It wasn’t until he got to college at the New England School of Communications that Jacob McCurdy figured out that he really loved making music. And it wasn’t until he met his friend and later songwriting collaborator, Adam Hanson, that his songs went from bedroom noodling to actual, structured compositions that he wanted to play live.
The funny thing is is that McCurdy, whose debut album, “Sleepless,” came out on May 12, actually went to Belfast Area High School with Hanson — but they definitely didn’t hang out back then.
“I’m a dirty hippie, and he’s in the military. We totally did not get along back then at all,” said McCurdy, now 22. “I guess we kind of had to meet each other again a few years later, under totally different circumstances, to figure out that we were destined to be best friends.”
That was two years ago, and now, despite their differences, the pair can’t stop cranking out songs, with McCurdy handling the music and Hanson writing the lyrics. Hanson is the Bernie Taupin to McCurdy’s Elton John. Hanson also is the driven, unabashed rocker to McCurdy’s sweet-natured, groovy dude, and the friction that arises from that pairing is what makes them such good friends and collaborators.
“I hate to say it, but it’s definitely kind of a yin and yang thing,” said Hanson. “I think our differences are what bring us together.”
“Sleepless” features ten songs co-written by the pair, from the summertime anthem “Window” to the acoustic pop of “Girl to Amaze.” It was recorded at New England School of Communication in Bangor as an audio engineering senior project of student Frank Baron. Generally, NESCOM senior project albums are from bands from out of town or in no way connected to the school, but an exception was made for McCurdy, who graduated a few weeks ago.
“I think when they heard it, they got that I was serious about it, and we had some really good songs written,” said McCurdy. “The album turned out better than I ever could have hoped for.”
McCurdy first picked up a guitar at age 17, but he grew up singing, in school chorus and in a capella groups in Belfast. His strongest suit may in fact be his voice, an expressive tenor that brings to mind contemporary pop singers like Dave Matthews or Jack Johnson but with a folky grit all his own.
The album features an array of Maine musicians, from When Particles Collide drummer Chris Viner of Bangor to Belfast contradance violinist Tyler Yentes. McCurdy himself handles the majority of the instruments, however, including guitar, ukulele, banjo, bass and hand percussion.
The album is available on iTunes and Amazon.com, and McCurdy hopes his Bangor fanbase comes with him as he takes the next step of his musical journey. Next month, he and Hanson will climb into McCurdy’s Honda Fit and drive cross-country, making their way to California, where McCurdy hopes to find a career in the music industry — though he’s shooting for the producer’s chair rather than the spotlight. Not that he wouldn’t like to keep making music; far from it.
“When Adam and I get together, we just kind of work off one another and come up with ideas,” said McCurdy. “We’re bringing recording equipment with us on the road. Who knows what we might come up with.”
For information on Jacob McCurdy and to stream some of his songs, visit www.reverbnation.com/jacobmccurdymusic.
Follow Emily Burnham on Twitter at twitter.com/rockblogsterbdn.