By Elizabeth Flynn, American Heritage
4:14 PM EDT, August 14, 2012
Jacob Jeffries went from roaming the halls of Western High to having his music video for "Suffocate My Heart" featured on MTV Buzzworthy.
Two talented young men, pianist/singer Jacob Jeffries and guitarist Jimmy Powers, form the Florida-born Jacob Jeffries Band.
With his snapback and ripped up Heat shirt, Jacob Jeffries preformed an amazing acoustic set at Uncle Sam's in Miami Beach with such a laid-back, feel-good sound that I couldn't keep the smile off my face. Through the streams of jokes and remarks between songs, I concluded that Jacob Jeffries has enough soul for the entire Miami Beach.
The Jacob Jeffries Band released a new CD, "Tell Me Secrets," on May 18, and is opening for Sister Hazel at the Bank Atlantic Center on July 4.
Teenlink: So you went to Western High. ... When did you decide that you wanted to pursue music?
Jacob Jeffries: The pursuit of music was always an option for me because I was always playing music. It became a very serious job when I was like, well I guess, hold on; the actual pursuit of it all started when I was super young, when I wrote my first song when I was like 10. I wrote this song and I was like "Holy cow! This is so cool. I can express how I feel through something that I love to do and love to hear." So probably when I was like 10 years old and I was like, all right, I'm gonna be doing this for a while.
TL: When did you start playing piano?
JJ: When I was little. I technically started playing when I was 5. I really gravitated toward the piano because my hands were always small, a little too small for the guitar and you can't really write a song on a drum set.
TL: Don't you find that your hands are also small for the piano?
JJ: You know what, it's actually perfect. It's a good thing because my stretch from pinky to thumb is a perfect octave. Most piano players can reach to the 11th or 13th, like a giant stretch, yea I'd definitely be able to solo better if I had bigger hands.
TL: How'd you get with your guitarist Jimmy Powers?
JJ: He was a senior at Western High School when I was a freshman. I didn't know a soul; I knew maybe like one person. And I was just so enthralled and I was so happy to know that there was a music scene, even if it was small; there was still a music scene. And he was the top dog there, he was the top dude. I was obsessed with his band. I followed them around and learned there names and they learned my name… as the kid who kept following them around and then they found out that I could write songs. We got together and we've been best friends for five or six years now.
TL: He's a really talented guitar player.
JJ: Yea he's an amazing guitar player. He just locks himself in his room and studies.
TL: Well that's how you do it. How'd you come up with the idea for the song and video for "Crazy Under the Moon?"
JJ: Yea, so the song itself came from, well I was in a movie theater watching "The Dilemma,"the movie with Kevin James and Vince Vaughn, with my sister and at one point I zoned out and all of a sudden he was yelling in the middle of the street. He looked like an insane clown, a crazy man. I picked up my iPhone and I wrote 'when the sun goes to sleep and crazies roam the streets' which is the first line of the song and I was like this is a cool thing and when I went home that night I stayed up till 4 am pounding out the song.
The music video came about through my friend that directed it. He had just finished converting all his grandma's old 8-millimeter footage to DVD and in doing that, he saw a bunch of old wedding footage and he was like this is awesome; they share the same love we do now.
TL: Yeah, the video was very retro, that was a great idea.
JJ: Thank you that was the idea. We filmed it all on 8 millimeters. The film cost so much money but it was great, it was a lot of fun.
TL: What's the process you go through when writing a song?
JJ: It's different every time, it's usually an idea. You're inspired by something that happens, whether you trip, fall, and scrape your knee or someone you love passes away, there all types of things, heavy or light. But usually you're inspired by an idea or a thought. When you get a lyric, like I told you I got the idea "when the sun goes to sleep and crazies roam the street." You just take the thought and go with it and you have to figure out how to sing that line. So you just build around that thought and build up and build out you know?
TL: What was the first show you played?
JJ: Wow, Well I think the first show, other than my elementary school talent show…
TL: Did you win that?
JJ: Well, it wasn't really a talent show. It was called a night of dreaming or a night of dreams or something like that and it was just about our gifted class and we just sang for our parents. But my first real show was either at a Starbucks or a casino. Either one is freakin' weird.
TL: Well, Starbucks is kinda cool.
JJ: Yea coffee shops are kinda cool, but I don't know. It was weird. Actually, I think my first show was at a Hard Rock Casino in Murphy's Law for a battle of the bands. I don't really remember. That was a long time ago.
TL: Can you tell me about boom boom 88?
JJ: That's a record label that I started with, specifically, with the guidance of a family member, but I've gotten involved with a lot of private investors and a lot of people that have been helping fund everything. Boom boom 88 is just my vision of doing everything on my own. I really don't know what tomorrow brings for another record label but I can tell you what tomorrow brings for my record label. So that was my idea, if I know that boom boom 88 can provide what I need right now, why go searching for the big record deal with Warner Brothers or Universal?
TL: What inspired the name?
JJ: Boom boom was a saying my dad always used to say. My father passed away a few years back and he was a character, he used to walk up to people and say "Would ya like to buy some boom booms for tha church?' and he'd say it in a funny accent. He was weird, my dad, but awesome. So boom boom was like a staple, and 88 was the year I was born, and it's also the amount of keys on a keyboard.
TL: Can you tell me about your name change?
My name change was brought on from my father. His name was Jeffrey and I basically just took his first name and made it my last. We were ready to put out my first record and I didn't want to go with my birth name which is weird and hard to say so I went with Jeffries, my dads and yea he was on my mind at the time so I went there.
TL: What's your real name?
JJ: Oh, it's weird, man. It's Groten. Kind of rough to say. Jeffries is my name from now on. JJ!
TL: What one song of yours means the most to you?
JJ: The song I'm most proud of is a song called "Over and Past" about my sister.
She's my best friend. I love her more than anything, and I felt like for a long time, that I was doing a disservice by not writing a song about her. I write songs about people I hate but I don't write a song about my sister you know? So I finally wrote a song about her and it made it to the album, which is great.
TL: What's next for the Jacob Jeffries Band?
JJ: A lot more shows. We're moving to New York City. I feel very close to New York for family reasons and for musical reason. I feel like a lot of social and musical issues, today, are stemming from New York. A lot of the avant-garde the new and I'm not saying I'm avant-garde. I'm not Andy Warhol here…
TL: But your style of music is very unique.
JJ: It's different. So why not go to the city, where everyone is trying to be different and just let someone attach themselves to you? We've done our thing here and we're not done. I love Miami and I'll be here for a while.
Jacob Jeffries Band is on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, or visit http://www.jacobjeffriesband.com
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