Jason Anderson (not Wolf Colonel) speaks in CAPS; A Hard Day’s Night at O’Leaver’s; CD giveaway

Category: Blog — @ 1:22 pm January 11, 2006

There were a number things that I didn’t have room for in the Jason Anderson interview (read it here). Among them is a detailed description of The Wreath, Anderson’s most recent CD released about this time last year. It’s a real departure from the whole broken-hearted singer-songwriter thing that made up his debut album, New England, and it’s really good. In fact, it’s downright gorgeous, with layers of keyboards and guitars, a horn section here and there and some backing vocals by Rachel and Jeremy Jensen. I would have loved to hear and see a performance of that CD live. But Anderson informs me that he’ll be performing solo acoustic again this time — no band. In fact, Saturday night’s show is three solo acoustic sets. Anderson, his buddy Chris who performs as The Love Letter Band, and Doug Kabourek performing as Fizzle Like a Flood.

I also left out a large portion of the Q&A itself, simply because I was limited to 800 words by The Reader. As always, Lazy-i readers get the unabridged edition. All the left-out stuff is below. Like the last time I tried to interview him, Anderson refused to do a phoner and insisted on an e-mail interview, which I try to avoid because it takes away any opportunity for follow-up questions, and you tend to get half-ass answers. Not this time, though. Anderson went the distance, and even showed some emotion via type styles. Something tells me he spends a lot of time Instant Messaging people, which I guess would be a necessity of you have a phone phobia. Anyway, here are the leftovers from the Anderson interview:

Why the shift in direction with The Wreath?

New England was recorded completely live — even the vocals — with all the players — some of my best friends in the world — sitting in a circle. Two of the songs on the album were even written during the session, and my friend Phil — who produced — even threw in one of *his* songs. The entire experience was a perfect snapshot of where we all were at the time, and for that reason it is very, very special to me. I realized, in the wake of its release, that it would certainly be easy — and comfortable — to go back into a studio and make New England, Part Two, especially since haphazard, slightly-country sounding, rag-tag folk music is making such a comeback right now. But that wouldn’t inspire me, since I felt like with New England, that I had made my Neil Young record, and I wasn’t going to do it any better. Also, even though ‘NE’ is intended to be an ultimately hopeful record, I noticed that some of the reviews — albeit very positive — were putting me into the “shy, sad singer-songwriter” category.

At times, The Wreath reminds me of early Freedy Johnston, at other times Will Johnson of Centromatic or even Silkworm — bands you probably never heard of (and are probably waaay off base). What did you grow up listening to (or are listening to now) that influenced your music?

You’re right, I haven’t heard those bands, but now I really want to! Like most everyone, my parents brought me up with amazing songwriter stuff from the ’60s and ’70s: The Beatles, Elton John, Billy Joel’s The Stranger, James Taylor, etc. And, like most everyone, throughout middleschool and highschool I moved from Guns ‘n’ Roses to Nirvana to Green Day to Weezer to the kind of indie rock that got me through college: classic stuff like the Pixies and the Smiths, and ’90s stuff like Pavement and Guided by Voices.

Now I just listen to everything, with an emphasis on passion and sincerity. Not in a contrived emo way, of course; rather, I’m referring to legends like Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Wonder — two of my all time favorite songwriters — and contemporaries like Ted Leo. For the record — on an Omaha tip — I’d like to passionately add that I think the Good Life’s Blackout and Son, Ambulance’s Key are two of the greatest — and bizarrely, unfathomably underappreciated — albums that have come out in recent memory. Those albums are deep, dense, emotionally epic and just plain amazing. Everyone should own these!!

Your songs are personal without being cloying, I think because you add little pieces of yourself in the lines. Ferinstance, Our Winter. “The heating bill’s so goddamned high / I wear this pea coat all the time / My mom says I need snow tires bad / But man I just assume spend that money on records and sit /with friends /in living rooms / and sing the songs we know / by heart / they start / one two three four five six seven EIGHT!” The songs are snapshots of (your) life captured in the glare of fast-food road signs seen through windshields. It feels like journal entries. Is that where the lyrics come from?

You’re spot on with the lyrics! Totally! My entire goal, as a writer, is to write songs about incredibly — and almost embarrassingly — personal events — real life stuff! — that, even though the details are specific to me, deal with emotions and situations that *everyone* has dealt with. So, more simply, using the minutely private to connect with the shared public.

Who are Rachel and Jeremy Jensen? Are they related? Where’d you find them and how did they get involved in making the record? Will they be touring with you?

They are siblings, from Boise, Idaho. We just met and became friends through touring and hanging out after shows and around the northwest. Jeremy is an excellent producer, and we decided to make a record together in his living room. It was recorded in three days, and completed even BEFORE New England was released. And one of my most favorite songs, ‘My Balancing Act,’ was written in a spurt of inspiration after lunch one day, and then recorded minutes later. It was a very, very special experience. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to make live music together, yet, but I know we will soon!!!

I know you have friends in Omaha (and so does anyone who’s heard “When Will You Say”). Who are they and how did you become friends with them? How is Omaha and the friends you have here important to you? And while we’re at it, who is in The Legend of Zelda? Does it still exist?

Omaha is very important to me. I lived there — off and on — for almost a year, and every time I go back I wonder — “WHY DON’T I STILL LIVE HERE???” I love Joe (Knapp, of Son, Ambulance). As I said above, he is an amazing songwriter and his albums need to be heard by everyone; he also is a brilliant Scrabble player, but — it should be noted — has yet to beat me.

I think one of the greatest bands — anywhere, period — right now is Tilly and the Wall, and getting to know them was one of the most wonderful joys of calling Omaha home. They are incredible musicians, performers, and the nicest people ever. I hope we can tour some time. I don’t want to make this a name-drop fest because that seems cheap, and would be a disservice to friendships. Suffice to say, I love my Omaha friends, and miss them a lot. Oh yeah, and Legend of Zelda was me and Chris and Andy. That band was awesome and we only played two shows, but they were the absolute best. I will try to get you a copy of our tape. It’s lovely.

Tonight is O’Leaver’s monthly Rock Movie Night, this time featuring The Beatles’ classic A Hard Day’s Night. The fun starts at 9:30. Swing by and have a beer and say hello to Mr. Tulis (from The Third Men) who hosts this extravaganza. If that weren’t enough, it’s free.

And so is entering the drawing for a free copy of the Lazy-I Best of 2005 compilation CD. Here’s a secret…. I usually cross post this info about this drawing on the Saddle Creek webboards, SLAM Omaha and a few other boards. Not this year. The only way to find out about it is by reading Lazy-I That means I’ve received about half the usual hundred or so entries and that you’re chances of winning one of the five or six copies I’ll be giving away are pretty damn good. Just type an e-mail to me (tim@lazy-i.com) with your name and mailing address and you’ll be dropped into the hat. Tracks include songs by Of Montreal, Eagle*Seagull, Iron & Wine, Mercy Rule, Teenage Fanclub, Okkervil River, Sufjan Stevens, Maria Taylor, Orenda Fink and more. Details and a full track listing are right here. Enter right now! Deadline is January 16 (That’s next Monday to you and me).

–Got comments? Post ’em here.

1 Comment »

  • oh man! jason anderson makes me want to go out and do awesome things! this guy brings good times like nobody’s business.

    excellent interview. had a lot of fun reading it.

    Comment by Sue — January 21, 2008 @ 6:30 pm

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