by Corbie Hill
Raleigh’s Jack the Radio mixes modern Southern rock with light electronica, incorporating just enough a bit of grit into otherwise polished pop tunes. Last Tuesday, the band both released its debut LP, Pretty Money, and played a 10-band benefit show for local tornado victims. We caught up with George Hage and A.C. Hill, who share vocal and songwriting duties for the project, to ask about the busy week.
Independent Weekly: What did you have planned for the release day before the tornado benefit came up? Had you planned a release show and did this benefit on release day change the feel of Pretty Money's launch?
A.C. Hill: The day before, we had planned a small listening party at Slim’s, just a get together to give the CD a few spins. The tornado benefit didn't really change the feel of the launch for me, and if anything, I felt even more excited to play for such a great cause on the day our record came out.
George Hage: I totally agree. Since this is our first full-band, full-length release, we wanted to do something low-key where we were able to sit back and enjoy the work we put in over the last year. We did a last-minute, short acoustic set and made the entire event free. It gave us a chance to talk to folks about the record. We were all really stoked to be part of the tornado benefit, and I don't think any of us thought twice about it being same day as our release.
What stood out the most about the Tir na nOg benefit?
AH: It was a great musical lineup to be put together in such a short time; to be a part of that was great. I also was just happy to see that many people out on a Tuesday evening, supporting all the victims.
GH: Yeah, I was really impressed with how fast people in the community came together to help out! Mark Connor contacted several bands three days before the show, and he ended putting together a great line-up with 24 hours. It was great to see local brewers, businesses and artists coming together, hopefully showing how strong a community we are part of.
Were any of you personally impacted by the tornado?
AH: We were not directly hit. I know Brent’s neighborhood [drummer Brent Francese] was hit pretty hard, I believe they lost power for a few days. We were all extremely lucky.
How did the band get from the initial electronic incarnation to the Southern rock style it has today? I heard some of your first recordings, and the record almost sounds like it's by a different band.
AH: The evolution really came about by simply adding other members. When George and I started, it was just the two of us, acoustic guitars and a laptop computer to help out with some drum sounds. So, obviously, we were a little limited. Adding Brent and Danny [Johnson on keys, lap steel] really opened that up. To me, the writing style is still there, but it just has more space to move ... and “dance.”
You guys had some songs on the TV show No Reservations recently. How did that come about?
GH: We were very excited, to say the least. We are big fans of the show and couldn't be happier with how the songs were placed. We set up our own publishing company last year [Pretty Money Publishing], and we were lucky enough to set up licensing with Reverbnation Music and APM Music. APM houses a library of over 300,000 songs and caters to film and television.
Jack the Radio’s debut, Pretty Money, is available digitally on iTunes, at http://jacktheradio.bandcamp.com, and in limited quantities as a physical disc. The quartet’s next show is Friday, May 6, at Southland Ballroom.