12 November 2018 – The world receives the news of yet another loss… Stan Lee. The man who created characters we could identify with… who made us dream impossible but wonderful dreams. He will live on through his characters. They are timeless.
As timeless as Old School Rock’n’Roll.
I have a friend who is Bassist in a Cover Band called The Jack. I call him the Iron Man. Each time he sets foot on stage he pays tribute to Stan Lee's view on life.
Wanna see how?
An interview with The Jack was already scheduled. And what better way of paying my respects to Stan Lee than letting everyone know about a life he deeply touched?
Crow Xp: Hello, Charles! If you had the chance… what would you ask or tell Stan Lee?
Charles Brook: Hi Crow! Thanks for taking the time to ask The Jack a few questions – and your very first one is a tough one! Where to start? To be honest, I would firstly just like to say ”thank you Stan – thank you for giving us hope and dreams”. He always wanted to give people an escape from the troubles the world has, and he believed that entertainment was the best way to inspire hope and dreams in others. Life is full of problems and troubles and worries so if you can take someone’s mind off of those things with entertainment then that’s a good thing. His superheroes were a reflection of that very belief and he always said that one person can make a difference.
Coincidently, he always said that he wanted to be a musician, but was never any good at it – so in much the same way, that is what the The Jack is all about – entertaining people, giving them an escape from their daily problems and if we, through music, can give someone hope or happiness, then I feel that we are doing the right thing.
Crow Xp: I believe you are more than the average Iron Man Fan…
Charles: Yes, that has been brought to my attention on several occasions. Which I have also totally ignored. (laughs)
Crow Xp: There is a number of items that are part of your stage performance…
Charles: Yeah, there are a couple, but not enough yet! (laughs) I suppose there is the gimmick side to it, I don’t think that I have seen another bass player with anything similar to my set-up but there is also a much deeper meaning to all those items. They are part of who I am. If anyone has seen any of the Iron Man films, the general message is about not wasting your life. If you get a second chance then grab it and make something out of it, even if it is in a cave with a box of scraps. Build yourself into the hero you want to be – because if you don’t, if you don’t fight for your own dreams then no one else will. So that’s the motivation that fuels me. The trinkets are just there to remind me. (laughs)
Crow Xp: Tell us about your band… how did it start and what’s the current line-up?
Charles: Well it all started quite a few years ago when I left a band I was in. Diogo and Tiago were playing with me in that band at the time and here was a promise of a record deal. We left because we found out that it was all a con so we were all out of work musicians. I remember feeling quite down at the time, and I was at home on the computer surfing Youtube videos and I came across - totally by accident - a performance by Tommy Emmanuel, John Jorgenson, Pedro Javier González playing their own version of Sultans of Swing. It was mind-blowing.
They added a whole new percussive and flamenco style to the song and the reaction from the crowd was unbelievable. And I suddenly realized that the audience was made up of non-musicians and they were going totally ballistic so I thought “these guys must be doing something right, they are on to something”. So that’s when and where it all started. I decided that I would put together a rock and roll cover/version band, entertain people and blow their socks off. (laughs)
I am so fortunate and blessed to play with some great musicians. Tiago Fernandes plays a mean lead guitar, Pedro Penides is a kick ass singer and Diogo Fonte is a diabolical rhythm machine. Rafa Vieira was our original drummer but he has left the band so Diogo switched from rhythm guitar to drums. We are like brothers, a family in the true sense of the word and there are no other musicians I would want to play with. These guys inspire me and make me play better, for which I am so grateful. Thanks guys!
Crow Xp: The name of the band – The Jack – why?
Charles: Ah a closely guarded secret. Might have something to do with a certain beverage. Or giving someone the jack. Or not taking jack-shit from anyone! (laughs)
Crow Xp: Being a cover band is mostly a stage bands go through before passing on to originals… but The Jack is a cover band by choice. Tell us a bit about that.
Charles: We are definitely not a cover band by definition. We believe that if you want to hear an exact replica of a song then you would probably stay at home and listen to the
original album or go see a tribute band. We always respect the original body of work but we add our own little twist to the songs. It’s kinda like “hey I saw what you did there, that was cool”.
Crow Xp: What made you focus on Old School Rock’n’Roll?
Charles: Old School Rock and Roll is what inspired all of us to pick up an instrument in the first place. It has a special place in our hearts and to be honest I never heard anyone saying that they don’t like Led Zeppelin. Or AC/DC. Or Pink Floyd. Or Black Sabbath. And if they don’t, well then they are wrong! (laughs). Seriously though, I think everyone loves a good rock and roll song.
Crow Xp: What’s your take on Tribute Bands? Do they allow for the same creativity as Cover Bands?
Charles: I have nothing but respect for them – reproducing an exact copy of a song is really hard if not impossible. You have to get it spot on otherwise people are going to say that it is not the same. The comparison is inevitable. Creatively speaking there really isn’t much room for anything – it’s an exact copy of what has been done so you really can’t change anything.
Crow Xp: What kind of audiences do you usually play for?
Charles: Bars, Biker Gatherings, Festivals, any place that wants some good old rock and roll!
Crow Xp: Sometimes I call you the Irony Man… I just love your sense of humour. You know, there’s always that one story on the road or at a venue… Care to share one?
Charles: No. (laughs) Yeah there’s still some of that typically British humour in me!
I guess one of my favourite memories was at gig you were at as well – at a biker meeting. We were scheduled to play for about an hour and a half and nearly 4 hours later we were still on stage having a really great time and the crowd was having a great time too. Having the guy who hired us come up on stage and play guitar with us was so cool – especially when we found out that he hadn’t played guitar for some time due to being attacked by some guy with a knife and nearly died. We were told that he quit his band altogether because of that incident and then when we found out that he was inspired by us to get up and play guitar again on stage with us – well, if there ever was a “hope and dreams” moment, that was it. I mean, one rock and roll gig changed someone’s life on a very personal level, and we were instrumental in that. I would like to think that Stan Lee would appreciate it.
Crow Xp: Yeah, I remember that one very well. Just loved that cover of Another Brick in the Wall. Also I believe there was some Jack involved… 30 years old… Never mind. As always… great chatting with you. :)
Charles: Thanks Crow, always great to hang out with you.