Is Jack Gruber the 22nd Pilot in Twenty One Pilots ?
Music in the 21st century has never been freer. Anyone can create music without the cost or restraints of music conglomerates like record labels. In today’s age, personal and specific lyrics from an individual sell more and more each passing year. Although there is still a market for perfect studio music, home-based artists are getting younger and younger. With 15-year-old singer Jack Gruber, this is the exemplary case.
Being the writer and producer of your own music is an achieving feat, only by the fact that we have renowned singers that cannot do either. Nonetheless, for those who are fans of artists such as AJR, half-alive, and twenty one pilots, specifically Tyler Joseph’s early work, Jack Gruber is your next up and coming favorite singer in this arena. Not only has Jack been compared to Joseph’s early writings, but before the release of twenty one pilots’ third album TRENCH, Jack wrote a snippet song that passed off as a demo for the song Pet Cheetah due to their similar singing voices. Whether that was planned or for fun, he gained listeners and fans, which to me, is nothing but short of iconic.
For this blog, I will be reviewing Jack’s two latest singles, “Definition” and “True Colors.”
Gruber’s first 2020 single, Definition combines the sounds of Coldplay and twenty one pilots. A soft synth that sounds like it is coming from an old radio and a piano with joyful bouncing keys start off the track. Right when Gruber begins to rap, we are taken into a verse full of trap, bass, and kicks. With a bouncing synth, the piano changes chord every four strokes. Gruber uses electronic bass in the verses to let the listener know the focus on the lyrical content of these stanzas. As for the choruses, they switch to a happier tone, with drums and cymbals kicking around aiding the synths to grow louder. Definition has Gruber’s most jumpy chorus that makes you dance and moves your head.
Our singer basically establishes himself on this track. The music of the verses has a darker tone because Gruber wants to be taken seriously as an artist. He sings about how making music is not as hard to make, you just need a bit of inspiration and “mental break,” or not to over-push yourself. These are his ingredients of motivation to work on his craft. All he wants in this world is to listen to music and have people listen to his discography and sing along.
Gruber proudly annotates that he sings, raps, and write. Not only for the fun of it, but because music is like therapy for him, it “fixes a hole that’s cutting him,” as he states in the second verse. Whether this is an allusion or literal, it is up to us the listeners to choose. Gruber states that he knows some of his listeners won’t understand all of his lyrics, “and that’s ok.”. I believe he is saying that it is up to the people to interpret what he means; if he tries to tell or explain his listeners everything that there is to say, is there really a reason to sing or rap the way he does at all.
The track goes on and finishes with an instrumental break in the same brighter tone as the choruses, similar to twenty one pilot’s contrast of perspective lyrics and lively instrumentals.
True Colors starts off with a simple kick drum and piano instrumental and then ravages off with the main synth and accompanying bass that sets the tone of the song. The feeling of the music can be described bittersweet but hopeful, as implied by the lyrics.
Gruber’s vocals begin in the deeper register and maintain this way through the track, purposefully to maintain attention to the words and not his vocal runs. His vocal scale sticks close to the chord progression (such as the Dm chord), with the background vocals and ad-libs giving off that bittersweet sound.
I would say that in the lyric department, escapism is the central theme. For starter, Gruber is asking a friend or loved one if they want to, or are capable of running away together. All before their environment (the true colors of others) get more complicated and fall apart. Could this partially allude to the relationship between author and subject and not just the place around them falling apart? Only Gruber knows.
In the second verse, Gruber self-reflects how these problems are affecting his mental state. But quickly reverts back to his subject’s well-being, as putting a more significant emphasis on their well-being over his. Gruber asks his subject if they are truly living life because, in the end, he needs them to run away by this side. True Colors showcases that Gruber has an understanding of how escapism can work in his songs.
Touting twenty one pilot’s merch in his social media, there is no doubt that Tyler Joseph is Jack Grubers’ musical inspirations. This is not to say that Gruber is being a copycat, I am merely stating that there is nothing more important than a musician having so much power to be able to inspire fans and listeners to start their own discography and lyrical world. I am a fan of his music because it reminds me of not only my own music writing but of all of the artists in the 2010’s that have risen to stardom. Gruber’s music is not only relatable, but it is storytelling that, even if not relatable, anyone can comprehend. Gruber has perfected the balance of lyrical supply and bullish instrumentals. Supporting small artists has never been more critical.
Do you agree with my assessment? Do you disagree? Let me know in the comments. Support Jack Gruber with the spotify link below and apple music.