Interviewing Jace Everett (Red Revelations – True Blood)

It took music savvy Alan Ball in 2008, to re-discover JACE EVERETT´s Bad Things, which he cleverly used as the theme for the opening title sequence of HBO’s hit fantasy-vampire-drama series True Blood. Everett’s song, together with the bold and edgy art of the show’s title sequence, managed to grab, with an iron-firm grip, the attention of both fans and non-fans of the vampire genre. Without the musical ingredient, perhaps Ball would have never been able to get through the latter, and thus show them that True Blood was not just a show about vampires. It was then that rest of the world found out about Everett as a singer/songwriter treasure and Everett himself finally had confirmation on the fact that his music could not and would not limit itself to American borders, but would and continues reaching and capturing, together with his charismatic and authentic personality, the imagination and hearts of an international and ever-increasing legion of fans who live anywhere and everywhere from the UK and France to Spain, from the Scandinavian countries to Latin America, and the land and oceans in between.

A flawless, instantly-identifiable, powerful and tantalising singer, a prolific and creative songwriter and an accomplished bass player and guitarist, Jace Everett was born in the 70´s in Evansville, Indiana, but was raised in Texas. It was in Nashville, though, where he had a second chance at a music career.

It wasn’t all “smooth sailing” for Mr. Everett, as you’ll discover in this interview, but I think that, it is precisely thanks to that, that his music is so compelling to a very diverse following and his story all the more motivational and inspiring. He is not just the REAL DEAL music-wise but REAL as a person. This, nowadays, so elusive quality in other artists, is what makes him familiar at the same time as refreshing.

Jace Everett’s Bad Things | Official video

Red Revelations, which includes the hit Bad Things, was his third released album and a revelation in itself, for, from beginning to end, is filled with musical and lyrical pearls. Songs like the wickedly sensual Possession, the uplifting More to Life, the deadly romantic Damned if I Do (Want You), the inspiring Slip Away, the painfully delicious Burn for You or the hips shaker Lean into the Wind make, along with the wonderful rest:

an astounding collection of original killer tunes that somehow seems to belong to the puzzle of everybody´s soul.

Jace Everett’s Slip Away, also from the album Red Revelations

To Red Revelations followed Mr. Good Times, a delicious menu of Everett’s varied influences simmered with his recognisable own brand of sultry sound and lyrics, and which includes a gift for his British audience in the shape of the Beatles-inspired The Drugs Aren’t Getting it Done and Bowie-inspired Tricky Thing. Country-rooted fans have their supply in Let’s Begin Again and Good Times while rock souls will find themselves at home with Great American Hero and Autumn. French and Latin friends will immediately identify with the cinematic-flavored fusion of Business is Booming and I specially dig the provocative God Made You Mean, also Tricky Thing (Because Bowie is my god), the velvety Nothing, the fiery Angry Hostile Ugly, and the melodic Don’t Look Down.

Currently on another international tour, Everett is presenting his latest album, Terra Rosa, to his loving British and Scandinavian audiences. With Terra Rosa he shows, as usual, no mercy. An epic musical novel of biblical proportions, its lyrics are actually largely-inspired on the stories collected in the old Christian scriptures.

The album tempts with a mix of southern gospel, wild west grit, anthem-worthy rock, and heart-wrenching poetry. The stamp of Everett’s very distinct sound while being at his authentic and versatile best, seals the deal.

No particular theological or spiritual inclinations are needed to convert to Everett’s sound with fervor.
Here’s a pre-listen for your enjoyment –>

It was in the event of one of his international tours for the famous Red Revelations that I had the pleasure to meet this artist in London (UK).

In this exclusive interview with him, we go down memory lane, unearthing all what is extraordinary about him and his artistry for the few who haven’t had the joy to know all about it yet, as well as for the satisfaction of his die-hard fans.

SRM: I’m quite curious to know whether, back in your childhood, your family encouraged you to follow this path or doing music was something you had to kind of masquerade as being just a hobby…

JACE EVERETT: I was really fortunate to have amazing parents. Thankfully, I still have them both! They encouraged my music from day one up through today. Neither of them are musical, but they both are huge fans of music and film. Especially my father, who by his own admission is “tone deaf”. They poured countless hours and dollars into my music and I truly wouldn’t have had the courage to see it through without them.

SRM: Your influences range from gospel to country music, from blues to rockabilly and we know your taste is as eclectic as to add some hip-hop into the mixture but if you had to choose one artist or band, from any time, past or present, that most resonates with you, both at a personal and at a musical level, who would that be and why?

JACE EVERETT: Well, it was Willie Nelson and his Red Headed Stranger album that really started me down the path. But, as I grew up devoutly religious, I spent my early teen years listening to “Christian Rock”. The only “secular” band that was deemed kosher by my peer group (not my parents I might add, they weren’t as dogmatic as I) was U2. I became a big fan of theirs in the late ’80’s.

As my faith broke down it seemed theirs did too. Achtung Baby came out in 1991. I was 19 years old and it totally freaked me out. That album is what opened my eyes to music as a whole. How different genres and styles could be interpolated into something new. Willie and U2 are my two favorites. You can’t make me pick just one! That’s why my “career” is so all over the place. I really do love any music that is passionate and intelligent.

SRM: Seems to be the choice of passionate and intelligent people. You were a dad quite early in your twenties and at some point gave up pursuing your music career. How did you restore your faith in your dreams and thus have another go at this choice of career?

JACE EVERETT: I don’t know that my faith in my dreams was restored until the past 4 or 5 years. I went back to music because my life was so fucked up (by my own hand primarily) that I had no place else to turn. It wasn’t so much an act of faith, but of desperation. Again, the people around me -family, friends, my son- have always had more faith in me than I have. Not to sound maudlin, but they are what restored my self-confidence.

SRM: You certainly have a treasure in them. You landed two major record deals within little time of being back in Nashville. Do you believe in destiny and luck or are you more of a “I make my own destiny” person?

JACE EVERETT:  That’s a damn good question. Have you been reading Calvin and Locke? (ha!) I believe in both. Luck happens. But an individual needs to be prepared when those doors open. You can’t usually force a door open. There are, of course, exceptions to that! Regardless, you gotta have your act together when those doors open. How they open is immaterial if you can’t walk through on your own power.

SRM: When your hit Bad Things was chosen by Alan for the theme of the HBO fantasy-vampire series True Blood, vampire books, films and series seemed to be popping out of everywhere, but, and unlike the latest zombie mainstream revival, the vampire figure has always been the most successful, among the fantasy-horror characters, at captivating generation after generation. What do you think people find so fascinating in the vampire character?

JACE EVERETT: Eternal life. The same thing that makes religion so appealing. It’s a rare bird that really “wants to die”. I’d wager that even those who commit suicide usually want to escape pain more often than wanting to actually die. Also, the fact that Vampires in literature and film have typically been drawn in a very tragically hip light doesn’t hurt. People like a martyr. Religion is rife with the “young dying god who is resurrected” story. Vampires merely compress this archetype into a daily ritual. There’s something in my hypothalamus that just wants that story!

SRM: Very insightful. It very much maddens your ever-increasing and passionate fan base that you are not mentioned on the series credits and it is certainly something that has caught my attention too. Why the ‘F’ isn’t your name on the credits?

JACE EVERETT: No idea. Fairly typical though. Sony and EMI made the deal. I didn’t get a vote. I’m grateful to the fans who care about this, but I don’t worry about it too much.

SRM: Talking about fans, your very successful European tours show that your music has a loyal following outside as well as in the U.S. You also happened to live in Europe when younger, which is where you met the mother of your lovely son. Having lived in both sides of the pond, which would you say are the main differences between the American and the European cultures and which the similarities?

JACE EVERETT: We could talk about this for hours on end. I love both worlds. Don’t let anybody kid you either; the US and Europe are VERY different. On a core level. In some ways I prefer the “American” mind set. In other ways I prefer the “Euro” mind set. Europe, in many ways, moves more slowly and more rationally. The US is all about passion and action. Neither is wrong, but I think many of our problems could be solved if we took an honest, non-prejudicial look at one another and cribbed the best bits.

SRM: Very true. You are becoming more and more famous by the minute but still find time to update and interact personally with your fans through your social media profiles, such as Facebook, Twitter or Myspace, which I find it to be very down to earth and generous from your part. However, this can be quite an overwhelming task when your attention is being demanded by so many people on a daily basis. Have you found yourself in any situation in which you have thought you could not handle so much attention and cursed, like most famous artists do, your celeb status?

JACE EVERETT: Honestly, I’m a cranky bastard! So yeah, it gets on my nerves. But, these are the folks that feed my family and I have to be respectful of that. If nobody buys records or tickets to the show then I go back to driving a truck! I am really hands on with my fans (not an euphemism!). When somebody crosses the line I simply call them out.

Thus far that has worked quite well. Most of the folks who get carried away are still good people. They just get a little excited sometimes. I can dig it. No harm, no foul. Just don’t mess with my clan and you’ll be alright.

SRM: Professionals, newbies and PR folk, take note, this man’s fans bite over him -no pun intended. Now, onto slippery territory… You are being regarded not only as an American international musical discovery but also as the sexiest Americana style musical figure since Chris Isaak. Does it bother you to be considered a “sex-symbol”?

JACE EVERETT: Ha! It’s funny the whole Chris Isaak thing. First of all, Chris is a bad ass. He can write, record, play, and sing. Really good at his job! I’m certainly a fan. A lot of folks have assumed I was listening to “Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing” about 3 minutes before I wrote “Bad Things”. I wasn’t. I was listening to Steve Earle! I don’t really do a lot of rockabilly tunes. This one song I do got really famous thanks to HBO. What are you gonna do? Roll with it! Am I a sex symbol? Jeez. Hopefully, folks have hotter fantasies than Old JahSay!

SRM: Going back to the fantastic Red Revelations; I’m going to put you in the extremely difficult position of having to choose one and only one song from that album and I would like you to explain why you made that particular choice, too.

Jace Everett’s Damned if I Do was also included in one episode of the True Blood long-running series

Jace Everett & Stephany Delray | Photo by Louise Parmakis

JACE EVERETT: Oi! I hate this question. It’s like picking your favorite kid! Luckily I only have one of those! Alright… favorite tune on “Red Rev”…hmm… I gotta go with Damned If I Do.

That song told me where the album was going. I had to fight and argue with one of the producers (Chuck Prophet who also happens to be a huge hero to me and a big influence on my music) about whether the song was even good. That was tough. I had the music lined out and wrote the lyric with Stephany Delray. It’s my favorite recording on the album. It’s all live. It moves me. 6/8 is the sexiest thing in the room, baby.

SRM: Yeah yeah… hate the question all you want, but I now know we share fave –mission accomplished.

Jace, thank you very much for your time, it’s been a pleasure to interview you, your talent deserves every bit of good fortune and exposure, so here’s hoping to enjoy your music for many years to come.

JACE EVERETT: Thanks so much to you for the time!


RELATED LINKS:
Jace Everett’s Official website >
Follow Jace on Facebook and Twitter

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