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Q30 Television

Exclusive: The cyber seascape of Jakobs Castle

Image Credits: Danin Jacquay

Imagine the sounds of a California coastline, wrapped up in a digital database. 

Jakobs Castle is old meets new. It’s a blast from the underground past, colliding with the freshness of internet culture. With the project, frontman Jakob Nowell aims to expand the horizons of what music can be, while simultaneously honoring his roots.

“The goal with Jakobs Castle was, for me, to make an authentic project,” Nowell told Q30. “Something that was all of my influences, that was truly me and uncompromised in that mission. So it’s taking a lot of retro stuff, eighties and nineties and early 2000s but with also an eye towards the future.”

Nowell is the son of Sublime frontman Bradley Nowell, who died only 11 months after Jakob was born. Despite this, Nowell has always been closely connected to the industry and has used his musical knowledge and upbringing as inspiration for his craft. Just as his father did in the nineties, he commemorates his Long Beach livelihood by incorporating elements of reggae, ska, and punk rock into his instrumentation. 

“I make alternative beach music. I’m trying to push Southern California music in a different direction. That’s really my mission statement for the project”. 

Although he clearly inherited his father’s fascination for blending genres, the sound of Jakob Nowell is incomparable to any other. Nowell’s dedication and multifaceted production strategy are what make Jakobs Castle work. His evolution as an artist comes from a deep desire to create something that is unabashedly unique and exciting.

“My old band LAW broke up after about 8 years playing together, and I was really interested in making music that was my own solo project. So I started just thinking like, ‘How can I fuse all of my influences with the authenticness of who I am as a person?’ I like taking elements from the Long Beach scene of music, but fusing it with all the cool, underground, online Internet-type stuff that inspires me today and inspired me growing up.”

Despite having been in the industry for over a decade, Jakobs Castle has taken Nowell’s career and outreach to new heights. Earlier this year, Nowell signed with Epitaph Records, the label which includes the likes of the Dropkick Murphys and Weezer. He made his label debut with the single “Time Traveler”, a beachy track with an electronic touch.

“I’m happy to be signed to such an awesome label with a pedigree that almost signed my dad back in the day. And it’s just crazy to see how full circle it’s all becoming.”

Nowell, alongside guitarist Eric Walsh and drummer Chris Bartholemew, has been traveling with reggae group The Common Kings as a supporting act on their Fall 2023 national tour. The group is set to commence another U.S. tour in January, supporting the artist G. Love.

Embarking on this tour has not only allowed Jakobs Castle to reach a wider audience and expand their ever-growing fan base, but it has acted as a means of fulfillment for Nowell himself. The act of connecting with listeners across the country is the most rewarding part of his career.

“I’m definitely a traveler. I like touring. I always tell people, if I wasn’t doing this line of work, I would just be a traveling hobo. I just love the freedom aspect of getting to be in different places every night. And I like creating an interactive experience and connecting that way. It’s so much fun, being out here is the best thing on the planet. It’s my dream come true.”

What sets Nowell apart from other artists is his devotion and willingness to give back. As a sober musician, Nowell has experienced the devastation of addiction first-hand. However, he has noticed an emerging trend within the industry which prioritizes practicing safe substance use.

“We are reaching a really cool new era in music as a culture, where it’s not square to not want to die from Fentanyl. Not like in the seventies through the nineties, where there was still this kind of mystique coolness behind it. I think people are finally starting to realize how sad it is, and how there’s another option.”

Nowell has been a substance-free musician for over six months, and now, he intends to be a part of that solution.

Nowell is a founding member of the Nowell Family Foundation, alongside Todd Zalkins, who aided in Nowell’s own recovery. Inspired by Bradley Nowell, the non-profit seeks to provide addiction recovery services to those within the music community. Recently, the foundation has reached full funding for Bradley’s House, a six-bed recovery facility which will provide treatment for struggling musicians, regardless of their financial situation. 

“We have our location, we’ve got our clinical partner lined up, and in the next few weeks here we’ll be able to start helping musicians. It’s a really exciting time for the foundation. It’s really a story that’s close to my heart and close to my family, and I’m really blessed to be working with some amazing people on that.”

Nowell’s mission is to de-stigmatize reaching sobriety at a young age. During his live shows, the artist emphasizes having fun, but acknowledges the importance of balance and moderation.

“All of us are sober dudes, but we still party and have a great time. We still go out and have fun, and we encourage all of our fans and all the people we play with to have as much fun as they want. A lot of people get sober young, and they feel like they can’t ever have fun anymore, and that’s just not true. I’ll continue to have a great time as long as we’re out there trying to help people.”

Above everything, Jakobs Castle is all about creating a welcoming community. Whether audience members are older Sublime fans or young internet-goers, everyone is invited into the castle.

Jakobs Castle’s newest single, “Lights Out”, is available on all major streaming platforms.

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About the Contributor
Grace Doyle
Grace Doyle, Associate Producer: #THAT
Grace Doyle is a senior 3+1 film, television, and media arts major from Dedham, Massachusetts. She works as production assistant on campus and has interned with 7News WHDH-TV and Tuff Gong Worldwide. She is an Associate Producer on #THAT and has previously served as a Music and Television Beat Reporter for Q30TV.

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