Wild Rain — Jack Tierney’s New Album Out Now!!
Jack Tierney’s debut album Wild Rain is now out on Bandcamp and all streaming platforms! Blending soothing, ethereal melodies and indie-folk guitar lines with dream-like imagery and a poetic lyricism, Wild Rain draws you in and doesn’t let you go. Throughout, Jack explores the relative isolation of his mid and late-20s – compounded by the loneliness of quarantine – with an honest vulnerability and plainness. Everyone can relate to the simplicity and depth of his lyrics, especially in the context of the past two years, and Wild Rain‘s melodic composition perfectly compliments Jack’s captivating voice and lyricism. Listen to Wild Rain today!
“The sunlight shining through my open blinds / making patterns on my wall / reminding me that something’s out there…”
In addition to writing and recording incredible music, Jack teaches beginner guitar, piano, and bass at The Front Porch. He is also one of our incredibly talented Roots & Wings outreach teachers, where he teaches music at several preschools in Charlottesville that serve low-income families and do not have an existing music program. I recently sat down with Jack to discuss his new album, his creative process, and his work with Roots & Wings. Read our interview below to learn more about his inspirations, what it’s like to self-publish an album during COVID-19, and his teaching journey!
You can find Wild Rain on all major streaming services, or purchase it on Bandcamp HERE to support Jack’s work for only $1 (with the option to donate more). I highly recommend adding this album to all of your playlists; it will stick with you long after you are done listening.
Grab some headphones, put on Wild Rain, and read on to learn more about Jack and his new album.
And, if you are interested in learning how to play guitar or write songs like Jack, The Front Porch offers private and group classes for all ages and skill levels! You can even take a class from Jack himself! Check out our available classes and instruments HERE.
If you agree that music education is important, and want to support The Front Porch’s efforts to connect everyone through music, you can learn more about our outreach efforts or make a donation by clicking HERE. Your donation will go to support Jack and our other incredible Roots & Wings teachers as they provide foundational music education to the kids who need it most.
Interview With Jack Tierney
Eli: Hey Jack! Congratulations on the release of Wild Rain!! Is this the first album you’ve put out?
Jack: Thanks! Yeah, it’s my first album. I put something out a really long time ago – I guess I would call it an EP – but that was many years ago. This is essentially the first public body of work I’ve put out. I spent a long time writing and I had a long time to sit with the songs, so it feels like its been a while coming.
Eli: What’s your creative process like? How do you find inspiration when you’re writing?
Jack: Well, creating this album this felt like a very specific process, and a little different than anything I was used to. A big part of the success of this project was my friend and keyboard player, Wells Hanley, who lives in Richmond and is an amazing pianist, composer, and songwriter. I started taking piano lessons from him, and I showed him the first song I had written – Black and White. He immediately latched onto it and we started working on songwriting.
I think the general theme of the album deals with loneliness. A lot of the songs are coming face-to-face with the relative isolation of my mid-20s, which was of course expounded by the whole quarantine thing. Wells was really great about helping me investigate my internal landscape, and get that out into songs. We talked a lot about dreams and stuff like that, and we interpreted a lot of dreams. I tried to write my dreams into my phone, and brought them to Wells to discuss. Every time we discussed them I learned something, and was often inspired to write more. I don’t feel like I’m a super visual person conciously, so if there’s a wild image in a dream, I’m like “I gotta use that.”
Eli: Well I think that that shines through in the album too. Some of your lyrics seem to be written about very specific images or moments, and then it sort of expands from there.
Jack: Yes, exactly! Some of the lyrics are just specific images from dreams. I think the first verse of Wild Rain is just a weird dream that I had – trying to interpret it and relate it to real life. I think a lot of the songs are like that – the first verse I’m doing sort of an internal investigation, and then the second verse I’m doing something out in the world. In Wild Rain it’s about this trip to Alaska that I took. I was hanging out with my sister, who was working near Denali National Park. There’s not a lot there except a bar and pizza place. It’s an interesting landscape: beautiful scenery, but in a kind of dive-y area. Encountering those people and the beautiful landscape, it’s not hard to write something when you’re out there. It felt slightly lonely, with a big open sky and not much around. It sort of reflected an interior situation for myself, and was quite inspiration to the whole album.
Eli: I actually wondered if some songs had come from a trip to Alaska or the Northeast! Lyrics like “I left the lower forty-eight…/ but I was stuck in the same ol’ state” from the title track certainly speak to that. There’s a thread of isolation and remoteness throughout the whole album, something a lot of people have been struggling with during the pandemic. Were most of the songs written during COVID?
Jack: I probably got started with it a year before all the COVID stuff happened. I think the bulk of it was written before COVID, but not all of it. I was dealing with normal late-20s, early 30s isolation, which of course was compounded by the whole COVID thing and a lot of time to think.
During COVID, I wanted to release one of the songs as a single. I recorded an older version of the song Airplane with my piano teacher Wells and my friend playing mandolin. But I knew so little. I didn’t know you had to get it mastered, or most of the stuff you have to do to release music. Wells set me up with Matt Wyatt, who has a really awesome studio in town called Tree and Booms Studio (you can check it out HERE). I sent it to Matt to master, and he really liked the kind of songs I was writing. He offered to let me record at his studio during COVID.
At the time, I was teaching private lessons remotely and living at my parents’ house in Alexandria, VA because decided I didn’t want to pay rent during COVID when everything was virtual. I gladly jumped at the chance to get out of the house, and drove to Charlottesville about once a month to record it at Matt’s studio. I wrote a couple of the songs during this time, including Divided Berlin, Goodbye Evergreens – another song written about a trip to the Northeast, I wrote the lyrics on the plane leaving Washington State – Suburban Fear, and Old Flowers.
Eli: Was it Wells playing keys on the album?
Jack: Yes! He played everything, including the xylophone on Waterpark, the Rhodes keyboard, and the piano on Goodbye Evergreens. He was incredibly helpful. So was Jana Horn, who sang background vocals on a couple of the tracks. Matt [Wyatt] recorded, produced, and played synth on the album. I want to give so much credit to all of them, they are incredible musicians, and I’m very excited to work with them in the future.
Eli: What other artists do you draw inspiration from?
Jack: It’s so hard, I feel like I go through phases of becoming really obsessed with one person… Definitely Bill Callahan, in the way that he is sort of understated and narrative-driven. Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon too – he has this album called Benji, and the lyrics were really plain and clear, but it was simultaneously about crazy emotional situations and also mundane things. Those sort of songs, when you take a microscope to these really human experiences, can be so rich. Bill Callahan has some of that too, this blend of mundane and spiritual.
I think that’s what I’m always chasing after – finding the spiritual in the mundane.
David Berman of Silver Jews and Purple Mountains was a big influence too. I first heard him on the day he passed away, and took a lot of inspiration from him. He investigated the internal landscape in a very moving and inspirational way for me.
Eli: What’s it like self-publishing an album these days?
Jack: It’s crazy how you can get neurotic about every element of the album. You end up listening to everything over and over again, and at the end you just want to get it out into the world. But Matt was very patient and incredibly helpful, and overall the whole process felt very new and fun. Every step I was learning all this stuff about what goes into making an album. It was tedious at times but not incredibly stressful, because the stakes weren’t too high. It’s my first thing, my first step, and I feel happy if it just reaches a few people. Hopefully some people can find some meaning in it, and that’s all I really want! So far it’s been great, and better received than I anticipated.
Eli: Is there anything else for you in the works?
Jack: I have been writing again, and I feel like I’m getting in a good flow with the writing. It’s pretty early, so it’s hard to say what kind of shape it’s taking. My main goal now is to get out there and play some shows.
Eli: Any shows around here?
Jack: Not yet, but I’m working on it! Hopefully as things get a bit warmer.
Eli: Let us know!! Well, other than your own album, what are you listening to these days?
Jack: Thanks to that Beatles documentary, I’ve been getting into a bunch of Paul McCartney’s solo stuff. I’ve also been listening to a good amount of Elliot Smith, and its been cool to discover a thru-line from McCartney to Smith. So I went back to listen to a bunch of stuff that inspired the Beatles growing up – stuff from the 1930s like Noel Coward. You can trace the lineage from Coward to the Beatles to Elliot Smith, and putting it within that context is really cool. I get really into something for a week and try to understand it really deeply, and then it changes. This week I’ve been trying to get deep into Ravel [the French composer].
I’ve been trying to be a bit more intentional about what I’m listening to, because I do think that it impacts what I’m creating. With Wild Rain my “three guys” were Sun Kil Moon, Bill Callahan, and Dave Berman, and they helped me build the world of Wild Rain. But now I feel like it’s over, so I’m seeking out the artists who are going to help me build up the next world.
Eli: In addition to making music and teaching private lessons at The Front Porch, you also teach as part of The Front Porch’s outreach program, Roots & Wings. How is that going?
Jack: It’s been fantastic! I’ve been teaching music for a while, but working with kids that young is new. It’s been really, really cool. As I’ve learned more about approach and goals as a teacher, I’m really understanding that we’re dealing with this level that is so foundational. The lessons we’re providing are as basic as having a child be able to sing along to the melody of a song, or develop a relationship with the beat and clap along. There are people who I’ve met later in life who don’t believe that they’re tuneful or artistic, and it feels like they could believe that because at this early stage of childhood they weren’t able to develop a relationship with music or creativity. It’s so cool to be working at that level, because it is SO important; it’s their first relationship with music. And then it’s such a good feeling when it really “hits” with a three-year-old who starts singing along or laughing.
Eli: I agree – and you’re making a big impact in those kids lives. Thank you so much for joining me today Jack, and for gracing us all with your artistry! We love the album!!
Jack: Thank you!
Interested in writing your own album? The Front Porch offers individual and group music classes for all ages and skill levels! Sign up for a class with Jack or one of our other amazing teachers today.
Love what The Front Porch does? Learn more about our Roots and Wings outreach program here, and donate to support music education in Charlottesville.
Just looking to listen to some music? Check out our upcoming concerts and events!