Poplar-area rockers reach worldThe internet and digital recording helped drive the rise of Hands of Jack.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
The internet and digital recording helped drive the rise of Hands of Jack. The Poplar-based rock trio has a website peppered with aggressive rock music, including six hard-driving songs available for download. The group boasts 500 Facebook friends and has received more than 14,500 hits on its website, although they have never given a public performance, never held a show.
“We’re the most professional non-performing band,” said Jason Deatherage, who plays bass guitar and provides vocal screams.
After nearly six years of taping, mixing and refining, the band is preparing to release its first CD, “In the Real World” and bring their digital sounds to life this summer. First, however, they need a drummer.
“We’re hoping to find in a drummer someone on the same page with us,” said guitarist Joe Tilander. The three men, all in their 30s, aren’t looking to become rock stars. They all have children; two run their own businesses. They’re settled but share a passion for music.
The creative heart of Hands of Jack is Byron Little. The Maple native learned to play the guitar while attending Northwestern High School. After graduating, he was inspired by jam sessions in the Iron River basement of Joe Lindzius, former drummer for Molly and the Heymakers. He started to amass his own recording equipment — from multi-track cassette recorders to computers and digital machines. When Little and his wife Jennifer built a new home in 2006, the basement was built to hold a recording studio.
Deatherage of Poplar joined the project in 2005. He and Little had known each other for years and played together in the bands Lift and Chicago Face. They started recording in one of the back rooms of Little’s business, Diamond Design Kitchen & Bath, before moving into his basement.
A Craigslist ad netted the group Tilander in 2009. The International Falls man called the number listed. Two months later, he relocated to Two Harbors.
“I was planning on moving,” Tilander said. “(Byron) gave me a reason to move.” He brought with him most of the high-tech recording gear that lines Little’s basement studio. It was a perfect fit, the two men said.
For years, Little has written and recorded his music, often repeating the same guitar riff or line of song up to 50 times, looking for the perfect “take.” Nearly all the band’s recorded music — except intricate guitar work from Tilander, some background vocals and Deatherage’s screams — was played by Little, including drumbeats tapped out digitally on a keypad. Then he constructs the perfect track out of snippets of each take.
“I put 40-plus hours into each song,” Little said. “If that’s your passion it’s not work. That’s 40 hours of me getting to express myself.”
His band-mates said they appreciate Little’s perfectionism and his creative talent.
“He’s amazing,” Tilander said.
“Buzz steers the band but it’s good, it ends well,” Deatherage said. He remembered being in bands where he was writing lyrics the day of a show. That’s not the Hands of Jack mindset.
“We’re going to put something out there that we poured a lot into,” Deatherage said.
His grandparents saw the rise of automobiles; Little has been in the midst of music’s transition from labels and recording contracts to free sharing over the internet.
“Anybody and everybody can be heard,” Little said.
People from as far away as Australia and Germany have tapped into Hands of Jack’s music, often leaving encouraging comments.
“The internet has changed everything,” Little said. “A guy from Maple, Beck’s Road in Maple, can have his music heard throughout the world, connect with somebody halfway across the globe. Ten years ago, you couldn’t have done that.”
Like many artists who have taken to the internet, Little said, Hands of Jack isn’t in it for the money but the “sheer satisfaction of doing it, knowing somebody liked it.”
For now, the trio plans to continue fine-tuning their CD tracks and spend more time in the practice room, playing to a wall covered in Sharpie drawings of fans. Everyone who stops by the studio gets a chance to join the crowd. Once they have a drummer and a CD in hand, Little said, they can start planning a live show.
“We have very high standards for what we do, which keeps us from doing what’s fun (performing),” Deatherage said.
“It keeps us from the fun of playing, but it’s coming,” Little said.
For more information, go to www.handsofjack.com.