It's little wonder John and Jacob are having such an extraordinary year. Their self-titled album is a standout in every possible way. With harmonies, rock 'n' roll, and some harmonica thrown in for good measure, it is an undeniably infectious combination of musical stardust and a must for every music fan. So, it's no surprise that fans the world over can't get enough of this exciting band.
I had the chance to speak with Jacob Bryant about their amazing year and what the guys have in store for the fall.
The Reel Spin: So first of all, let's talk about Pilgrimage Festival. Are you excited to be part of it? Anyone you're excited to see perform?
Jacob Bryant: As a band, we are super excited. Before the Pilgrimage Festival was a thing, we had a write with Kevin Griffin that got set up through our publishing company. Growing up, we were always fans of Better Than Ezra, so when we went into it we were really excited . . . and when we were at lunch, he said that he was working on this festival out in Franklin. He just explained it and said he was about to go to the Franklin City Council and talk to them about it, so we kind of knew it was going on before it actually even started.
TRS: That's awesome...
Bryant: The next thing we knew we started seeing these flyers for it, and then we got a phone call from Kevin, and he asked if we wanted to be a part of it, and we said, "Of course we will." The next thing you know, just more and more artists got put on this. We're really excited to see Willie Nelson, that's going to be fun. I mean everybody on there... Chris Stapleton is actually playing... that's going to be really cool.
TRS: Right, and you've got Weezer and Cage the Elephant... There's so many amazing artists performing.
Bryant: Weezer... I mean I love Weezer. I couldn't get tickets when they played at the Ryman, and I really wanted to go, but as a band, we all love Weezer, Willie Nelson, Wilco, all that stuff. It's good for Nashville really to bring in like this big kind of festival with these different kind of bands.
TRS: For sure... This has been a big year for you guys in general. First, you were touring with Kacey Musgraves, and now next month you're going to be headed to the UK for a fall tour with Striking Matches. I'm sure you're pretty stoked about that...
Bryant: Super excited! We leave pretty soon. We actually know Striking Matches. The first time we went down to Hangout Fest and we played down there, we were both CMT New Artists, and we actually got to know each other pretty well down there. Now for it to come full circle, and to get to tour with them is really, really exciting.
Bryant: This year... I mean with Kacey and all that stuff, it has just been amazing, because we've grown really close with her and her band. It's kind of like family now.
TRS: I can imagine... that's awesome. I was thinking how it also must be an incredible feeling having your album be so well received in the UK. Is it a bit surreal having the fans sing your lyrics back to you when you're so far away from home?
Bryant: It is insane! It really is insane. The first time we actually went over there was with The Band Perry. That was my first time ever outside of the country, so we went over there, and they didn't know who we were, but that second time we went with Kacey Musgraves, then they were singing our songs. Then the next time we went, more people were singing the songs, and now it got to a point where we were headlining in Glasgow, Scotland, and everybody there had our shirts on, and they were singing all the words. It is very surreal. It's one of the best feelings. Just the way music travels... with the internet... everybody can listen to you, and you just don't really realize it until you're over there and experiencing it.
TRS: Yes, totally, and I also think the sound of your music maybe has a big impact as well. It has such a feel good sound to it, and it's almost a little like Americana with a bit of British Invasion thrown in. Would you consider bands like The Beatles and even Herman's Hermits and all of those guys to be an influence?
Bryant: Well, I mean, as a band, The Beatles... that's one of our favorite artists. We love the harmonies, we love everything that they do. Even like the Everly Brothers, they're not British Invasion, but those harmonies... we get comparisons to them as well, and that's what we do. That's what we love doing. Everybody in the band is singing, it's not just me and John [Davidson]. We do that as a duo, but when you come see John and Jacob in our full show, it is the full band, and it's rock 'n' roll with these powerful harmonies. That's what we get our kicks on, that's what we love.
TRS: Definitely. That really shows. I have kind of a fun question for you, since you guys mentioned you have spent a bit of time in the UK already. It's so amazing to visit the UK, do you have favorite things you like to do while you're there?
Bryant: This is probably like a generic answer, but the fish and chips. Love doing it and also the chicken tikka masala, we love doing that. All of the different cities, and we try to go to different museums and stuff... just to soak in the culture. It's really cool.
TRS: Have you picked up any of the British slang while you've been there?
Bryant: I'm trying to think... I've caught myself... me and John both... we've caught ourselves saying "proper" like something's the correct way to do something. I know it's not something you would expect, but now I find myself saying "proper." I don't know why. It's strange, but there are some things, I just can't pick them all out right now.
TRS: Okay, last question. I'm sure this is something everyone wants to know... it's really important. Will there be new suits for the fall tour? Because you guys definitely know how to rock a suit...
Bryant: Oh my gosh [laughs]. Well, actually, we do have new suits. Those maroon suits... we got our money's worth out of them. We have some new ones, and yes, that is definitely going to be a part of it, but I'm not going to tell you what color.
TRS: [Laughs] Well, we will wait to find out then.
Bryant: Gotta have some kind of surprise.
For more on John and Jacob:
Interview by Pamela Thomas