Planetcountry’s exclusive interview with Jason Eady, one of the most important singers to the music scene from Texas:
1 let’s start from the end; during this crazy year you’ve been able to set this virtual guitar pull on FB named”sequestred songwriters” with an incredible number of talented performers. Who had the original idea? And why this instead of the usual on line live footage?
J: When the quarantine first happened we were all scrambling to figure out the online shows. Then on April 6 it was Merle Haggard’s birthday. It’s a tradition in our scene that whenever we all get together it usually turns into us all sitting around passing the guitar and playing Merle Haggard songs. We call this a “Hag Off’ and it can go on for a while. So since we were all doing the online thing anyway we thought it would be fun to do a virtual Hag Off. We called it “Hag, you’re it!”. There were about 10 of us and we honestly didn’t know if we would get through one round before the whole thing fell apart, since none of us really knew what we were doing yet. But it worked! And then the next day John Prine died and we thought we had to do it again the next week and all do John Prine songs. And it worked again and even more people watched this time. So then we realized we were on to something. We did Willie Nelson the next week and have done them every Monday since. We brought more songwriters on board and solved a lot of the problems of those early shows. It’s been a great learning experience for all of us. As songwriters we don’t normally play a lot of cover songs so digging in an learning songs by such a wide range of artists has made us all better. That has been an unexpected benefit of the whole thing.
2 You were both musicians before you knew each other, do you think being together changed your approach to songwriting? Can you talk about the pros and cons of living with another artist
J: I don’t think it changed our approach. We each have our strengths and they tend to compliment each other so we have left that part alone and just worked to support each other. There are a lot of pros to living with another performer, mainly that we both live and understand the lifestyle. This can be a tough life for a spouse to understand. We are gone a lot, up late nights, don’t have a regular schedule or regular income, so it takes someone who really understands that to make it work. And we are able to critique each other. We look to each other for honest feedback and we always get it. That is a huge help. The biggest con is that since we both travel sometimes we will go weeks without seeing each other. We just pass each other on the road. This hasn’t happened as much since the quarantine started but in regular times that can be an issue.
3-A lot of today’s “real country” artists come from different musical backgrounds; did you know you wanted to play country music right from the start or it’s something that came later?
J: I’ve always knows that I wanted to play country music. There was never a question about that. It is my foundation and the whole reason I ever picked up a guitar. I also grew up around blues, soul, and Southern rock, and those have all influenced me to over the years. But none of them have had the impact that traditional country music has had. That will always be my first love.
4- Jason your last album is clearly bluegrass influenced and Courtney those Southern gospel revival videos are just so good;which is something pretty unusual for Texas acts. Can you tell us about your passion for these genres? Ever thought about a whole bluegrass-gospel album together?
J: My love for bluegrass is as strong as my love for traditional country music. But I don’t really separate those two. I consider bluegrass to be a form of traditional country music. I grew up going to bluegrass festivals and the first song I ever learned on guitar was a Stanley Brothers song. I would love to make a bluegrass album one day. I would never consider myself a bluegrass musician just because those guys are so much better on their instruments than I will ever be. But I sure do love to sing and play bluegrass in my own way and would love to try to write an album of original bluegrass songs one day. We’ve talked about making a duets album but never really thought about doing an album in that style. Maybe we should!
5- Mainstream media in the U.S. are criticizing country music for not being “inclusive” enough in a moment where, on the contrary, there’s never been so much diversity (soundwise and attitudewise) if you know where to look. what do you think about it?
J: I think the biggest misconception about country music is the stereotype of who country music artists and fans really are. There seems to be this attitude that we are all the same, with the same outlooks and backgrounds, because of the music that we play. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. I know country music artists and fans from every possible background and with very different outlooks on life. I don’t think it’s different from any other genre in that way (or from any other part of society). There’s no way to describe the typical country music artist. There are just too many types of artists to ever be able to do that.
6-Your songs sound very personal and clearly draw from your experiences. How has this whole pandemic restrictions affected your songwriting? Have you noticed a lack of inspiration?
J: When the pandemic first started there was definitely a sort of creative paralysis. We were all so consumed with how we were going to make our living that none of us were really creating very much. But once we settled into it and it became a new normal then it opened up a big creative period for me. I was able to go back and finish a lot of songs that I hadn’t finished over the years and wrote a whole new album. I’m trying not to write about life in the pandemic because I think plenty of people will be doing that, but I have definitely not seen a lack of inspiration. I will look back on this time as one of my most creative periods.
7- As a songwriter myself I’m always curious about the way other people write. Have you got a job “routine”?
J: I do have a routine but it took me a long time to realize that I did. I basically collect ideas all the time; little pieces of things that I store away. Then when I have some time to focus I will sit down and see what I can do with them. I usually don’t finish much during these ties, I just get a lot of things started. Then eventually I will get into a very creative period and go back and finish most everything I have started. I used to think all of those times where I only got a little bit written ad didn’t finish anything were failures. But now I know that that’s just part of the process. I don’t worry about it anymore. When it’s time to finish I will know it. I have realized that every time you sit down to write it is productive even when you think it isn’t. Just getting one line or one idea is productive. If it’s good enough then it will get finished one day as long as I stay organized and committed to revisiting them. That’s the discipline part for me.
8- Johnny Depp once said he never watches his movies once his job is done, do you listen to your own music? Is there something you wish you had done differently in your albums?
J: I agree with that. When I make a new album I listen to it a lot as we are going through the process. All the way up until it is mastered and we have a final product. After that I hardly ever go back and listen. Because as an artist, hopefully, you are always growing. And six months after I make an album I may be in a completely different place creatively and I will judge my previous work based on where I am now instead of where I was then and wish I had done things differently. It’s better for me to make the best album I can make in the moment and then move on
9- You’ve been touring around Europe for a while now. Have you noticed any difference between the American and the European audiences? Any favourite place you would re-visit ?
J: I love touring in Europe. I used to live in Europe for a few years when I was younger, before I started playing music full time, and have loved it ever since. I love the culture, the history, the pace of life, everything about it. I consider one of the biggest perks of my job to be that I get to travel over there and play music. I have noticed that European audiences, in general, are more engaged in listening to a show. That’s not to say that that doesn’t exist in America too, because it does. But in America you have to seek out those places, where in Europe that seems to be the norm. I’ve also noticed that European audiences pay attention to words more than the average American audience, which is very surprising considering the different languages. And of course Italy!! We love coming to Italy to play music. Italy and Switzerland are where we spend most of our tie when we come over there. The audiences are completely different in those two countries and we love them both for different reasons.
10- I know Jason’s been in the studio lately, can you both tell planetcountry about your future plans?
J: I have finished two new albums and plan to release them both over the next two years. But instead of waiting for album releases, this time I’m going to start releasing the songs one at a time so that there is constantly new music coming out. I think that fits these times better. I think people are getting more used to having a steady stream of new music as opposed to one big release every couple of years, and I like that approach too. Releasing new music is one of my favorite parts of the job so to get to do that all the time is something that I’m really looking forward to.
Thanks a lot , hope to see you here in Europe sooner than later (Daniele Marini)