Jack R. Reilly – ‘Surviving COVID’s Strain On The Music Scene’

The year has been testing for most of Australia’s music scene, but those who soldiered through the pandemic to release new material will always remember the struggles of their work and the release once fans started resonating with it all!

One act we caught this year was Jack R. Reily who released his debut album Middle Everything back in October (our review here) and he wasn’t going to let COVID get in the way of that!

We caught up with the man for a chat all about his music, the year that was and what’s to come…

Hi Jack, my name is Luke. On behalf of Wall of Sound, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today! 2020 has been a year where nothing seems to have gone to plan. How have you navigated your way through the music industry during COVID-19?

To say the absolute least; it’s been a weird time for sure. My day job is an early childhood teacher, so I’ve been working as an essential service through this whole time. It’s been really strange having that part of my life stay so similar, and the other parts of my life change so dramatically. I really love playing live, and I also love going to shows, and not being able to really do that this year has been pretty hard for my mental health. In terms of navigating the industry; I’ve tried to focus more on the community of people around me, and the aspects of making music that bring me joy. The industry is a hard place to navigate at the best of times, so I’ve just spent this time paying close attention to the stuff that matters to me and things I have in my control.

In April you won the triple j Unearthed NIDA music video competition for your song ‘Blood’. Could you tell us about the background of the song and the experience of working with NIDA to visually bring your music to life through video?

‘Blood’ is more or less a meditation on my frustrations, but finding solace and resolution in the idea of accepting them for what they are. The video kind of deals with those themes, and incorporates the idea that putting in work is a reward in its self. Working with the team who brought the video to life was a huge learning opportunity for me. It was pretty surreal to have so many people dedicated to bringing my little idea to life, and at times throughout the process I felt a little overwhelmed with that. The prices helped me understand that sheer amount of work goes in to a music video, and that (surprise!*) teamwork and communication are extremely important.

 (*not surprising)

You have a beautiful debut album, Middle Everything, available now through Lost Boy Records. You worked with your longtime producer and studio collaborator, Jonno Tooke of Cry Club, who produced the album. What was the collaborative process between the two of you like for this album and how did it impact the overall feel and sound of Middle Everything?

Jonno is outrageously good person and musician. Some of the songs he helped a great deal with structuring, and some chord inversions; but I think more than anything he worked to get the best sound out of myself and the band. The tones that we were able to pull were really important and carefully considered. We were also pretty meticulous about takes. Not in a “THIS HAS TO SOUND PERFECT” way, more creating the right vibe. I feel like that had a pretty big contribution to how it turned out at the end. The other thing that really impacted the final product was the sequencing of the record.

You’ve been fortunate enough to tour with artists such as Gavin DeGraw, Andrew McMahon of Jack’s Mannequin, and Slowly Slowly, just to name a few. How did these experiences touring with these acts impact you as an artist? Are there any moments from your touring that have really struck you as being particularly memorable?

I’ve been extremely lucky with all the shows I’ve gotten to play. All of these artists that you’ve mentioned were all really professional, and that was a cool thing to witness. I’ve also been lucky to play some shows with artists that really inspired me to play music in a solo format. I’ve played with Kevin Devine and Into It. Over It, who are both artists that have changed my life. They were very kind and encouraging to me, and I learned a lot from them.

COVID-19 has affected the music industry worldwide, with everyone from musicians to crew, photographers/journalists, venues and our wonderful PR workers being directly affected by lockdowns, loss of income and cancelled tours. What do you think the general public can do to help support the industry to recover from these unprecedented events?

I’m from the Ian Mackaye school of thought; where I just think it’s paramount that people become patrons of the arts. This is important all the time, but doubly so during this strange time we’re having. It’s important to understand that the things we consume and enjoy don’t come from nowhere and they need support to get off the ground.

Thinking ahead to the end of the year and 2021, can you give us some insight into your music plans for the future?

Yep! My next album is written, and I’m spending the end of the year and beginning of next year putting it all together. I feel that I learnt so much from putting Middle Everything together that I’m super excited for this next release.

Finally, as a hypothetical question, can you tell us an artist or band you’d like to A) Tour with, B) Duet with, and C) Cover a song from?

I’d really love to a track with Kele Okereke – maybe we could cover a Better Oblivion track or something; that would cover a lot of fanboy ground for me.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with Wall of Sound today, Jack. We wish you all the best!

Interview by – Luke Sutton

Get Middle Everything here

Jack R. Reilly – Middle Everything tracklisting

1. Shaking For Now
2. Who Can Say
3. I Don’t Like To See Us Like This
4. Blood
5. Old Guard
6. Where You Find Yourself
7. Title Dictates Behaviour
8. Into The Fire
9. Some Days
10. Newland Street

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