'ROLLIN' IN THE FRUITS OF HIS EFFORTS;
A CHAT WITH ARTIST JACK.R.REILLY
“To have my small little fingerprint on the huge monument that is Triple J, it is unbelievable” says Reilly of his accomplishment.
Quick successions of exhaled breath are all but muted by the repetitions of the word ‘rollin’ being screamed through the speakers in the room.
The tiny, one-bedroom apartment that the boys find themselves in is engulfed by noise as the sounds of the band ‘Limp Bizkit’ bounce off every surface. Their youth compels them to jump on the bed, passionately keeping to the beat of the echoes that fill the room.
“That was band practice”, Jack says as he reminisces on his 8-year-old self.
What started out as no more than a glorified hang between friends, quickly escalated to an investment in a band that propelled Jack’s love for music into another realm. “At the time we were just pretending, and we kept pretending really until we eventually acquired ourselves instruments,” Jack jokes.
When Jack speaks, it is almost seems as if you are communicating with the internet. As one conversational tab is opened and covered, he will seamlessly move onto the next and it is your job to keep up. Reilly carries your question from one topic to another, until he finishes with an apologetic ‘I hope that answers your question’.
At one moment, he will be speaking about the values of Kevin Smith and his love for Winona Ryder, and the next he will be extolling the merits of music as a sort of saving grace in his life. Nonetheless, like any true creative, he brings a new dynamic to the often bland line of questioning that can stem from any interview.
‘I never wanted to be that guy that sits at a party and plays Wonderwall’ he says, sitting on the floor of his in-law’s lounge room in Coogee. He is wearing a plain black t-shirt, blue jeans and statement-red Nikes. He boasts an unshaved beard, personifying both his informed and casual demeanor.
‘Although, I think I’ve definitely been that guy at one point’.
Reilly’s song ‘Submerged’, which was nominated in 2016 for the esteemed Triple J’s Hottest 100, is revealing of his unique style and the niche he wishes to pave out for himself within the industry. The bleakness of the lyrics, entwined with the buoyancy of the sound, highlight the paradox that is often conveyed through Reilly’s music. ‘Submerged’ has a contemplative feel, the kind of track that would accompany a nostalgic car trip through the rain. The undulations of the tones seem to underpin Reilly’s ‘really dramatic’, post-punk image.
Jonathon Tooke, instrumentalist/singer for Triple J favourite Cry Club and friend, agrees with this sentiment. ‘I interpret his music as a pretty deep reflection of himself but also with a very strong sense of place’.
The friendship between the two naturally compliments their professionalism, with Reilly believing that all his work is ‘50% labor intensive, and 50% fun and vibe’. The casual professionalism evident between the two is unmistakably what makes Reilly’s music great, allowing the two to push each other musically in an environment where they are truly comfortable to do so.
Buying into the Jack R. Reilly brand, means buying into Reilly’s captivating honesty. He continually affirms that landing a connection with the prodigious ‘Triple J’ came as major news to him. ‘I almost feel as if I am unworthy; I am unworthy!’, the humility of this statement a clear reflection of his perceived place within the musical world.
Music for Reilly is a form of personal therapy, a means through which he can separate himself from the troubles that he is facing. Although notions of success are naturally inviting for the artist, Reilly often embarks on the production of his music without the audience in a mind; a process which he admits is possibly a ‘really bad business move’.
But with reviews averaging 4.5 stars, and an established profile on ‘Triple J’s Unearthed’, it would seem that
this approach is benefitting the young artist.
Raised in Kiama after moving from Sydney, Reilly quickly realised that he was different to the bronzed, salt-laden boys of the town. He grew up listening to the sounds of Triple J, crediting the institution as a significant factor to his development as a human. Long drives with his parents were often complimented by the melodies that had not yet, if ever, broken the mainstream market. Music became an intrinsic element of Reilly’s life throughout his youth, and has remained pertinent to his identity.
Working as an early education teacher, one could say that this line of work presents itself as an unlikely companion to his musical passions, and at first it did. Entering into full-time work generated particular struggles that Reilly never had to face before. ‘The line of work I am in can be physically, emotionally and psychologically draining, and so I was unable to pursue my music creation with the gusto that I had in university’.
But such hurdles paved the way for the development of new skills, allowing Reilly to be more tactful and intuitive in the way that he approaches his passion; a passion that found its genesis during his adolescence.
Characterised by copious amounts of 'guy-liner' and Woolworth’s purchased dog collars, Reilly’s adolescence soon became a stark contrast to the images that often personify a person’s teenagehood. While the rest of his peers were drowning themselves in the quintessential elements of their youth, Reilly, his friend Ben, and Ben’s brother focused on the band that was quickly becoming a clear extension of their very being. His life became
devoid of strong interactions and connections that were external to his band ‘Laceration’, and consisted of a series of routine and an inherent drive for success. ‘That was my life. We just had three dudes and band practice every weekend’.
Aspirations of rock stardom, as well as all of the experiences emblematic of that title, unfortunately came to an unexpected stop when the band ended. ‘I thought I was going to die in Laceration,’ Reilly exclaims.
Having squandered a lot of his friends, and possible chances at expanding his social circle, Reilly’s immediate post-high school experience became a time of loneliness and exhaustive attempts at arranging jam sessions among other musicians. ‘There were no solid, concrete groups at TAFE, so it definitely became quite a lonely time for me,’ he says.
A year and a half dwindled by, and without any real intention, Reilly was drawn straight back into the realm in which he was most comfortable. It was upon a train trip to Kiama, that he met fellow musician, Nathan Arnold, who introduced him to artists Jacob Spinks and Sam Clayton. ‘I just fell in love with these dudes’, he remarks, chuckling at the sentiment that just passed through his lips.
Reilly’s artistic direction and drive to push the boundaries of the broader music culture he
previously found himself in became the very reason for the deep adoration that he
expresses toward his new found friends. Characterising the trio as the ‘coolest’ and ‘most switched on’ people that he had ever met in his life, Reilly was enthralled by both their pop culture knowledge and the lens through
which they viewed music creation. As someone who self proclaims themselves as ‘really into
being weird,' Reilly found that these boys became a compliment to his artistic desires and
This immediate friendship soon birthed God Save the Good Doctor- a band that garnered a lot of inspiration from the new-wave of British pop that was starting to originate around this time. Like any musician, travel became a common element of Reilly’s life. Hopping from venue to venue, and knowing the inside of a car better than the back of his hand, Reilly wholeheartedly threw himself into this life of music, building with it a strong sense of
community and companionship. ‘I feel like my real adolescence happened when I was 21 hanging out with these dudes’.
Reilly is currently underway with a 5-song E.P. called ‘Videotapes’. The title gives a clear insight into the contents of the album, with Reilly dedicating each song to particular films he loves such as BeetleJuice and Edward Scissorhands. ‘Write about what you know, and what you like,’ Reilly says.
In an attempt to inject himself into the narrative of these plot lines, Reilly hopes that the audience will connect to it in the way that he connects to the films. ‘I just relate to it on this weird level, there’s just this deep sense of connection’.
Although Reilly creates his music on his own accord, and to serve his own needs, he is always elated when he receives the positive feedback that he does from the audience. ‘I wanted to be taken seriously, and take
it seriously as well,' he says, emphasising his love for pushing the boundaries of the music
‘And shit, it seems like it’s doing okay’.