Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Five Questions With... Jacob County

This week we didn't have to go very far to ask our five questions. Jacob County grew up about 12 miles from where I am writing this in the Sprint Car Capital of the World, Knoxville, Iowa. But dirt track racing isn't the only thing that Knoxville is known for. From within it's populous grew a kid who defied the conventional ways of the small rural town. Jacob County didn't dream of driving a race car as a kid; he dreamed of playing the electric guitar. At age 10, his parents bought him an early '70s Gibson S 1 electric.

"He took lessons from a teacher in school and she told us that we should get him to a good school cause he learned everything she new in about 2 months", his father Mike said to me. "He read books and started a band at twelve, I think..."

While in high school he played guitar in what is now the legendary Salt of Society, a defunct proto-punk band that has members of Slipknot! amongst it's fan base. For several years this was his only gig, and he didn't waste any time making a name for himself among the other local musicians. He was young and brave and his sound was raucous and fresh. In 2000, as S.O.S began to fizzle out, he was offered the lead guitar job in Slopsycle... A funky punk metal band that took the local Iowa music scene to new boundaries... Their sound was unique and fun... Reminiscent of early No Doubt, or Zuba! from Boulder Colorado. Over the years, as with most bands that Jacob has become a part of, Salt of Society phased in and out...

Like Salt of Society though, Slopsycle's tenure was sporadic. Jake played with his new band long enough to record one CD, and he still occasionally played with Salt of Society whom had also made one recording, but nothing on a real consistent basis... Then in 1996 he was asked to join The newly formed Tyler Thompson Band and things started happening.

Unlike the previous two bands that Jacob played in, Tyler Thompson had a spell of longevity with their act and the band travelled internationally and recorded four albums. They recorded an album with Chuck Leavell (keyboardist for Eric Clapton, Rolling Stones, Govt' Mule and the Allman Brothers) in 2002 at the historical Capricorn Studios in Macon, Georgia. Only when Paul Thompson left the band in 2003 to move to L.A. did the band start to dissipate and eventually fall apart. The band mates remained friendly and even interacted with each other through other bands and jam sessions, and it wasn't uncommon to see a Slopsycle reunion show for instance, with members of Tyler Thompson filling in as guests. Or Salt of Society... Or vise versa, or whatever. Each of these bands never actually broke up, but just seemingly got put on hold as new projects got started. Salt of Society hit the peak of their career in 2006 when they opened for Breaking Benjamin in Des Moines. Jacob was just a young man, and was already living a life that most musicians only dream about.

He already had made a name for himself, and when Johnny Reeferseed contacted him about joining his band, it was a perfect fit. Joe McGuire and Dustin Ennis who played drums and bass respectively for Slopscyle were in the band and with the addition of Beth Spaniel on Bass, the High Rollers were set.

Johnny Reeferseed and the High Rollers have won several awards including the 2008 Global Marijuana Music Award for Best Funk Song, "Light 'Em Up" (with Afroman) and then again in 2009, this time at the American Marijuana Music Awards in the Pop Music Category for "Brother Can You Spare a Dime". They have been featured on High Times's official website, and are known around the Midwest as one of the funkiest acts to grace the stage.

Check out this version of an old Michael Jackson classic:

I'll Be There by Johnny Reeferseed & the High Rollers

Jacob started doing some video comedy sketches for Dangerous Music Inc., a collaboration of music, knowledge and support for local musicians in the central Iowa area. These videos are a virtual how-to manual for musicians and became an instant hit. They can be found on Youtube. His knack for acting is as natural as his guitar playing, and his videos are just as respected.

Jacob County is one of those musicians that everybody wants in their band... Not just because he plays a blistering guitar, but because he might be the single most likable guy in the central Iowa band circuit. Ask anybody who has met him and they will tell you great things. His reputation for being a good guy may only be overshadowed by his demeanor. Some say he is laid back... Others might say he is kind of quiet... But put a guitar in his hands and it's like you have unleashed a pack of rottweilers on a domesticated rabbit. Things get interesting very fast. Any hint of shyness is quickly surpassed when he plugs in his ES 335 Gibson Custom Shop.

So, on with the Questions...

1. What bands are you involved in at this moment?

Johnny Reeferseed and The High Rollers, Jacob County and The Damaged Goods

2. What ONE guitarist do you admire the most, and why?

I don't have a one Guitarist per say really. I guess right now it would probably be Jim "the Reverend Horton Heat" Heath. He is just a great player obviously, but it's his choice in style, tone! Very tasty player!

3. Your music collection is easily as diverse as mine is... Who do you have on your play list that might come as a surprise to Bigfoot Diaries readers based off of the raucous style that your bands generate on stage?

The Cramps, GangGreen, DRI, Grateful Dead, Doc Watson, Split Lip Rayfield, Steve Earle, Scott H. Biram. I could go on and on!

4. Is it true that one of your bands actually went on a mini-tour with The Allman Brothers? If so would you please tell us about that?

Yes, TylerThompson went on a southern states tour w/ Allman Bros. It was a summer leg of their tour. We played all outdoor venues. It was a lot like a festival atmosphere! Lots of great other bands as well. Phil Lesh and Friends, Gov't Mule, Derek Trucks band. I've forgotten lots of other good bands I'm sure! The whole experience was a blast.

5. What was your most awkward moment while playing on stage?

That's a tough one. Maybe having my amp blow out during a Slopsycle show opening for The Samples @ Hairy Marys, or having the same amp blow out on me again during a TylerThompson show opening for Robert Randolph @ the Val Air Ballroom.

(Bonus question): Who smokes more weed... Johnny Reeferseed or Afroman?

Most definitely, without a doubt Johnny Reeferseed!



Anonymous said...

You are an awesome reporter Troy. This was your best choice ever for a guitar player to interview. I found the choice of questions was very well thought out abd as always you seem to be able to talk to your peeps in a respectful and yet art filled manner. Loved it.

Unknown said...

Great job Troy! I hope you can continue this blog. Informative and fun, and I will be posting the link. Oh...and the DMi plug was a nice touch. Rock On!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

This really should be in a music mag. It's that good (better than a lot I've read). Ever think about submitting articles for publication? --MH