APRIL COVER STORY: Jakob Nowell’s Full Circle, Part 2

APRIL COVER STORY: Jakob Nowell’s Full Circle, Part 2

Jakob answers the hard questions, from early influences to his last meal, and talks about the future of Sublime including touring, festivals, and unreleased music.


(continued from part 1)

TP: You released Enter: the Castle, your debut solo album, the day before Coachella–which was super smart but also, I’m sure put you in a precarious position trying to balance the two things. How did that album kind of come about? Because you’ve been making music for a long time now.

Courtesy of Epitaph Records

JN: I’ve been making music for the last ten, eleven years. My first band was Law, and I’ve been a part of some other minor projects, but Jakob’s Castle is my real solo project where my heart is.

I really owe it to Chris Foitel. He used to do A&R at Epitaph and he was the first person I met in the industry who ever took an interest in what I had to do musically and that’s something a lot of people don’t know. They think it’s just like a nepotism-snap-your-fingers -and-you’re-there. Don’t you think I would’ve tried everything at my disposal to get my music heard by a wider audience? We tried for years. It didn’t really matter.

And it wasn’t until I found my producer, John Joseph, that I finally found the right co-conspirator to help bring my vision to light.

TP: Have you seen a spike in streams in the past month?

JN: Most definitely. There’s a lot of exposure for me which is really good, but it comes at a cost. 

It’s gonna take me years before I’m able to really word how I feel about it because it’s so complicated. So I guess all I can say is that it is a little bittersweet.

TP: There’s so many synchronicities about this whole situation. They say that little like signs, like numbers, are a sign that you’re on the right path. I think there’s too many to ignore with you. I saw in the interview you did with Megan Holiday that your trailer number was 28… it seems like a very mundane thing, but that was a big coincidence from the outside looking in.

JN: It feels like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be–for better or for worse. It’s the role I have to be in right now.

TP: What was your guys’ first practice or your first couple of practices like?

JN: It was such a trip! They’re such amazing musicians to play with, Bud and Eric, and it was a real honor to get to jam with them. It took a while for us to find the right groove it’s kind of funny because sometimes I’ll be like, “this is how the song is on the record are we doing it like this?” and they’re like, “no, no that’s not how it is” because they’re so used to playing in a certain way from like 30 years ago. Then we’ll listen and they will say, “oh well, we recorded it wrong on the record”.

It’s so funny, the fans will get on me sometimes like, “that’s not the exact way that this sounded!” 

I’m like, “dude I don’t know what to tell you, the guys who wrote the songs are telling me to do it this way. I’m not taking the liberties you think I’m taking” 

Courtesy of Josh Kim @joshuaonenineproductions

TP: I think your dad was so improvisational in a lot of ways anyway, right? Who’s to say except the people that were actually there? 

JN: That’s the thing about music and art, there’s no quote unquote “right way” I think all you can do is try to be genuine as you’re portraying the music to a live audience and that part is real. I’m not faking any of that. I want to perform as good as I possibly can and as real as I possibly can. That’s the real me up there.

TP: And you are really similar to your dad in a lot of ways, but I was also like, “okay I’m watching Jakob right now”. You’ve very much retained your own sense of self and I think that’s probably a pretty tight rope to walk. I really commend you for that. 

JN: Thank you so much. It is a tight rope to walk but it’s my rope and I will walk it.

TP: Back to Jacob’s Castle and your vibe. What did you grow up listening to… are there any bands your mom played a lot? What did you like when you were in your teen years?

JN: Well she did play a lot of oldies that’s for sure. There definitely was a lot of good old reggae stuff like Jacob Miller and Johnny Osborne. A lot of Eek-A-Mouse and Yellowman. She was also an old punk rocker so lots of old legendary punk rock bands: Bad Brains–which is why it was so awesome to do that HR benefit. So that definitely was the family side of stuff; but for me, the first band that really spoke to me as like a little kid was Gorillaz.

I definitely had like my harder rock phase. Tool was always one of my favorite bands growing up, also Queens of the Stone Age, Mastodon, those are some big ones. Tenacious D was definitely like a musical awakening for me. 

TP: Did you find solace in music as a kid?

JN: Art in general and music, specifically, is a great way to find that community of weird aliens that you’ve been searching for your whole life and to finally feel like you connect. That’s why people pay those prices for those tickets to go to those festivals and that’s why it’s our duty to try to put on a good show for them and make them feel like they’re a part of something.

TP: Do you feel connected to Sublime fans in that way? Do you feel like they’ve accepted you and taken you under their wing? 

JN: Totally, yeah. The first thing I did after I played the set both weekends of Coachella is I just charged into GA and I was just hugging people and taking pictures and stuff. 

TP: How did you feel about people saying negative things in the comment section?

JN: You can’t ever please everyone. Let’s say that we perform this song exactly perfect to the album with nothing different, then you’d have a whole contingency of people being like, “they’re not feeling it enough, there’s not enough soul!” 

You can spend your whole life trying to please everybody, all you can do is be true to yourself and hope that people can pick up on that and have fun at the shows. 

Courtesy of Josh Kim @joshuaonenineproductions

TP: You were having fun on stage. I could feel it. You’ve got a handful of festivals coming up throughout the end of September. Which place, which festival are you kind of most excited to hit?

JN: No Values is gonna be cool.

TP: if there’s one thing you could say to the fans right now like what would that be?

JN: What I’d say is I wish they knew about my awesome cats. This is my boy, Creature and this is my girl, Fluffy. Also, I think that however they any fan chooses to feel about it [the reunion] is 100% valid and accurate to themselves. 

TP: I know you’re playing all these festivals… where do you see this going? Are you guys gonna go on tour? Are you just gonna keep it to summer festivals? In your mind’s eye where do you see this progressing? 

JN: No plans to tour. It’s going to be a lot of fun festivals and definitely getting some songs from the vault that were never released and collaborating with modern day musicians. I see it as a rebirth for the Sublime brand. It’s big, but it could always be bigger and I just want to bring my father’s music to the rest of the world and do the best job I can.

TP: Okay this is my last question you’re on the chopping block and you have one last meal that you can eat. It can be anything on earth. What are you eating?

JN: That’s a tough one! I really like meat, but I feel like saying a steak is too boring. It would need to be assorted meats or Korean barbecue maybe. Like a Korean barbecue style feast where I could just get like a bunch of different meats and cook it in front of me. After eating that much maybe I’d want to be on the chopping block