If together long enough, bands become little families; the fewer the people, the tighter the bond. Duos can become like twins: a tight-knit relationship that becomes more than mere partnership.
The men behind blues-rock duo The Black Jack Gypsys does the theory one better: The Oklahoma City boys are brothers by actual blood.
“Being close and brothers first, the connection we had was super-tight before the band thing,” singer and guitarist Mike Derrick said, looking over at his sibling drummer, Rob. “It was just something else we could share in.”
Wittingly or not, their parents set the roots for the act early.
“They knew what they were getting into,” Mike Derrick said, laughing. “They bought me my first guitar and Rob his first drum kit.”
Added his brother, “As cheesy as it is, it’s almost like it was fate.”
That destiny was realized, thanks to a steady stream of Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix through their formative years, then discovering newer acts like The White Stripes and The Black Keys.
It’s been eight odd years of Mike playing in various projects; Rob hadn’t been active in a band since his middle school days, but is studying sound engineering ACM@UCO. The Gypsys were born out of a casual jam between the two, and the instant chemistry encouraged Rob to pick up the drums again.
As expected, that connection gave way to plenty of bickering, but the relationship always has served as a doubleedged sword in that regard, encouraging arguments, for better and worse. “About half the time, or even more, we disagree on everything, but it’s good,” Mike Derrick said. “It keeps us in balance. The point we always meet at is better than the two separate points we were at before.”
Added Rob Derrick, “We are both so hardheaded and we both know it. Because he’s my brother, I’m not going to get pissed off, throw my sticks and walk out on the band, because that would be walking out on family.”
The one thing they never argue about is how important music is to each of their respective lives; it’s even led the two to launch Old Dog Records, out of their home, to help bolster the local scene.
“Our entire soul, our entire passion, our entire lives revolve on what we are doing with music,” Rob Derrick said. “We don’t call where we sleep our house, we call it the studio. We eat, breathe, sleep music.”
These past few months of musical endeavors have strengthened that bond.
“There are moments onstage where everything goes away, and we are just playing the music we wrote,” Mike Derrick said. “To share with my brother … it doesn’t get any better than that.”