INTERVIEW: CHANDLER JACOB
THIRD GREY: What got you into music?
CHANDLER JACOB: Hands down, I would have to first credit my mom. She has been playing music for a long time. Before I was born, my dad got her a 12-string guild guitar. Music was almost instantaneous after I was born. My mom was writing a lot of songs on the piano, as well as on the guitar, and so music was there from the beginning.
I remember getting interested in music when my mom started doing VBS (vacation bible school). I was probably 9, and I remember wanting to get involved in the music and worship. At the time, I was also pretty heavily involved in theater stuff like "The Promise," which was a play put on by the church. I got drafted I guess, so as a very young kid I was into theater and music. My mom noticed that and said, "Maybe you can sing or learn the guitar."
My mom was always there to encourage me because her interest was songwriting, which was something that I came to love for myself. I mean, I can’t shred the guitar, but I love songwriting and that’s a big part of why I became a musician, as well as why I love to write songs.
So when I was maybe 12 years old, I had this PlayStation, the first one. It had just come out. I had games like Tekken and Gran Turismo…legit games (laughs). A friend of my brother-in-law came over to my house and said, "I'll trade you a guitar and amp for your PlayStation." So I traded him the PlayStation, all the games, plus like $20 that I had in my savings - I kept my money in a crayon box. That's when I started playing, and I started to love music and play music and write my own music and create my own form of therapy.
I also wanted to join the worship band at my church and my school, so worship was a big part of it. I honestly think that if the church wasn't there, I wouldn't be a musician. I guess what I mean is, I don't think I would have diligently gone home and practiced if I didn't know that on Sunday or Wednesday at youth group, I would be playing songs in front of people. So I practiced and practiced and it made me want to be better because I didn't want to mess up and make of fool of myself. There were youth group leaders that were very encouraging, and with that, I later felt like I could write my own music. I don’t know what I would be without music.
TG: When you first started writing songs, were they worship songs?
I wrote one song before I started writing what I would call “legitimate” songs. I played it at this youth-led church service, so I was able to play an original song. I guess it could be considered a worship song. I actually performed it in front of like 2000 people for two services. I think I was 13 at the time.
Actually, my sister wrote it with me (Amanda Haynes) and she sang with me for that service. It was her first performance, and I can remember us both being super nervous, closing our eyes the whole time thinking, Can we just get through this? That song was definitely spiritual. Now that I think about it, it’s like my life story.
The lyrics were "Toes touch the water, I go deeper, and then I realize that I'm surrounded by the water," or something like that. Basically, that's been my life story (laughs) - just drowning and then realizing that God can save me and take me from the water. Then the church decided that it was a worship song. They printed it out and started playing it at services, which was really bizarre to me because that wasn't my intention.
TG: With that, could you ever see yourself writing worship songs again?
I think that a lot of the songs that I write today still have a strong connection to that, whether it be doubt, or hope, or faith, or whatever my foundation is. I go back to that a lot. It's easy for me to write about hope, but it's also easy to write about doubt and being scared and lonely. It's easy for me to write about the things that I'm going through. I'm still dealing with a lot of shit, stuff from the church. But still to this day, at almost 30 years old, I'm still writing in that way. Hopefully, it's a way people connect with.
When you write songs, do you feel you need to be in a particular mood, or is there some theme that you chase?
It’s really easy for me to write when I’m in a place that I don’t want to be. I think it’s really easy to fall into that place. You can look at your life and think, I have a job. I have a place. I have a car. I have all these things. That can make you feel good. It’s also easy to slip into thinking, Well this sucks and things are difficult for me. That’s when I start writing.
I mean, I can talk about happy shit but I don't think anyone wants to hear about that. I'm not saying anyone that wants to write about that stuff is wrong or condemning that in any way, but for me it's easier to write about the things that I care about and the things that I'm dealing with that move me. I also write love songs when I feel in love, but there's a lot more time when I'm thinking, Fuck it all.
That’s something I think everyone goes through on a daily basis, and I think we all need that outlet. For me, songwriting is the outlet and the therapy. It’s like how Dilated Peoples said, “My lyrics take care of me, they therapy.” That’s the way I feel. When I feel like I’m in the dumps and I can write something that encapsulates how I feel, then I feel fulfilled. Then, maybe it can mean something to someone else, and maybe they can feel like they’re not alone in that. That is my main objective in songwriting.
What was the first album you released?
Honestly, Good Brother was my very first solo release, which was an EP I released in 2015. You can listen and download at https://goodbrotherband.bandcamp.com.
So, that EP is called Preface to the Haunting. Was there a theme when you first started creating this concept?
The concept came organically, which is a cliche thing to say, but it really did. It was originally going to be a full-length album, but after my good friend Joey Baxter finished the cover artwork, it was so dead-on to what I was trying to express that I ended up cutting some songs. I realized they didn't fully express what I was going for.
When I started writing the album, it wasn’t some grand idea or album scheme. All the songs started to come together and form this story, and with my religious background, it became this story of the prodigal son. To me, the song “Doomed” really epitomizes the concept and feeling of the EP, but I also believe it’s up to the interpretation of the listener.
How did Good Brother form, and what was the process leading up to Preface to the Haunting?
It was definitely a collaborative process. Good Brother formed when another band I’m in (The Ragged Jubilee) was recording in Redding, California. Austin I’anson and I wanted to do something different, so we wrote a song…we will probably put that one on the next Good Brother album.
We started writing more songs on the side, but at the time our main focus was on The Ragged Jubilee. The band took a hiatus in 2014, and so we decided to just go ahead and make the EP. I think it took us about 7 months start-to-finish, and our good friend Phillip Wahl (also in The Ragged Jubilee) played drums, mixed, and mastered it. I wrote all the songs, but as far as the orchestration, everyone crafted their own parts.
What musical projects are you currently working on?
The Ragged Jubilee recently released a free album, which is available at bit.ly/TRJSTG. We’re also working on a new album, Pyramid Scheme, which will be released this Spring. Eventually, we'll release a full-length Good Brother album.
What are your thoughts on the music industry, and what do you think independent musicians should know about it?
I've been there - it's the typical story. I sat in a corner office at Interscope and I've been wined and dined at exclusive restaurants by Columbia, Warner Brothers, and William Morris (WMA). That kind of thing doesn't make me cool because that's not real. What I would say to independent musicians is, "Don't fucking believe what they tell you."
Just don’t believe it, because it’s not true and it’s not real. What most labels want to do is make you believe that you’ve made it, so that they can take something from you. All I can say to independent artists is that they should just keep trying to make good music. Just keep doing that, and hold your cards close to you, because the industry is not going to help you. Their intention is to take advantage of you. My advice is to go and do it yourself.
Lastly, what have you been listening to lately?
That is an ever changing list, but this year it's Land Of Talk, Good Grief, and Black Sabbath.
Interview by Ethan Burns / Photography by Joey Baxter