Interview of TouchIt’s Lead Singer Jack Douglas by Eliza Mott
photo credit Emilia Whitmer
Could you start by introducing yourself?
Hello my name is Jack Douglas, I’m a senior and I like Rock’n’Roll.
Where are you from?
I was born in Denver and grew up in Atlanta Georgia
So can you tell me a little bit about your band? How you guys came together?
So I think we started like most (CC) bands start, it’s kind of like the primordial soup of sophomore jamming in Mathias and you kind of figure out who is someone who is actually going to be someone you want to keep playing music with. So we kind of slowly just started jamming with each other and that worked out to be a core group or me and Oliver, Kyle, Ken and then we originally sought out Adam Ting because we wanted a sax player because if you’re in a CC band and you don’t have a sax player, it’s just not as special.
Well when we were starting out, almost every band had a sax player.
What does that add?
Sex appeal – sax appeal
So are you all seniors?
Yeah we are all seniors. So that was fun, last Battle of the Bands. Or not the last Battle of the Bands since we were put in the second round, could’ve been the last. I think that sort of gave us either a feeling of I don’t really care about this. But it also gave us a feeling of we should probably do this right.
Those are two very different attitudes so what is the general attitude you are following?
Well my personal attitude was that I really wanted to put on a really good show and I think at first there was a feeling of, we don’t really need to do this and then I was like, “Yeah let’s do this that would be fun. So we practiced a lot (after we) figured out a set and ran it a couple of times before we actually played it.
Are you any of you guys music majors?
Oliver and I are music minors. Besides that we have a film studies major. Kyle, Oliver, and Adam are all O.B.E. majors biology majors and I’m environmental policy.
So, personally for you, what is the connection between Environmental science and music?
Well I mean you can write protest songs about climate change and polar bears. I don’t know I mean you can find connection between anything.
Well of course, but how do you explain it?
I don’t know if you can cultivate a sense of personal interest into music, I think for any cause there have definitely always been musicians behind it. You can talk about Bob Dylan and Civil Rights and Neil and the environment so like there is definitely a connection. But you have to make that connection yourself it’s not like inherent.
And for you do you draw a lot of inspiration from those artists and musicians?
Well Bob Dylan, Neil Young yeah. I mean come on, somewhere on a desert highway. Both pretty iffy singers but they both write pretty beautiful music
So do you think you, as a musician focus and are more drawn to the lyrics or the melody and music of a song?
You know I was having this conversation with Oliver the other day, cause I think it depends on the instrument you play. I think for him rhythm drives a song and for me I’m more of a mix because I do play guitar, harmonica, and I also sing and write lyrics.
I think lyrics are important and I think a singer’s voice can often make or break a song for me. I’ve never liked Blink 182 because I feel like they sound like they are whining the entire time. That definitely is a big part for me but I think melody can often be more important than the lyrics.
You have people whose lyrics are incredible, like Bob Dylan and that’s why they are such incredible artist. I feel like the music for Bob was a platform for what he was trying to say versus the other way around.
When did you get involved in music?
I started playing guitar when I was in sixth grade, so like ten years ago, when I was 12 or 11, I don’t quite remember.
Of the songs you have written is there a song that is particularly important to you at this point in your life?
I think probably the best song I’ve written for Touch-It, me and Ken collaborated on this but I did the lyrics for the majority of the song. We played at Battle of the Bands called Lake House. It’s sort of politically driven in a way.
Can you explain a little bit about what it is about?
It’s called Lake House because the chorus goes something like, a shower can’t wash your soul/it takes something deeper I know/ the old men talk they can’t wait/because dirty money put them in the house by the lake. I wrote it in the summer after my sophomore year and there was just a lot of stuff going on. There was bombings in Israel, bombings in Palestine, there was the Ferguson shootings and Robin Williams died.
I just felt very alienated from the people that were representing me all over this country in all forms of government. So the verses are all about those events like the last verse is about how a whole bunch of people got shot, or a whole bunch of black men got shot at Ferguson or in New York but Robin Williams got all the press. It’s a sort of a looking out of your window on political injustice or tragedy in the world.
So I guess a lake house, I see as a luxury and as something that shows how, these guys, don’t want to relate to you because if they can just go hide in their vacation homes they don’t have to think about these things.
How do you see music being a part of your life after college?
Well there’s a band I played a lot with in high school and they are still playing together which is cool. Go them. They are down in Athens, Georgia. There was a while there where I thought about, not joining their band or anything, but going down and making music with them down on the periphery and just doing day jobs. Then I kinda decided I didn’t want to move back to Georgia so I put the nix on that (plan).
I definitely want to keep playing music. It will probably end up being more of a hobby, I’ll do open mics and stuff like that. Maybe if I find some people I like playing with or have a longer term connection with I’ll start another band but then again as a senior, the next couple years I’ll probably be moving around a fair bit, so I don’t really know.
As a senior, what advice would you give to underclassmen artists/bands?
Sure, so if you’re practicing in Mathias be as respectful as f***k to Lisa because she is the bomb but that being said Mathias bass kind of sucks so if you can find another space on campus I would recommend that.
If you don’t like the music that is being played on campus, make your own band. In general, it’s just about reaching out to people there are so many people trying to get into the scene. It’s about finding people you like playing music with and putting work into it. It’s not easy.
I tell a lot of people this has kind of been my main extracurricular throughout college and obviously it’s not a sanctioned one by the school or anything but it’s definitely something I put a lot of work into.
What has been one of the greatest or most important things you have taken away from being a musician at CC and during your time playing with TouchIt?
Certain bands have a magical skill regardless of what music they are playing to make people mosh. Mac Demarco is one of these musicians, it doesn’t make sense, when I saw him live, he was like, “This is a tender number I wrote this for my lover but keep moshing anyways.”
I don’t know something happens, I think it starts out because of a certain precedent, like your friends get really excited and they start moshing at every show.
I know no other band on campus that has people mosh as much as we do. We do sometimes play punk and hardcore music but I don’t think our sound is cataclysmically different than that of other people at school in terms of like hardness and for some reason people just love moshing to it.
I think we have at least three concussions we are partially responsible for. I’ve been knocked over several times by my own mosh. I don’t know music is fun. Play music if you have a chance.