The UK-based singer/songwriter talks singles vs albums, being a petrol head, and having influences ranging from Glen Campbell to King Crimson.
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions, Jason!
Coyote Music: Jason. Let's cut to the chase. You've had a song that hit #1 on iTunes' country chart with "Fortunate Sons." Talk about that--how did it happen and how did it change things for your career?
Jason Callear: This was a long journey really. I always write on acoustic guitars, you’ll have noted the ‘retro’ approach and meeting Charlotte Elizabeth back in 2017 she suggested that my sound could be more widely marketed outside of Rock and Blues, which I’d considered myself to be. We talked about this particular song that I had half written and I asked her if she would like to join me with the lyrics. Charlotte wrote the 2nd verse and bridge which was great, suddenly things started to click but instead of releasing the track I started on a full albums. I’m a little OCD, taking a too long over the construction of the tracks but I have to say I’m really proud of the results. I’m kinda struggling with being in a particular genre box but all things considered, I’ve matured and happy with how this is working out. Having sat on the song for years, I was blown away with the response and it just fuelled the fire for more releases as singles!
CM: The #1 iTunes achievement would be a high point for many artists' careers. How are you taking that moment and building on it, moving forward instead of resting on your laurels?
JC: We followed up with a campaign where we asked the followers to choose the next single. I had 3 power ballads this time and ‘Letter’ was the favourite. The difference this time was that I let the production team loose, to give it a modern twist with specific single edits. Although it wasn’t a number 1, it still peaked at 6 and I was thrilled. It went on to stream 20k on Spotify and counting along with "Fortunate Sons," just amazing really!
CM: I've actually had a number of Americana artists from the UK pop up on my radar recently. I get that folks in the U.S. have embraced artists from the UK for decades, but what is it about Americana/Country that struck you out of all the genres out there, as far as the genre of music that's helped you express the messages you have to say.
JC: I adore creative writing, much of the song content is pure fiction but in the back of my mind, I’m creating a scene, usually of times gone by which I look back at through rose tinted spectacles, it appeared far less complicated, the romance of driving down the freeway in an open top classic muscle car, radio on toward an iconic sunset. Growing up in the UK 70’s - 80’s was not inspiring, we didn’t have these scenes like the US TV shows.
CM: And on that same topic, your latest single is "California Girl." Have you been to California? And whatever the answer to that question is, how did being there (or not) impact your desire to write this song?
JC: Ah! Yes, well, I was fortunate enough to play drums at the iconic Whiskey A Go Go back in 2001 and as a relative young man, bowled away with the scene, the beaches and the vibe. In all honesty though, the chorus for this song was written for a dear fellow local musician who sadly left us at just 39 yrs of age. We were exchanging ideas for a collaboration, he was working on a track called ‘Devil on my shoulder’ needing a chorus. I thought our 2 ideas could work, as it turned out he went on to finish and release his great song and I finished mine with no resemblance what so ever. Again I created a story with a twist with those scenes in the back of my mind. We don’t often sing about our Country in the UK, I don’t know why really but our cultures have blended as has the music over hundreds of years back and forth which I thing is pretty cool and we continue to bounce influences.
CM: In your bio you mention a myriad of musical influences. What are some of them? Your latest Instagram post (instagram.com/p/CwlO4TIsFFA/) is essentially a trailer for the real-life saga of...you.
JC: Yeah, a real mix, starting with what my folks had to offer from Queen, Glenn Campbell, Eagles, Abba, Carpenters, Motown, Beatles and Marty Robbins to name a few. Then my Cousin Tony was in a Prog Rock outfit and introduced me to Yes, Genesis and King Crimson. In the 90’s I really loved the ‘Unplugged’ sessions, especially the Grunge classics because when those tunes were raw and clean, the power and feeling was unparalleled and it all made sense when compared with my writing style. Then I turned to Southern Rock, Blues, CSN&Y Grand Funk Railroad, Free etc. Good tunes are good tunes and when you strip away the heavy production you can cross many genres and I like that.
CM: That montage makes me want to buy all your music and shout your name over the hills and far away. It's pretty amazing. How do you feel when you watch this?
JC: Wow! that’s very kind, it’s taken 30 years and well trodden boards to get here and I hope the passion comes across. I have to say, a very talented friend of mine Marc Cotterill is a genius when we pull together the visuals for the socials and he has the skill to keep the viewers attention for those few seconds which is how it goes these days, he does a great job. I can’t wait to shoe you more, we have over 20 tracks in the queue!
CM: Sticking to your Instagram, you have a clip of "Decker Road" based on California State Highway 23. Talk about what that means to you.
JC: Yeah, this was part of a series of short live clips of songs in progress, great that you picked up on this one. I’m also a petrol (gasoline) head as we say over here, love classic cars and bikes and I was reading about some of the best driving roads and such cool title for a song so I started to work on the tune. I hope to drive it, come over and finish the song so I can capture the moment and the romance of the scene!
CM: I see you've got a show at Night Inn in your hometown of Uttoxeter coming up on September 15. Do you have more extensive touring planned, especially any trips to the U.S. to visit your muse, California?
JC: Yes I have a few local warm up shows coming up:
15th Sep - The Night Inn Uttoxeter - Song writers round with Gav Ball
17th Sep - The Hub St Mary’s Lichfield supporting Sarah Riches
1st Oct - The Leek Blues and Americana Festival
12th Oct - The Artisan Tap supporting The John Street Revival
13th Oct - Album launch event #1 - Doveridge Club with The Vice Bishops
And for sure, looking to come over to the US, speaking with another great UK artist about the project of further support but hey, feel free to shoot any ideas my way, if the demand is there, I’d be honoured to jump at it.
CM: Thank you again for taking the time to answer my questions. Do you have anything else on your mind that you would like readers to know?
JC: Well, just to say the full album will be available back end of the year called Train Rolls On with 12 tracks, good old fashioned ‘album versions’ of the previously released singles so you don’t just get the same thing twice. There is also an album released in 2016 called Contrast which has a more progressive theme but does have the full version of "Brother." Be sure to check out the links and any new tracks in demo format can be streamed free on Reverbnation Discover app. My website hosts all links to content: jasoncallear.co.uk.
Thanks for the visit!