You don’t have to be a badass guitarist and songwriter to hang your keys like a rockstar thanks to Pluginz keychains. In February of 2015, Atreyu guitarist Dan Jacobs and his brother Joe Jacobs were approached by Mike Stricklin with a prototype for a key rack. The idea was simple– a logical remedy for never losing your keys that music fans across the globe can’t help but dig. They would achieve this by designing and manufacturing a mini guitar cable plug, that’s about a quarter inch in length and dangles alongside your keys. This is then plugged into a vintage inspired amp that mounts to your wall. Taking it one step further in design, collaborations would ensue with your favorite bands and brands as the company grew.
But before they did unnecessary legwork and dialed in production, they wanted to check in with the community and enlist their support. “We upgraded the product and began a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising $2,000” Dan told me during our phone interview; taking a brief pause from the Atreyu Long Live Tour. They ended up raising closer to $11,000 instead and within a few months their 'how to' hang your keys like a rockstar tagline, alongside their Pluginz products, went viral on Reddit and beyond.
“Within minutes we started getting orders. We never thought it would go like that and soon retailers from all over the world hit us up out of nowhere. Guitar World, Revolver Magazine and 100.3 The Sound were talking about hanging your keys like a rockstar.” Today the company has created custom Pluginz for Morgan Amplification, Friedman, Coldcock Whiskey, (Marshall Amplification is in the works), as well as bands like Beartooth, Warrant and, of course, Atreyu. “Almost every week we release a new product on our website that is branded to a band. For them its a new way to market themselves and for us its a great way to get our product to music fans. There’s not a bigger music fan than the ones that go to shows.”
This isn’t the first time the Jacobs brothers have launching a success brand. In 2007 they created Rokk clothing. “It was kind of a classic concert t-shirt, or metal rock t-shirt, vibe” Dan says. “It was in Hot Topic and a bunch of famous people started to wear it from Kat Von D, at the Bravo Awards, to former heavy weight champion Josh Barnett and former light heavy weight champion Chuck Liddell. It was going pretty well but our biggest turning point was Monster Energy drink.” Atreyu was endorsed by Monster, at the time, and reached out to their friend Hamilton, a classic rock fan, at Monster that was quickly onboard. “We made their first shirts which were Def Leppard influenced. They loved it, ordered it, and we started making a bunch more.” By 2009 they had become Rock World Merchandise, scoring deals with Rockstar Energy Drinks, Nekter Juice Bar, COLDCOCK Whiskey and Orange County breweries like Bottle Logic, Left Coast and The Bruery.
The Jacobs brothers continue to be masters in creating a product that is both aesthetically engaging and serves a purpose. They have also become Jedi’s in the art of creating a product that everyone wants to put their name on. Through these entrepreneurial ventures, Dan says, he’s become a better musician. “Getting to interact with clients and collaborate is a huge accomplishment. I’ve learned a lot through both companies as I go and once I came back to my band I had a clear idea of what was going on– why we made money in a certain situation or why we didn’t. Having a better grasp on how business works has helped us run our band.”
When Dan isn't touring the world, sipping his favorite whiskey, being included in The 20 Best OC Albums of 2015 or finding new ways to grow his existing companies, you can find him dreaming of his first restaurant venture. “I’ve had a few opportunities but I didn’t want to bite off more than I can chew, no pun intended.”