Since he first started playing gigs around South Florida with his eponymous alt-rock band more than a decade ago, Jacob Jeffries, as a singer and songwriter, has traveled a road familiar to 20-somethings everywhere, chronicling the universal search for love, understanding, fulfillment and a place to call home in a confusing world.
Albums such as “Life as an Extra,” “Wonderful,” “Waiting for the Piano Movers” and “Tell Me Secrets” carried Jeffries’ earnest poetry on a buoyant style of rock ’n’ roll that was warmly received at local shows that became less frequent after the Plantation native moved to New York several years ago.
His emotional candor is on vivid display with the title track of an EP released this summer titled “Hometowns,” a dark lament written during the uneasy transition of a move three years ago to Los Angeles. He sings: “I wake up in the morning with my head held down, trying to remember what I came here for / Piece it all together like a bad dream from a crime scene / Spend my whole life running round, in and out of hometowns.”
However, to the surprise of no one who knows him, certainly not his former teachers at Western High School, Jeffries is also a cutup, a clown, an irreverent tipper of sacred cows. And that has led him to an unlikely parallel career with a band called the Cooties, which marries sophisticated music to outlandishly satirical lyrics in the style of Flight of the Conchords.
The Cooties play to sell-out crowds at Los Angeles clubs, work closely with comic-music star Reggie Watts (the musical director on “The Late Late Show With James Corden”), shared a stage with “Weird Al” Yankovic and share a manager with Sarah Silverman. Jeffries is currently shopping a proposal for a TV show.
“It’s insane. I try to put my finger on it, and I truly don’t understand what is happening,” Jeffries says by phone from L.A., where he lives with former Jacob Jeffries Band bass player Brian Lang. “I think people are just into stupidly hilarious lyrics with complex music. We appeal to the musician and the comedian, and that’s kind of crazy.”
The Cooties aren’t the only thing keeping Jeffries busy these days. He has a new album set for release in February, music he is looking forward to sharing during a free homecoming show on Thursday, Dec. 21, at Wynwood Yard in Miami. The show will reunite Jeffries onstage with Lang and JBB guitarist Jimmy Powers V. Revered guitarist and producer Dan Warner also will sit in.
Jeffries has also been scratching his acting itch, creating online video content for friend Raul Fernandez, formerly of Archbishop McCarthy High School and a veteran film and video director, and an issues-driven media company called ATTN:. Last week, Jeffries appeared in a satirical video that asked, “What if men had to deal with getting birth control the way women do?”
Though based in Los Angeles, the Cooties are South Florida through and through: The other members of the trio are two old friends, drummer Eric Jackowitz and Ethan Edenburg, whom Jeffries has known since they were in a band together in middle school.
Like most great ideas, the genesis of the Cooties was unintentional. Jackowitz and Edenburg were living together, and one night during the 2016 presidential election, Jeffries dropped in as they were fooling around with a humorous song they had written about Bernie Sanders.
“I went over to their place, and you know how it goes, you partake in a few things, and just start listening to each other jam and start joking around. One thing led to another,” Jeffries says.
Edenburg has an array of contacts in the local comedy scene, and the trio was offered a comedy-night gig at a small club in West Hollywood called Bar Lubitsch. The problem was they only had one song to fill their 45-minute slot.
“We basically wrote a musical in a week and then performed it, and people were, like, ‘What the hell is this?’ They loved it,” Jeffries says. “It was a three-person musical, with characters and stuff. And we just kept compiling [songs].”
The Bernie Sanders song soon became a Donald Trump song, with a YouTube video starring Reggie Watts.
“Dude, it’s insane. I don’t even know …” Jeffries says, laughing. “I spent so many years being the conductor of my musical journey, and now I’m a contributing passenger on the train. I’m not driving. Nobody’s driving. And it just keeps going.”
Jacob Jeffries will perform 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 21, at the Wynwood Yard, 56 NW 29th St., in Miami. Admission is free. Call 305-351-0366 or go to TheWynwoodYard.com. For more about Jeffries, go to Facebook.com/JacobJeffries or TheCooties.sex.