Interview date: 08/28/2008
Run date: 09/18/2008
Jason Reeves is one of the newest artists on Warner Bros., and he’s the real deal. Jason’s debut album, The Magnificent Adventures of Heartache, is due September 9. Reeves is a kid from Iowa who set out to make it big in Los Angeles and he’s made the first two steps—getting signed and releasing an album. We had the chance to speak to Reeves recently about the album, today’s music industry, and about Iowa football.
Bullz-Eye: Jason, this is Mike Farley with Bullz-Eye.
Jason Reeves: Hey, how’s it going?
BE: Good how are you doing?
JR: Doing pretty good.
BE: So dude, I love the album.
JR: Thank you.
BE: It’s been playing in regular rotation in my iTunes and I’m going to write up a review soon.
JR: Thanks man.
BE: Yeah, really cool. So you grew up in Iowa?
JR: Yeah, I did.
BE: What part of Iowa?
JR: Iowa City.
BE: And you moved to L.A. when?
JR: I moved in 2005, a little more then three years ago.
BE: And what happened from there? Did you get signed before you moved or after you moved, and were kind of playing on the scene for a while?
JR: Actually I just got signed, so it took a while when I moved out here. I was just going to record and making demos for myself –that was really the only reason I came out here.
BE: And then one thing kind of led to another?
BE: So how did Warner Brothers find you?
JR: I’d been playing around LA for a long time at that point. And I was doing a couple of residencies at the Hotel Café -- just basically playing around a lot.
BE: Dude, you’ve got a really great voice.
BE: At what point did you know that your voice and your music were “major label” caliber?
JR: I don’t know if there was ever a point where I thought that. I’m just trying to do as good as I can and get better at it. But hopefully it’s that (major label) quality. I appreciate you saying that.
BE: So what do the people back in Iowa think of you being on a major label?
JR: I don’t know what they think. They think it’s crazy. I’m sure there’s a lot of built-up rumors. Well I know there are. Everything is blown way out of proportion when people start talking. So I’m sure there is some epic thing that I’m doing right now that I don’t even know about. But they’re really, really cool. They’re really supportive. They’ve been amazing to me since I’ve started so I’m just lucky.
BE: That’s really cool. Did I read that neither one of your parents are musicians?
JR: Not really. I mean my dad played guitar when he was in high school. But not really.
BE: Is anyone else in your family a musician or a songwriter?
JR: No. I think I’m the only one.
BE: Well that’s pretty cool.
JR: It’s strange. I don’t know why.
BE: So in your bio, it says a lot about folk music and that you were inspired by it and that you’ve won some awards, but your music doesn’t strike me as being particularly folky. Was it before?
JR: I don’t know. I guess a lot of this music and a lot of my friends’ music is just being classified as folk music. I think it’s because our intentions are the same as what folk music used to be. I just think its kind of changing now. Its not quite “folk music” as folk music used to be defined. I think it’s a lot more poppy obviously and all that.
BE: I was going to say, I think a lot of singer-songwriters get pigeon-holed into that just because it’s a person with a guitar or piano.
JR: Yeah. That’s definitely true.
BE: So I listened “Pretty Eyes,” which I think is the best track on there. To me I hear a lot of ‘70’s pop in your music. Are you influenced by anyone from that era?
JR: A whole amazing amount of them, for sure. The ‘60s and ‘70s, I mean, there’s too many to even name. I guess I’m inspired by more of that music in terms of making my own than I am of the newer stuff.
BE: Were your parents listening to a lot of that stuff growing up then? Like Bob Dylan and stuff like that?
JR: Not really. I found all that in high school just through friends and older people. I guess there are a lot of hippies in Iowa City, so people got into that whole music scene.
BE: Right. Did you play a lot of coffee houses when you were there?
JR: Yeah, I did that. And I played more bars I guess. Iowa City is made of bars. So I pretty much played in most of those. There was more of a folk club called The Mill that I played a lot too. Eventually I just started playing there more.
BE: What types of things inspire you to write and what is the songwriting process typically like for you?
JR: Oh wow. Well usually it’s all real. All of the motivation is literal and usually seems to happen around things in my life. How it gets written is always different, and it always just depends on the situation really. It could be written down on a receipt in a subway or it could be written in my notebook, or it could be typed on my laptop in an airplane or something. I guess since I don’t have a steady life where I’m in the same place or doing the same thing, I can’t really have routines like that.
BE: But you usually write the lyrics first and come up with that?
JR: Well maybe sometimes the idea will start with a few lyrics, but I usually have to have the music to write the song. I usually need a guitar or a piano.
BE: So you have a melody or something your starting with and go from there?
JR: Yeah, usually.
BE: And I see you’re heading out on your tour tonight?
JR: Yeah, we’re on the road. Driving up to San Francisco right now.
BE: That’s cool. So you’re playing with a band?
JR: Yep. Playing with a three-piece. We travel with four guys, a sound guy and two other musicians.
BE: Is this your first big national tour since being signed?
JR: Since being signed, yes. But we’ve been touring since the end of March. We’ve been out this whole year.
BE: Cool. Are there any plans for radio for the album?
JR: Yeah. I don’t know exactly. I don’t know the details yet because it’s so new. It’s getting set up but I haven’t heard what’s going on yet.
BE: Do you know what kind of stations they’re going to work you to?
JR: I know they usually start small on Triple-A and then move up from there over time. We’ll see what happens.
BE: Have you had any celebrity encounters now that you’re in L.A. and have a record deal, or are there any you’d like to have?
JR: (laughs). I don’t know. I’ve had plenty. But I’m not so sure. There’s obviously a few, probably on the female side that I would like to meet just for that purpose, but uh, I don’t think so. I don’t feel like I want to meet most of them because it’s just weird. It’s never a normal situation. You don’t get to have a real life moment with them. It’s all just fake.
BE: So true. I live in Nashville and it’s the same kind of thing. You see celebrities and most people don’t even walk up to them and say anything because, I don’t know, they just don’t. That’s a Nashville thing at least.
JR: Yeah, it’s just kind of weird.
BE: So other than radio and the touring, do you know how Warner Brothers plans on positioning you in a changing music industry?
JR: Oh, wow. I don’t know how to answer that. We’ve got ideas of what we’re going to do and it’s kind of hard to say because nobody knows what to do right now really. We’re all just trying to figure out what we’re doing.
BE: Well it’s a good product.
JR: I appreciate that.
BE: No problem. I think that’s the bottom line is if you have a good product, it should all work it self out.
JR: I hope so. That’s what my goal is. As long I’m making something that I think is all right, then I just have to hope that it will do what it does all on its own.
BE: Sure. And are you a sports fan at all?
JR: Yeah, I am.
BE: Iowa football?
JR: Yes, definitely Iowa football.
BE: Good, because my next question was, How does it feel to be a Big 10 guy in a Pac 10 city?
JR: (laughs) Oh man. It doesn’t feel good. I’d rather be in Iowa City watching a game. I think Iowa City is a better football city than L.A. (laughs) I think L.A. is too huge and mixed up and everybody cares a little bit more in Iowa.
BE: That’s what I thought.
JR: Yeah, it’s pretty much what the city is made of.
BE: That’s cool.
JR: Yeah, I love it.
BE: All right. Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
JR: I don’t know. Not really. I’m sure there’s too much. For now I just appreciate you calling me and asking me questions.
BE: No problem, good luck!
JR: Cool. Well thanks again.