The NAMM Show 2017 Interviews – Jacob Guzman of Next Door To The Moon

Photo Credit: Chad Elder

The NAMM Show 2017 Interviews – Jacob Guzman of Next Door To The Moon

Next Door To The Moon is pop rocking trio from Los Angeles destined to launch into the stratosphere by the time 2017 spins to it’s dizzying conclusion.  Their very soon to be unveiled EP was produced and recorded by Will Pugh of Cartel over the summer – and Next Door To The Moon is on the verge of releasing the first single from the new recording entitled Can’t Quit It.  We caught up with Next Door To The Moon’s drummer Jacob Guzman at this year’s edition of The NAMM Show to find out more about this terrific new band on the rise, drum and cymbal endorsements, working with Will Pugh on their forthcoming EP and a whole lot more!  Read on…

Introduce yourself and tell me what you do in Next Door To The Moon.
So I am the drummer, my name is Jacob Guzman, for an alternative band out of LA called Next Door To The Moon. Here just hanging out at NAMM. Unfortunately the rest of the guys aren’t able to be here, they had some prior commitments. I’m here and glad to be doing this interview.

What are you looking forward to the most about NAMM this year?
As a drummer gear isn’t something that I’m super into. I think the most important thing about NAMM to me is just all the people you get to meet. Reconnecting with a lot of old friends. I used to play in a band called Against The Ordinary, and some of the guys in that band I’m still friends with but haven’t seen in a few years are here, and I ran into one of them. Hopefully going to meet up with another one later. I’m personally looking forward most at NAMM being able to connect with a lot of different people. Old friends, industry people, teachers that I’ve had and currently have. I think, for me, that’s definitely one of the coolest parts about NAMM. Meeting people and making connections.

What is your weapon of choice as a drummer?
JG: I’m endorsed by TRX Cymbals. I’ve been playing them for 4-5 years now. I just love their sound, they give me. Dave Levine, the owner of TRX Cymbals, really takes care of everyone. Super grateful to be a part of the family. I also play SJC Drums. I’ve been playing DW for a long time, but I wanted to be part of something that was a little bit more of a closer family. I had an idea in my head for a kit that I really wanted to pursue. And SJC were the guys that were really able to make it happen. Sticks and heads I kind of just rotate, still trying to figure out my exact sound for those.

How did you become involved with Next Door To The Moon?
My dad actually found out about them probably two and a half years ago. He heard of a band out of LA that was looking for a drummer. Somehow I got in contact with the manager at the time. He gave me a call and talked to me about the band, then I went over and jammed / auditioned. At the time there was a bass player playing with us named Joey. So it was Connor (Daniel), Joey and then I. We played and things kind of clicked. Things felt really good and I’ve been playing with them ever since. Now Connor and I are super close friends and super busy with the band. It’s been about 2 1/2 years, feels like it was just yesterday.  I’m a sophomore in college now and it was in my senior year of high school that I started playing with them. Time definitely flies.

Jacob Guzman of Next Door To The Moon

How did Will Pugh of Cartel become involved with recording with you?
Connor – out of a whim, just hit him up on Facebook and asked him if he’d be interested in producing us. I had never heard of Cartel prior to us working with him, but Connor has been a big fan of his for a long time. I think it was the latest album Cartel had at the time, but Connor listened to it and said sonically this is exactly what I would want my band to sound like.  And he did some digging about the album and realized that Will was the guy that produced it, mixed it, engineered it and everything. Did a little more digging and realized that Will does that for more people on the side. He doesn’t just produce Cartel, he’s able to produce other people as well. So Connor hit him up, they hit it off together and last spring over my spring break, kind of in the middle of March / early April, we went down there. I was only down there for about a week but Connor stayed for about 10 days just working on the EP and had a blast. Will is an awesome guy, awesome producer and once the EP drops I think everyone’s going to really like it. It sounds really awesome!

What was Will like working with you on the drums?
Will is super cool. As far as drum sound wise, he was willing to hear what I had to say about what I want my drums to sound like. I have a certain way of tuning, and I have certain techniques in playing that give me the sound I use in my playing.  He was super good at understanding that and getting the exact sound that he, Connor and I all wanted and getting the exact sound that was best for the EP. One of the main things that was cool is that he and Connor got along really well. When I was there, there was never any going back and forth between producer and artist. Connor is a really incredible musician, so a lot of the times he also functions as a producer in that setting. So it was really cool – sometimes, in my experience in working with two producer type people in a setting, there is a lot of going back and forth. Will and Connor got along really well, we all gelled together super well and the entire process – it was probably some of the best weeks of recording of my life. A lot of fun.

How will this new recording compare to the previous one?
Song wise, definitely an evolution. That’s for sure. The other album, Invincible, you can definitely hear more of Connor’s pop punk roots. You can hear some Green Day, you can hear some Blink. This one definitely is a clear example of an evolution of music. We incorporated a lot more synth type stuff, a lot more electronic sounds – things like hand claps and finger snaps. Some bass drops, stuff like that. It’s definitely an evolution compared to the last album. If anything lyrically, I think it’s a little more mature than the last album. Connor, I think he was still in his teens when he wrote a lot of the songs in Invisible. Not that there is anything wrong with writing in your teens, but just as with everyone as you get a little older you mature. Your lyric writing matures, the music matures. I think the main thing in comparing the upcoming EP to Invincible, the last album, I think it’s more mature sounding.

Any idea when it might come out, and is there a working title?
There isn’t a working title right now. I can tell you that the lead single is called “Can’t Quit It,” and we have a music video for that coming out sometime in February. And then once the video comes out, the single will also come out on Spotify, iTunes, Soundcloud – everywhere. We have no working title for the EP, but we can say that it’ll come out in late February or early March. As soon as we have a working title, then we’ll definitely make a big announcement about all of that. The main thing now is our single, “Can’t Quit It,” going to be out some time in February. Everyone needs to be on the lookout for that.

If Next Door To The Moon could open up for anyone either now or from the past, who and why?
The easy answer is The Beatles. More realistic, there’s a band from Britain called Busted. They were super popular in the early 2000s. Never really made it here, but super popular with that song “Year 3000” but they just came out with a new album, I think it’s called Night Driver. The evolution from their stuff in the early 2000’s until now parallels pretty closely to the evolution from the Invincible album to all the stuff that Next Door To The Moon is doing now. Obviously they’re famous and we’re not quite famous yet, but I think it’d be really cool to open them. Stylistically I think we’re actually pretty similar, so I think that would be a really cool bill. I would love to open for Blink 182. They’ve been, for all of us in the band, a huge influence over the years. I think right now it would be super awesome to open up for Busted. Or maybe The 1975, they’re kind of similar.

Are you involved with any other bands outside of Next Door To The Moon?
Yeah, I’m a music student over at the University of Southern California. I’m in the popular music department. Like, a contemporary music performance degree, so I’m friends with a ton of music majors, so I play with a lot of people at USC. Outside of school I also play in a band called Alone Together with my sister who’s a bass player. So that’s fun. My dad is also really involved with that band as a songwriter and kind of like a music director for the band. That’s cool being a part of something that’s family oriented.

What’s up next for Next Door To The Moon?
I think the main thing right now is getting that EP released. The thing about Next Door To The Moon is that the three of us in the band, me, Connor and then Pat, all three of us are songwriters. So whenever we get together to rehearse, at some point we’ll end up jamming something new and start writing a song and then another new song. So sometimes it’s hard to stay focused on the task at hand, which is releasing the EP and as soon as that’s released, playing it for as long as we can. But at the same time, we’re constantly writing new music. Definitely within the year we’ll be back in the studio recording a new EP or a new album. But at the moment, the main task at hand is releasing “Can’t Quit It,” releasing the EP and then playing as much as we can, playing that EP out.

Next Door To The Moon is:
Connor Daniel – Lead Vocals/Guitar
Pat Mays – Bass/Vocals
Jacob Guzman – Drums/Vocals

(Interview and Jacob Guzman Photo by Ken Morton – Band Photo by Chad Elder)

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