JATK embraces the day on ‘When Tomorrow Comes’
The power-pop project from Boston songwriter Matt Jatkola offers a personal glimpse into his past year’s cancer journey
Photo Credit: Aneleise Ruggles
Out April 2, ‘When Tomorrow Comes’ is the first track from JATK’s forthcoming full-length album, out later this year
BOSTON, MASS. -- Matt Jatkola is grateful for today. And tomorrow. And the day after that. That type of appreciative sentiment -- and a relentless drive to rock on in the face of adversity -- is at the core of the new JATK single “When Tomorrow Comes,” which hits streaming platforms on Friday, April 2.
JATK is more than just Jatkola’s power-pop project. The Boston songwriter -- joined in JATK by Matthew Glover on drums and Kiel Szivos on bass -- has positioned the band as an outlet to detail the personal events of his past year. At a time when the world was getting ready to lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jatkola was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
At a time when everyone was doing everything they could to avoid hospitals, Jatkola was heading right into one. Fast forward a year later, his cancer in remission, and JATK is armed with an arsenal of massive songs -- starting with “When Tomorrow Comes” and a full album’s worth of hooks and riffs set to roll out over the next few months -- that reflect his own experience and that of the human condition. These songs tell the story of his cancer journey.
"’When Tomorrow Comes’ is an optimistic spin on a difficult life experience,” Jatkola says. “In late 2019, I found a swollen lymph node in my neck and when the swelling didn't go down I got it checked out. After weeks of tests, CT scans, ultrasounds, a needle biopsy, and eventually surgery, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in March 2020 and was told I'd have undergo chemo and radiation therapy.”
His life-changing diagnosis was made worse, of course, by the timing of it all.
“Just days after I received this news, the world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he adds. “Talk about timing! I was in a situation where the hospital was the last place anyone wanted to be and yet it was the place I would be going every day for the foreseeable future. It was scary on many levels. Not only was I having my own personal doomsday moment, but the world was having some version of that too. It felt like the sky was falling. Everything was changing. It's from these feelings I wrote the lyrics to ‘When Tomorrow Comes’.
But like any true artist, Jatkola didn’t turn to black and write a dark record. Instead, he used the motivation from his journey to craft a wildly celebratory, indelible brand of high-energy rock and roll, with debts to ‘70s prog, glam, and power-pop and ‘90s alternative rock bursting through the speakers. He found creative chemistry and a shared vision with his longtime collaborators Glover (who was in Jatkola’s 2000s experimental band Lights) and Szivos (who joined Jatkola in synth-rock outfit The Bynars), even though everything was recorded remotely and they’ve never played “When Tomorrow Comes” in person together. Perhaps that’s why Jatkola recorded the guitar solo in his underwear.
“It's one of the most ROCK songs I've written in recent memory,” Jatkola says. “It might actually be an outlier in that regard, as a lot of the newest material isn't all ROCK. ‘When Tomorrow Comes’ is also big on pop and melody so it wears the power-pop tag well, as does much of this new music, regardless of whether it's loud, quiet, guitar rock, synth pop, whatever. It's funny to sit in your bed feeling sick and write a song like this. It confirms something I've realized about myself over time -- I just want to rock.
"This thing is heavy."
"I see in ultrasound."
"Yesterday, there was nothing up in the air."
"There's something that wasn't there."
Like any great creative output, there’s more than what appears on the surface. As “When Tomorrow Comes” sparks out of the speakers with decades of rock and roll ambition blazing forward, there’s details of Jatkola’s cancer experience, and his response to it, are all woven into the track’s lyrics.
“Through all of these crazy circumstances, I was surprised to find myself, more than anything else, hopeful -- both for myself and for the world,” he admits. "’When Tomorrow Comes’ is all about seeing things through to another day, because, for better or worse, tomorrow will come. It's about opening up my arms to the falling sky and saying ‘let it come down.’ April 2, 2021 is almost exactly one year to the date I started chemotherapy. As I sit here one year later officially in remission, I'm grateful for all of it, but especially that tomorrow keeps coming.”
JATK short bio:
JATK (pronounced “Jack”), the power-pop project from Boston-based songwriter Matt Jatkola, cranks up an arsenal of hooks and riffs this spring with “When Tomorrow Comes.” Out April 2, it's an affecting jolt of guitar-rock reflected through Jatkola's knack for pop melody.
Matt Jatkola: Vocals, Guitar
Kiel Szivos: Bass
Matthew Glover: Drums
Credits on ‘When Tomorrow Comes’:
Recorded at Peace & Love Laboratories in Arlington, MA; Parker's Room in Auburn, MA; and The Napoleon Complex in Somerville, MA;
Engineered by Matt Jatkola, Kiel Szivos, Matthew Glover;
Mixed by Adam Taylor at Bang-A-Song Studios in Gloucester, MA;
"When Tomorrow Comes (Reprise)" mixed by Matt Jatkola at Peace & Love Laboratories in Arlington, MA;
Mastered by Nick Zampiello at New Alliance East in Somerville, MA;
Cover photography by Niki Fandel;
All songs written by Matt Jatkola.
JATK press photo [all credits to Aneleise Ruggles]:
Media praise for JATK:
“Boston's answer to your power-pop cravings is Matt Jatkola, now known to some as JATK.”
_ The Deli
“The new four-song EP is filled with hook-filled rock, beginning with the addictive, sing-along chorus of ‘How I Feel Inside,’ which carries a classic, ‘70s vibe. The energy continues to flow through the big guitar riffs of ‘Angry Anchor,’ before finishing with the more aggressive, hard rock attack of ‘Nuebella Satan.’
“JATK celebrates the louder end of the power-pop spectrum. The three-piece band love distortion and fuzz almost as much as they love a sun-filled retro hook and the result is, perhaps, one of the noisiest power-pop discs since The Great Affairs released ‘The Striped Album’ back in 2011. Beneath the layers of guitar and fuzz are four absolutely cracking songs.”