"I'm six thousand miles from home, and people are singing my songs, it has been the weirdest, coolest, most awesome thing ever" In conversation with Jade Jackson
It's not every day you find yourself in a dark back street of London, in a dark van with a visiting American singer. And it's freezing. But all that's part of the joy of playing your first headlining show in the UK, and Jade Jackson has come prepared for the weather. Her show at The Slaughtered Lamb, a passage of rights for new Americana artists, is very well received and shows a confidence that's not misplaced. We had the chance to chat with Jade before the show.
So, is this your first time in Europe and the UK?
Yeah, it’s our first time touring here, and also our first time headlining, so it's like a double excitement. I came and visited London for a couple of days on a trip in high school. But it was just like the museums and things like that, so I didn't really actually get to really see the real city.
Do you get much time now to have a look round on this trip?
We are actually flying home on the 17th. And today is our last day of work. So we get three days to cruise around. Yeah.
And do you get much time generally when you tour the States to have a look at places, or is it just in and out when you're over there?
Well, we've been really lucky here because we have a tour manager. So he's been driving and it's been a really great experience, a little bit easier on us because when we did a national tour in America, we didn't have a tour manager. So we were driving ourselves. And we were following a bus tour. It was kind of like, play the show, sleep, drive. It was like survival mode.
Hard work then. What are you expecting from your first UK show?
I don't really know about anything, I didn't know if anyone was going to show up to our shows in Germany, and having as many people come as did, you know, having a room full of people, when I'm six thousand miles away from home, that are singing my songs, has been the weirdest, coolest more awesome thing ever.
Your debut, Gilded, was recorded a year before its release, being that far removed from it, does it feel like it's taken on any different sort of vibe?
No, if anything I appreciate the sound of it and enjoy it more and enjoy the songs more, because when we were recording it, for anyone who's ever recorded, it's like you listen to every little detail, and every tiny little drum hit and strum of the guitar. You almost kind of think about it mathematically, and you forget that it's a song. You know? And so after stepping away from the recording process, about six months later, I was like "oh, I can actually listen to it and relax and not be like, oh! I'm out of tune there and my voice sounds..."
It's been so fun; you hear the stories about bands who have been playing the same songs for a long time and they get burnt out, but I just feel like that's not an option for me. Like I want to do this for a long time, and so I'm not going to let myself get like that. I'm just going to remember why I wrote the songs and just tap into it, and get myself in the proper state of mind before I perform, the best I can.
What was the reason behind that year long delay?
I mean it's just the whole music business side of things. We have a fantastic team, our management company, our record label, it's just like a family. They've all been so supportive and kind and wonderful, and I just have to trust them. Because if it was up to me I would have been like "put the record out two years ago! These songs are ready to come out." But it's just so much about timing, even more so than the creativity in some regards. So you just have to trust. And when we got here, to Europe especially, and just saw the people that came to our shows and things like that, it's like "oh. That's because our record label did a wonderful job of promoting it". So I really appreciate them and I really have to trust them.
Did you get a bit frustrated that period of time? Were you just waiting for it to come out?
Oh yeah. I think the four of us were down and just like, you know, sad. But the thing that we did was, we still rehearsed four or five nights a week together in my neighbour's garage. So it was just a very authentic, creative space. And we just kept it going. We kept practicing the same songs over and over, and wrote new songs and evolved a stronger bond and relationship as a band. And now we're all experiencing the fruit of our labour. So it's just very nice to be in a band that's just like a family.
You weren't touring much or anything before it came out? You literally were sort of hanging around waiting...
I was stuck. I was waitressing and rehearsing, and that's pretty much all I was doing.
But you're quite a prolific songwriters I understand it. Do you think you'll be prolific at releasing records as well? I know there's another whole cycle you have to go through these days.
Well I'll tell you, I've got the ideas for the songs for the second album ready. And the third album really, you know. We have so many songs. And we're ready, but again it's just trusting the music business side, and trusting our management and our label to get us in the studio at the proper time, and all that kind of stuff. So it is a little difficult waiting, but at the same time you just have to trust, or there's no hope for you. [laughs]
What does that process look like for you? When you're writing, do you just write as it comes along, or do you sit down and do sort of focused periods of writing?
It just comes out. It just happens. It just comes from, you know, somewhere deep down. And it usually just comes up and I have to get it out and I'll write on anything that's around, or I'll record a melody on my phone when we're on the road. Ninety-eight percent of the time, that's how it happens. More recently though, I've been collaborating with my band, and we've been thinking in terms of rhythm and things like that. I've been more conscious of rhythm when I'm writing than ever before, because I've been playing with a band. Because I used to just play by myself before I met Mike Ness, and before he encouraged me to get a band together. So it's just a little bit different, I think.
You're playing with the same band kind of all the time now?
Mm-hmm. And I always will. They'll always be my band. I know it's called Jade Jackson, but since I started, I wanted to be in a band. I didn't want to be on the road with people who weren't my band and my friends. I didn't want to have to find musicians. I believe in them so much. They're all so unique and talented. It's Andrew Rebel on guitar, and my friend from middle school Jake Vukovich on the bass, and Tyler Miller on the drums. On the second record, their voices will get to shine through a little bit more, and we've collaborated a little bit more on some songs.
I interviewed Kip Moore a couple of years ago, and he said the same thing. He goes everywhere with the same group of people, and they play on all the records. So it must be nice finding people that you work that well with...
Definitely, the road can be lonely and sad sometimes, and so I just feel like I'm travelling with my brothers and it just makes it that much...I don't know how somebody would do it a different way. I don't know how that would work.
Will your second record sound different?
The band that I have now is the band that was on Gilded. So they bought a lot...it was very influenced by Mike [Ness, the producer], and he kind of put us under his wing, and gave us inspiration. I think he had my drummer Tyler listen to a lot of Tom Petty and said "just listen to the drummer, see how simple that is." And Mike had me listen to a lot of Lucinda Williams, and listen to how simple her voice is. Because he just wanted to create a raw, simple album. And this is kind of what we strived for for Gilded. I think the second album, we're definitely evolving, but it's not in one particular direction. We have some songs that sound totally country, and other songs that sound like not country at all. So it'll be interesting to see what people think.
And does that kind of thing just come out naturally when you're in the writing process, what it sounds like?
I never write with the intention of specific genres. So it's always just what comes out, and then it shapes up. And usually at the end you kind of say "oh, that's what it is." But we never really try to make it sound a certain way when we're creating.
Is there a song on Gilded that you kind of feel or think a bit differently about now from when you originally wrote or recorded it?
Actually, I was just talking to the guys about this. The actual song 'Gilded', I wrote it very quickly, under twenty minutes. I went through a depression in college, and so I got help and got over it, but I think if you've ever experienced depression it will sometimes come back in waves. Kind of get you. And it was one of those nights where I just felt really down, and I couldn't even make it to my bedroom. I just sat down on my piano, and I wrote it. And the words, they just came out. And I wrote, "your silver tongue gilded her wings and are flying to fall beneath".
That was just something that was just stored in me that just came out. And I played it and the band liked it and so we put it on the album, but it wasn’t until about a month ago that I listened to the song, and I related to it for the first time, because I had just dealt with a break up, and I was like "oh my gosh, I'm relating to my song for the first time after two years." You know? It's interesting. It's just a trip... So now I feel when I perform that one, I almost start crying, whereas before it was more of like a poem.
There's an interesting story to how you were discovered. Do you think it would have been easier to have been noticed in a different town, like Nashville or Austin, or do you think it actually wouldn't have made a difference, because what happens, happens?
It's hard to say. I do believe that I really started writing and got into that because I grew up in a small town, with parents who didn't let me go on the internet or the television, so I was very bored. And so from that boredom, I picked up the guitar and wrote my first song. Something ignited and I became very addicted to the whole process. And then after I performed I became addicted to that, it just made me feel more complete than anything else I'd ever experienced, and so I kind of followed that.
My parents are very encouraging, and my dad would say "never pass up an opportunity to play, because you never know who's going to watch." And so I was home-schooled for a lot of school, because I wanted to play more. I was playing four nights a week. I'd play in alley corners or wineries or restaurants, anywhere, because I thought that one person would maybe hear me, and whatever that meant, they would help me however they would. But it wasn't until Mike Ness heard my music that that really came to life.
That's luck, right, that his family turned up to see you play then and that's how it all panned out?
I was playing at a café in my hometown just for fun. Even when I had played, when I started playing for the most part of my solo career, I would make posters, and I would just try and put on a show, sort of thing. But this was a time when I was just getting out of this depression that I was experiencing in college. Because in my freshman year I got into an accident and I fell off a rope swing and broke my back. And so from there, long story short, the hospital gave me so many different medications, pills it messed up my mental state, and I became very depressed.
And so then I think that at such a low point, I just couldn't imagine somebody accepting me or my music, and so I was kind of giving up. Then somehow or another I started playing again, but it was more for fun. I kind of thought my dream was over. I played a show and Mike Ness's wife was there getting coffee, and she filmed a bit on her phone, and texted it over to him, and he called me. My dad's thing he said when I was little, "you never know who's going to be there". It came to life when I least expected it.
It's like one of those crazy stories that it feels like, it can't really have happened, right?
Especially because the first concert I ever saw was Social Distortion when I was thirteen. Yeah. So it was just like, very serendipitous. And magical.
Jade's record, Gilded, is available to buy everywhere and to stream from all the usual (including Tidal below). For more information on Jade visit her website, or follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook.