it.

Do you like to twist the songs up when you play them live, do they grow with the audience?

I really like playing new songs for a crowd. I play new stuff all the time. I write a song a week, something at that pace, so I have tons of songs and I try them out constantly. I’ve had some die-hard fans who come to all my shows, and those are the fans I really target — they’re part of my process. And what I like about playing live is I can change the song if there something I don’t like. I can change lyrics I don’t like, last night I changed the lyrics to a chorus and it was so much better. Of course I had to tell my bass player who was singing harmony, so he had to remember a new lyric. My bandmates aren’t always crazy about it. But there’s no mystery involved, I write a song and I want to get it out there. I write songs that I hope will connect with people and you really get to feel that if it happens at a live show. And if a song doesn’t work you get to see that too. After you’ve played it enough times you know when to just shelve one.

I’ve always liked your lyricism. I’m glad to see “Paralyzed” still made it on the new record because as far as the lyric goes, that song is the most cinematic you’ve got.

I can feel that song every time I sing it. It’s a very specific song about a very specific night in my life … walking up to my gate and it’s raining, walking inside, upstairs, through the bedroom and then laying down on the ‘frozen bathroom tiles.’ It’s just a vignette of one night and it makes it easier for me to sing and stay passionate about these songs, because they are so specific to my experience. I really feel like I’m telling a story every time, in particular with that song.

It reminds me a lot of Brenda and Eddie from “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” by Billy Joel, as if we can peer in on their lives twenty years later.

I love that song! ‘A couple of paintings from Sears, a big waterbed that they bought with the bread they had saved for a couple of years.’ We listened to that song … my band doesn’t listen to a lot of pop music, they’re into jazz, music-major types. They have degrees, and are very very good at what they do. But I make them listen to these old Billy Joel songs and we listened to “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” and they really liked it! I said we had to learn how to play it, because of course it has three different movements, key changes and some really significant time and tempo shifts. But that’s such a great tune and I definitely appreciate it — I’m a huge Billy Joel fan, and i’ve always appreciated how vivid the pictures he painted of people were. People, places, towns … if you listen to a Billy Joel song you know what he’s singing about.

I’ve wondered in the last couple years, have you had any new people you’ve found who inspire you when you get the chance to listen to new music?

I really like the new Dawes album, All Your Favorite Bands it’s called. I’ve listened to it at least fifty times. I just saw them in Austin and actually got a chance to talk to the guys again. I’d met them at Bonnaroo, then saw them again backstage at Stubbs and it was phenomenal. But I also love Langhorne Slim and the Law …

I love them!

I met him in Austin too and got into his music. I also really like Jason Isbell, his Southeastern was just a great album and he followed it up with another that’s really really good. I’d say it might even be better than Southeastern.

I thought it was great when Bruce Springsteen dropped his name last year in an interview, pulling him up on his iPod playlist and calling him an amazing songwriter.

I should pull up my playlist and tell you all the people I’ve been listening to. I’ve been riding in the van a lot, and when I ride I don’t always listen to music … sometimes I listen to audiobooks. I read it years and years ago but I’ve been listening to “Underworld” by Don DeLillo, which is a really great book. My desert island book would be “White Noise” by DeLillo.

I could tell you read a lot when I realized how much “Bonfire of the Vanities” influence there was on “You Belong to the City Now.”

I love “Bonfire of the Vanities.” [Returns to playlist.] I know everybody’s already onto this guy but the band Bahamas, they’ve got a great new record. There’s a song called “Waves” and I’ve been really jamming that. I’ve been listening to a lot of Bob Dylan lately, Blonde on Blonde, Visions of Johanna, and on repeat the other day, maybe twenty times in a row, I listened to “Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts,” one of the songs he never performs live. But it’s a crazy song about the Jack of Hearts in this bar … nobody knows what the song means, and of course Dylan is so cryptic he’ll never explain what his songs mean.

And even if he tells you you’ll never know it’s true.

No, he’s funny. But yeah I’ve been listening to a lot of Dylan, Leonard Cohen, he’s had a flurry of new work coming out and I’m so happy for it.

So is this your first proper road-trip getting outside of Texas?

We took a tour to a lot of these cities last year but we played smaller clubs and we didn’t have a manager. So, like a lot of things, I just kind of threw the tour together and got gigs where I could. We didn’t get radio or press in any of the cities, so we didn’t have great turnout. This time around we’re doing everything a little bit more ‘correct.’

So have you played in Indianapolis before?

We didn’t play Indy last time. So this is going to be the very first time we play Indianapolis, is at Union 50. But hopefully we’re going to be coming back in November or December and start touring, playing Indianapolis once every four months or so. Indianapolis is a really cool market. I’ve been really watching Indianapolis because it’s always near to shows I’m booking, like Chicago … or Kalamazoo [laughs]. And Indy’s really seemed to have a renaissance as far as Downtown, local music. There are so many more places to play. When I was in college in Chicago, people didn’t go to Indianapolis to see shows … I knew people from Indianapolis and there just weren’t as many places in 2000 as there are in 2015, there are so many cool clubs now.

We played Little Rock this tour and had a really great show at a place called Juanitas, and they liked us so much they offered us an opening slot for Phantogram and Matt Kearney, so we’re playing a couple sold-out shows in support as well. Those are exactly the fans we’re trying to make, and it’s a really great club in Little Rock, right on the river. We also had a really great show in Wichita, got a lot of support and good press there, and a good show in Norman [Okla.], and 250 people who showed up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. That’s where I grew up, the hometown show, so it was a lot of friends and family … in fact one girl who opened for us, Megan Hickman, she’s from Chicago, she’s going to be playing Union 50 in Indianapolis about a week after us. We’re going to follow each other around the country, since she’s on tour as well. - Hear! Hear! Music Blog


Still working on that hot first release.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Currently at a loss for words...

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