Jacob Reese Thornton is a 17 year old guitarist, songwriter, and recording artist, who brings a depth and a passion to his music that significantly exceeds his years. Growing up with music around him his entire life, Jacob was destined to become a musician from the start. Working alongside and/or playing with the likes of Todd Kerns (Slash & The Conspirators), Tony Franklin, and Buddy Guy, Jacob has already had a short career working with seasoned musicians who have inspired him and helped shape his own work.
We had the opportunity to speak to Thornton about his influences, the first time he played an Ernie Ball Music Man guitar, and much more.
Q & A
EBMM: When did you first learn how to play the guitar?
JRT: I became obsessed with guitar at around 9-10 years old. My first instrument was drums, but I quickly moved to guitar. It felt right from the start.
EBMM: What was the moment you realized you wanted to pursue music full-time?
JRT: I am not sure if there was a specific moment where I had that realization. Music is just something that has always been around me, and something that I wanted to do as far as I can remember. I come by it honestly. My great aunt was a Nashville based singer and piano player, and my great grandmother owned and operated a recording studio and small label, Varsity Records, which was located on Church Street in Nashville, in the late 60’s and early 70’s.
EBMM: You have had the opportunity to collaborate / play alongside some legendary musicians. How were those experiences?
JRT: I have been lucky to meet so many of my music heroes and influences. Working with Todd Kerns from Slash & The Conspirators was fantastic. Todd is a huge talent. He provided background vocals on my first record. Todd didn’t need to do that, he’s just a great guy and wanted to support a young musician. It was cool to also jam live with Todd and his bandmate in The Conspirators, Brent Fitz, and the legendary Bruce Kulick from KISS and Grand Funk Railroad. They are not just great players but also super great people. I was fortunate to collaborate with Tony Franklin from The Firm on a cover of, “I Can See For Miles” by The Who, which we released. Tony – what a musician! He is a gem and has also been so supportive. Getting up and jamming with blues legend Buddy Guy at a Florida show was definitely something I won’t ever forget. He was really encouraging and gave me some stage advice. I was so young at the time, I wish I could do that again now!
EBMM: Can you remember the first time you played an Ernie Ball Music Man instrument?
JRT: I sure can. It was in Las Vegas at Vegas View Studios with rock photographer Robert M. Knight. I loved the quality, the feel of the neck, and the tone instantly. They are fantastic instruments.
EBMM: Tell us a little bit about your music style. How did you go about developing your unique sound?
JRT: It has evolved. I started out with a blues fascination. I still love blues, but have gradually moved into a different direction with my writing. I am drawn to Brit rock and vintage rock sounds and vibes.
EBMM: You’ve been releasing critically acclaimed singles left and right. What is your process like when creating new music?
JRT: Thanks. Hopefully, that positive feedback will translate into something that interests a major. It’s a weird time to be a young musician who plays guitar and writes rock songs. In terms of my writing process, there’s no real science or deliberate strategy. I just work hard at it. I am always searching for melodies on the guitar and lyric phrases that fit. Most of the time I come up empty, but occasionally I will hit on something that works. Those creative moments, when it feels like I have really captured something, is what keeps me inspired.
EBMM: What is your favorite track that you’ve released to play live?
JRT: There are two tracks, one called, “Time Out of Mind” and the other called, “The Sky Is All I Need to Get High.” I feel like both are absolute bangers live. They will be included in my next record.
EBMM: How has your Cutlass HSS guitar helped you grow as an artist?
The instrument is top shelf in terms of quality. I don’t have to fight the guitar to get it to do what I want. The neck is perfect and it’s versatile with single coil pickups and a humbucker pickup in the bridge. I have used the Cutlass on nearly all of my released songs. It just sounds great live and records wonderfully. I’m really grateful for my association with Ernie Ball Music Man, which has provided many networking and other opportunities in the business. It was especially an honor to perform on the Ernie Ball stage at Eric Clapton’s 2019 Crossroads Guitar Festival in Dallas.
EBMM: Are there any artists/bands who inspire you as a musician?
JRT: As a songwriter, Noel Gallagher has been my biggest influence. The High Flying Birds records he released post-Oasis changed my life. Lately, I have been listening to a lot of Sam Fender, Conor Oberst and Ryan Adams records. They are all such great songwriters. I am also a huge fan of Lindsey Buckingham and Johnny Marr’s songwriting and style of guitar playing. What I respect most about them is that although they’re both incredible musicians, they only play what serves the song. I also love the easy fluid way they play and the melody in their playing. I love crunch power chords as much as anyone else, but Buckingham and Marr have these unique and iconic guitar styles and sounds that are so melodic and give their songs so much lift.
EBMM: What can we expect from you in the near future? Any exciting projects we should look out for?
JRT: I am stoked to be heading to Nashville this summer to cut some tracks with Bill Reynolds (Band of Horses), another one of my favorite bands. Bill is an amazing musician and an in-demand producer so I am grateful for the chance to work with him. There are some other things cooking up as well, but I can’t give that away just yet! Thanks for the chat and thanks Ernie Ball Music Man for the support.
Jacob relies on his Ernie Ball Music Man Cutlass HSS guitar in the studio and on the stage.
Watch as Jacob Reese Thornton performs live on the Ernie Ball stage at Eric Clapton’s 2019 Crossroads Guitar Festival in Dallas, TX.