Right the Stars’ Rich Jacques talks Wilco, traumatic childhood experiences, and teaching Zeppelin to Ben Affleck (yes, you read correctly)

Right the Stars is the brainchild of singer/songwriter/producer Rich Jacques, and although you may have already heard the band’s music in movies or on television (The Breakup, One Tree Hill), their self-titled debut doesn’t come out until June 15th. Before it does, The Rock and Roll Report is here to prep you on all things Right the Stars, as seen through the eyes of Rich Jacques himself.

Q: Rich, thanks for taking the time to discuss the new record. What was the inspiration behind the name of this project, “Right the Stars”?

A: I had been contemplating names for the project and then I heard Wilco’s “Jesus etc.” on the radio. There’s a line in that song, “You were right about the stars” [and] I got inspired by that and then edited it to Right the Stars.

Q: You have one of the more interesting bios I’ve read in some time as you state that moving to Stubenville, Ohio was a traumatic experience during your childhood. Can you elaborate on that?

A: Well, I grew up in an idyllic town in Wisconsin, hence life in a northern town, and then moved to Steubenville, OH, which was not idyllic, when I was 14. Steubenville is an old steel town: very depressed and bad air. Not the most joyful place. It did make me want to sit in my room and practice guitar for hours on end though, so I guess it turned out to be a blessing.

Q: I understand that you were a music teacher for a while and one of your students was Ben Affleck. Is he as “good” at music as he is at, ahem, acting?

A: Ben’s great! I went to Canada with him for a month for the film Hollywoodland. We basically hung out and played Zeppelin, which he picked up pretty quickly. The actors I know tend to be quick learners; they’re used to studying the small details.

Q: You also say in your bio that your mom was a bible study teacher, but you did not follow in those footsteps. Was there a “losing my religion” experience, and did this factor into the track “Making Deals With God”?

A: Spirituality has been a big theme in my life. I grew up in a very traditional household and since then have explored many different traditions, looking for the common thread that unites all of them. At the core I feel it’s a very personal experience that can’t be dictated by a group consensus. “Know thyself” seems to be an important statement.

Q:  You mention your first record was the debut from Flock of Seagulls, and you’ve also done a fine cover of Dream Academy’s 1968 song, “Life in a Northern Town” – While there isn’t a strong ‘80s presence in the music of Right the Stars, what role did ‘80s music have in steering your career?

A: I love ‘80s music! That’s when I truly fell in love with music. When MTV first came on the air, it was obvious that’s what I was going to do. I soaked it up like a sponge.

Q: With the decline of radio, do you think song placements in films and on television may be the best way for artists to spread the word about their music these days?

A: Yes, yes, yes, yes!

Q: What would you say is your favorite track on the record, and why?

A: I can’t really say I have one favorite; I like them all in different ways.

Q: What are your plans for Right the Stars for the near and distant future?

A: Really interested in the licensing for this record. In June we’re going out to do a string of dates on the east coast, which I’m looking forward to. “We Got It All” is getting some attention in Australia [and it] would be great to get over there. I’ve also been writing and recording a lot.  The sound is taking some really interesting turns!

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