The Places You’ll Go
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” – Dr. Seuss
Jeremiah Jacobs had a plan. In the early to mid-‘00s, he was convinced he knew the direction his life was going to take. His career in film and television music composition wasn’t taking off the way he had envisioned. He saw others around him succeeding in ways he was unable. As the saying goes, his best laid plans went awry, and the vision of his future was in flux. However, instead of giving up, Jacobs changed his direction.
“At some point I just walked up to the cliff and I jumped off, and it turned out I had wings,” said Jacobs during a recent interview over the phone with Submerge.
In the present, Jacobs and his now three-man operation The Heartbreak Time Machine are in the process of promoting their debut release—dubbed The5/12EP—as well as spending time in the studio putting the finishing touches on a full-length slated for release some time in 2016. The project’s current lineup features veteran Sacramento musicians Mikey “LP” Sessions (guitar) and Seth Edward (drums).
The EP features performances by a number of well-known and respected Sacramento musicians including drummer/producer Dave Jensen and guitarists Art Padilla of Hero’s Last Mission, Michael Gregory of The Michael Gregory Band and Michael Roe of The 77s.
The path that lead Jacobs to The Heartbreak Time Machine started in his career as a composer for film and television. As mentioned earlier, in the mid-‘00s, he had begun to show promise as an up-and-coming artist in that area, providing music for the award-winning independent film American Yearbook about two kids planning a Columbine-like attack on their high school, as well as documentaries Do As I Say and Not as Good as You: The Myth of the Middle Class School.
In addition, Jacobs has done work on projects he refers to as “industrials,” such as animated features NASA produces to be presented to Congress.
But at some point, Jacobs started to see a pattern in the industry in which he was working so hard to succeed: “Somewhere around 2009 I was out looking for work in the advertising world—and film because I loved and still kind of like doing that—and what I found out is that the people getting the bulk of work were all performing musicians,” said Jacobs. “They all had bands, and I sat back and thought about it for a second and I realized the reason these guys are writing compelling jingles and compelling film soundtracks … is that all of them either have a passion for performing, or they have in the past.
“I took a step back and said if I am going to continue to write better music for film and TV and I’m going to be a contender, I need some street cred, so I had better take my music out to the people and see what’s real.”
And that’s exactly what he did.
Initially, Jacobs tested the waters by contributing his talents to existing projects. The Heartbreak Time Machine is his eighth group. But of all of his former projects, this is the first he has fronted. Previous acts he has worked with include James Cavern, Autumn Sky and Clemon Charles.
“It’s a little bit of ego, a little bit of wanting to put your own thing out there,” said Jacobs of his decision to move from the background to the foreground in the performing arena. “I felt like—and I hate to use this cliché—I hadn’t been expressing myself fully in the projects I had been a part of.
“I’m mostly a producer, that’s my background. I’m an engineer and a producer by trade. I’m really brand new to being a performing artist and taking my own material into the wild, so to speak. The production side is old school to me, almost simple compared to asking people to come to shows. It’s such a different proposition.”
At the very start of the interview, Jacobs mentioned he was fighting through pre-show nerves prior to a performance scheduled for that night. When asked about how he has dealt with being the primary focus on stage, he simply responded, “I don’t know if I have dealt with it.
“Even in this interview, I can’t imagine I’m coming across as a ‘seasoned interviewee.’ My experience has been the backing guy … a hired gun,” said Jacobs. “That’s pretty much the case with everyone I’ve played with. I’ve just been in the band, helping craft the act a little bit, but I’ve never had to be fully accountable for the creative end, and ultimately the economic consequences of it, and this is the first time where my name, my songs, and everything are on [the line], and if people choose not to buy it, they are not buying me.”
As of now, this is quite literal. Copies of The5/12EP have been available since November 2015. The EP is made up of a collection of singles recorded since the inception of The Heartbreak Time Machine. Jacobs explained that the process, while quite different than the experience he is presently having recording the band’s full length debut, was special in its own right.
“We recorded it in a number of places. It’s kind of like a series of singles that were produced one-by-one as I was building my team over the last couple of years,” Jacobs explained. “The first one we actually recorded was ‘The Great Big Book,’ and we recorded that at Pinnacle College with Dave Jensen, and then we mixed that at Weston House … The rest of the songs, I think they were recorded and mixed at Weston House as well. The only exception would have been ‘Make it Through’, which was recorded in my bedroom. So was ‘My Heart Belongs to You,’ and ‘This Song is For You’ I think I recorded at Studio Z.
“One of the things I liked about doing singles one at a time is you really get to craft them all, and you put all your focus on putting it together and really getting the production right,” he continued. “I think the singles really sound different and they really do reflect a really different period of time and perspective and artistic approach, and they really sound different. There is part of that that I really like. Like an iTunes on shuffle kind of sound. But, having done five songs in the studio one right after the other, they definitely all sound like they came from the same place. I struggle with that occasionally. Sometimes people want the thing to be complete, like they want it to all come together … at the same time wanting to create something a little more compelling; like a different sound in the same record. It’s a weird balance to strike.”
Another thing that is significant for both The5/12EP as well as for The Heartbreak Time Machine itself, is that it stands as a record of the project’s development. Until recently, the singles consisted of Jacobs and a variety of guest musicians. The band’s lineup now solidified as a three piece, The/512EP can serve as a placeholder for a time when Jacobs was trying to find his footing, and ultimately, found it.
And of course, if he ever wants to revisit those days down the road, the EP can also serve as a personal Time Machine—hopefully sans the heartbreak. Only time will tell.
“I’m obsessed about what the future holds,” said Jacobs, “It’s probably the thing that occupies the most of my brain space every day.”
The Hearbreak Time Machine’s EP release show is on Jan. 20, 2016 at Powerhouse Pub in Folsom. You can also catch them again on Jan. 31, 2016 at Old Ironsides in Sacramento, and on Feb. 13, 2016 at Bar 101 in Roseville. Visit Facebook.com/heartbreaktimemachine for more information on how to order their new EP.