Hi Jay, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Great! Thanks so much for inviting me to do this.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Wreckage of Now”?
Well, it’s the title song for the record. Though I wrote the song about three years ago, it seemed like the title fit the way a lot of people I know are feeling. It’s a straight ahead song, but the protagonist doesn’t know how screwed up he is- I always think it’s interesting when the teller of the story doesn’t realize what’s going on. Plus, the song rocks, and I like that sound. I really like punchy guitar driven music, and so that’ what this song does (I hope).
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Though my current life is awfully boring- I’m married, have a kid and a mortgage- I got in a fair bit of trouble in my younger days. I was definitely drawing on that experience in this song. I was writing from the perspective of ‘after the binge’ when you’re looking at the wreckage and wondering how you got there. Probably the people around you see it really clearly, but the person who’s in the middle of it never does.
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
Well- the pandemic hit right at the moment that we were going to start filming full length videos for a few songs on the record, including the title song. We literally had a shoot scheduled for the week after everything shut down. So everything came to a grinding halt very quickly. When I decided to go ahead and release the album anyway, I was wondering how to get some video content made. I went through my phone and realized I had a whole bunch of images and video clips from when we were recording the core of the songs. In the first recording session I had also set up a little camera in the big room and just left it running while we did a bunch of takes. Looking at it much later on I realized it was perfectly synched to the song because the video camera’s mic was catching the drum sounds. So I started stitching all these clips together to make that teaser video. I think it actually came out pretty good for not having been planned at all.
Why naming the album after this song in particular?
It’s far and away the best song title on the record. It twists a phrase you’re used to hearing in a new direction. Plus, as I said, it seems like everyone I know is sort of feeling that way right now. So, lucky timing?!
How was the recording and writing process?
Those are really two very different things for me. I don’t start recording until I feel I have a bunch of songs that hang together in some way. So I’m always writing songs, and over time some float to the surface, usually because I find I like playing them. Sometimes I’ve been playing a song for a live audience some and find they really respond, so that will definitely put a song in the keeper pile. Then we usually do three or four solid days of laying down the base tracks for the songs we think will go on the record. That gives us a jumpstart. Then it is a really long slog through tweaking, adding extra bits, changing things, making wrong turns and having to correct. It took about two years from start to finish on this record. For example, we had two songs that needed keyboard, so John Stenger came in to add those. I had never met John, and he was so awesome, and so totally great, and so completely got the sound we were going for, that we had him come in and do keyboard parts for the majority of the album. That was not at all something we had planned, but when something cool happens you have to go with it. Which is the fun of making music of course!
What role does Colorado play in your music?
If I didn’t live in Lyons I would never have started making records. It’s a great little music town. The three main players on the record- Brian McRae (drums), Brian Schey (bass) and Arthur Lee Land (guitar), all live here and we record at McRae’s studio here in town. All the other players on the record are Colorado based and have Lyons connections, so location is pretty important to what I’m able to do. Lyons is also the home of Planet Bluegrass, which puts on some big festivals but also puts on Song School every year- which has been a huge source of learning and community for me as a songwriter and musician. I’ve lived in Colorado for a long time now, and I can’t really imagine life elsewhere.
How would you say your many skills outside music does influence and help you with your music?
Well, it helps to have a lot of experiences as a songwriter. There’s just a lot of detail to draw on when telling a story. Plus, I don’t have to rely on music to pay the bills right now, which leaves me the room to do what I want
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Most of my songs start with a line or two that sounds cool to me. Then I try to write more lines that fit with the first ones. I generally feel that songs are waiting to be born- I don’t ‘make’ them so much as help them get into the world in the form they want to be. I know that may sound a bit mystical, but that’s really how it feels a lot of the time. As I write I’m almost always hearing the sound of the song in my head- melody, instrumentation. So when I pick up the guitar I’m trying to figure out how to make the sounds fit what’s in my head. Hopefully it all works out!
What else is happening next in Jay Stott’s world?
Well, no one is touring or playing live shows. I’ve been doing livestreams from my back patio with a very small socially distanced live audience. I’ve had a lot of fun playing as a trio with two friends of mine- John Bunzli (guitar) and Derek Ray Kirkman (bass). We’ve been inviting some other friend to come and play short sets with us. The tri sounds so great that we might try to make a ‘live’ album. So I’ve just started wrapping my head around that. Hopefully in 2021 we’ll be able to play live and do some touring again, though nobody knows for sure. And, of course, I keep writing songs, so there may be a backlog by the time I get to the studio again.