Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Oakland-based musician and songwriter, Jack Lillian. Together we discussed their junkyard of music, misconceptions about junkyards, their singles “Go South” and “Cherry”, and much more! Check it out below!
1. Hello! Mustard would like to thank you for joining them. How are you?
Hello Mustard! I’m excited to be among the most classic of condiments today, I just finished throwing out all my ketchup.
2. You grew up in a “junkyard” of music. How did this environment help shape your sound?
Every Saturday morning was chore-day when I was a kid. There are very few ways to motivate a kid to want to do chores on a weekend, and my parents figured it out very early – blasting rock-n-roll starting at 8 am sharp made it impossible to sleep in, and it also made chores a helluva lot more fun. I would dust and wash and vacuum to the extremely eclectic music tastes of my parents, which was my unforgettable introduction to very influential bands like Led Zeppelin, the Eagles, and Van Halen. But it wasn’t just rock – we listened to jazz, folk, blues, disco, and punk. I got the message at a young age that good music is good music, regardless of the genre.
3. What are some common misconceptions about junkyards? What value do they hold that humans may be overlooking?
One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. I’ve always had a soft-spot for broken things, and I hate a wasteful mentality. I actually bought an Astrovan recently that was bound to be ripped apart and thrown in a junkyard. It won my heart so I got the engine fixed up and pumped some much-needed life back into it. And now it’s my band van. If I had regarded it as a piece of trash like everyone else might have, then I would be missing out on its true beauty.
4. You provide vocals in Zippermouth and bass/drums in Novicain Road. How have your experiences with both helped you as a solo artist? Does the Bay area have esteemed dentists?
Yes, these were my former bands. Novicain Road was one of my first bands made with my best friends in high school. This was my first real exposure to writing passionate music about being young and femme and punk in a suburban wasteland. We were, for all intents and purposes, riot grrrrl, and that really shaped my DIY roots and love for heavy music.
Being in Zippermouth was my first opportunity to front a band that wasn’t my solo music. Before then, I only had experience being the rhythm section on drums and bass, and it was an empowering experience being able to yell and belt and jump around on stage. It shaped my vision for my solo project and the kind of live shows that I want to give to my listeners.
5. The outro verse were the first lyrics you wrote on your debut single “Go South.” What was it like to further develop “Go South” from those lyrics?
“Go South” was originally about a completely different situation, but when I went to rewrite the song, those outro lyrics ended up fitting perfectly into the new theme. I think that they are universal in their meaning, and actually helped to develop the rest of the song in a coherent matter. The song is written about one of those situations that makes you feel so angry, so powerless, so devastated that it’s hard to form even a coherent thought about. But the existence of those last lyrics gave me fuel to translate my emotions around the situation into pure, real, raw lyrics.
6. Mustard loves how empowering and empathetic “Go South” is. You make a statement: not your girl, not your bitch. Could you share more about the inspiration behind this song?
It was written at a time in my life when I had to make the extremely hard decision to leave an abusive relationship, and subsequently leave behind friends, career opportunities, and everything that was familiar to me. I wrote these lyrics a few months after I left, when I first began to feel that my life was actually so much better off without those people and situations. “Not your girl, not your bitch” is the siren call to everyone who feels trapped by abusive people, here to tell them that they are nobody’s property and can leave people who don’t treat them like they deserve.
7. “Cherry” transports listeners to a smokey 80s casino flirting with a moustached man in a velvet tracksuit playing blackjack in the corner. Was this the original intent when writing the song or did it grow into this? Could you share more about what went into Cherry?
“Cherry” was written about the intoxicating experience of seeing someone across the room and wanting to be close to them. It’s about those magnetic pulls that you hope are reciprocated. This song was written in one day – what you hear (besides the guitar solos) is exactly the first draft of the song. I think that the energy from the riff inspired the lyrics, and to me, that song just couldn’t have been about anything else.
8. You post a riff a day on Instagram. What has been your favorite riff you’ve played so far? What is the most requested riff? Is there a riff you refuse to play?
Honestly, day 1 might be my favorite riff, it just came out of the gate so strong. It really flowed and required zero thought. There was one riff that I posted, Day 17, that I liked but didn’t think was groundbreaking at all, but then so many people commented “I need a song of this riff, please tell me this is a song!” So I may or may not have been working on developing that riff ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. On that same vein, I definitely won’t refuse to play any riffs, I think it’s so wild that people could dig something I wrote and I will oblige all day long if they want to hear that more.
9. What’s next for Jack Lillian?
Fresh merch designs just dropped on my website, jacklillianmusic.com/store , and I’ve got more on the way. I’ve been in the kitchen cooking up some new songs, of which y’all can expect some releases before the end of the year.
10. Do you have any upcoming shows?
Yes! October 29 at Winter’s Tavern in Pacifica, and more TBA on my instagram and email list.
11. Where can readers listen to your music?
Anywhere that you want to! I’m available on all major streaming platforms, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Youtube, and of course, you can always tune into my instagram for reels, stories, and live streams. Be old school and come to a show too!