Jackson Bruck and the Dukes of Hume have had one busy year. Winners of Music City Mayhem 2018 and recent Live On The Green alums, their new single “Right Where I Want You” is ushering in a new era for the band. Described as “Old Soul Rock & Roll” for a new generation, the Dukes hope to revive the rock & roll concepts that made the classics so great.
The band “just sort of came together” about a year ago. Jackson says, “You talk about things that don’t make sense, but they just work.” He met lead guitarist Corky Clouse after watching his band play a set, and they bonded over the rock & roll greats that made them fall in love with music. Eventually, they’d recruited a full band, including Bruck’s little sister Jacy. Half the members had been considering giving up on Music City, but the band gave everyone a reason to stay.
“Our band is a true cast of characters, and we wanted something that reflected that”, Bruck said. They wanted something quirky, light-hearted and fun. The result was an eclectic mix of The Brady Bunch, Batman, and Twilight Zone influences. The result is a video that perfectly captures the band’s infectious fun.
Bruck’s goal as a songwriter is to bring human emotions to the table and craft something for people to experience in a tangible way. The single is about “the forbidden love of someone who’s with someone else…someone you have a connection with that you can’t have right now, but you know you will someday.”
On the subject of rock “being dead”, Jackson says, “We have this weird gut feeling that things are gonna work out. Nashville seems to be setting itself up as a perfect breeding ground for the resurgence of the classic rock & roll sound.”
Some of Bruck’s fondest memories are of his parents blasting artists like Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Steve Winwood, and The Wallflowers in their house. Bruck was raised on rock and roll, but it wasn’t until college when he truly heard it for himself. “The moment rock & roll made sense to me, I was driving with the windows down and the outro of ‘Thunder Road’ started playing. They bring in this horn section, and it becomes this absolutely triumphant thing, and I felt that feeling people talk about…of being invincible”. He slipped down the rabbit hole of classics, including Seeger’s greatest hits, Van Morrison, Cat Stevens, CCR, Tom Petty, The Stones, and more.
The Dukes beat out 32 other bands (selected from 300+ submissions) in competition for the Music City Mayhem title. “Winning Mayhem was nuts,” Jackson said. “We knew if we got to the live show, we’d have a good chance. We are a true live band. When we play, the drummer counts to four and we go. There are no clicks or tracks, just us on stage listening and adjusting to each other as we go,” he says. “I think sometimes people get so caught up in the production, they forget about the song. A good song is a good song, whether you’ve just got an acoustic guitar or you’re playing with a full band.”
A spot at Live On The Green was the Mayhem grand prize. “We’ve pretty much agreed that playing [LOTG] was the greatest day of our lives,” Bruck says. Now, it’s all about maintaining that momentum. He’s spent years writing, and his bandmates are all very creative arrangers on their own. Bruck prefers musical free-rein when they’re arranging new songs. “I sort of just trust everybody to do what they do…I’m not a lead guitar player, so why would I tell Corky how to play lead guitar? I have a pretty good ear for melody, so when I hear it, I say, ‘That right there, let that be the centerpiece of what you build around’.”
As far as maintaining a certain sound, “I don’t really think about it too much, because everything I write is gonna sound like me,” says Bruck, but he draws from a wide range of influences. For example, he says, “sometimes you just have to let a song go where it wants to. If it wants to be a three-minute, snappy, uptempo pop track then that’s great, but if it wants to be a seven-minute waltz lead by a grand piano with a guitar solo and a saxophone solo, then that’s great too! It’s the connection to the human condition that matters,” he explains. “And I’ve found that the only sound we are going to be able to be the best at is our own. That is the goal for most of what we do.”
Bruck also emphasizes the value of being “timeless”. “If you’re chasing trends, you’re always gonna be a little late to the party,” he says. “I want there to be this sense of, ‘is this from 20 years ago, current, or 20 years in the future?’.
Bruck loves getting to know artists on a deeper level than their hits. “In the days [before CDs and streaming], you would hear a song on the radio, and then you’d have to go buy their record… and you can’t just skip to the next song. If you want to change the song, you have to get up, lift the needle, find the groove, and put the needle back down. So naturally you commit to getting to know an artist’s catalog.”
Looking into 2019, the band is hard at work in the studio getting ready for their upcoming project. “We’re just excited. We have all these tracks we’ve been working hard on and we are ready to let people know exactly what we are about.”
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