NEPA Scene Staff

Schuylkill County alt pop artist Kulick strips down emotional songs on acoustic ‘Coffeehouse’ EP

Schuylkill County alt pop artist Kulick strips down emotional songs on acoustic ‘Coffeehouse’ EP
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

From a press release:

Schuylkill County alternative pop rock singer/songwriter Kulick has gone from shouting to whispering on his new acoustic EP, “Sitting in a Quiet Coffeehouse,” released today by Enci Records, a label run by longtime Goo Goo Dolls manager Pat Magnarella.

The mini-album features five new stripped-down interpretations of fan favorites off his 2020 breakthrough LP “Yelling in a Quiet Neighborhood.”

Kulick gave fans a preview with the release of the first single, an acoustic reworking of his song “Just Be Friends.” The original version of the track landed on Spotify’s The New Alt, New Noise, All New Rock, and Pop Rock playlists as well as Amazon UK’s Alt Scene playlist, among others.

“Kulick’s new acoustic version of ‘Just Be Friends,’ with its gently fingerpicked chords and sensitive vocals delivery, strips away the anger and puts the listener right into a soothing therapy session, focusing on the heartbreak and stages of grief,” American Songwriter wrote.

He has recreated songs before, most recently on his new recording of the song “H,” which was dedicated to a young woman from his hometown who lost her battle with addiction.

“I created the album ‘Sitting in a Quiet Coffeehouse,’ which gives a new perspective to my most recent album ‘Yelling in a Quiet Neighborhood.’ I have always felt the strongest with songs in their acoustic form. I used multiple acoustics in the recording process, including Taylors, Martins, and the new Fender Acoustasonic,” Kulick explained.

“Rerecording these songs with more of a ‘coffeehouse’ vibe (hence the name ‘Sitting in a Quiet Coffeehouse’) made me remember what it was like when I first learned the acoustic guitar and when I first recorded these songs. It made me feel a bittersweet nostalgia in both cases. It also made me realize how sad some of these songs actually are when you take away all of the production. Overall, I hope it gives fans, both new and old, some Kulick songs that are more ‘chill’ than normal, but still organic and authentic.”

After he surpassed three million combined streams on Spotify, Kulick dropped his debut full-length album, “Yelling in a Quiet Neighborhood,” on Oct. 16 via Enci Records, home of bands like The Joy Formidable, Beach Goons, and Fences.

Originally from West Penn Township in Schuylkill County, Jacob Kulick, who now goes solely by his surname, turned his tiny closet into his own private music studio at age 12 and began writing and recording songs as a way to cope with his anxiety and the loneliness of being an outcast as he attended school in Tamaqua.

“Middle school was a tough time – I went through a lot of disassociation and bullying, like a lot of people do when they’re different in a small town,” the 29-year-old vocalist, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, and producer admitted.

Kulick co-founded a high school band called Story of Another, self-produced his own album, and went on to study audio engineering at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. He got a job with CBS Radio in New York City as an engineer and crossed paths with a fellow musician who had a connection at RCA Records. Once he landed an introductory meeting with the label, Kulick devoted the next two years to building up his solo material and collaborating with other writers. In the summer of 2017, those two years of intense creativity led to Kulick signing a deal with RCA/Gold’n Retriever Records.

A tour with Sleeping with Sirens and The Rocket Summer in 2018 was followed by the release of his debut EP, “Hydroplane,” which featured the powerful Active Rock-charting single “Ghost” and went on to accumulate over three million streams worldwide. In 2019, he performed with RCA labelmates Flora Cash in Scranton, toured with Andy Black (Andy Biersack of Black Veil Brides) and The Faim, and released a standalone single titled “Scatterbrain,” which he said is a song about “today’s busy society, both young and old, and the battle to stay true to who you are.”

With the release of “Yelling in a Quiet Neighborhood” on Enci Records, the Southern California label recently launched by industry veteran and Goo Goo Dolls manager Pat Magnarella, Kulick continues to showcase his rare ability to turn everyday pain into music that’s undeniably life-affirming.

With the album’s recurring themes of uncertainty, guilt, sadness, shame, love, remorse, and closure, Kulick explained, “It is the record where I learned the most about who I am and how much of that reality I was avoiding. This record is me. You know how nice it is to really feel like that? It’s incredible! I love the ‘Hydroplane’ EP, but I didn’t feel like it was entirely me. I wanted to be more hands on with making the music, producing it, and engineering my songs. On this record, I was allowed that, thanks to my new label Enci and my managers Pat Magnarella and Steve Masi.

“I wrote this record for most of the year and got to produce the songs with Chris Szczech in LA. I was able to record live drums in Capitol Records and track all of my own vocals and instruments, so it was a completely different process and I enjoyed every moment creating it. It was my therapy, like it always is, but in the most trying time of my life.”

Since September, the new songs have been paired with creative lyric videos, starting with the ultra catchy first single “Rope.”

“‘Rope’ was written immediately after getting off of the U.S. and Canada tour with Andy Black and The Faim in May 2019. I had a tough year in my personal life, and I wasn’t ready to face it when I got home. I wrote this song with my drummer Keith Gensure, who I’ve known and played music with most of my life, and I felt safe enough to write this very personal song with him,” he recalled.

“This was written when I was feeling so unsure of what to do when I got home. It was such a roller coaster of wanting life to be the way it was before I left for tour, and some days wanting to start over. I knew something was wrong; I didn’t like who I was while I was gone, and I didn’t recognize who I was before I left. It really took a toll on the people in my life that I really love and care about, especially those closest to me, and for the rest of my life I’ll wish I handled it differently.”

“Talking to the Ceiling” followed on the heels of “Rope,” which landed on several major playlists, including Spotify’s New Noise, Poprox, New Music Friday, and The New Alternative playlists.

“I was born half deaf in both ears. This was the inspiration behind using subtitles/closed captions for the lyrics [of ‘Talking to the Ceiling’]. I wear hearing aids, which help, but it’s made life different for sure, and in some moments has made me feel a bit more alone or to myself. It also made being an artist, musician, engineer, and producer a challenge,” Kulick shared on his social media.

“But I’m up for it, and I continue to grow, adapt, and create. I swear I love music so much because of this, so I am grateful for it.”

“The Way I Am,” which is “one of the darker, more personal, and introspective songs on the new record,” landed on Spotify’s All New Rock playlist and includes home video footage from Kulick’s childhood in the video.

Now based in Lemoyne, a borough in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, Kulick is looking forward to getting back out on the road, armed with the lessons he learned during the making of this album.

“I am ready to tour as soon as it is safe to. I miss my friends and everyone who shares these songs with me. I miss their energy. When we’re able to tour again, look forward to hearing the first record that is truly a Kulick record. I look forward to sharing it with everyone.”

See NEPA Scene’s photos of Kulick performing at Stage West in Scranton with Flora Cash and The Charming Beards in 2019 here.

Photo by April Rose Gabrielli