Watch out for The Jab! We’re warning you, it’s coming in heavy so get ready to duck. That’s right, we’re talking about Chicago blues-rock group The Jab who are riffing their way through their new music video for “Dank Mississippi.” This track has one of the most infectious and catchy guitar riffs you’ve heard in ages, showcasing the fact that these dudes know how to seriously rock. “Dank Mississippi” is the second single to come off of the band’s new album Consume, following up the release of “RIOT” in December.
The Jab is led by charismatic frontman Jam Alker, who has been toiling in the Chicago music industry for several years now, once gathering attention from major labels for his talents as a singer and as a bandleader who shows why he’s a total natural meant to perform in front of massive audiences. Things were seemingly looking up for Alker, until he realized that his life was just not right. While getting deeper into his musical career, Alker was also using drugs that were seriously affecting his life in a negative manner. Despite his problems with addictions, he carried on with his career, until a big change in his life led him down the pathway towards recovery.
The first dose of reality that helped Alker realize that he had to change his ways was the birth of his daughter in 2014. He began treatment soon after her birth and despite some early struggles, has managed to get sober and use it as a force for positivity. As a recovered addict, Alker now feels prepared and motivated to speak about his struggles with drug addiction with those who are also trying to recover and are perhaps struggling with the process. Alker is living proof that recovery can and does work and now he is investing himself fully in his musical career with the early February release of Consume serving as a massive accomplishment for him on his continuing road towards personal redemption.
With such a contagious track like “Dank Mississippi,” and being such a motivating presence in this world, we spoke with Jam Alker for a few minutes while on tour with Crobot to ask him about the band shooting the music video in a church, the infectious guitar riff, and also a little bit regarding Alker the work he is doing spreading the word about his experiences with drug addiction and recovery.
If I’m not mistaken, you’re performing “Dank Mississippi” in an actual church for the official music video. What church did you shoot it at?
Jam Alker: “Unity Lutheran Church in Chicago, Illinois, they were so open and welcoming. They even let one of the after-school groups watch part of the shoot!”
That’s a pretty infectious guitar riff that you guys have come up with for “Dank Mississippi.” Is the riff what the song was initially built around?
Alker: “Yes, that riff was the seed of ‘Dank Mississippi.’ I wrote it sitting in my living room on my acoustic guitar one day.”
How does “Dank Mississippi” compare with the rest of the songs contained on your debut record Consume? Would you say there are other tunes that are similar in sound and arrangement to this one?
Alker: “The Southern rock influence is strong in ‘Straws.’ Also, ‘Good to Bad’ has similar dark overtones and a menacing, sinister theme.”
What would you like listeners to take away from “Dank Mississippi,” lyrically speaking? What’s the deeper story behind the song’s lyrics?
Alker: “The song is about how we all have an overwhelming desire for salvation and redemption... but we need to be careful who we choose to follow, not all ‘holy’ men have pure intentions.”
I wanted to take a moment to ask you a couple of more personal questions. You don’t hide the fact that you are a recovering drug addict that decided to get sober after the birth of your daughter. Do you recall when you had that one key moment of revelation after her birth where you realized you needed to make a change?
Alker: “I had drawn so many lines in the sand when it came to my drug use, and I thought the birth of my daughter was going to be it. How could I continue when I was going to be a father? But it wasn’t long after she was born that I was back out there. That’s how I knew that I had no more lines to draw, I had to get help.”
You enjoy speaking publicly about your experiences, telling people about your story of recovery. What is the one key message you try to get across to the people you speak with regarding your addiction and the road towards leaving your addictions behind?
Alker: “Music is what saved me. Music has the power to bring to light a lot of the trauma that stays buried and thus leads to addiction. Also, recovery is possible, I’ve seen many people come back from being so far gone, but the key is that we cannot do it alone. Addiction happens in isolation, recovery happens in community.”
Upcoming Tour Dates: (w/ Crobot)
02/18 - Ft Collins, CO- Aggie Theater
02/19 - Denver, CO- Lost Lake
02/20 - Amarillo, TX- Hoots Pub
02/21 - Dallas, TX- Gas Monkey
02/22 - Corpus Christi, TX- House of Rock
02/23 - Houston, TX- Acadia
02/25 - Austin, TX- Come and Take it Live
02/26 - Monroe, LA- Live Oaks
02/27 - Nashville, TN- Basement East
02/28 - Johnson City, TN- Capones
02/29 - Baltimore, MD- Angels Rock Bar Power Plant