There’s something instantly charming about Jack Klatt‘s music – it harkens back to a simpler time when songwriting was a craft that didn’t employ a lot of technology and it’s the type of music our parents and even possibly our grandparents saved up their allowance and paper route money to buy singles of from the local department store. Klatt’s third release, It Ain’t the Same, his first for Yep Roc Records, blends folk, rock and roll, R&B and soul for a timeless sound.
WCBE is welcoming Jack Klatt to the Rumba Cafe on Tuesday night. Doors open at 7:30, Landon Rowe gets things started around 8. Tickets are $10.
I had to chance to chat with Jack last week. As you’ll read, he’s looking forward to returning to Columbus after making his debut earlier this year opening for Parker Milsap at Ace of Cups.
Is this your first headlining tour?
Yeah, it’s the first headlining tour I’ve ever done. It’s the first time I’ve been out with a band. I have opened up for other artists, I was in Columbus not too long ago opening for Parker Milsap. It’ll be good to get back, I had never been to Columbus before that.
I didn’t realize you opened that show at Ace of Cups. How did that one go?
It was great. It was one of those nights where the crowd was … I just had ’em. They were nice and quiet, for a solo act. You could hear a pin drop. It’s the hardest thing to do because people are usually just getting into the show, seeing their friends, getting ready for the main event. It is a fun position to be in where you can surprise people.
Most of the touring I’ve done has been in support slots so this is the first headlining.
Have you played live with a band or will this tour be the first time?
I have been playing with a band. I have a band in Minneapolis I’ve been working with since last year. We just did a show at the Turf Club not too long ago. This tour will be some of the same members and some of the people that I recorded with and some people that are in Minneapolis. Same set up, but different people. More people were involved with the record.
Is there some sort of extravagance you allow yourself when on the road?
I try to take care of myself. We’re going to be out for three weeks so it’s kind of an endurance game. I do try and eat good and avoid any fast food whenever possible. Try not to drink too much, you’ve got to choose your party nights wisely because you’re going to pay for them down the road. I was out west opening for Pokey LaFarge not too long ago and we had some mussels before our show in Vancouver. Vancouver’s known for it’s mussels. I like to try and find some good food whenever I can but sometimes there’s not enough time for it. But, you’ve to take care of yourself, it’s a hard life. It’s a really weird job.
And you can’t really afford to call in sick. I get sick days at work that I can take but when your job is playing live shows in different cities every night, it’s not like you can just take the day off and play a show in that city the next night.
Totally. It’s really hard to do that. I played a show one time when I had the flu. I had a raging fever, it was so strange. I did the show and I think it sounded pretty good. You know how a fever can take you out of your … it’s almost like you’re on drugs. That’s how it felt. I was just on auto-pilot the whole show.
Do you consider yourself a local artist or are you now a national artist? Are you still playing regular gigs in Minneapolis or are those fewer and far between?
I grew up here, in St. Paul, in the Twin Cities. I think we have a strong music community here. It’s small enough that there’s no reason to compete with each other because there’s plenty of room. There’s a great scene here and I definitely consider myself part of it. Our scene is very supportive.
I’ve been reading about your songwriting “origin” story – sorry, been watching a lot of Marvel movies – and it sounds like you started with Rancid and then worked your way backwards. What was it about Rancid that caught your attention?
I don’t know, I was 15 years old. Rancid is just an example. I was into the Ramones and the Clash. I got into rock and roll and punk rock at an early age. Velvet Underground was huge. But I got into it because it sounded like people who could live down the street from me. There is something accessible about it and it connected with people who maybe don’t fit in in their high school. I think that’s what really drew me to the music and the music was just fun.
Did your parents turn you onto music? Older siblings? Friends?
Well, I have an older brother who definitely turned me onto stuff, lots of different things. He turned me onto the Clash and probably Radiohead too. I just started researching things. This was the age of Napster where you could start to find anything you wanted. I kind of jumped on. I would go to AllMusic.com and try to research things. I’d go to the library too and take out all the music they had. I got weird about it in a researchy kind of way which is really out of character for me in the rest of my younger years. There was something about music, there was so much to discover and I think I was really fascinated by it. I think I knew I wanted to pursue a career in it at a pretty early age.
Were you playing bands when you were in junior high and high school?
Yeah, we had a ska band in junior high and started a couple of bands in high school. I was always writing songs and playing music when I was in my bedroom or with my friends. My only real connection with going to church is that I got to play music, that made it okay.
Was it through all the research you were doing that led you from playing in a ska band to what you’re doing now, grabbing hold of those roots and going in that direction?
I think so. I really wanted to travel too after I dropped out of high school. I really wanted to get out of Minnesota and see the rest of the country. I had gotten an acoustic guitar and stopped playing in bands and started doing the solo thing. It was around the same time that I got into Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan and folk music. I would argue that there’s not much difference between the Ramones and a Woody Guthrie song. I remember when I traded in all my electric gear for an acoustic guitar, consolidated my stuff and took over to California, travel around a bit and seeing the country. It was what I was able to do, it was just the means I had.
It’s probably a lot easier to grab an acoustic guitar and hop in your car and tour the country than having to haul equipment around and tour with a band. You played solo shows overseas as well, right?
I was just bumming around overseas. I ended up overstaying my tourist visa by about 6 months which ended up not being a good thing. I stayed in Spain for quite a while and just started doing gigs in clubs. I was 23 and just the fact that I went there with no money, I was just playing in the street every day for my hostel money for the night. It was pretty rough. I was pretty skinny. I’d love to go back over there and be able to eat some food! I didn’t do any tourist stuff whatsoever.
Was there ever a point where you thought you were just trying to get this out of your system and that you’d settle down for a 9-to-5 day job?
“Making it” never occurred to me, just survival. I have some other skills too, I do a little bit of welding and I’ve done some trades work, carpentry and things like that. I don’t mind working. I’ve invested a lot of time in this thing, signing with Yep Roc and having some partners on board, things seem to be better than ever and I’m excited to get out there with a band this time. It’s a new thing for me and I’m really excited about it.
Do you pay attention to the business side of things? I grew up listening to regular terrestrial radio and watching MTV and for bands to “make it”, you had to be on the radio or have a video on MTV or get a good review in Rolling Stone. I don’t quite understand the power of Spotify playlists but I’m starting to learn that for bands in 2019, that has replaced getting on the radio or on MTV.
I try to stay connected with most things that are going on with my music. Spotify and all that, playlists are super important obviously. All these things that didn’t matter 4 years ago, it’s changing so frequently. There could be another streaming service right around the corner that will make Spotify a dinosaur. Playlists almost make the industry more accessible to just anybody. Anybody can put a song up and maybe it’ll catch fire.
What artists do you think I should check out that I might not be familiar with?
There’s this gal who is living in New Orleans, Esther Rose, I think she’s doing some really interesting stuff. She came out with a record called You’ve Made it This Far on Father/Daughter Records. I really love her songs and her singing is incredible and the production on the record is amazing.
Podcasts are also huge now. I was explaining podcasts to my father-in-law and I told him that there seems to be a podcast for everything. Like, for some reason, if you’re really into ceiling fans, there’s likely a podcast where people talk about the best models, how to install, etc. If you could host a podcast about something you’re passionate about, what would it be? (Note: I can’t find a podcast for Ceiling Fan enthusiasts but there IS a podcast called The Ceiling Fan! http://www.ceilingfanpodcast.com/)
That’s a tricky question. Maybe some kind of travel podcast, that would be fun.
It sounds like through all the traveling you’ve done, you’ve got a wealth of stories to tell. I’d subscribe!
I do. I forget a lot but they come up from time to time.