Jesse Jungkurth, like many local musicians, supplements his music-industry income with his more traditional (and stable) 9–5 gig at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. Jesse is a versatile musician who primarily plays guitar in The Iscariots, a well–known Chattanooga reggae band, but has also played with musicians such as Jordan Hallquist, Rick Bowers, and TJ Greever. Jesse also runs Practica Galactica, an affordable practice space located in Lookout Valley off of Browns Ferry Rd.
Who are your music inspirations?
Jesse: All the good songwriters. I consider myself more of a songwriter than a performer because I’m not an amazing guitar player, but I take great pride in my songwriting. I admire Townes Van Zandt, Bruce Springsteen, and Tom Waits for being iconic songwriters. Ultimately, I think that if you don’t have a good song then the performers don’t matter.
What was the inspiration for the name of your practice space, Practica Galactica?
Jesse: We were sitting around drinking one night and asked our Hispanic drummer, Ivan, what “practice” was in Spanish. He said, “practica.” Paired with our extreme nerdiness, someone suggested the title Practica Galactica and I immediately loved it because it reminded me of Battlestar Galactica.
What are the rental rates for your space?
Jesse: We’ve found the idea of an hourly rate to be too much of a hassle when you think about bands transitioning between practice sessions while on a tight schedule. It’s not efficient. We decided to rent out the space every night without a time limit on it. They can go as late as they want. If a band wants to rent out the space for an entire night, they can for $50. That includes the equipment to perform and space to practice. We also have multi-track recording equipment to record your sessions, which is an additional $50 to rent. On the weekends, we try to rent the space out to two different bands for the morning and night sessions. There is a high enough demand and I’m an unorganized enough person that it’s easier to keep the rates simple.
Is this your side job? Do you ever want to make this a larger source of your income?
Jesse: If I was more of an entrepreneur, I might actually pursue it, but ultimately I think that what we currently have won’t make a large profit. We’re hoping to use this space as a way to help musicians in Chattanooga by having more experienced people mentor younger bands in the studio. You’ve got to sow the seed of the next generation of musicians or else we’re just spinning our wheels. You’ve got to create future customers.
We like to try to help people out when we can. People appreciate the fact that we have equipment there and ready for use because it saves time on loading a ton of stuff in and out of the studio. We’re in the music industry, so we’ll never get rich.
What are your plans for 2017?
Jesse: I’ve got two albums in my solo career ready for release this year that I previously wasn’t able to release for legal reasons. I feel more comfortable releasing my music this spring and fall. The Iscariots are also planning on doing something later this year, but we’re not 100% sure on how we’re going to do it yet. I think we’re going to do a steady stream of content release rather than one big release.
Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
Jesse: Practice. Raw talent isn’t enough. I know a lot of really talented people who, if they just had the drive to hone their skills, could really be something great. I feel like a lot of people want everything to work right now. If they don’t get it immediately, they become disinterested. The best thing you can do is sit down and take time to mess up until you figure it out. Secondly, don’t get into this business expecting to make a lot of money.