“Who have I become? Is it me or just someone that’s run away from who I was?”
Around the time of his 30th birthday, Daven Masulis of Jacks and Atoms found himself pondering those questions while noodling through a song on his guitar.
Now a year later, he and his musical partner Dan Orlowski release the fruits of that introspection with the new single “In My Head” and a release show in Hanover Park Friday night.
The song, with an accompanying video dropping a week later, examines the maps people formulate for their lives — with speculations on school, jobs, family and ideals — and eventually noticing how much they may have deviated from the plan.
“It’s that realization looking back later in life going, ‘Wow, I don’t feel like where I thought I was supposed to be at this point is where I am today,'” Masulis explained. “And it’s kind of reflecting on that. And then also coming to grips and understanding that maybe that was all a part of the process all along. And that it all falls into place exactly how it should.”
A Schaumburg native now living in Mount Prospect, songwriter Masulis steers away from the angsty delivery that could’ve accompanied such questioning. With its upbeat, pop-adjacent rock rhythms by Orlowski and Masulis’ charismatically versatile vocals, “In My Head” doesn’t dwell on what could have been, instead elevating the self-reflection to a place of breezy self-acceptance.
“The two biggest words that come to my mind are ‘introspective’ and ‘inspirational,'” Orlowski offered. “If it’s Daven who’s writing it or the person who’s listening to it, there’s a lot of connection to be made for something going on inside a person … really capturing the essence of the struggles of people in life and how to sort through it.”
Orlowski, who grew up on Chicago’s Northwest side but now lives in Hoffman Estates, said he met Masulis through a mutual friend at an open mic at Randhurst while they were both attending Harper College. And 11 years and several bands later — “In all shapes and sizes,” Masulis joked, referencing how they worked their way down to a duo from once playing in a seven-piece band together — the pair is poised with a number of new songs in production. The pandemic may have slowed down shows for Jacks and Atoms, but Orlowski said it feels like it sped up the band’s creativity.
“With all the gigs sidelined and everything else kind of up in the air, the writing was the only thing that we really had to focus on at that point,” he said. “So that was a way to make the most of a terrible situation.”
The Jacks and Atoms sound has taken on more of an upbeat alt-rock edge over recent years than its folksy roots would indicate in the 2016 debut “Over the Mountain,” which Masulis and Orlowski started writing in 2014 at the band’s inception.
“When I write lyrics, I like to write stuff that I feel is positive,” Masulis said. “It’s got to be something where it’s either bringing out a really strong emotion or it’s positive in some way, or it’s healing in some way. Because I feel like for me, it’s worth it to write it if it’s a healing thing. … Kind of analyzing how things are going and how you could think about something differently. I think that’s the reflective nature of the new song.”
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Jacks and Atoms release show
When: 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28
Where: Tap House Grill, 7600 S. Barrington Road, Hanover Park, (847) 787-1880 or taphousegrills.com
Tickets: Free; but registration is requested at eventbrite.com
Info: The release party includes an acoustic set by Jacks and Atoms, an exclusive screening of the song’s upcoming video release by Phil Goode, an interview with cast members, a full set by the band, new merch and a raffle