BOSTON, MASS. [NOVEMBER 5, 2021] — Most of us have spent much of 2021 just trying to hold on. JATK is here to remind us it’s okay to let go.
The power-pop project from Boston songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Matt Jakola returns with a new single on Friday, November 5 titled “Ride the Wind,” the fourth offering of 2021 under the JATK moniker (refresher: It’s pronounced “Jack”) and the latest from next year’s debut LP. “Ride the Wind” is released via maxi-single, as is JATK’s style, complete with b-side “No Rock & Roll” and a “Keys & Samples” instrumental version of the title track.
On his latest, Jatkola takes a more tender approach, replacing the sky-high rock and roll ambition of prior singles “When Tomorrow Comes” and “Japanese Butterfly” and the driving Americana of “Conscious Wonder” with a delicate composition that’s lullaby-esque and hymnal-like in its four unwinding minutes. Its infectious melody is unmistakably JATK, as Jatkola sings about modern-day escapism and letting go of the day’s stresses as the seasons change and long year winds to a close.
“‘Ride the Wind’ is a dream about flying away with someone you love,” Jatkola says. “You leave all the thoughts, unanswered questions, and uncertainty of the world behind and just make a pact to ride somewhere far away with them, literally or figuratively. It’s a song you could sing to your partner, your child, your friend, or imagine someone singing to you. It’s about going all in with someone you have a history with. This is a song to dedicate to your ride or die!”
“Ride the Wind” is also the first JATK release that was mixed entirely by Jatkola, at his Peace & Love Laboratories, Arlington, MA. It features two key collaborators: On bass, Nicole O’Neal of Indianapolis band Wife Patrol, who he met on tour three years ago and maintained creative contact with; and drummer Tim Wright (heard on “Conscious Wonder”), who helped develop the track’s dreamy, far-out drum sounds, and through pedal and studio effects worked with Jatkola to created the cloud of layered sound the track surfs on.
While JATK’s three prior singles carried the weight — both literally and figuratively — of a young man experiencing a cancer diagnosis and the spectrum of emotion he endured in his year undergoing successful chemotherapy and radiation treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, “Ride The Wind” finds Jatkola looking outward to the things that inspire around him.
“It feels lighter,” he admits. “It’s acoustic guitar-based with organ and synth sounds, samples of birds singing, and space to appreciate all the sonic elements. Even the drum machine samples are drenched in delay and reverb, giving them a larger-than-life, closer-to-God type of feeling. The other singles have elements of heaviness and they’re dense sonically (‘When Tomorrow Comes’, ‘Japanese Butterfly’), conceptually (‘Conscious Wonder’), or both. This one really sheds that weight. It’s related to ‘Conscious Wonder’ in that it toys with some existential, philosophical ideas, but it’s also a love song.”
Embracing themes of autumn and change and the passing of time, “Ride the Wind” swirls around a central idea of trying to find a place in the world, and coming to terms with the idea maybe there actually isn’t a place for us here; that we’re transcendent beings that belong among the stars. The chorus came to Jatkola in a dream back in 2018, and incredibly, it was written before this heavy serving of modern-day chaos — before the pandemic brought the world to a standstill, and before Jatkola was diagnosed with cancer and began his long road back to full health.
“Some might say, a simpler time,” Jatkola admits. “And yet it feels perfect for right now. It’s taken a while for me to understand it, even though it’s kind of a straightforward song. There’s something I’ve discovered as a songwriter where songs — lyrics specifically — are often windows into the future. It’s almost like you’re singing to your future self or that your subconscious is already 10 steps ahead of you and it’s all coming out in a song you don’t understand while you’re writing, but you will.”
He adds: “Sometimes it’ll take a year or two or even longer to realize what the song means or to find its relevance. It’s not lost on me that the line that kicks off the bridge, ‘My child, you know me well / I’ve been so sad and ill’ has a way greater significance to me now than it did a few years ago.”
And with perspective, letting go is easier than ever.
JATK short bio:
JATK (pronounced “Jack”), the power-pop project from Boston-based songwriter Matt Jatkola, cranks up an arsenal of hooks and riffs with affecting jolts of guitar-rock reflected through his knack for pop melody. After a string of singles turn up the volume in 2021, his debut full-length album is set for release next year.
Appearing on ‘Ride the Wind’:
Matt Jatkola: Vocals, guitar, synthesizers, programming, samples
Nicole O’Neal: Bass
Tim Wright: Drum programming
‘Ride the Wind’ lyrics:
Come ride the wind with me all night
Just take my hand we’ll be all right
Once we were young but tonight we live long
I won’t ride the wind holding hands with a stranger again
Maybe love makes you cry
Maybe love makes you never die, never die
Maybe what you were looking for
Is what you were looking for
We’re gonna live again
Until it begins again
Maybe love takes you low
Maybe love takes you where just gotta go
Maybe the darkest place
Is that which you gotta face
The stars stretch across the sky
And to them we’re gonna fly
My child you know me well
I’ve been so sad and ill
Before I go to sleep
One promise you’ve got to keep
Credits on ‘Ride the Wind’:
Recorded by Matt Jatkola at Peace & Love Laboratories, Arlington, MA; Nicole O’Neal at Pup Fiction Studio, Indianapolis, IN; Tim Wright at Trainsong Studio, Arlington, MA
Mixed by Matt Jatkola at Peace & Love Laboratories, Arlington, MA
Mastered by Nick Zampiello at New Alliance East, Somerville, MA
Produced by Matt Jatkola
Cover photography by Niki Fandel
All songs written by Matt Jatkola
© & ? 2021, 2 STEP IZ DED (ASCAP)
The music of JATK has been heard and featured on:
idobi Radio, The River 92.5 FM (Boston, MA), If It’s Too Loud, Citywide Blackout, BumbleBee Radio, WZBC’s Virtual Detention; Christian’s Cosmic Corner on Mark Skin Radio, Your First Listen on KNNZ 89.1 FM (Fargo, ND), Sweet Sunday Sounds on Banks Radio (Australia), Garagerocktopia with Robert Kreutzer, POP! The Beat Bubble Burst on KDHX (St. Louis); Boston Emissions with Anngelle Wood, Rising with Skybar and On The Town with Mikey D on WMFO Tufts University, Bay State Rock, Tinnitist, Lonely Oak Radio, The Menace’s House of Indies, Radio X (Nova Southeastern University, Florida), Blood Makes Noise, Ricky’s Daily Bangers, and other fine radio stations, outlets, and programs.
Media praise for JATK:
“There’s a garage rock jangle and an indie rock vibrancy to the song, all framing some surprisingly delicate songwriting… In short, the song’s a brisk, uplifting joy.” _Worcester Magazine
“The track’s constant battle between fuzz and melody combined with an optimistic outlook deserves to bring JATK new fans.” _Real Gone Rocks
“Such poppy magic” _Boston Emissions
“‘Japanese Butterfly’ is a burst of mid-’90s style power pop with some T-Rex style glam thrown in. It’s all buzzy guitars swirling with some of the catchiest vocals around… [it’s] one of the most positive songs about cancer out there.”_If It’s Too Loud
“Opening with a wall of feedback… the song announces its arrival with a dark undertone, but barely thirty seconds in, its thinly disguised sunny alt-pop melody calls out with real confidence, while Matt’s distorted guitar cranks through the riffs as if it’s 1993 and he’s an aspiring Bob Mould.” _Real Gone Rocks
“The guitar riffs sound straight out of a Dinosaur Jr. or Superdrag track from the ‘90s. On this maxi-single the great guitar work is even more apparent on the instrumental version. I don’t usually give grades or bullshit like that but this gets an A in my book, this student of music was paying attention in class.” _Blood Makes Noise
“’When Tomorrow Comes’ is a fresh blast of indie rock/power-pop… that hits you with ferocity, yet also brings vocals filled with melodies that are super catchy and lyrically relevant. [It’s] a killer rock song for us to sing along with, as endearing and contemplative as it is simply rocking.” _Rebel Noise