tête-à-tête: jack parker

I’ve got a new conversation for you guys. Mr. Jack Parker.

 I met Jack when I was playing with John Mark McMillan on the David Crowder Band farewell tour. It was cool getting to know Jack and the guys. They are all very kind people. It was also really fun getting to watch them play every night. Jack is an amazing musician. Also funny.

I caught up with Jack a couple weeks ago. We discussed everything from his daily routine to Yngwie Malmsteen and got an update on his new band The Digital Age. And BWack.

Enjoy.

______________________________________________________________________________________

Hi Jack.
Hey former tour buddy!

What are you doing?
Sitting at our studio trying to put out some fires.  The email variety – not the literal state, process, or instance of combustion in which fuel or other material is ignited and combined with oxygen, giving off light, heat, and flame.

Oh. Ok. This is going to be interesting… Do you drink coffee?
Not very often.  I’m kind of a wimp when it comes to caffeine. So only in emergency situations is my final answer.  I seem to recall you and Jon consuming it by the gallon on tour?

Yeah… Dukes love coffee. What’s happening with your band The Digital Age?
Tons!  We are currently working on finishing up our first full-length record entitled “Evening:Morning” which is scheduled to release on August 6.  It is quasi-conceptual, with each song corresponding to its respective hour of the night/day.  We were wanting to do an indie release like we did with “Rehearsals” which would have put the album out sooner, but our good friends at Fair Trade Services convinced us to partner with them and we happily obliged!  On top of all that, we are still touring around playing shows and producing projects for other bands here at our studio Asterisk Sound.

I kept up with you guys via twitter and instagram while you were building your studio. Did you guys build most of it yourselves?
Yes.  Our drummer, “bwack” or “the bwack” or “whacker” or anything else you want to call him pertaining to bushwhacking — his dad is a contractor/carpenter and would take him on jobs. So he had a knowledge of construction/design and basically we designed our dream studio and constructed it with bwack’s knowledge and skills.  It definitely gave me an appreciation for what construction workers do.  We would all show up at about 8am, do hard manual labor until about 5pm, come home, eat dinner and then just crash out.  Are you familiar with what they call the “manual labor?”

I worked hanging wallpaper in an industrial park for 2 days. So…

You’ve been playing with the guys in the band for years now. With that kind of history is it easier or more difficult to write new music together?
I would definitely say easier.  There is a kind of comfort level we have with each other just based on how much time we’ve spent together and I think writing thrives better in a more relaxed, unforced, familiar environment.

One thing I learned about you when we were on tour is that you can really shred on guitar! How did you learn to do that and who are some of your influences?
Ha!  Well, I wanted to be able to walk into my local Guitar Center and battle with other players Dragonforce style!  Not really though, but maybe a little.  I started playing guitar in high school and at that time I was listening to a lot Metallica.  So I would come home, put in the “Master of Puppets” cassette tape and basically learned by ear how to mimic what I was hearing.  I had a year and a half of piano before that so I had a rudimentary knowledge of theory and that kind of thing.  But mostly it was just a punk teenage kid in his room shredding along with his favorite hair metal bands.  It’s weird though because my influences aren’t really shredders but players who approach the instrument in unorthodox ways – guys like, Michael Hedges, Jonny Greenwood, Tom Morello, Nick Zinner, etc…  have you heard of Hedges?  That stuff will blow your mind.
I have heard of him, but I haven’t ever listened. I’ll check him out. In your opinion, what makes a great guitar player?
I would say it’s knowing when not to play.  I admire a guy like Gordon Kennedy who doesn’t play a lot of notes, but when he does, he makes it count.  And it’s just so dang tasteful! So quality over quantity I guess.  I know you’re way into C.C. Deville and Yngwie Malmsteen.

I actually really like C.C. Deville’s guitar playing. I think his soloing was way more melodic and hooky (hooky?) than most of the other guitar players in his genre. I went to an Yngwie show once. It was crazy. I had just heard some (probably not true) story about him getting in a fist fight with a fan after a show.  My friend had also heard that, so for the first, oh i’d say, 45 minutes of the show he stood about 5 feet from Yngwie screaming “YOU SUCK, YOU ***** ***** ******* *** ***** *** ***” and using various offensive hand gestures that would possibly be sort of offensive to most people on earth. I guess he was trying to incite some sort of fisticuffs from Rising Force himself. So Yng’ is up there, pirate shirt unbuttoned all the way down to his belly button… gold necklaces and rings sparkling in the lights. He was playing the fastest guitar I’ve ever heard with one hand and high fiving fans and doing the rock fist with the other. He had to see my friend. Had to.  It was actually kind of funny at first. At first. but then the next 44 minutes and 59 seconds just got sort of scary and weird. All these, um, fans started getting mad (of course) and then I could tell they were about to kill him. So we left and laughed. Yngwie can play so fast though. And his name is fun to type and say. YNGWIE.

Yeah, I don’t see you as “likes to fight guy”, so probably a good move to get out of there.  Yngwie, Yngwie, Yngwie,…

Remember on tour when your speaker cabinet caught on fire?
That was amazing!  The funny thing about it is I had no idea until about a minute after the fact.  My signal had died and I was busy trying to figure out which pedal on my board was the culprit.  I happened to turn around at one point and the road manager, stage manager, and 3 other confused bystanders were freaking out and throwing water on my amp.  Not a pleasant sight, but we rallied and got a backup amp set up before the song finished and I was able to complete the aforementioned shredding.

What does a normal day look like for Jack Parker?
Well, it depends if I’m home or on the road and home is more eventful, so let’s go with that.
1.  Rise
2.  Perform personal sanitary measures i.e. shower, brush teeth, deodorize, etc…
3.  Cook breakfast for my 2 daughters, get them ready for school
4.  Drive to studio
5.  Work on music, emails, general internet browsing, interact with my bandmates, etc…
6.  Drive home
7.  Help with dinner
8.  Bathe daughters
9.  Read them books
10.  Put them in bed
11.  Put them back in bed after whatever flurry of excuses they have for “not being tired”
12.  Play boggle with my spouse
13.  Watch a show with my spouse
14.  Sleep and repeat

Where is BWACK?
He is in his mad scientist’s dungeon working on a clone of himself.

How did you get started doing music?
That’s always been such a strange question for me because I never really set out to be in music.  I was at college studying to be an accountant and guitar was just a hobby.  Before I knew it,  I was playing guitar at a bible study headed up by Louie Giglio of the Passion movement and from there it just turned into playing guitar for a bunch of Texas worship leaders and being gone all the time.  How about you?  Did you pursue a career in the musical arts?

I did. Sort of. I did in the way I never really had a backup plan. But I never really tried to make anything happen. So no. But I never pictured myself doing anything else. So yes.

What’s the best thing about touring?
Touring is such a funny thing because it puts you in this weird reality where you live on a bus, wake up in a different city every day, play the show, and repeat.  Everyone sees the performance part of the show and has a concept of that, but there are 23 other hours in the day!  And typically your responsibilities for those other 23 hours are minimal at best.  So you have Crowder band and John Mark guys (me and you) talking about Ryan Adams at like 3:00 a.m. outside a bus in folding chairs backstage in the middle of metropolitan downtown areas.  Does that seem normal?

Nailed it, Jack. It really is a strange life. Getting adjusted back to some kind of normal life when you get home is always fun as well.

When we toured with you guys we got to play some really great venues. I think my favorites were Irving Plaza in NYC and The Moore Theater in Seattle. What’s the favorite place you’ve played?
Radio City Music Hall or anywhere in Scotland.  Scottish people are intense and a blast to be around!

What was the first album you bought? What format was it on?
Tears for Fears. Songs from the Big Chair – format was a compact case containing a length of magnetic tape that runs between two small reels: used for recording or playback in a tape recorder or cassette deck.

My first cassette tape I bought was Phil Collins “But Seriously”.
Nice!  My Mom would rock out to “No Jacket Required” on the way to school so there was a point in time when my brain virus song was “Sussudio.”

My first cassette single was Gerardo “Rico Suave”.
I have no words right now…

What was the first song that really made you want to be a guitar player?
There was an A&E documentary on the life of Jimi Hendrix that looked like it was filmed in the 70’s with a version of him playing “Red House” live.  I remember just staring at the tv mesmerized.  One of the rare moments in my life when I “felt” rather than just listened to a song.

How many guitars do you own? What’s your favorite?
Hmm…  I want to say 10 or so.  Favorite is probably my 1970 Martin D-35 acoustic because it was a gift from my dad when I graduated high school and it inspired me to learn as much as I could about the instrument.  You’re up to about 30 or 40 now, correct?

Correct. Have you gotten any new gear that you are excited about?
I just got my Line-6 M9 modded by Jack Vaughn at jhv3.com.  So I’m super excited about that!  I’m not really a huge gear guy.  Mitch Watkins who is part of the Austin music scene and a good friend of the family who I’ve always admired for his guitar prowess said something that really stuck with me – “tone is all in the hands”.

What’s coming up for you? What should we be on the lookout for?
We are putting the finishing touches on our first radio single called “Captured” and working on a press release about the new band that will include a video we shot for another song on the album called “Believe”, the album release on August 6.  And amps that catch on fire.

Thanks Jack. Bye Jack.
Welcome James. Bye James

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5 comments

  1. To be fair, my Yngwie heckling was slightly more sophisticated than just obscene gestures. I did my research on guitar players he hates and requested all of their songs. “Play Eruption!!!!” Stuff like that.

  2. Great interview. Jack Parker is the real deal. He can do some amazing stuff on the guitar AND has originality. Not just another hack with a delay pedal and cranked reverb trying to sound like The Edge. And he nailed tour life. It seems glamorous to outsiders but it generally pretty much sucks.

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