Frontman of the Jack Grace Band uses his reputation as a drinker and his humour to find lyrical inspiration
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1. You were originally into acting and didn’t start playing the guitar until you were 18. How did you get your musical start?
I started singing in a band like a lot of actors do. When I realized I could write songs, I was in for life. My first real band, Steak, started playing in front of 300 plus people really fast. I was really green and it was a bit intimidating. Right into the fire. So glad it happened that way.
2. How would you describe your own sound?
I like to explore it all. Not like a record label is yelling at me to be more mainstream or anything.
The lyrics and the vocals are what remain more constant. My lyrics are kinda wise-ass with a sometimes sad but, hopefully, truthful twist.
3. How do you feel being compared to country music legend Johnny Cash?
I love it. We are different. I am an agnostic Irish-Italian New Yorker that grew up as a Beatles fanatic in a well-off suburb. Other than that, who can tell us apart?
4. Your latest album is titled Drinking Songs for Lovers. Is it more about drinking or more about loving?
That album, for me, is about struggling with what you want out of life. So if you are more into drinking, love or both, that is what you will find. Drinking is just a vessel for the bigger questions. That being said, I was drinking a lot at the time.
5. If you could be anywhere in the world with any drink in your hand, where and what would it be?
I like to be in new strange places. I like to just drink and play cards with my wife.
I like martinis, margaritas, bloody marys, whiskey, beer and wine.
I don’t like white zinfandel.
6. Your sense of humour definitely comes through on the album in songs like “If You’re Gonna Raise a Drunk.” Is that a conscious decision?
It’s not a conscious decision. It really is just how my mind works. My thoughts come to me just like my lyrical style. My family uses humour to work through every emotion.
7. Your wife Daria plays bass in the band and has sung duets with you as well. Has she ever suggested changing the band’s name to the Daria Grace Band?
The main problem with the band being called Jack Grace Band is for instance on the last CD, Daria sang lead on “Drank Yourself Into A Corner.” Radio would not really play the song because the band had my name and there was a different lead singer.
We have talked about that. The [album] we are working on has several duets.
We have decided Jack Grace Band has been out there for 10 years plus, might as well roll with it. When I started the band, I did not anticipate a silly problem like this.
8. In a recent interview with New York newspaper The Journal News, it’s discussed that your upcoming album will have more of a rock and Latin feel. What inspired the change?
I stopped writing songs intentionally for six months. I hated doing that, but I was starting to re-write the same thing. I like to go to Mexico and write.
I love being in a new zone with writing.
9. Has touring with this album compared to previous tours you’ve done?
A lot of people buy you drinks with a title like Drinking Songs For Lovers. When I didn’t want to drink, some folks treated me like I was a fraud or something. I played some shows with Junior Brown. He said, “Careful what you put out there Jack, you’re gonna have to live it.” He was right.
10. What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen or experienced on tour?
Most are not appropriate here. One of them involved almost dying and going number two on someone’s lawn.
11. What can new fans expect from a Jack Grace Band show?
A truly improvised show. Expect to be a part of it.
Hopefully some new songs you really like that challenge you in some way you have never felt before. And oh yes, a laugh or two thrown in there for good measure.
The Jack Grace Band plays the Mansion tomorrow night with Rueben De Groot at 9 p.m.