Distraction Magazine recently sat down with singers Jack Johnson and Jack Gilinsky, known as Jack & Jack, backstage at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Benefit Concert at Fort Lauderdale’s Revolution Live on Friday, February 23. After performing their newest single “Beg” on the main stage, Jack & Jack opened us to us about why the duo flew down to Florida to support the message behind the hashtag, #MSDStrong.
What makes you guys feel connected to this event?
Johnson: “If you do want to take it back, I can. For example, a few years ago in Omaha, at one of our malls [Westroads Mall], there was a mass shooting. This guy named Robert Hawkins shot eight people in the store Von Maur and I remember our whole city was devastated from it. All the kids had to leave school. It definitely brought those feelings back when I saw this school shooting on the news.”
Gilinsky: “I feel like back in the day, my parents never went to high school and were scared. I mean I remember things would get written on lockers when we were younger like ‘13th month, 13 people will die’ and they would evacuate the school. It just all seems surreal and to see something actually come into fruition… Obviously the mass shooting at Stoneman is just unbelievable to see in the worst way possible.”
Is there a certain song you guys have either written or listened to during a tragic situation like this?
G: “The song that comes to my mind is a song we wrote called ‘Tides.’ We didn’t write it about any certain tragic event and we didn’t experience any tragic events that made us write this but it kind of just encompasses any feeling that you can have after something bad happens to you. Of course, this is a very specific situation but I think that this is one of our songs that completely could help someone who’s going through a tough time after this kind of experience.”
J: “I’m trying to think of one that I listen to, a song that I listen to when I’m sad… I can’t really think of one. I feel like I’m a generally happy guy, at least, for the most part.”
G: “No, I definitely listen to this song called ‘Chasing Cars’ by Snow Patrol. It goes ‘if I lay here, if I just lay here, would you lie with me and just forget the world?’ It actually applies to this situation because this is one of those moments where you just want to be with someone that you love and that loves you and forget about what’s going on. But at the same time, we can’t forget because we have to make the change in the world and prevent this from ever happening again, which is obviously a huge task but I think that this generation has that power.”
J: “That’s what I’m hoping. I hope the reaction to this and the people using their voices in response to this is going to actually prompt change. I feel like after every mass shooting we always talk about the same **** and nothing actually happens.”
G: “No but this does feel different.”
J: “Yeah, this feels different. You see the response from the teenagers of our generation. At the end of the day, these kids are only thinking from a humanistic perspective, they’re not thinking from a money-driven perspective.”
Have you guys have been noticing anyone on social media that has been sending out positive messages or felt inspired by?
G: “That’s the thing. I feel like it’s been a touchy subject amongst people with a mass following. You don’t want to just get in a fight with some random person on Twitter because it’s like I don’t know if I’m right or not. I just don’t think guns should be legal. That’s my view on it, but at the same time, I’m an artist and I want to appeal to a mass audience. You know, if someone who likes my songs also likes guns, I don’t want to turn that person off from liking me. Even though that sounds kind of selfish. I just kind of want to stay out of it but at the same time being at something like this makes me want to fully dive into it.”
J: “Being at an event like this makes you want to draw the line and be like ‘Alright, I really just need to truly speak up for what I believe in’ and if people hate it, people hate it.”
Has there been someone, whether that be a family member or another artist that has recently said something to you that has changed your perspective on life? I know this situation and event puts your life in perspective.
J: “Yes, so we were talking to our friend’s dad actually. He said a quote about how you can only influence someone so much and you can only take somebody so far but at a certain point, they are going to have to become self-sufficient you know. His analogy for that was, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink the water… and this has nothing to do with this situation but it made me realize that a lot of the people around me might be toxic and I might just be enabling them. I’ve led them to the water but they’re just sitting at the water, staring at it.
They’re not using the resources that I’ve given to them to let that their lives come into fruition. That definitely changed my perspective on who I surround myself with, what kind of people I want in my life and not letting enablers be around me.”
Are you guys planning on visiting the University of Miami anytime soon?
G: “UMiami… I would love to.”
J: “You show us love and we’ll be there.”