Don’t let him fool you. He might say he wants to do bad things with you in his powerful single “Bad Things” (from HBO’s “True Blood”), but the truth is Jace Everett is a real gentleman. It’s hard to imagine him doing bad things with anyone, unless those bad things involve his unique brand of Nashville country rock. In fact, he’s more likely to lend a friend a helping hand, or charm this reporter starry-eyed.
Everett’s brand new album, Red Revelations came out on June 23 from Weston Boys Entertainment, and I’ve been listening to it ever since. An impressive vocal range and driving bass lines make the album immediately ear-catching, from the sultry opening track “Posession” to the hip-swaying “Lean Into the Wind” to the final track “Bad Things.” It’s an album full of stories, both playful and dark. Some songs will get you tapping your feet to the rhythm and getting down with your bad self, while others will make you want to pour yourself a tall glass of whiskey and take a trip down memory lane.
While listening to lyrics like, “I talk like a junkie but I pray like a saint down here on my knees” I got to wondering just what the man behind the music was like. Fortunately for my curiosity, I got a chance to talk to the carrot-topped Nashville musician about his new album and live performances, and he had plenty to say.
BLAST: I’ve been listening to your new album “Red Revelations” recently, and it’s totally addictive.
JACE EVERETT: Thanks very much. That means the world to me. I appreciate it.
BLAST: Can you tell me about what was going through your head when you recorded the album? What inspired you to write the songs that you did?
JE: Oh God, we don’t have that much time! I started writing this record last spring and basically the feeling was that my career was over. It started from desperation. There was a lot of dark stuff going through my head when I initially got started. And then the “True Blood” thing happened, where they used one of my old songs as the theme song for the show, and that inspired me to look at some other avenues for writing. I got in contact with a hero of mine, Chuck Prophet out in San Francisco, and I just badgered him until he would write with me. So I went out there and wrote some songs with him. Before you know it I had 15 or 20 songs and thought, well I must have a record here! I don’t know what all was going through my head: There was frustration at so many things but also that little glimmer of light somewhere on the horizon.
BLAST: Does the title, “Red Revelations”, have any special meaning?
JE: It does. It’s kind of a misread of a lyric on the record. There’s a song called “One of Them” that has these crazy distorted vocals and the last verse says, “I read Revelations chapter one until the end”, and that’s R-E-A-D. Then I came up with this concept”"I grew up really religious as a kid”"about who that character in that song is. We don’t know what he is: We don’t know if he’s a vampire or if he’s become a Born Again Christian, or if he’s an alcoholic, or what’s happened to him. But he’s slowly losing his tether to reality. And I just thought it was kind of a cool title for the album. The world seems so apocalyptic right now and‚ red is of course a color of danger and fire and all that jazz, so I thought, well, red revelations is kind of what this record is about.
BLAST: Let’s talk a bit about your background. Who are your biggest musical influences? How did you initially discover them?
JE: Honestly, the person who got me turned on to music as a kid was Willie Nelson, who has never been reflected in my music. I don’t do Willy Nelson, because you can’t. It’s kind of like doing Bob Dylan. But “Red Headed Stranger” was my favorite album of all time , a record he made back in the 70’s. That’s what turned me on. But I went through all the phases anyone went through: I loved KISS, I still love U2, I’m a big Tom Waits fan, I love‚ Bob Marley, I’m into Miles Davis, I like Jay-Z a lot. I’m kind of all over the map. I’m the kind of guy that listens to about eight or nine albums a year because I like albums. I buy an album and I listen to it for two or three months straight. My influences are varied, but I don’t know how much any of them show up in my actual music.
BLAST: How did you learn to play guitar and write music?
JE: I haven’t yet! I’m still working on it. I’m not a guitar player’s guitar player, that’s for sure. I’ve been a professional bass player for many, many years and worked with a lot of different people. Nobody in my family is really musical. My grandfather plays guitar, but he’s the only one in the family who really played, so I just kind of took to it. I don’t really know why. I sang before I spoke as a little bitty kid, and it’s always been the one thing that I come back to no matter what.
BLAST: Switching tracks a bit: Your mentioned your single “Bad Things” is the music for the opening credits of the HBO series “True Blood.” Do you watch the show?
JE: I don’t have HBO. I’m a poor man and a cheap bastard. But I just ordered HBO yesterday, so I will be watching it at home from now on. Embarrassingly enough I’ve been driving to my parents’ house an hour away on Sundays to watch “True Blood.”
BLAST: Do you think the song is a good match for a show about vampires in the Deep South?
JE: I think it’s brilliant! (laughs) I put that song out in 2005 on a country record, and the country audience was less than impressed. They wanted nothing to do with it. When Alan Ball discovered it and decided to use it, it was really humbling. Alan Ball is a creative genius and for him to choose my song for something he wanted to put together was a huge blessing. I think it’s really cool. I think the visuals those guys did with that song are at least 50% of what makes it cool. Those visuals are really unsettling, and I think it’s really great. It’s certainly not a huge credit to me”"it’s a credit to a whole lot of people who put their heads together.
BLAST: How does it feel to know that millions of fans are singing along to your song every Sunday night when they tune in to watch the show?
JE: It’s great! Being a guy who’s trying to make a living, I’m hopeful that people who love the track will transfer that onto my new music and I hope that it’ll draw them in. But even if it doesn’t”¦ shit, I write songs and I yell into a microphone! There’re far more talented people than me that never had this opportunity so I’m very grateful for it and it’s a huge honor.
BLAST: Back to the album. The opening track, “Posession”, is incredibly sultry, and it has a great bass line. It really makes me want to dance. In fact, a lot of the songs on the album are dance-worthy. This is my question: when you write your songs, do you intentionally make people want to get their groove on?
JE: Not intentionally. More than sexuality, sensuality is what I’m kind of into as a person. So that permeates what I do musically. And I am a bass player, so even though I didn’t play bass on the record (it was a buddy of mine, James Cook), I wrote a lot of the bass lines, and I’m really into the bass and how that interplays with the melody. I’m a typical musician: I don’t like to dance in public. The truth of the matter is, when I was a kid I knew all the Michael Jackson moves. Now I’m just old and insecure so I won’t dance a lot, but I love dancing. I think it’s one of the most intimate and cool things people can do together.