May 11, 2008
Deasy, Jacques Soar As Thomas Jefferson's Aeroplane
By Julie Toye
For the Herald Standard
|Bill Deasy and Rich Jacques in Los Angeles
(Pittsburgh) When Bill Deasy and Rich Jacques, two of
Pittsburgh's most highly showcased musicians of the
1990s, got together in 2007 in Los Angeles to write music,
they ended up forging a comfortable partnership called
Thomas Jefferson's Aeroplane that took off and landed
with the duo's first CD, "The Invisible Ocean."
Initially, Deasy, former lead singer of The Gathering
Field, and Jacques, former lead guitarist of Brownie
Mary, hoped their collaboration to write a few songs would
lead to opportunities to market their music for television
and/or movie soundtracks.
Jacques has already been establishing himself on the west
coast by working with Ben Affleck on the music for
"Hollywoodland" and has had songs featured in the film, "The Breakup," with Jennifer Aniston and
Vince Vaughn. His songs have also been included in television soundtracks on ABC's "Men in Trees,"
the PBS special, "Carriers," and MTV's "Newport Harbour."
"Initially, we were writing exclusively for placements in film and TV. Thatâ€™s still our big hope for the
recordâ€¦that it leads to a bunch of those types of opportunities," Deasy said of his year-long
collaboration with Jacques.
"Rich and I wrote every song on the record together from scratch. Two of the songs, â€œTonightâ€� and
â€œJust About You,â€� included third writers," Deasy said.
Songwriter Kevin Hunter helped write "Tonight," while singer/songwriter Alissa Moreno helped write
"Just About You." Moreno has song writing credits on television shows "The Army Wives," "The
Wildfire," "The Hills" and "Newport Beach." She also penned a tune, "Every Day," which the well-
known country group Rascal Flatts recorded on its "Still Feels Good" CD.
"In general, our process was really intuitive," Deasy said of the song writing sessions that he and
Jacques had in Los Angeles together writing the other nine songs on "The Invisible Ocean."
"Once we locked into a chord progression and melody, weâ€™d either chip away at a lyric together or
heâ€™d start putting together a musical track and Iâ€™d start letting the lyrics flow," Deasy said to
explain their joint creative process.
In general, he said, the collaboration and songs all came together easily -- which was a big reason the
two realized that they "should chase it down a little further" and keep on writing more material as a
duo. Thus, the group, Thomas Jefferson's Aeroplane, was born in Los Angeles and the idea of putting
out a whole CD together followed.
While Jacques has had success on the West Coast since leaving Brownie Mary and Pittsburgh, Deasy,
meanwhile, has also had a taste of larger scale solo success himself when he penned and sang the catchy
"Good Things Are Happening" theme song for "Good Morning America" promotional ads. His ten-
month contract with ABC for the ad stretched to three and one-half years due to the song's popularity.
Also, as a songwriter sometimes working in Nashville, Deasy has been fortunate to have his songs
recorded by major country singers Martina McBride and Billy Ray Cyrus, among others. He has opened
shows for Bob Dylan, Norah Jones, Patty Griffin, John Mellencamp and Bruce Springsteen.
In 2006, Deasy took his writing skills to another level and forum, when his first novel, "Ransom
Seaborn," was published.
"I think I wanted to write a book since I was about ten years old. I was never really sure I could pull it
off, though," Deasy said.
"Ransom Seaborn" was my first try and kind of convinced me that I could do it," he added. He has two
other novels and is pursuing publishers or "homes for each of them."
The 2006 novel earned Deasy critical acclaim as a well-written coming of age book. The songwriter
turned novelist then started to consider wanting to follow Jacques' path into a new area of writing music
for television and movies soundtracks with their collaboration.
Back in Pittsburgh in the 90s, Deasy and Jacques' paths crossed when their former groups, The
Gathering Field and Brownie Mary, along with the Clarks, often shared venue dates for shows together.
They all became part of the second generation of Pittsburgh musicians to get major record deals, only to
be disappointed when they all were essentially mismanaged and poorly promoted. The Gathering Field
then spent a couple years trying to get out of its record deal with Atlantic Records because of a lack of
promotion and disbanded.
"There was a sense back in the 90s that we were all in it together," Deasy said of the era when both The
Gathering Field and Brownie Mary had large audiences and those major record contracts.
"So we all became friends that way," Deasy said. He liked Brownie Mary's music and was a fan as well
"I always thought they had really catchy songs and that Rich had a good, hooky touch on guitar," Deasy
When asked how he puts being so close to major stardom a couple times into perspective, Deasy said he
is exactly where he wants to be in life and has no regrets at all.
"Iâ€™m grateful things have gone exactly as they have. Iâ€™m happily married with a family and my
life is still all about writing songs and stories," Deasy said.
As one of Pittsburgh's most respected and favorite songwriters and performers, Deasy has strong
support from fans and followers of his music and does not take them for granted in the least.
"Having the fans I have makes me feel lucky. For a core group to hang in there with you as you
experiment and search is a gift I donâ€™t take lightly. It helps me to maintain the sense that it all
means somethingâ€¦and to stay inspired," Deasy said.
Certain traditions, such as an annual spring show highlighting songs from an older CD called "Spring
Lies Waiting," and a Boxing Day Show are so highly anticipated and then successful because of Deasy's
loyal followers. Fans, too, are looking forward to a June reunion show with The Gathering Field and
their old friends, The Clarks, and Donnie Iris, for what is called the "Homegrown Hoo-Ha" at the Post-
Followers of Deasy's music also know that his parents attend most of his shows and rarely ever take
their eyes off him when he performs. He refers to his parents as "true die-hards."
"After all these years they still come to almost every show and still make the same call on mornings
after saying how great it was. Itâ€™s pretty amazing, really." he said of his parents' support of his life
as a musician.
Jacques, a Wisconsin native who formed Brownie Mary while attending Bethany College in West
Virginia, relocated with that group's former lead singer, Kelsey Friday, to Pittsburgh for a strong seven-
year run with their band here.
Jacques moved to Los Angeles in 2001 and returned to Pittsburgh last summer for the first time for a
reunion of Brownie Mary and The Gathering Field. He will return once again for CD premiere shows
with Deasy to promote Thomas Jefferson's Aeroplane's "The Invisible Ocean."
"I'm hoping that I will get back more often now," Jacques said from Los Angeles recently.
"Making this CD was fun. There was no real pressure making it. It was fun for me because it got me
out of my little box of writing for myself," Jacques said.
One song from "The Invisible Ocean" called "Know That I Would" has Jacques singing about calling a
Pittsburgh friend, asking how's Pittsburgh and saying that he's sure that it's raining here.
"I love listening to this CD," Jacques added. That WDVE started playing one song, "All I Want," from
it when it was released last month makes him proud and happy.
"These are songs which neither of us would probably do alone," Jacques said of the music on "The
Invisible Ocean." He called the rapport between him and Deasy "instant chemistry" writing, recording
and playing together.
In early 2007, when Deasy and Jacques started their collaboration, the song, "All I Want," was the first
song they wrote together.
"A couple of months later I was back in LA and we wrote "Wish There Was a Way," Deasy said.
"I was just starting to think about making my next record, "The Miles," and included those two in the
"It was only after the release of "The Miles" in July of 2007 that Rich and I decided to put this all out,
including the original version of those two songs I had rerecorded for The Miles," Deasy explained.
Press kit information about "The Invisible Ocean" urges listeners to strap in, listen up and prepare to
ascend. The new CD can be purchased through cdbaby.com as well as Dave's Music Mine on Carson
Street in Pittsburgh.
Whether this music makes it to movie or television soundtracks or becomes commercially successful
through radio or other media, Thomas Jefferson's Aeroplane has written, recorded and produced some
quality music with "The Invisible Ocean," and by doing so, has written another most interesting chapter
in the lives of two highly gifted musicians.
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