Jack & Jack
The summer of 2022 was certainly an exciting time to be a Jack & Jack fan. Why? Well, after a three-year hiatus, the duo would return completely out of the blue and surprise everyone with new material, after seemingly parting ways and calling it a day. Just like a lot of musical acts that reform, Jack & Jack were welcomed with open arms as their fans were happy to see their favorite duo back doing what they do best. But yet, it wouldn’t be fair to say there weren't still questions they needed answering about their absence.
If you’re someone who's pretty knowledgeable about internet personalities, the name Jack & Jack will have been on your radar sometime before their musical efforts. The pop-rap twosome, made up of best friends Jack Johnson and Jack Gilinsky, first found recognition through the short-form video hosting service Vine (remember those days?!) during the early part of the last decade. Following their online breakthrough, the Nebraska-born stars quickly became in-demand social media influencers before choosing to pursue music professionally in 2014. From here on out, it’s safe to say they have never looked back. Thus far, their wild journey as Jack & Jack has seen them rack up over a billion streams on Spotify, sell out back-to-back headline tours, produce one of the biggest dance hits with Jonas Blue, and take home awards from MTV and iHeartRadio.
After dropping two EPs, Jack & Jack would release their long-awaited debut album, A Good Friend Is Nice, in January 2019 via Island Records before putting everything on pause for the following couple of years. With a large loyal legion of fans (between them they have nearly 15 million followers on Instagram) that had passionately been riding the wave of success with the duo, many were left wondering why their careers of working together suddenly came to a stop, especially after a consistent victory. That said, after leaving fans in the dark for so long, the pair have come clean and revealed the truth behind their silence.
In a tell-all interview on the Zack Sang Show, Jack & Jack stated that their A&R and manager at the time suggested that Gilinsky go solo and that the duo should not consider putting out any new material together. Jack & Jack were told not to inform their fans about their hiatus and it was suggested that they shouldn’t post content together, which ultimately gave off an energy that they were no longer friends. This, however, was far from the case. During their hiatus, Gilinsky released a couple of singles with Island Records while Johnson put out his own EP, PASTEL: The Early Days, via his own label, Pastel Records.
After working closely together for the most part of the last decade, the obvious question would be, how did Jack & Jack feel venturing out without the other by their side? “It was definitely different,” Gilinsky tells MOOD. “It just didn't feel the same, obviously, but it also just kind of felt off, at least from my end.” Gilinsky openly admits that the solo music he put out didn’t feel as genuine as the material he created with Johnson, confessing it wasn’t a fun time for him.
Known for their bond and close connection with their fans, they certainly weren’t crazy about the idea of giving them the silent treatment about the elephant in the room. “It was weird ‘cuz these people have given their all to us all these years, these are people who have supported us through thick and thin, had our backs through spouts of controversy or just anything where our character may have been questioned, these people have rode for us and had our back and we had theirs. It just felt like it was so disrespectful to the community we had built,” Johnson explains. Fans ended up finding out about their hiatus through an Island event that accidentally announced Gilinsky’s solo career. Even then, the duo was still informed they couldn’t say a thing. “It was wild,” Gilinsky says. “I just gave up on giving an explanation at a certain point, which ate at me, it ate at me every day. I wish it wasn't that way,” Johnson adds.
Both Jacks mutually agree that they live life with no regrets, but would still do things differently if they were able to. Now free from the situation, they try to seek out the positives instead of the negatives. “We wouldn't be here right now in this scenario if we didn't go through these trials and tribulations. So in a sense, maybe it's prepared us for what's to come better than anything,” Johnson says. “We do feel really bad though,” Gilinsky adds. “We wish that we never took it through your hiatus and that we never separated as musical artists.” Johnson continues: “But also everything that happened in the past is very important and, you know, we wouldn't be here today without it. It’s been a huge learning experience, it’s all about how you perceive it.”
Reflecting on their biggest accomplishments, Gilinsky insists there are so many to name but whittles it down to a few. “Winning an iHeart award, playing at Wembley Stadium, having a number one song in the UK. I mean, that's just insane,” he says. However, for Johnson, there is one that particularly stands out as being the most noteworthy. “We performed in the BBC Live Lounge in the UK and that to me was something that I always, at least in the last seven to eight years since I moved out to LA, would watch artists do their renditions of songs on there,” he explains. “Being in the live lounge and actually putting on a performance was definitely a moment. I’ve seen so many of my favorite artists perform there.”
A big change that has occurred since Jack & Jack’s return is that they are no longer signed to a major label and now currently release music independently. “It’s very liberating,” they both express at the same time. “Whoa, that was crazy. We synced up,” Johnson says while laughing. Gilinsky explains that the process of putting out music without a label is a far easier process, sharing they no longer need to ask “nine months in advance” for something to potentially be approved or declined for release. “There are fewer hoops to jump through and we now can drop a song in seven days if we wanted to as independent artists,” he adds. In addition to those benefits, they are now more accountable for all the decisions that are being made. “We have to set up our own sessions, we have to make sure we get these records finished and finalized. It makes us feel like we’re honing our craft and care about what we're doing more. Everything's just coming out the way it should when we're in the studio because of that responsibility that we've taken on,” Johnson says.
Having already achieved commercial success the first time around, the duo didn’t put too much thought into what songs should be leading a new era. Instead of focusing on what could be a contender for a radio hit, Gilinksy and Johnson were keen to just get the wheels in motion again. “We kind of want to stray away from all that and let our die-hard day-one fans know that what we're doing is just feeding them content. And that's what we started doing in 2013, 2014, and we wanted to get back to those roots,” Gilinsky says. “We really just wanted to start dropping the records that we had finished that we liked that felt like they fit the time of year and just kind of the vibe we were in at the time,” Johnson adds.
Following a couple of songs in 2022, their single, “Stuttering,” released in May, is a bop that fans had to wait eight months for. However, given its instant infectiousness, it’s a long wait they shouldn’t be too mad about. "Some might say that that is a long time to not release something new. But here at Jack and Jack, our fans are used to a three-year hiatus. So truthfully speaking, eight months isn't that long," Gilinsky jokes. "But in all seriousness, we want to get on a more expedited schedule for releasing music. Eight months ago when we were putting out Right Here With You and previous to that, Runaway, we were kind of just letting the people know, the people who are still engaged or, care about us in any way, that hey, we're still together, we're still making music."
Discussing the single, the duo reveals that Stuttering came to life in Johnson's bedroom. "We just kind of stumbled upon the idea of meeting that one person who makes you lost for words," Gilinsky says. "It's really just a universal feeling that everybody gets when somebody makes them nervous in some capacity and they trip up on their words," Johnson adds.
While flicking through beats created by the song's producer (JayUncut), the one they ended up using immediately stood out to Gilinsky as it reminded him of a song that he had been listening to earlier that same day. "I had been listening to Billy Joel and he has this song [Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)] that has the phrase, 'A heart attack (ack, ack, ack, ack, ack) / You oughta know.' I was like, 'What if we had one of those moments where it kind of stutters in the hook?' The beat was riding so fast and I think I said stutter and it just kind of stuck," he says. And just like that, the song was written in 45 minutes. "It was very high energy and the creative juices were flowing," Gilinsky adds.
Thankfully, there wasn’t another eight-month delay until the next release as the duo put out the ‘80s-infused What Happened at the end of July and already have us in our feelings with their latest single, the sentimental ballad “September’s Gone,” which is an obvious stand-out in their back catalog. “It all started from me wanting to make a piano riff that was Elton-inspired,” Johnson says. “The song fills me with a sense of nostalgia. I wrote it around the concept of leaving your hometown to chase your dream and leaving the girl that you love, let's say your high school sweetheart behind.” Gilinsky adds: “I can’t wait to perform that one live.”
So far, the recent offerings from Jack & Jack’s latest chapter have showcased a sense of romance in some way. “When winter arrives, we're gonna pretty much flip a whole 180 and just turn into straight savages with no emotions in the future,” Johnson says. He’s joking, obviously. Gilinsky confesses he is a sucker for sad songs and enjoys looking backwards and thinking emotionally at times. “Even though I'm okay with where I'm at and I love where I'm at, it's just fun to be emotional,” he says. “I don't think anything's off limits when it comes to writing and perspective-based writing can sometimes help you progress as a writer too by putting yourself in somebody else's shoes,” Johnson adds.
Working hard in the studio to complete their second studio album, Jack and Jack are in a state of mind where they are buzzing to release more of what they’ve been creating. "These are real deal big hitters," Gilinsky says as he teases what's to come. "We've been locked in the studio and we have been very focused on making sure we're putting our best foot forward with this next album because we feel like this is a really important step for us when we're coming back from such a long hiatus. We've been honing in our sound for the new album during this time, a hundred percent." Johnson also announces their short absence between singles is due to them figuring out their new team. "We've been finalizing our new management deal as well as our distribution deal to make sure we have a solid team in place when we start releasing this project," he says.
One important thing Jack & Jack make note of is that they have penned every lyric on the forthcoming album. “We know that everything that will be said on this project will not come from anyone except us,” Gilinsky declares. “We'll have a true connection to every record, which will be great,” Johnson adds. Crediting Clairo and Harry Styles for doing the same, the record will also contain a lot of live instrumentation. “Me and G, we love thinking about the live aspect and we love real live music. I think making these records with that sort of feeling within them in the undertones is something that people can expect,” Johnson says.
Now Jack & Jack the duo are back in full swing doesn’t mean solo projects are off limits, however. In fact, they have both continued to work on separate material and fully support what’s to come. This time, Gilinsky feels more confident moving forward as he is able to have the creative freedom he was never originally given. “When I was doing my first two solo songs, my manager at the time didn't want me working with any of my friends, he would set me up with all these industry sessions. I felt honored to be in these rooms with these legendary people, producers, and writers, but it put me in a position where it just didn't feel right,” he explains. His first full-length body of work, which he insists will definitely come out at some point, will contain songs he believes have “stood the test of time.” A particular track named “Savages,” which Gilinsky has been sitting on for over two years, is one that can be expected to be released.
Johnson’s solo experience, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. “It was stuff I genuinely really wanted to promote, which was great. It was fun to dive into my own world,” he says. “With the future solo releases, it'll probably just be an extension of that. Right now, I’m just experimenting at the house trying to figure out what those records are gonna be for when the project does come. But yeah, absolutely there will be another Pastel iteration in the future if everything goes to plan.”
Regarding the Jack & Jack album, they are still putting the finishing touches on it. With 90 percent of it completed and 7-8 songs they know are definitely making the cut, Johnson informs fans that their goal is for the final product to have a total of 10-12 tracks. "We want to have something you can put on during your road trip and really consume without making it too long and something that you can't get through in one sitting," he says. "We kinda wanna walk that middle ground and make something that's consumable yet has some good substance behind it and actually has a lot of different vibes on there."
Johnson assures us that listening to the forthcoming LP from front to back is going to be an emotional journey and that we can expect our mood swings to constantly change. "Some of the songs might seem innocent, and then you get hit outta nowhere by an emotional tear-jerker and something more sentimental," he says. So, when will this album finally drop? "Within the year 2024, it'll be out. That's a fact," Johnson states. So, if you're reading this one year from now, how does it feel to be able to listen to Jack & Jack's long-awaited sophomore album?