Jesse Lacey

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Jesse Lacey
Jesse Lacey, 2008, Metropolis Fremantle.jpg
Jesse Lacey performing at the Metropolis Fremantle in February 2008
Background information
Birth name Jesse Thomas Lacey
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • producer
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • piano
  • bass
  • trombone
Years active 1999–present
Associated acts

Jesse Thomas Lacey is an American musician, singer-songwriter and producer, who is the lead vocalist and guitarist for Brand New.[1]

As well as fronting Brand New, Lacey has performed as a solo artist since 2004, although has not yet released any solo material, and instead performs material by Brand New, as well as covering other bands. Lacey has also produced and coproduced a number of records, including those by his band, Brand New, as well as Kevin Devine's Bubblegum and a track by Cymbals Eat Guitars. Lacey was also the original bassist of Taking Back Sunday, but left the band in 2001, before any of their recorded material had been released.

Early life[edit]

Lacey was raised in a Christian family and regularly attended church, although Lacey has said Christianity was never forced upon him.[2] His parents listened to bands such as The Beatles, Steely Dan, Simon and Garfunkel and Bruce Springsteen, which Lacey has stated contributed towards both his interest and taste in music, commenting that "there was always a record playing, and good music, too".[3] Albums by Billy Joel, Weird Al and The Big Picture by Michael W. Smith were amongst some of the first that Lacey owned.[4]

Lacey attended General Douglas MacArthur High School, along with John Nolan. After Nolan convinced Lacey to learn the bass guitar, the two friends would go on to form a number of bands during their high school years, one of which was named Gudmunder Bjornsen.[5] As well as learning bass, Lacey also learnt to play the trombone, whilst also participating in the church choir.[6] Both Lacey and Nolan would go on to work together in an early incarnation of Taking Back Sunday, with Lacey contributing bass guitar and backing vocals to their first EP in 2001. In 1998, Lacey along with Garrett Tierney, Brian Lane and Brandon Reilly formed The Rookie Lot, who would self-release a split EP as well as a demo-tape.[7]

Prior to becoming a full-time musician, Lacey had a number of different jobs, including working for the clothing retailer Gap Inc., a skate and bike shop, and also spending two days working at McDonald's, before quitting after being told "sexual harassment is going to happen, so get used to it".[6]

Musical career[edit]

Brand New (2000–present)[edit]

After The Rookie Lot split, its former members, with the exception of Reilly would form Brand New, recruiting Vincent Accardi as guitarist.[7] After recording and releasing a number of demos, the band released their debut album Your Favorite Weapon in 2001. Lacey provided lead vocals and guitar for the album, as well as writing lyrics for all of the songs.[8] The band toured heavily up until work began on their second album in February 2003. Influenced by his time on the road, Lacey wrote much of the album on acoustic guitar in his bedroom.[9] Seven weeks after its release, Deja Entendu had outsold Your Favorite Weapon. The album's success lead the band to be engulfed in a bidding war between labels.[10]

After finishing the extensive touring and promotional cycle for their album Deja Entendu, Lacey had become unsure as to whether he even wanted to release another record. In an interview, Lacey stated that he had the realisation that he no longer wished to be associated with many of the people and bands he'd met over the past years with Brand New, and he also felt as though he had no friends.[11] After writing and recording sessions in late 2004, the band became inactive. In spring 2005, Lacey became sick and subsequently underwent surgery for a number of problems.[12] After the loss of a number of his friends and family members, Lacey and his bandmates purposely immersed themselves in it, channeling it into the songwriting with the hope of expelling it.[13] Having previously become disillusioned and uninterested in the bands and people they were previously around, Lacey found friendship in bands such as Thrice, mewithoutYou, Manchester Orchestra and Kevin Devine, remarking that they had "created a small community".[11] In later interviews, Lacey stated that the writing and recording of their third album saved the band.[14] In 2008, Lacey along with his Brand New bandmates cofounded the record label Procrastinate! Music Traitors.[15]


One of Lacey's first solo shows was on April 27, 2004 at The Downtown in Farmingdale, New York, performing a mixture of covers and songs by his band, Brand New.[16] Later in July 2007, Lacey along with Kevin Devine would tour in the United States, with Lacey once again performing material from Brand New, as well as performing various tracks with Devine.[17] In 2008 he once again toured with Devine, and in an interview discussed how at this point he wished only to occasionally tour and perform Brand New material solo, believing that "the songs lack meaning" without his band beside him.[11]

After performing solo with Kevin Devine on December 12, 2015, Lacey was soon-after revealed to be the sixth release as part of Devine's Devinyl splits series, with his single seeing release early in 2016.[18]

Other projects[edit]

Outside of Brand New, Lacey has frequently collaborated with Kevin Devine, both in the studio and live. In 2005, Lacey was featured Kevin Devine's album Split the Country, Split the Street, providing vocals on the songs "Cotton Crush", "After Party", and "No One Else's Problem".[19] In 2009 he would again contribute to the album Brother's Blood, singing on "Tomorrow's Just Too Late". In 2013, Lacey produced the album Bubblegum. Lacey was initially nervous, as it was the first album he had produced outside of Brand New.[20] Along with Kevin Devine, Lacey has also frequently appeared onstage and on tour with Manchester Orchestra.[21]

Other appearances by Lacey include contributing bass guitar to the track "Rocket" on the Intramural 2007 album This Is a Landslide, as well as providing bass and guitar on Grace Read's song "Cloak and Dagger", from her EP Young Guns.[22][23] At various Brand New shows in 2014 and 2015, Lacey joined support band Dinosaur Pile-Up on stage, performing their track "Nature Nurture".[24] Lacey and his wife Andrea released a cover of "In Spite of Ourselves", originally by John Prine in February 2015.[25] In 2015, Lacey along with Mike Sapone coproduced the track "Aerobed" for the band Cymbals Eat Guitars, as part of the Devinyl Splits series, curated by Kevin Devine.[26]

Songwriting and musicianship[edit]


Early on in his career as a musician Lacey cited bands such as Lifetime, Foo Fighters, The Cars and Pearl Jam as influences for himself and Brand New.[7] Lacey has also long been a fan of Morrissey and The Smiths, referencing the latter in the song "Mix Tape" on Brand New's debut album, Your Favorite Weapon.[27] Lacey would also later tape the words "Hi Moz" to his guitar during their performance of "The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows" on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in 2003.[28]

Being raised as a Christian has also influenced Lacey's songwriting. Religious imagery and themes such as faith, the afterlife, the supernatural as well as moral issues are often explored in Lacey's songwriting, however Lacey has been clear to state his songs are not, and never will be about Christianity, remarking that the band Brand New do not share the same beliefs, so to try to label the band with any one religion would be "absolutely ridiculous".[29] Film, television and literature have also influenced his songwriting.[30]

In Brand New, Lacey and his bandmates often write material separately from one another, rarely rehearsing or practicing together. Instead Lacey will often write material on an acoustic guitar, before bringing it to the rest of the band.[29][31] During the writing and recording of the 2006 album The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, Lacey was particularly influenced by bands such as U2 and Radiohead to try writing using instruments other than the guitar.[32] During the sessions, Lacey's friendship with Devine would also play a major influence on his songwriting, with him looking to write more about current events.[33]

Musical equipment[edit]

Jesse Lacey performing in Toronto during December 2006.

Lacey has stated that he never really wanted to play guitar, but his friend John Nolan insisted, with the two going on to play in a number of bands together during their school years.[34] One of Lacey's first guitars, a custom 1970's Fender Telecaster was borrowed from a church leader by Nolan, and subsequently passed onto Lacey, who would go on to use it on a number of Brand New's albums, and on many of their tours.[35] Since 2004, Lacey has predominately been using 1990 Fender Jazzmaster guitars, one in black and one in blue, both of which have Mustang bridges and have been fitted with a buzzstop. During live performances, Lacey often has one of his Jazzmaster's in a standard tuning, and the other half a step down.[35] In addition Lacey has also used a Rickenbacker 330, a Fender Cyclone and a Squier Super-Sonic.[36] Lacey's acoustic guitars include a Takamine acoustic-electric, a Gibson Hummingbird, and several Taylor Acoustic-Electrics.[35]

Lacey personally built his current effects pedalboard, describing his setup and collection of pedals as being "kind of overkill", but believes the fact it is his profession makes it justifiable, stating that he likes "the idea of having nice tools".[35] Lacey uses a Gig Rig analog controller, which has 10 different effects and loops programmed in.[35] Along with his Brand New bandmate Vincent Accardi, Lacey owns numerous effects, and often post details of their new and modified effects to the bands Instagram feed. Effects that Lacey has used include: a Boss TU-2 guitar tuner, Vox Wah, Boss TR-2 tremolo, Boss DD-2 digital delay, Boss DD-5, Line6 DL4 delay, Pro Co RAT, MXR Blue Box, Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer, Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail, a Big Muff, Small Sound/Big Sound Buzz, Hot Cake overdrive, Boss RV-5, Boss NS-2, and a Morley ABY Selector Switch, among many others.[35] Over the years, Lacey has used multiple amplifier and cabinet combinations, which include: a Marshall Super Lead, Vox AC30, Matchless Phoenix 35, Fender Hot Rod Deville 4x10, Fender Triple, Fender Twin Reverb, and an Orange Rockerverb among others, most of which are played through a THD Hot Plate. On the Your Favorite Weapon tours he used a Fender Roc Pro 1000 amp head.[35]

Personal life[edit]

Lacey has often been described by the media as being both enigmatic and reserved.[37] He has no public social media accounts and only occasionally gives interviews, stating in one interview that although he enjoys talking to people, he and his Brand New bandmates feel more comfortable not having to worry about interviews, photo shoots and music videos, and that "those peripheral things had nothing to do with the project we were working on".[14][38]

Lacey is the second oldest of seven siblings, one of whom is a teacher. Another one of his siblings, Cody Lacey, is in the United States Navy. His brother, Jamey Lacey plays in the band Coasta.[39] His father is a nurse.[40] Prior to forming Brand New, Lacey attended Nassau Community College in Long Island for three years, studying Child Psychology and Elementary Education.[30][41][42] Attending school with fellow musician John Nolan, the two friends had a brief, highly publicized falling out.[43] This would lead Lacey to write "Seventy Times 7", which appeared on Brand New's 2001 album Your Favorite Weapon, whilst Nolan would later write about the dispute from his perspective in the Taking Back Sunday track "There's No I in Team". Later, Lacey and his Brand New bandmates stated that the "situation cleaned itself up a lot sooner than most people thought it did", and that the situation had been blown out of proportion by fans and the media.[2][44][45] Lacey has described fellow musician Kevin Devine as one of his best friends, as well as citing him as a musical influence.[46]

Lacey has an interest in photography and graphic design, and has had a part in designing and composing artwork for a number of releases by Brand New.[47][48][49]

Lacey is married to Andrea King.[50] Their daughter, Bowie, was born on January 11, 2016.[51]

In late 2017, Lacey was accused of sexual misconduct by two women in the 2000s, including soliciting naked photographs from underage fans.[52][53] Lacey apologized publicly on Brand New's Facebook page and admitted to having a sex addiction throughout the band's early career, having since had counselling and treatment without it being public knowledge until the allegations surfaced.[54][55]


With Brand New

With The Rookie Lot

  • Five track demo tape (1998)
  • The Rookie Lot/Yearly split 7" (1999)

With Taking Back Sunday


Year Song(s) Artist Album
2005 "Cotton Crush", "Afterparty", and "No One Else's Problem" Kevin Devine Split the Country, Split the Streets
2007 "Rocket" Intramural This Is a Landslide
2009 "Tomorrow's Just Too Late" Kevin Devine Brother's Blood
2012 "Cloak and Dagger" Grace Read Young Guns

Production discography

Year Album Artist Credits
2006 The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me Brand New Co-produced with Mike Sapone and Brand New
2009 Daisy Brand New Co-produced with Mike Sapone and Brand New
2012 Bubblegum Kevin Devine Production, bass guitar, percussion, feedback and backing vocals on "Private First Class"
2015 Devinyl Splits No. 4 Cymbals Eat Guitars Co-produced the track "Aerobed" with Mike Sapone


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  2. ^ a b "INTERVIEW MIT BRAND NEW" (Interview). All Schools (in German). June 2015. Retrieved December 11, 2015. 
  3. ^ Gaston, Peter (August 12, 2009). "Q&A: Brand New's Jesse Lacey" (Interview). Spin Magazine. Retrieved 11 December 2015. 
  4. ^ Tate, Jason (September 19, 2006). "Street Team Exclusive Interview". Absolute Punk. Archived from the original on October 26, 2015. Retrieved October 17, 2012. 
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  23. ^ Grace Read – Young Guns (Media notes). Brookvale Records. 2012. 
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  48. ^ Daisy (Media notes). Interscope Records, Procrastinate Music Traitors. 2009. BOO13381-01. 
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  50. ^ Campbell, Rachel (February 10, 2016). "The 10 best collaborations from couples in music". Alternative Press. Archived from the original on June 7, 2017. Retrieved November 13, 2017. 
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  53. ^
  54. ^ "Brand new's Jesse Lacey releases statement on sexual misconduct allegations". Alternative Press. Retrieved November 12, 2017. 
  55. ^ Kreps, Daniel (November 12, 2017). "Brand New's Jesse Lacey Apologizes After Sexual Misconduct Allegations Surface". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 13, 2017. 

External links[edit]