Go Play: Montgomery native finds success in music (Andy Jackson)

By Matt Okarmus.  Posted December 30, 2010.

Andy Jackson

Andy Jackson performs with the band Terrible Things.

Death in the Park's self-ti­tled debut is a 10-track al­bum that features guest vo­cals from Paramore's Hayley Williams on "Fallen." It was released in September and is available digitally, as is Terri­ble Things' self-titled debut.

Andy Jackson does terrible things at the park.

Far from a criminal, that actu­ally applies to the musical asso­ciations of the Montgomerian, currently a member of both the rock ‘n’ roll band Terrible Things and the indie rock band Death in the Park. However, be­fore he was terrible, Jackson was just making a name for him­self with Hot Rod Circuit, the first band he had major success with.

Born in North Carolina, Jack­son’s family moved to Birming­ham when he was three, and re­located to Montgomery when he was five. A graduate of Robert E. Lee High School, Jackson is now a father of three daughters who attend school in the city their fa­ther grew up in.

“I liked Montgomery’s cool, small-town vibe,” Jackson said. “It was one of those places where you could run around the neighborhood as kids.”

Jackson began his foray into music during his teenage years. He and his friends played in a variety of places, including skating rinks and house parties.

“I tried sports — football, rug­by — but it just wasn’t my thing,” Jackson said. “I was a skater and I hung around kids with different views. My love for music came from the skater scene and it drove me to do something different.”

On the suggestion of Jim Mar­rer of Zero Return Studios in Millbrook, an 18-year-old Jack­son met guitarist Casey Pre­stwood of Auburn. Jackson said he was “blown away” and the two merged their bands togeth­er to create Antidote, which lat­er became Hot Rod Circuit.

“We just heard it on an epi­sode of the ‘Simpsons,'” Jack­son said of the band’s name. “I think one of the characters said something about being on the hot rod circuit and we thought that sounded cool.”

At one point, Jackson went with his now ex-wife to visit her family in Connecticut. While there, the seeds were planted for the band’s move out of Alabama.

“I picked up the paper and I saw all these shows being adver­tised in places like New York, Boston, New Jersey,” Jackson said, “and I realized that’s where I needed to be.”

Jackson told his bandmates that he wanted to move to be closer to the type of music scene they were trying to break into. They all agreed, and thus the life of a struggling musician began. Jackson recalled sleeping on his mother-in-law’s floor and the band pitching in to get an apart­ment together.

The sacrifices paid off as Hot Rod Circuit enjoyed a decade-long career, releasing six al­bums and appearing on various soundtracks while touring countries such as Australia. Aft­er years together, the band members decided to go their separate ways.

“Everybody spent so much time on the road … we all just wanted to do something differ­ent,” Jackson said about the breakup.

Before saying goodbye for good, however, the band took a hiatus. It was during that time that Jackson began exploring other aspects of music, eventu­ally opening The Jackalope Stu­dio and playing a role in the early stages of the careers of lo­cal bands such as The Escape Frame and Evolett.

“Anything I can do to get my hand in the music,” Jackson said. “When it comes to music, I like to know everything there is about it.”

Jackson was the main song­writer for Hot Rod Circuit, as well as the lead vocalist and a guitarist. He also wrote every­thing for his solo project, Death in the Park, which gets its name from a song by Archers of Loaf, a band Jackson admired grow­ing up.

“When people hear the name, they think dark and heavy,” Jackson said. “But look at The Killers. They have an even dark­er name but come off classy.”

While there are some darker elements — Jackson credits the TV show “Dexter” as an inspira­tion for the music and the album artwork — he describes Death in the Park as “indie rock with a darker, melodic somewhat dancy feel.”

At first, Jackson was insecure about showing his material to anyone, but after receiving posi­tive feedback, he began record­ing and the solo project turned into a band. However, after a chance meeting with Fred Mas­cherino, Death in the Park once again became a side project.

Mascherino, formerly of alter­native rock band Taking Back Sunday, was in Montgomery playing a solo set at a venue where Jackson was helping out. The two had crossed paths be­fore, but after hearing Masche­rino’s music, Jackson told him that if he “ever wanted to do something” to let him know.

A short time later, Jackson re­ceived a phone call from Mas­cherino who said he was indeed interested in working with Jackson, and after securing for­mer Coheed and Cambria drum­mer Josh Eppard, Terrible Things was born. As the band featured members of former bands, fans of the various groups began buzzing about what the three musicians would sound like together.

That attention helped Terri­ble Things achieve something Jackson had not experienced be­fore — signing to a major record label, Universal Motown.

“It’s crazy, a different world,” Jackson said. “Having a label rep calling you saying you’re not tweeting enough — it’s kind of funny.”

Jackson said he feels support from Universal Motown and feels like the label believes in the band. The label set up a mu­sic video shoot for Terrible Things’ first single, “Revolu­tion,” off their self-titled album.

That same support is some­thing he wished there was more of from his hometown, not just for his bands but for an entire music scene.

“Montgomery’s not a music town, it’s not known for its out­break of music like Nashville and Atlanta,” Jackson said. “There are people that care, but there’s just not an urgency for local music. There are a lot of musicians and a lot of good bands here that if local radio were to give a listen to, they would actually like.”

When Jackson moved back to Montgomery, he said the deci­sion was easy because his fami­ly is here. His daughters are no longer the fans they used to be, which he thinks is “awesome,” as he believes it shows they have embraced their individual­ity.

“Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think they’re impressed anymore,” Jackson said with a laugh. “They would have been so excited years ago, but now they are just like ‘cool, thanks for the copy.'”

Jackson is now on tour with Terrible Things, promoting their album that came out in August. They are currently fin­ishing their winter tour and preparing to hit the road with Bayside and Streetlight Mani­festo in early 2011 before em­barking on the summer music festival, Warped Tour.

“I rarely take a day off,” Jack­son said. “I like to work and I hate sitting around.”

original location: http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/article/20101230/GO/12300310/1023/ARCHIVES

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