John and Jacob
By Peter Cronin
Getting Back to Basics With John & Jacob
Maybe it’s their similar looks, or the fact that they tend to
finish each other’s sentences, or it could be their natural onstage chemistry. More likely it’s the effortless, sibling-tight vocal harmonies that light up every song they write and perform, but everyone just assumes that the rapidly rising duo known as John & Jacob are brothers.
“We’re not related, but everyone thinks we’re brothers...everyone,” says Jacob. “In fact, it happened just a few minutes ago.”
They may not share the same last name, but, musically, John Davidson and Jacob Bryant are joined at the hip. The pair first came together in high school in a rural suburb of Birmingham, Alabama around their mutual interest in guitar. These days, they’re hitting the top of the country charts, but back then it was all about alternative rock.
“Back in high school, my favorite band was Incubus,” says Jacob, “We were doing the experimental rock thing.”
“We were definitely a rock band,” adds John. “The louder, the better.”
After spending years blasting the walls of rehearsal spaces and local clubs, John & Jacob were ready for a change. They sat down with two acoustic guitars and were pleasantly surprised at what came out.
“John and I were doing so much alternative stuff, it was like, ‘Let’s get back to the basics with acoustic guitars, let’s write to tell a story and use these melodies we’ve got in our heads,’” Jacob says. “It just came together.”
Long before they learned to turn it up to 11, both youngsters were raiding their parents’ record collections, absorbing everything from Patsy Cline to Garth Brooks to George Jones to The Beatles. All of those influences came to the surface in their newly stripped-down songs.
“We’d write one song, love it, and that would inspire us to do another one,” John says. “We started doing every open mic night we could around Birmingham.”
The buzz spread quickly, and the duo’s fresh approach and hook-filled songs caught the attention of Major Bob Publishing, who signed them to a publishing deal. Relocating to Nashville, John & Jacob spent the next two years refining their craft with a regular crew of cowriters, and fine-tuning their live show with a homegrown backing band.
“We are a five piece band, me and John and three other guys,” Jacob says. “It’s all our friends, we didn’t hire any guys up here. Everybody has their own parts, and when you see us, you know it’s a band.”
Among John & Jacob’s growing legion of fans are the members hit country trio The Band Perry, who invited the duo to join them on a 3-date European mini-tour. When the highly successful tour was over, John & Jacob sat down with Reid and Neil Perry and wrote “DONE.” The Band Perry took the song to the top of the country charts and instantly established John & Jacob as the duo to watch along Music Row. In short order, they were nominated for an MTV O-Music Award, tapped for Red Bull’s Sound Select, and chosen by CMT as their first unsigned “Listen Up” artist. Meanwhile, John & Jacob continue to make the most of Nashville’s creative vibe, keeping their feet on the ground and their focus on the music.
“Nashville is three hours from our home,” Jacob says. “We love LA and New York, but here you can actually get out of the city and have some peace.”
“We’ve been writing with our friends for a couple years up here,” adds John. “We love country music, and we’re just glad to be here.”