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Jack & Jack – The Return of the Jacks

Updated: Apr 9

Jack & Jack

The Return of the Jacks

By Emma Fox and Kayla Marra

Jack Johnson and Jack Gilinsky make up the power pop-rap duo known as Jack & Jack. Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, the guys started making music together in high school, and have continued through the years to now. They went on to join Magcon, a touring meet-and-greet convention for fans to meet their favorite social media personalities. Though the tours and conventions came to an end, the creative journey for Jack & Jack did not. They have released two studio albums since then, a plethora of hit singles, and several incredible EPs. 

Now based in Los Angeles, we’ve connected with the talented pair various times over the years, the last time being in 2015. But just this week we were able to re-connect with them before their Philly tour stop and catch up with the guys about touring together again, reminiscing on the Magcon days, Jack G’s recent fatherhood, and more. 

We last spoke to you seven years ago. It’s incredible to hang out with you guys again! You originally released the iconic song “Like That” in 2014. What made you re-record it years later?

Jack Johnson: I think a big thing was that it was taken down off streaming platforms because of a copyright claim. The people who know us know this story, but we’ll give you a brief rundown of it. The piano part, in the beginning, was taken by the producer who sold us the beat from another producer. So, that producer got upset and we had no idea. It got taken down and copyright claimed.

Jack Gilinsky: It was off of all streaming platforms for five years, now, maybe four. 

Jack Johnson: Then we got on TikTok and saw a big resurgence. We saw the OG one was going viral on there and we were like, “Oh, man!”

Jack Gilinsky: Every time we posted, people were like, “Please put ‘Like That’ back on Spotify and Apple Music.”

Jack Johnson: We were done and had eleven songs on the album. Then two weeks before the album was set to drop, we were like, yo, why don’t we just revamp it? Use more updated, cleaner sounds. Get G’s new voice on there, my new voice on there. Change a couple of lyrics here and there. Make a revamped version. It felt like it was a full-circle moment for the record.

Jack Gilinsky: It felt right.

Jack Johnson: We’re really grateful for everything that record has done for us.

Jack Gilinsky: We’re grateful that we decided to do this, too, because it has 54 million streams, which plays into the whole total Home album streams.

Jack Johnson: At the end of the day, we’re trying to get everyone to listen to the other songs on the project, which we’re so proud of. Honestly, we’re a little more excited for those, just because they’re new and we haven’t heard them a trillion times. It’s been awesome seeing the fans sing new stuff live, and we feel like “Like That” could be a good gateway into the project.

This is so full circle for your OG fans, as well. I went to Magcon, so it’s incredible seeing you guys do this. 

Jack Johnson: It felt like a special one. 

What was it like being back together in the studio again?

Jack Gilinsky: It was awesome.

Jack Johnson: It was amazing. 

Jack Gilinsky: It’s funny because we didn't take too much of a break. In 2020, obviously, we took a little bit of a break because we were basically in different places. I went back to Omaha, and he stayed in LA. Halfway through 2020, we moved in together and had a studio in the house.

Jack Johnson: We would always make stuff; we just never knew what was going to happen with it. Actually locking in on a project and actually knowing we have a vision for it. Knowing we have a deadline we want to release it by this day. Knowing we had tour dates coming up. It really made it feel like we had a mission. It wasn’t just us willy-nilly in the studio, creating little ideas and not following through with anything. It was amazing to be able to lock in again, really on our own terms, make the music we wanted to make and not feel as puppeteered by a major label. As great as A Good Friend is, and I love that project, a lot of songs on there were demos that were sent to us by other writers or other artists. The label was just like, “you sing this line,” and I was like, this isn’t why we started making music in the beginning.

Jack Gilinsky: It was awesome creating Home the album, because every single word you hear and most sounds that you hear, even instrumentally, Johnson’s playing on the piano, I’m singing the lyrics I wrote, I’m singing some of the lyrics Johnson wrote for me.

Jack Johnson: It’s all just stuff that really came from us and it feels a little more personal this time around. 

Jack Gilinsky: We’re really proud of it.

That’s awesome to hear. With “Jack’s Version” at the end of “Like That” you’re really making it your own and taking back your art which is so powerful and cool to see.

Jack Gilinsky: We’re inspired by Taylor Swift, man. It’s pretty awesome to see what she’s done. We had to take that a little bit.

Jack Johnson: We want to set a guideline for other indie artists because this is the indie age we’re living in. The major labels are becoming a little bit less of a necessity as time goes on with how robust social media is.

Jack Gilinsky: Especially for smaller artists like us who have a core following and they support us through anything. We figured there was no need for a big system to get involved and take away what we all started for. We’re just grateful to have our crew and they’re always supporting us, like tonight. 

You released your latest album Home earlier this month, congratulations! 

Both: Thank you!

What was the recording process like, and what was your vision/goal with this album?

Jack Johnson: G actually lives about an hour away down by the Newport area, which is coastal California. Basically, we would just have three or four sessions throughout the week, and he would make the commute up into LA. We’re with a distribution company called CreateTV. They let us use their studios, and they have these great studios that we were super grateful to use. It would just be him and I in the studio and sometimes it would be a beat that producers would send us in packs, and we would be like, “Oh, we like this one.” It would just be me recording his voice and him recording my voice. I would make the first base mix and get a good reference point, and then we would send it all off to mixing. It was just a very hands-on process. We used to never really be involved in this stuff, as much as we like it.

Jack Gilinsky: Even in terms of creating the project, we didn’t really have a set goal and tried to have no expectations. Like, let’s just get in there and make a bunch of songs and see what happens. We started to make songs. We made one, then two, three, four five, and it started to be like, “Wait, all of these could go on the project.” It was never a thing, at least this year, that was said, “This one isn’t going to go on” or we’re just not hitting the right stride. I feel like we just got back in the studio together and it just kind of flew out of us. Within nine months – we recorded the last song in August, everything was done by September. It just came together.

Jack Johnson: With the whole “home” angle in terms of that creative for the project, there was this stop sign in our neighborhood we would always meet up at growing up. We were like, yo, let’s take our album cover picture there, change the “STOP” to “HOME,” another four-letter word. It was just something that was very sentimental to us rather than just slapping out a random cover art. It felt like it tied a bow on the whole thing with the creative packing of it all. 

We love the album! Everyone out there is loving it, too.

Jack Johnson: We love that you’re loving it. It’s been out nineteen days now. Even in Nashville on night one, it had been out for twelve days, and they were already singing all the hooks. They’re learning my verses; I have mouthfuls in there. 

Jack Gilinsky: It’s been crazy, the support has been awesome. 

Jack Johnson: We just can’t wait. We know Philly’s going to be jumpin.’ It’s going to be the craziest show of the tour so far.

As Philly always is.

Jack Johnson: They always show out. 

Jack (G), you’re currently in your “dad era," congratulations!

Jack Gilinsky: I am. For the rest of my life, I will be!

How has having a daughter impacted your life?

Jack Gilinsky: I feel like it impacts it in every way possible. It just changes the way you look at the world. Even the most basic things, it changes your perspective on. Specifically working. It was all really, really fun growing up doing this with Johnson. I never really looked at it too much like a job because it was so much fun. It is still so much fun [except] being away from my daughter and Geneva. Thinking about raising my daughter, you’ve got to have a job and you’ve got to give it your all because if you’re going to spend time away from your loved ones, you need to be putting that work in. It makes me look at this a bit differently because I’m really motivated to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. Also regardless of having a baby, we’re just older and more mature now. We got to kill this, man, because this is our lives. We went out on a limb and didn’t go to college, and we’ve been away for four, five years.

Jack Johnson: We almost had a five-year gap, and there’s a very finite shelf life for artists. There’s a window that you have to take advantage of. We’re just so grateful that they’re all showing up, even after that time period. Seeing him with Hayven, I see an extra spark of motivation in his eyes, on top of him just having a lot of life changes, too. 

Jack Gilinsky: I appreciate it, because honestly, you said it very well. Having a daughter is the most amazing thing in the world. I’m just really grateful, and I’m grateful that we still get to do this for work. If I had to go work a 9-5 and be away from my daughter every single day like that, I think that would be harder than being with her ten months out of the year and then being on the road for two months. I love being on the road, so I wouldn’t do it for anything else, being away from my family. 

You talked about not going to college and pursuing being creative. Do you have a memory from that era or the Magcon time that stands out to you as an “I made it” moment or an “I want to do this for the rest of my life” kind of moment?

Jack Gilinsky: That’s a good question. Magcon Dallas was the very first one. Shawn made me sing a song with him on stage. I was like, you know what, this is really cool. We had never seen the people that are liking all of our Vines, Tweets, and Instagrams in person like that before. I always thought, “That’s a big number,” but it didn’t ever click that there were real people behind each number. 

Jack Johnson: It was weird. We just left for a long weekend from high school, and then we went right back. A lot of the boys started doing online school, but we stuck it out throughout our whole senior year and graduated with our class and everything. 

Jack Gilinsky: It made it real though, seeing it in person. I think for me, Magcon made me realize “oh shit, this is real.” There’s a career here that if we want to take it seriously. We can do this for our lives. It convinced us to take a gap year.

Jack Johnson: We just had a glaring opportunity in front of us, and sometimes you just got to seize life by the horns and just ride into battle you know.

Jack Gilinsky: Yeah, so I would say the Magcon thing made it real. Like alright, let's take this seriously. 

That’s awesome! We’ve both loved seeing you grow. Last time I saw you was 2018 at a pop-up show in Baltimore, so it’s been great to see you grow since then and it’s awesome to see you back on the road! Can you talk to us a little bit about what a typical day on tour looks like? 

Jack Johnson: Absolutely!

Jack Gilinsky: We actually wake up pretty late because we’ve been driving our bus. Johnson drove last night, I’m driving tonight. We’ve been switching off doing two-to-four-hour shifts, we’ll get into the hotel at 3-5am, depending on how long the drive is. Then me and Johnson get to sleep in because of how awesome our crew is, they load in by themselves. We wake up at around 12:00. 

Jack Johnson: Well unless the fire alarm goes off. 

Jack Gilinsky: Yeah, we had a fire alarm yesterday, it was pretty bad. But we wake up, we workout, come back upstairs and maybe have a bite to eat, and then get an Uber to the venue. Once we show up to the venue it’s straight into this thing called “Indoor Recess” which is an intimate meet and greet where you get to come backstage, we have a good conversation and take some photos. Then it’s straight into what’s called the “Soundcheck Experience.” 

Jack Johnson: We’ll actually do our soundcheck and then we wanted to give everybody a little extra something this time around because whether it was in our hands or not, we did have a five-year hiatus, and we feel bad about it inherently. We decided to add the “Soundcheck Experience” where we do a general Q&A with the fans, just have a talk and nice banter with them, and then we do a little acoustic performance just to warm them up for the night. 

Jack Gilinsky: Then we do the meet and greet!

Jack Johnson: It’s a good flow of a day. We’re starting to get the science down a bit more of how it’s supposed to run. Usually, we would tour with a 13 or 14-person crew, and we didn’t have to deal with any of these things. It’s a much more busy day, but I like it. It makes me sleep harder at night, makes me a little more locked in knowing that I do have more personal responsibility on this tour. I really do enjoy it because it feels like we’re taking our business into our own hands and being very meticulous about the way we’re doing things. 

Jack Gilinsky: Then after the meet and greet we have a two-hour break. I always cook my bison; I eat it every day. Then maybe have a banana, chill out, do our vocal warmups, and I have a vocal steamer that we do. Then it's time for the show! An hour and a half later we’re off stage, we shower, and pack up our things. 

Jack Johnson: We’ll say hi to some people outside the venue if they’re hanging around. 

Jack Gilinsky: If we have an off day, we’ll do this thing called a crew dinner. But tonight, we’re in Philly, we have an off day tomorrow, we’re going to get a cheesesteak. 

Jack Johnson: What’s the spot? We’ve been hearing a couple things. 

I will say, my favorite spot is somewhere on South Street, it’s called Ishkabibble’s. They have the best cheesesteak I’ve ever had. 

Jack Gilinsky: Bro we’re going. How far is that from here? I need to go, like I want one right now.  

Jack Johnson: Okay I’m screenshotting this right now.

Jack Gilinsky: Is that your favorite too? 

It’s also my favorite!

Jack Johnson: I’m literally telling our drummer right now – we have to go to Ishkabibble’s. 

What do you guys get on your cheesesteaks?  

Jack Gilinsky: On my cheesesteak, I order a Philly Cheesesteak and I eat it how it comes. What is it, peppers, onions?

What kind of cheese do you get?

Jack Gilinsky: I think I’m going to do provolone. 

Jack Johnson: I will usually do the steak, whatever cheese they recommend, I want to do what the locals do. Then I’ll maybe add some jalapeños, something that adds a little kick to it. I've become more of a spice guy. Maybe some grilled onions in there too. Wherever we end up I’m just excited to get a cheesesteak in Philly!

Jack Gilinsky: It’s going to be great, it’s Philly!

What’s been your favorite song to perform live so far?

Jack Gilinsky: I’m not even going to sugarcoat it, my favorite song to perform live is “Like That,” because every single person who bought a ticket knows every single word to the song.

Jack Johnson: There’s just a different energy. Not to say that the other songs are low energy by any means, the people who have been coming to these shows have been hype for all of them, even the new stuff. I’ve got to say though, “Stuttering” from the new project, for some reason there’s like some crack in that song. 

Jack Gilinsky: That’s going to be a hit, I feel it. 

Jack Johnson: It’s such a hype one live. It’s early in the set so everyone’s still fresh, it’s just been going up every night the energy’s been through the roof. I also really like performing “September’s Gone” because we have the whole band jamming. Writing that at a piano and actually seeing it live, it’s crazy. They’re all great, the medley is so fun to perform because we get to take a little trip down memory lane.

Make sure to stream Home by Jack and Jack, out everywhere NOW and catch the guys on tour through May! 

Copyright ©2024 All rights reserved. Posted: March 20, 2024.


Photos by Emma Fox © 2024. All rights reserved.

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