Thomas Hunter and Scott Stone go way back, having met when they were in kindergarten. With a mutual longtime love and passion for music, the duo have been playing music informally together since seventh grade. As one would imagine, knowing each other for nearly their entire lives has allowed them become pretty close. After growing up in Orange County and playing throughout their high school years, the duo slid up the freeway to attend college at USC.
Despite their long friendship — and noodling around — it wasn’t until last year, their senior year of college, that the duo decided they wanted to play music together in a more serious fashion.
“Back then it was mostly for fun,” Stone says. “We had a few original tunes, but mainly we were covering some of our favorite bands and musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, the Who and AC/DC, that kind of stuff.
Once deciding that music was their calling, the Fountain Valley-based group eschewed the usual rigors of applying for jobs and instead looked to fill out their new outfit’s lineup. At an open mic at the Ground Zero Performance Café venue on USC’s campus, they stumbled on Jonny Stanback who was belting out songs. Hanging out afterwards convinced the three (and their drummer at the time) they should forge ahead as a unit and thus, the Jacks were formed.
With a sound that’s inspired as much from classic rock as it is from the alternative boom of the ‘90s (Stone says they’re particularly fond of Oasis), the Jacks are positioning themselves as an emerging live act with an uptempo brand of no-frills rock.
In their 14 months since that encounter at Ground Zero, the Jacks have performed throughout Los Angeles and Orange County with a trip up north sprinkled in. As they’ve polished their live show since their initial formation, the quartet quietly composed a number of songs that will be on their debut EP. Though they’ve shared a few songs they were loosely working on in a short form release in the spring to show fans what they’re capable of and allowed them to get familiar with one another in a studio setting.
Recorded down near San Diego at Studio West, the five-song collection shows the promise that looms large for the group. As of now, the band is in the process of completing the final mixes ahead of it’s October 28 release date. The effort is sharper than those first few songs. With themes ranging from serious to sad, the ambitious ideas, Stone says, are prevalent throughout the EP. As are a couple of straight-up rockers about being young and having fun.
“At first, we really didn’t have a direction when we were writing,” the bassist explains. “Then our original drummer quit and our new drummer (Josh Roossin) came in with a better sense of direction for us. Pretty much every song that’s going on this EP we started writing in April.”
Without an extended release to their credit, the Jacks managed to put together enough songs to perform a 75-minute set of originals. Even with the EP on the way, the band continues to write and cobble together ideas with their sights set on releasing a full-length soon. For now, they’ll settle by finishing that, along with a string of local gigs, including at Indie Ignited at House of Blues Anaheim. Not bad for a band that are relative newbies.
“We’ve got our first single coming out at the end of September from the EP,” Stone says. “We’ve got a lot of plans for the rest of the year and it’s exciting that’s all coming together.”
The Jacks perform with The Palms, Foxtrax and Leo James Conroy at Indie Ignited at House of Blues Anaheim (Foundation Room), 400 Disney Way #337, Anaheim. (714) 778-2583, www.hob.com/anaheim. Fri., September 1. $13. All ages.
Daniel Kohn is a writer based in Southern California. With bylines in an assortment of outlets, Kohn primarily specializes in music with other interests ranging from sports to food. As a transplant, Kohn loves the beautiful weather and is glad he no longer has to deal with brutal winters. If you see him, say hi and of course, he’s always willing to down a beer or two…if you’re paying.