American singer-songwriter Jacob Kulick has just released his debut album as Kulick; ‘Yelling in a Quiet Neighborhood’. As raw and emotional an album as you are as likely to have heard this year, ‘Yelling in a Quiet Neighborhood’ is a stunning piece of work, and we spoke to Jacob about the album and how much it took out of him. Check out his thoughts below, and don’t forget to check out his music.
Hi Jacob, thanks for taking the time out to answer a few questions, it’s greatly appreciated!
First of all, your debut album ‘Yelling in a Quiet Neighborhood’ has just been released. It’s quite a dark, and personal album, it must have taken a great deal out of you writing and recording it, but how do you feel now that the album is finished and out there? Does that mean that you can put everything behind you and, to an extent, move on?
It was definitely a very heavy album to write, and when it was first released I was really nervous for everyone to hear what I have been going through, but it was so well received and is relatable to so many people. That always makes it worth it for me. Now that it is finished, I do feel more closure emotionally and in general with my divorce.
Were you able to use the album as a form of catharsis? I believe that the tracks were written in chronological order?
Yes, absolutely. I think 90% of what I write is written as a form of catharsis. I honestly wasn’t trying to write an album, I was just writing how I was feeling and documenting everything because I knew that I would want to look back and have a clearer understanding of what I was going through. The record for the most part was written in chronological order, with the exception of two songs that were written a few years ago (Talking to the Ceiling and Lonely).
‘Yelling in a Quiet Neighborhood’ is an intriguing album title; it could mean ten different things to ten different people (I’m going with the suggestion of “why aren’t you listening to me?”), but what is the true meaning behind it? Also, the striking cover art: with the tape over your mouth, are you being silenced, and if so, why?
I love the album title so damn much, more than some of the songs honestly!! It just summarizes the experience in so many ways. Why aren’t you listening to me is definitely one way to take it. It was also kind of like “keep the peace in this neighborhood, pretend nothing is happening.” And the tape definitely signifies trying to keep everything quiet, along with keeping my sexual identity and curiosities close to me, which I continue to do, but especially when going through the split.
One of the stand-out tracks on the album is ‘Just Be Friends’, a track that most people can identify with, it must have been tough hearing this one back for the first time?
The verses get me every time. Those lyrics were written almost immediately after the “final” conversation with my wife, when I was asking if we could be civil, and we were but she told me there was no way she’d be friends with me after this because it would be too painful, which I respect and understand. We were high school sweethearts and have only been with each other for 11 years, so it was one of the most difficult things I have ever done.
Have you revisited the album now that it’s out? And, if so, would you change anything?
Listening to the album now gives me relief because I am glad that I am not feeling that heaviness anymore. I still think about it, but I try to think of it positively and continue to forgive myself. As for the record sonically, I am in love with it and wouldn’t change anything. It sounds like how I was feeling. In your face, emotional, and defeated.
When you put so much into your debut album, how quickly do your thoughts turn to the follow-up? Especially since touring the album is not an option at the minute…
My thoughts are always on the follow-up. I think ahead with everything (thanks anxiety lol) but I am just passionate about documenting my emotions and my life. I am already working on new songs, and I have a plethora of demos to dive into.
I believe that you’ve been involved in writing and making your own music from an early age, what is your earliest musical memory? When did you realise that this was the career path that you wanted to go down?
My earliest musical memory has to do with the catholic church when the altar boys would ring the bells when the priest blessed the body of Christ. I was an altar boy for that reason LOL! I was about 10. As for when I wanted it to be a career, I would say when I started being able to record myself in my bedroom at about 13, and I would fantasize about being a radio star.
Who would you say that, personally, has been the biggest influence on you becoming a musician?
Tom Petty. He can get you into a chorus in record time while keeping it simple, and with hooks that you will sing for days, even if you don’t like his voice or his music. That is what I always wanted to be able to do. Write such good songs that you can’t unhear or forget them.
What has been the biggest challenge that you’ve had to overcome as a musician? Hearing loss doesn’t seem to have slowed you down at all?! Fellow Tinnitus sufferer here: any tips?!
The hearing loss I always ignored sadly, even with being born half deaf in both ears. I wanted to be treated as if I had full hearing so that I didn’t get special treatment. However, now I wear my hearing aids and it helps so much with hearing people and mixing music (IMAGINE THAT!) The biggest challenge for me has been anxiety and depression, even before touring started. I have always had anxiety with travel, being alone, death, and socializing in general. The challenge to not be standoffish and talk to fans and not look like I’m a mean douchebag (because I’m NOT!! :)) has been the challenge, but I have improved so much since starting touring. I’m sorry you suffer from tinnitus as well! Tips for tinnitus would be to WEAR EARPLUGS and listen to calming music when it happens.
Good tips! Now, you’ve toured with many different acts, Andy Black, and Faim being just two recent ones: who would be the ultimate act for Kulick to open for? The perfect match?
I would love to open for TwentyOnePilots or Kings of Leon. I love both bands and I feel like I’m a nice hybrid between them.
Who would you class as an underrated songwriter?
I have to go with Tom Petty again. Since his death, people are glorifying him, and I hope they continue to do so, but I really think he wrote some of the best storyteller songs.
Tom Petty was such a sad loss. Back to Kulick; what are your plans for 2021 – should some sort of normality return?
If we can tour, absolutely touring. Writing for a new record and filming a lot of new live content and acoustic content. Mixing and recording other artists, including April Rose Gabrielli, who is my partner and keyboard player, working on her career debut as a solo artist.
Lastly: PS5 or Xbox Series X? Or Nintendo even!
I FINALLY got 1st in Call of Duty Warzone Solo’s on the PS4 so my answer has to be a PS4, not the newer systems because I stick with what I win with!
Thanks for your time Jacob, take care and stay safe!
Thank you! Stay safe, check-in with yourselves, and take care out there!
Connect with Kulick, here.
Interview – Dave