Jack Valero



This is the second gig that I have been invited to review with Theo by my side to help and to take photos, so we are excited and a bit nervous at the same time, especially as we have arranged to do a face to face interview as well.

We arrive at the venue before the doors officially open and are not sure what to do so we grab a couple of cans of Coke from Sainsbury’s and hang around outside the front doors for a while.

As we are chatting I see Jack walk out and look around. I introduce ourselves to him and he says he was looking for us as he saw us going in and coming out again. We are immediately impressed by his efficiency and the fact that he put two and two together.

He is also extremely polite and has the instant appeal of being a regular guy with no ego issues. Theo warms to him straight away and he cheerfully leads us to the dressing room where we have a very comfortable chat on a little sofa.

I start off by saying that although I have watched him playing live from his living room on YouTube, his single “Heaven Help Me” is the only release available on Spotify. I ask him if this is deliberate and if it signifies the very first stage of a new solo career. He says that it does and that his intention is to release a single at a time and then an E.P. Many artists now seem to release singles individually and I like that. Why give everything to Spotify when you can do it slowly and maybe encourage people to buy the album instead of waiting to stream it for free? Also the album is for sale at the venue tonight so it makes sense not to make everything immediately available as musicians need all the revenue from their products that they can get.

Theo really likes the astronaut suit that Jack wears on his profile picture and says that it looks cool as it brings out more of his character and in the ‘Heaven Help Me’ video it also works effectively as a metaphor for the loneliness experienced during the pandemic. It is a great video and a brilliant debut single. It didn’t grab me immediately, for me it is a slow burner which is rare nowadays and it is also an earworm. I can’t get the first line out of my head. It is similar to the melody on ‘The Concept’ by Teenage Fanclub (a band we recently saw at The Waterfront in Norwich) but then descends instead of repeating. Melancholy and catchy at the same time and with an effective pause before singing the concluding line which is also the song title…. Slick!

Theo noticed on his Instagram page that he posted a picture of a tattoo on the side of his head with the words ‘Heaven Help Me’ and a comment “Sorry, Mum!” We assumed this was real and thought it showed a deep commitment to his work, then we realised it was an April Fool’s joke! At the same time it was a good teaser for the single which was released on April th 11th.

Smart move!

Theo asks him where he sees himself going ultimately and he says that if he can pay the rent by playing his music it would be amazing as it is the one thing that he really loves.

We talk a bit about how it all started… how did he first get into music and decide to pick up a guitar?

He says that it wasn’t something that he was pushed into or that was expected of him, infact he got into it firstly by playing ‘Guitar Hero’ with his mates.

This led to getting a band together and they spent night after night practising in a garage and blasting the tunes out. I love this!! Literally a garage band. Through lots of rehearsals they managed to forge a sound from their UK and US punk infuences. From there he managed to get a place at Brighton Institute of Modern Music otherwise known as BIMM which he said was a great experience but as the band gathered momentum he decided to direct all of his energy into the band, firstly called ‘Teenage Wasteland’ (a reference to one of The Who’s best songs) then renamed the RPM’s (another great name and a nod to the vinyl revival).

The RPMs were a brilliant band with a youthful swagger and an ability to produce catchy indie-pop tunes. They played Glastonbury Festival in 2016 and the SXSW in Austin, Texas in 2018 just to name a couple of highlights but you can check them out on their website and watch their energetic and punchy live shows on their YouTube channel. Jack makes a great frontman and has a cracking voice that is high enough to cut through the noise of the band and create a mighty racket. “Oh My God” is a top tune and one that he still plays live, ‘I Don’t Lke It’ is a youthful anthem of discontent with a great tongue in cheek video to go with it. ‘Let It Happen’ is pure, epic indie-pop and is up there with anything you hear released by the Imagine Dragons, MGMT or Foster The People.

I ask him why the band folded and it transpires that it is the sadly familiar tale of differences of opinion, a member leaving amongst other factors that signalled the end. I’m an eternal optimist and I really hope one day they might get back together but for now this is Jack’s chance to go out on his own and make a name for himself as a songwriter / performer.

As it happens, he tells us that the pandemic wasn’t really a deciding factor in their fate. It had all been happening before the country locked down and it gave him time to write and plan his solo career. It is fitting then that ‘Heaven Help Me’ is his debut single and is also a reflection of that strangest of times.

We decide to wrap up the interview and let Jack prepare for his set. He shows us how to get back to the venue and says he’ll be at the t-shirt stand afterwards if we want to chat some more. Theo asks if he is on any social media and he says that he’s on Spotify, YouTube, Instagram and TicTok, as well as Facebook for the old people!! Theo finds and follows him on Instagram and he says he’ll return the favour. We are both impressed by the way Jack comes across, self-confident but also personable and perceptive with an eye on the small details. Jack and Theo fist-bump and we head outside again for a chat while he gets ready to perform.

When we enter the auditorium, we find our seats and we are facing a single microphone with two guitars placed behind it. I am conscious that having this level of focus on one person could cause anxiety for some performers, especially if they are used to having a band around them but Jack had said earlier that he doesn’t mind. He likes talking to the audience and even making the occasional mistake as it feels real to the people watching and is all part of the live experience. This is definitely true and following a long period of isolation and watching virtual performances at home, it is great to feel connected to the music and absorb the energy of someone performing their own material. There is a bit of movement behind the curtains and sure enough Jack walks on without an introduction looking completely relaxed and kicks off with “Eggshells and Anxious” a perfect opener with a steady, solid rhythm and strong, melodic vocals ringing out a statement of intent and optimistic lyrics.

‘Heaven Help Me’ sounds great and stands up well without the piano hookline used in the recording. The next song, ‘Innocent Light’ is a well-crafted ballad and could be a good contender for the next single? It has a lovely chord sequence behind the melody that builds up to a strong chorus and ultimately some nice synchopated bar chords to round it off. We are treated to a new song, ‘Broken Strings’ which is a melanchony ode to a lost friend / lover? with a slow tick / tock finger-picking part on the 7th fret rocking gently between two chords as the melody swoons over the top. “Take down all the pictures, put them back in the drawer” is an effective image that most people can relate to. ‘Hollow Warmth’ is another reflective song with great finger plucking accompanying the vocals. Things build up towards the end of the set and ‘Homecoming Time’ has a fantastic rhythm part made of plectrum-strummed open chords and some great high notes… he’s got an impressive range! This leads to the closing number, ‘This Is A Nightmare’ which is my favorite track, all chunky, solid rhythm, strong vocals and a catchy chorus. Love it!! There are a couple of songs, ‘You Know Better’ and ‘Pull Back The Hammer’ that I would have loved to have been in the set but maybe we’ll hear them next time we see him play?

We pay Jack a visit at the t-shirt stand and he is chatting to a queue of people and signing Cd’s. We notice again how relaxed and easy to talk to he is. He is also apologetic for not remembering a couple of things that he said he’d do for people. He’s just performed a belter of a set but is keen to get everything right for the people who have payed to come and see him. He is polite and professional but with a mischievous glint in his eyes. He has no problem making the audience laugh inbetween songs and we reckon he’d be a scream on a night out! We have another quick chat and tell him which songs we liked and how much we enjoyed his set. He agrees to pose for a selfie then we head off to watch the next act, Will Varley who is also outstanding so we get a great night’s live music in!

Ultimately, Jack Valero is a fresh artist with just a guitar and his songs to present to the world which is a challenging prospect. To make his living out of writing and performing his own material is his aim and intention. As Jack said in the interview, it is easier and cheaper to go solo initially so he needs to gather a large following to fill venues and move from being support act to headliner which he will in time. He writes refreshingly tuneful and honest songs with a social conscience without always tackling subject matters directly which I think is his strength. He has said that ‘Heaven Help Me’ covers a wide range of personal issues all pieced together into one song but with the theme of things falling apart in general, which must be resonate within people in these uncertain times. He is a great role model for young people and a singer / songwriter who can already pen well-crafted folk / pop tunes. The longer he travels down this road the more his songs and voice will improve and the larger his following will become. Theo and I are already followers of his and if he carries on the way he is without losing his self-determination and great work ethic then there is no reason that he shouldn’t achieve his dream, the one that many of us have had, that when someone asks
“....and what do you do?” he can finally say
“I’m a musician”. Or better still they won't have to ask because they'll already know.



Big thanks to Jack for his time and kindness and to Thom at Sonic PR for fixing this up.

Follow Jack @JackValeroMusic




wers to questions...It's never about looking forward to it. Actually maybe I should change the
script, maybe we are looeir musicm the 3rd album?