Local Limelight: Getting to Know Simple Jack

simplejack1.4Even at first glance it is clear that Simple Jack is not your typical small town band. Bringing people of all ages together since 2011, they are a band that encompasses many generations. Tim Martuzas, Anthony Ubriaco, Paul Juiliani, and Pat Myers have combined their different backgrounds to form the next up and coming band in Watertown, NY. With decades of experience under their belt they flawlessly breathe life back into otherwise forgotten hits and put an old school flare on the new ones. No matter the genre, or generation of music you love, there is something for everyone at a Simple Jack show.These guys are not only talented but they embody a love for music at its core. They are a refreshing reminder that we are separated by many things but music should not be one of them. I was able to sit down and talk with them recently and after learning about the men of Simple Jack I am more a fan than ever before.

Katrina Johnson: How did Simple Jack get started?

Tim Martuzas: We started on November 11, 2011. At the time it was Steve Morley, Paul, and myself. We were all in between bands and Steve asked if we wanted to jam. There was Simple Jack.

KJ: Where did the name Simple Jack come from?simplejack13

TM: We were sitting around trying to come up with all these different names and most of what we were coming up with could be offensive

Paul Juiliani: Steve suggested it because he was talking about the movie Tropic Thunder. We got it from that Simple Jack. But then I could be considered a Simple Jack.

TM: Also it was brought up, we just wanted something simple. So what better than to just use that as part of the name.

KJ: How did you get to the current line up with Anthony and Pat?

Anthony Ubriaco: Tim had called me and told me if I ever needed a band to give him a call. At the time I didn’t think he was serious. But a couple of weeks later, after my band broke up, he asked why I didn’t call him. So I came out to jam with them and it stuck. Then about this time last year Steve decided he wanted to part ways and focus on work. Tim worked with Pat at musicology and approached him about playing bass. So he came and we jammed and now he is a key member.

KJ: When did you learn to play?simplejack5.2

Pat Myers: I started playing music in 2006. I started playing professionally when I joined this band.

TM: I went to music school, it’s not where I learned music though.

PJ: It comes from the heart. If you want to do it you will go out and learn how to do it, and find people to do it with.

TM: I started playing in 1982. My first gig was at a roller rink. This was back before the days of the DJ. A DJ used to have to carry in racks of boxes of records. Now they walk in with an iPod and get paid more than musicians get for all of their thousands of dollars in investment. The older school people grew up with a multiple of venues to play in. Not just bars; there was dances, dinners, weddings. Long before the DJ market dominated all of that. School dances never had a DJ, there was always a live band. It didn’t make any sense to have a DJ come in with boxes of records and hope he had the right ones. Today someone can pull up whatever they want on their iPad and carry nothing as far as equipment. It discourages the market as far as live music goes. At a lot of those school events the bands went to those schools, so the kids knew the bands. U had a ready-made following.

PJ: Yea but once you got popular you would go to other schools.

AU: I learned to play the guitar seriously 3 or 4 years ago. I’ve been singing since I was 3 or 4. I started playing professionally with Wagners in 2009. I have had other bands but nothing was real serious, it was just fun.

PJ: I couldn’t tell you for sure but I would say I started playing in the late 60’s

KJ: Who are your idols?simplejack2.2

PJ: That is a tough one. There is so many. You get it every day, from anything, from the past and present. Of course my first influence was the Beatles, I love them.

PM: I was influenced by my cousin who let me play his drums and bass whenever I was at his place. He showed me a few bass lines and got me started.

TM: Mine would be a cross between Stevie Ray Vaughan, David Gilmour, and Randy Ross. Those are my main influences. But if I had to pick a musical idol I would say my Uncle Chuck. He wasn’t a national musician but he is the reason why I have had the success I have had in this business. His notoriety gave me a lot of access to doors that wouldn’t have been open to just anybody. His name has gotten me further than my own ability has.

AU: In terms of singing, my earliest influence was Billy Joel. 12 inch records that I would play over and over again and sing along with. I have always been a big fan of Huey Lewis, tons of blues acts like Clapton and Vaughan, Colin James from Canada. I would say that is my wheelhouse vocally. But I also try to do other things so I can be as useable as possible. For guitar, I just play, I don’t really try to emulate anyone. I just listen to things and try to pick up little pieces. But at the core I would say I’m probably a blues guitar player so again Clapton. Not so much Vaughan, I’m not as fast as him.

KJ: Do you have a favorite song to play?simplejack4

PJ: It’s hard to say, we like them all. Huey Lewis comes off strong. We play a variety for the crowd and because it makes us feel good.

TM: We try to play to our crowd. With the age difference we are picking stuff for every one of our genres. I tend to like a heavier rock, like Rush, but that’s not the crowd pleasing stuff so we don’t tend to do a lot of it. We basically play what we think people want to hear based on who we are playing for.

KJ: What are your fondest memories in your music careers?

TM: That’s a tough one because it actually happens about one in every five gigs. Where we have an incredible job and the audience connects with us. There is a lot of memorable moments as a musician. It’s hard to pick just one because some of the best times of my life have been on stage. With the people I play it with. And the things that lead up to the gigs, the road trips. Anthony and I went on a 2200 mile road trip across the entire gulf coast. Stopped in every music town there was, sampled what they were putting out. It was his trial by fire. We hired him and the next day he gets in the car with me and we travel the gulf coast. Playing as much as we can, experiencing as much as we can, seeing how many flavors we can get in, and then came back and played the next weekend. Those are the fun things, the things you get to do because you are a musician.

PM: It would have to be either the night we played at The Paddock during this small tattoo festival they had. Double Barrel Blues Band started the night and we finished it out. After the gig, I went out into the arcade and got a brand new tattoo. Either that, or a night that we played at O’Brien’s in Clayton. They had some shooter girls brandishing Fireball Whiskey and the house was just packed. The girls were bringing shots on stage and it was just a really amazing night.

PJ: One of my favorite events to play was kite day. It was up at the park. You are on a huge stage and you look out and see a whole sea of people. That was fun.

TM: Large crowds are obviously fun because of the noise level. There have been a couple of them that have been awesome.

AU: It’s really nice when you put out the energy and they give it back to you. If you get enough people in the room and they are interested it brings out the best in you. Like new town was probably one of the coolest things I ever did. Not only was it for a really great cause but there was a ton of people and they were interested in the music. It’s not like a bar where they want to drink, they don’t want to listen to music.

KJ: Do you think the age difference helps you?simplejack3

TM: I think it helps because it allows the younger perspective. Which has more of an insight on what’s happening now. Plus you have the experience of the older musicians who have done it and knows the ropes. I think it’s an advantage having multiple generations. A lot of bands today pick their members based on availability. Its compatibility that’s important, whether they work well with you. You can get really cool sound by mixing different backgrounds of people.

PM: I don’t care about the age difference. Playing with people who are far more experienced than myself has been great.

AU: I would say I agree. It works well in our favor. You got generations with different points of view adding their little bits into the mix. If you have so much distance in terms of the way that you were raised and learned to play then that can mesh together and either be good or bad. In our case it ended up being good. We just kind of gel. I would say if you took any other 4 random people and tried to do what we do you have a 50/50 shot that it’s going to be bad.

TM: If you put 4 older musicians in a band they are going to play for crowds that are older and only play crowds that are older. They are going to play the music from their generation to one group of people. And it’s the same with young bands. But I think a mix like this we get people in their 20’s up to their 80’s.

Check out Simple Jack at an upcoming show!

April 24 – The Paddock Club, Watertown NY

April 25 – Time Warp Tavern, Watertown NY

May 15 – The John Hoover Inn, Evans Mills NY

May 23 – First Round, Watertown NY

June 26 – First Round, Watertown NY