Originally published in October 2017
INTERVIEW WITH JAC DALTON
Not only is Jac Dalton the Aussie-based American singer, earning his chops in Melodic Rock since 2007 debut. He’s also a brilliant storyteller and each interview he does may be turned into a book – only to fill up the proverbial library! And while you still can get yourself familiar with his past endeavours via Rocktopia interview we did a couple of years ago, now Jac Dalton looks forward to the bright future ahead. Only recently has he launched a crowdfunding campaign to support the release of his new EP and the upcoming performance at HRH AOR VI. We’ve caught up to chat about the decision as well as the plans and the hopes behind it.
The last time that we chatted, you had the Powderkeg album just coming out. What has the group behind Jac Dalton been up to since then?
Jac Dalton: There’s an adage that says ‘may we live in interesting times’. No doubt about that these days – just look at the headlines. And it seems things are getting crazier and crazier – causative factor #1 as to why support and promotion of original music over the past few years has stalled throughout the commercial arenas. As human beings, it is our nature to run for the comfort of familiarity when peace of mind is threatened – hence the popularity of nostalgic tribute acts and cover bands across the globe the last few years… including our own Land Downunder.
In order for Jac Dalton to survive and progress the past 18 months, we’ve had to add a fair few covers to our original repertoire – an exercise which at first was a very distasteful consideration. Truth is, the opportunity has benefited us more profoundly than any of us would’ve ever imagined. Because of the diverse genre backgrounds of the band members, and the stadium rock arena wherein we dwell, we have carefully crafted a setlist of iconic classics that work well for us in context – a collection of all-killer, no-filler anthems most bands would not consider because of either extreme vocals, intricate harmonies, or lack of lead guitar prowess within the lineup – to pull them off respectfully. With our history and versatility, we’re able to do things that enable us to stand out from most hybrid acts. Well-known classics that inspired and pushed us to strive as musicians during the 80s, we’ve polished up, made our own, and come to embrace – all while interspersing original songs amongst the repertoire each time we perform. The best part is that we’ve chosen songs compatible with our own material so that audiences have no idea they’re defining tomorrow’s covers today as they dance and party to them all.
Rehearsing and performing this way, our growth curve the past 18 months has been almost vertical, refining our stagecraft and originals heaps faster and better than we would’ve ever believed to be possible. Focus to task is a grand thing, but surrendering to the opportunity of inevitability for us has made the difference. Bottom line is that with the addition of these enjoyable anthems, we’ve been able to play a lot harder, a lot more often, featured at larger gigs and Festivals to larger crowds who have embraced every song we play – propelling us further down the road of our journey than we would otherwise be. The extra opportunities have made us better artists, Brothers more trusting of each other, and funded the majority of the cost for our upcoming March European tour commencing in Wales with a debut performance at HardRockHell (hrhaor.com) alongside some the greatest, most prestigious melodic rock acts in the World. Rounding out the post-HRH tour billing are UK A-list acts ‘SuperFecta’ and Rob Mancini, and US Rock Starlet Jessie Galante. ‘Excited’ doesn’t begin to cover the anticipation in our jittering bellies.
As well, the past 18 months have put us in the sights of 3 major record labels interested in signing us. We’ve been noticed by a major North American promoter who’s taken a shine and is presently organizing major supports for us with tours across North America during 2018. We recently performed at the Airlie Beach Music Festival, Queensland – one of Oz’s biggest and most prestigious Music Festivals to full houses resulting already in a dozen bookings for significant shows in the New Year. And amidst all of this, we’ve penned worthy songs for the new EP – entitled ‘IMMORTAL’ – we’ll be releasing during our upcoming tour – with the followup album it seeds being completed next year.
The dream continues to take us a more tortuous route than expected, but the lessons we’re learning and the love that keeps getting shared along the way not only adds more color and texture to our verse of life, but makes our conveyance of the journey all the more believable and genuine from both sides of the limelight.
We’ve caught up today to discuss the new Jac Dalton crowdfunding campaign as well as the new EP. Could you remind us of the goal behind the campaign?
Jac Dalton: Observing headlines, blogs, news – it’s easy to buy into the idea that the World at present is just one big scary hostile battleground with everyone against each other, out for only their own cause(s) – regardless of collateral harm to bystanders. It is corporate/political agendas stoking these fires, based upon time-proven facts that money changes hands more readily when people are in a state of fear – as opposed to when they are happy. ‘Happy’ people are content just enjoying the moment – no temptation or interest in anything extra or distracting but the moment – a concept that doesn’t enable corporations to make as much revenue. When we’re afraid, however, it is our nature to spend whatever it costs to restore a state of blissful dis-acknowledgment and bliss to our lives. Truth of the matter IS that regardless of the situation, a single truth exists: ‘it takes the same amount of effort to shake someone’s hand as it does to make a fist’. It is this concept we’ll be sharing with audiences as we crisscross Europe in the coming months – as captured in our EP ‘IMMORTAL’.
Where did the idea of starting a crowdfunding campaign come from?
Jac Dalton: When we received our unexpected invitation to HRH back in January and ran the figures, the bottom line was $25,000AUS for the 5 of us to produce our EP and make the trip. At that time we had few gigs on the books but were absolutely committed to making this tour happen. The personal commitment each of us made to the project was that airfare(s) would be covered individually, with remaining funding to be generated collectively by performing. So, 5 determined band members and 1 tenacious PR agent named Tracey pointed ourselves in 6 different directions and started beating the bushes for anyone that would hire us. The band members contacted a long list of agents and agencies, venue managers and talent agencies while our PR guru focused on bigger events like Festivals and tours. One by one, events started being added to the roster, some bigger and better paying than others, but every one profiling us, opening new doors, increasing demand for future performances, and bringing us closer to our goal.
Six weeks ago we realized that even with the colossal effort we’ve put in we would still be $4K short of the intended promised-land. Hands skyward, surrendering to the Heavens… we asked ‘what to do’? Cleaning out the weekly spam from my e-mailbox a KickStarter campaign caught my eye. It was an ad by a ghetto artist in LA seeking funding for a project to help provide purpose to some local kids. The beauty of the intentions touched me deeply and I contributed then and there to something and someone I knew absolutely nothing about. As I hit the ‘confirm transaction’ button on PayPal, it hit me that if this sort of opportunity touched ‘me’ this way, then perhaps ‘we’ could do something similar to secure the funds necessary to produce ‘IMMORTAL’. Hopes are that the same heart string ‘pluck’ I felt with the project I supported might touch those considering our project the same way.
More and more crowdfunding platforms are emerging these days. Why was Kickstarter your platform of choice?
Jac Dalton: Each crowdfunding platform is a little different with regard to rules and what is considered a successful campaign. KickStarter has definitely been around the longest, is one of the biggest and most often visited. But the clencher for us in choosing KS was the fact that with them it’s ‘all or nothing’ – the same creedo our band has lived by since day one. We never hold anything back when we prepare or perform, and we’ve never saved anything for the swim back to shore from out in the deep waters we often put ourselves in testing what we’re made of. I suppose you could say it was similarities in principle that pinged the right chord with us.
What kind of rewards can pledgers get, and which do you think will be the most popular among those who decide to contribute? Which do you think are the most unusual?
Jac Dalton: It’s really cool surfing through some of the campaigns on KS seeing how far people’s imaginations and creativities for projects, rewards and descriptions thereof can be expanded. We spent several weeks looking at what resonated with each of us across a literal ocean of clever projects before sitting down and constructing what we thought would make ours stand out like the ones that touched us. With any music project, the prime pinnacle of merch must be the item you’re funding – in our case our EP – ‘IMMORTAL’. Throughout the process of our EP’s becoming, we’re providing certain rewards that involve folks personally at different levels – an exercise that spreads ownership of the project around with as many people as possible. Our ‘Guardian Angels’ have the opportunity to watch live video feeds from the recording studio as we produce; they can sing backing (crowd) vocals with us securing their name(s) on the CD credits; they can be recognized as an ‘Executive Producer’. Supporters can get high quality custom made t-shirts with the JD logo emblazoned impressively across the back as well as combinations of any of the CDs in our library – including an anthology. Our lead guitarist, Travis, has pledged (1) Skype coaching sessions for guitarists from anywhere in the world wishing to learn how to shred from a literal master in the craft; and (2) a signed vintage guitar from his extensive collection. We offer a family portrait package from one of Adelaide’s premiere photography studios. But the most unexpected and unique item on our merch list is a comprehensive Chiropractic session with Jac (aka ‘Doc Roc’, aka ‘Dr Lund Sox, DC’) for folks with health issues they would like a bit of help with. The most popular items so far have been our VERY CLASSY t-shirts (designed by one of the top tattoo artists in the World) and our latest CD ‘PowderKeg’. The first item to go was a LIVE performance by the band.
It is our hope that our ‘Reason This Season’ will inspire folks to help us spread a bit of encouragement, respect and love to regions throughout the world recently affected by acts of violence – with their support and sharing of our campaign.
Do you think the media is supportive enough as far as crowdfunding campaigns are concerned?
Jac Dalton: The minute our campaign was posted, we started receiving emails from social media experts and marketing agencies from all over the World conveying their desire and abilities to help us spread the word. One of these looked especially promising, so I took the bait. The program lasted a week and from the stats they supplied as to targeted reach, acknowledgment, visibility, clicks etc., what they promised seemed to actually have happened: ie the target market was indeed targeted. What didn’t happen was a single sale or pledge from the sources they supplied. And fair enough – they stipulated boldly that this might be the case.
The point that must be considered is the fact that just because something is FaceBooked, InstaGramed, Twittered, SnapChatted and placed under the noses of qualified viewers and Googlers, it doesn’t necessarily translate into getting you any nearer to your goal. There are heaps of media support sites and agencies on the net, eager to help with their algorithms, and probably very good at polishing the blade of consideration. However, the secret of succeeding with a crowd-funding campaign seems often to center around two possibilities. (1) Either you’ve got some sort of tangible, clever ‘whiz-bang’ device that everyone simply MUST HAVE; or (2) you’ve already got a big enough following and list of friends and folks you know who would support you whether you were running a campaign or not. Outside of that, every potential contributor must be identified and won-over personally by any of the attributes that make us human: sincerity, heart, passion, humor, sympathy, adverse/extraordinary need.
What do you think about crowdfunding in general? Is it the future of making music as far as its financial aspects are concerned?
Jac Dalton: Generally speaking, it is one of many possibilities for securing and raising necessary funds for worthwhile projects. The upside is that since it is online and part of social media, the ‘potential’ for visibility and support is massive. The other side of that sword however is the fact that there are an equally vast number of projects/postings to compete with – and you have to be very clever, already established and popular with a group large enough to support and publicize you, or be able to shine with the right ‘thing’ at the right time in order to get noticed. The wonderful thing about the crowd-funding concept is the fact that a group of like-minded people from anywhere in the world, who don’t know each other, know nothing about each other, whose political and socio-economic considerations don’t matter – can all band together to support something that resonates with them for strictly individual reasons enabling worthwhile projects to help the world become just a little bit better place for the opportunity.
I can’t see crowdfunding being a major game-changer in the future for every project – or even most projects. But there is certainly the potential for some worthwhile campaigns to see the light of day for the effort of enough folks seeing, acknowledging and supporting opportunities that resonate with them. From another perspective, crowd-funding is an opportunity to place an idea centrestage in the eyes of the World and because of that visibility, committing to doing everything possible to reach the defined goal. Crowd-funding – win, lose or draw- is about ‘commitment and tenacity’ to task.
We’ve already mentioned the new EP in the works. What can you reveal about the material at this stage? Is it going to be a continuation of Powderkeg music-wise?
Jac Dalton: As you already know, our style of rock has been sub-genred ‘PosRock’ for the positive sentiments and messages we convey. Those same attributes apply to ‘IMMORTAL’ so in that sense there is definite continuity from the success we’ve achieved with PowderKeg. That said, the new band line-up hails largely from the hard rock / metal arena, so there’s definite evolution afoot. One thing we’re doing with ‘IMMORTAL’ is penning songs with a whole new level of punch and drive. This makes for a lot of filled dance floors and very exciting LIVE concerts. A key highlight for the EP is an update and re-packaging of one of the biggest, most poignant covers of the late 70s, acknowledging and restating sentiments that are as true today as they were when first the composers expressed their original plea to the World. I am ecstatic about where the band is at present – even more excited about where the talents and passions of 5 guys heading the same direction might go as stars continue to twinkle and doors continue to open. The privilege is truly humbling.
Could you pass on a message to those who might be interested in spreading the word about the crowdfunding campaign or support it themselves?
Jac Dalton: If the words and sentiments herein strike a chord or resonate with you, then perhaps you discovered this article and our campaign for a reason – as we recently did. It is recognitions like this that inspire those discovering crowd-funding project to contribute to the idea’s collective drive, energy and existence in whatever way makes sense to us.
If you’re so inclined, we’d appreciate whatever help you’re inspired to give – either enriching your paraphernalia collection with some genuine Jac Dalton articles (which one day could be worth quite a bit on eBay!) or taking a moment to spread the word to others you think might relate. Either way, thank you sincerely for taking the time to read this. It is our hope for everyone happening upon our songs and sentiments that you will be inspired to make your own life extraordinary.
In order to complete their plan, the Adelaide, AU-based ensemble needs to raise $3,083 USD by January the 20th, 2018. Supporters will be rewarded with a plethora of merchandise and other special offers, from Skype guitar coaching lessons and vintage guitars to chiropractic consultations (as Jac Dalton himself is a chiropractor by profession).
Please visit https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/17165204/jac-dalton-is-creating-a-new-ep/ for more details.
The US-born, Australia-based singer Jac Dalton has released three albums so far: From Both Sides (2006), Icarus (2010) and Powderkeg (2015), all in collaboration with renowned Australian musicians. They also established a national charity supporting child protection.