By Ashley Zimmerman
By Dana Krangel
By John Hood
By Ashley Zimmerman
By David Von Bader
By Sayre Berman
By Steve Brennan
By Ashley Zimmerman
When Jacob Jeffries was growing up in Broward County, his parents filled their household with music. Pianist, singer, and songwriter Jeffries says they "impressed upon us so immensely the Beatles, James Taylor, Paul Simon, old doo-wop. There was never silence in the house." Of his and his sister's verbal and musical abilities, he added, "Soon after we learned to talk, we learned to sing along to everything."
The Jacob Jeffries Band makes piano-driven pop music. Besides Jeffries, there are two core members and one rotating bassist. The regulars are guitarist Jimmy Powers V and drummer Eric Jackowitz. The three are all from the Davie area and met in high school. Of Powers, Jeffries points out, "He was a senior; I was a freshman. I really looked up to him as a musician." Luckily, Powers accepted the younger singer, and they've been friends and collaborators ever since.
In 2007, Jeffries' father passed away unexpectedly right before they were set to put out their first EP, Life as an Extra. "He was at the forefront of all of my thoughts," Jeffries admits. "My dad's name was Jeffrey. I kind of adopted his first name as my 'stage name'... I just like having him attached to me all the time."
His birth name runs a little less smoothly off the tongue: Groten. "I've always been short, I'm like five-foot-seven," Jeffries says. "In middle school, I was much shorter than everybody. They always used to call me Jacob Gro-ten inches." Recently, upon meeting the beautiful girlfriend of a singer friend, "One of the first things she says to me [is] 'You look taller in pictures.' "
Though Jeffries makes music full-time, he spends his summers working at a musical theater company, Lovewell Institute for the Creative Arts in Davie, writing musicals from scratch with teenagers. "It's not even work; it's a blast," he emphasizes. The institute has been around for more than a decade and has facilities all around the world, with, according to him, its biggest program at Nova Southeastern University. He calls it "the most fantastic collaborative program I've ever seen in my life for teenagers."
Jeffries didn't study music but took chorus and musical-theater classes in high school. He believes this helped his vocal performances. After half a semester at Broward Community College, he dropped out. "I was too lazy, thought I'd make more music and get people to know who I am," he says. "Then, I really didn't care about English." He, of course, doesn't bring this up at the summer camp, joking that he tells the students, "Guys, don't worry about college; it's not a big deal." But he does think the college experience is irreplaceable and feels he missed out on it. On the road since he was 18, traveling through college towns, he opted for one lifestyle instead of the other, calling it "a decent, fair trade."
Tell Me Secrets
The Jacob Jeffries Band opened for the Gin Blossoms and Sugar Ray. It has put out three releases prior to this newest LP, Tell Me Secrets, which will be released on Boom Boom 88, a label created by Jeffries and business partners. "I'm very pumped. This is our first release in over three years," he says, adding that the industry emphasizes frequency, asking artists to produce more and more. "This is hopefully the start of more to come."
The actual product itself, he says, is definitely his best yet. While before the band's albums were written by himself alone and the sound molded with the help of studio musicians, this album is more collaborative. He cowrote some songs with other band members, noting, "This is presently where our heads are at. Now it represents more of what people see of us live."
As for lyrics, Jeffries doesn't write about his own drama; rather, he creates what he calls "fictional ideas that I inject my emotions in." The first single off the album, "Crazy Under the Moon," is a story about a boy and girl who were once in love, now no more. "I never really wrote that with the intention of it revolving around something that's happened to me," he says, but he did add little bits of girl problems he's experienced into the verse. A personal song he penned, "Over and Past," was dedicated to his sister, who is also his best friend. Their father's passing was hard on her, and she, like all of us, struggles with romantic problems. This was the first song he'd written for her.
Of Tell Me Secrets, he says it's the result of endless hours of work, not forgetting that "for the next year, you're going to be pushing this one album over and over." It's not just something creative that you introduce into the world; it's a commitment.
Jeffries has been making music professionally for close to ten years, and he's only 24. "Right now is a pretty pivotal moment in our lives," he says. The band and its music is or will be featured on AOL Music, the MSN Listening Booth, Deco Drive, in the Sun-Sentinel, Ocean Drive, and Orlando Magazine. The band has been traveling a lot. Its publicist Big Picture Media and management the Black Key Group are getting the band an abundance of interviews, but he's not complaining.