Guitarist William Nephew and El Capitan High School friends Seth McCarter (guitar) and David Esau (drums) formed Jack’s Broken Heart in 1999. In three months they finished recording their Against Forgetting EP and got busy promoting, handing out CDs at shows, flyering Music Traders, getting airtime with Tim Pyles, and making up to $50 a day for downloads on MP3.com.
“That was the real outlet for our music,” Nephew says over coffee at Cream in University Heights. Nephew credits MP3.com for generating the fan base that voted Jack’s as the Best Alternative Band in the 2001 San Diego Music Awards. The group was playing regularly at the Ché Café, Casbah, and the Epicentre with fellow emo kids Counterfit and Cold Weather Rescue. They went on to tour the Southwest, record a split album with Yellowcard, and play shows with big names such as Jimmy Eat World, Cursive, the Mars Volta, and Hey Mercedes.
Amid conversations with Warner Brothers and Elektra, the band went to Canada to record with a producer who turned out to be a con artist: he took them for all of their MP3.com earnings.
“The pressure of the recording in Canada flopping, combined with trying to reinvent ourselves caused us to implode,” says Nephew, who currently plays with mellow indie group Our Dear Friends. “We put everything into the music. The Canada thing was such a letdown.”
On the cusp of the big time, having just played to an 850+ crowd at the Scene, and with Nephew in the process of building a recording studio for the band, a fight led to a bitter breakup in 2004.
After a six-year hiatus, with members working, playing with other groups, and Nephew studying film in San Francisco, Jack’s Broken Heart is getting back together for drummer Esau’s birthday. Joining them on August 7 at the Casbah will be indie rockers Skydiver and political punks Spare Change, both of whom are also reuniting as bands for the first time in years. They will be recording a live DVD of the show and possibly releasing an album with some new songs in the near future. Nephew describes the new material as “more Mogwai, more Radiohead...not poppy but melodic.”
Of the reunion, Nephew says, “It’s going to be closure for us.”
— Chad Deal