WALLA WALLA -- The two Jacobs were known at Walla Walla High School as best friends in the hallways and on the baseball diamond. But when the bell rang and practice ended, what many of their more distant peers may not have known about Jacob Thomason and Jake Jimenez is that they spent their weekends playing guitar and writing songs.
For two years, they developed a musical partnership that eventually led to their first CD earlier this year.
Now the core members of "Jacob's Weekend" are embarking on their next step -- a recording contract with music label to see how far they can go.
Settled at a picnic table under a sunny sky at Pioneer Park, Jacob and Jake are a vision in contrast: Thomason is sandy-haired, intense, and he channels his emotions and experiences into the lyrics he writes with the hopes of turning his passion for music into a career. Jimenez, his brunette counterpart, just picked up the guitar two years ago and began learning from his friend. He is a popular culture aficionado who loves music but also has his eye on a teaching certificate as a long-term goal.
Their musical influences are equally varied -- Jimenez appreciates U2, Radiohead and Kings of Leon to Thomason's Snow Patrol and Frightened Rabbit. Together their layered contributions combine for an acoustic alternative sound brought to life by Thomason's smooth vocals.
A little background: The two Jakes graduated in June but met as sophomores. By then Thomason had been playing guitar for five or six years already as a self-taught kid with a good ear. Inspired to learn himself, Jimenez picked up a Valencia guitar at a local pawn shop and learned the basic chords from Thomason before developing his own style. They'd written about 30 songs together before Thomason's dad, Cody Thomason, made the step toward an actual recording.
That's how they became acquainted with drummer and keyboardist Clarence Steele.
The two Jakes have been the consistent players in what has been a slightly changing lineup of musicians. But Steele, who has been performing since 13 and splits his time between the Walla Walla Valley and Los Angeles, has also come in as a major player. He recorded Jacob's Weekend's first CD, "unexpected," which also served as an 18th birthday present for Thomason. They've performed songs from the album at open mic nights throughout town.
"The beauty of it is everybody works so smoothly," Steele said.
What started as casual music-making on the weekends -- hence the name Jacob's Weekend -- took a more serious turn this summer when the band signed with Tate Music Group. The Oklahoma label's portfolio includes numerous Christian artists but also branches into hip hop with artists, such as LaVert, and country, with performers such as Neal McCoy.
During the second week of September, Jacob's Weekend will travel to Oklahoma to record the next album. Tate Music Group will pick three songs to push to radio stations. From there, the sky's the limit, Thomason said.
"Our goal is to break into Billboard's Top 25," he said. "I've always believed in my own talent."
Jacob's Weekend is on Facebook as Jacobs Weekend. An acoustic-electric set will be performed Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. at an all-ages event at Le Chateau Winery.