An Interview with Jason Hall of Western Addiction

0 0
Read Time:10 Minute, 51 Second
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Logo-Preview-2-1.png

Jason Hall (Western Addiction) - THE THANKS LIST

Keeping it in the Punk state of mine today. Jason Hall is a veteran of the Punk scene and record business. After working at Fat Wreck Chords, he decided to start his own band (Western Addiction) with three other veteran Punk rockers. The results have been pretty awesome, if I don’t say so myself. To date, Western Addiction has three albums out, with their most recent effort being Frail Bray, which you can grab a copy of here. Frail Bray may be their best record yet. To me, it seems that the band has really found their voice and their development as songwriters is apparent. I can’t recommend this one enough. Check it out. In the meantime, you should also check this interview out. I’ve said my piece. Cheers.

Andrew:
Jason, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. It’s been some year, hasn’t it? What have you been doing to keep your mind off the ever-raging dumpster fire?

Jason:
Ha, yes, it has been quite interesting. I’m actually an introverted person so I don’t mind being home. We had a record come out in May, but the pandemic ate it, so I’ve been making new songs. I just got my first bass. I love it. I also cook a lot with my family and I like gardening and plants. If we come to your town, please take me to the botanical garden. 

Andrew:
Tell us a bit about your backstory. How did you get into music?

Jason:
I grew up in a small, mountain town in Northern California so I didn’t have a ton of access to music but I guess I found my way. I’ve never been a “type” of person (Punk, Rocker, etc.) but I have always loved music. I started to become a heavy listener in high school (Headbanger’s Ball, 120 minutes, specialty radio shows, etc.) and then worked at my college radio station. My dad bought me a guitar when I was younger and I made the mistake of starting a band in my late twenties. I also worked in the music industry at labels and radio stations. I listen to music every single day. I’m currently going through the year end lists. I’m listening to the new Juniore record as I write this. It’s kind of cool and I love French vocals. 

Andrew:
As a songwriter, who are some of your earliest influences?

Jason:
Actually, I’ve never had “influences” in the sense of “this is what I want our band to sound like.” It just so happens that 80s Hardcore comes out of my body. We of course get the comparisons to Black Flag, TSOL, etc. but in terms of influences that I think about often are more singer/songwriter type of people like Paul Simon, Conor Oberts, Stuart Murdoch, Rhett Miller, etc. These are people that have complete command of vocal melody and I think it’s the secret to “good” music and it’s always something I’m chasing. I’m not well read but I like authors that bend language in an interesting way, Hemmingway, T.S. Eliot, etc. My goal (that I haven’t reached) is to use clear, normal, non-cliche’ language in an interesting way. 

Andrew:
Tell us the story of Western Addiction. How did the band come together?

Jason:
It was actually quite organic and simple. I worked at our record label, Fat Wreck Chords, for 11 years. When you work at a label you have to see a LOT of bands. I was at Bottom of the Hill (local venue) and watching some opening band and thought, “I am pretty tired of watching other people make things and I think I want to try it. I’m not good, but I could at least try.” I played a little guitar and it looked fun. The next day, I asked my co-worker Chad Williams (drummer) if he wanted to play sometime. Our other friend at work, Tyson (Dead to Me), needed something to pass the time so he offered to play bass with us and then eventually, our other friend at work, Ken (Enemy You, Dead to Me) joined. My only goal with the band was to make a 7″ record because I thought that was the coolest thing in the world you could do. 

Andrew:
Western Addiction have a new album out this year. It’s called Frail Bray. Tell us more about the new record. What was the inspiration?

Jason:
Yes, it came out in May of 2020. It was recorded at Atomic Garden in Oakland, CA with Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, Gouged Away, Jeff Rosenstock, etc.). The theme of the record is hope, rejuvenation, motherhood and positivity through grief. I really enjoy trying to make songs and finding the power of a song, therefore, I’m always playing and collecting interesting words and ideas. The older you get, the more you see music as a gift so I don’t take it for granted for a second. I think I have a never-ending reservoir of inspiration. I’m a naturally curious person who is restless so there is always something to scream about. This was the absolute worst year to release a record but we are proud of it. 

Andrew:
As songwriters, how do you keep things fresh and stay inspired?

Jason:
Each member of the band listens to a LOT of music. I would say that there are several lovers and historians of music in the band. I listen to endless amounts of music and try to learn from other genres and put them through the Western Addiction grinder. It might come through the doors as Country or Black Metal but it always ends up sounding like us.  

Western Addiction - Frail Bray - Vinyl LP - 2020 - EU - Original | HHV

Andrew:
Where can we find your new album and what formats is it on?

Jason:
It is available on all the major platforms (Spotify, Apple, etc.) and record stores and directly from our label. It’s available digitally and on CD and LP. 

Andrew:
How do you feel the band has evolved since your first album, Cognicide? How have you progressed as you’ve gone along? What have you learned?

Jason:
When I wrote for Cognicide, I didn’t know how to make a song. I just played a little guitar and I smashed together a bunch of parts and howled over the top of them. I don’t think I’m a great songwriter but I have learned more about the components of a song and what makes it special. When I make a song now, I don’t let it out of the factory unless I think it has a special element or feeling. And if the band isn’t reacting to something, we have no problem throwing it away. We don’t do that thing where someone writes 40 songs (which is actually never true) and then chooses the best 12. I try to get the songs much further along and we will know by one practice if it’s gone. 

Andrew:
Tell us the story of how you ended up with Fat Wreck Chords.

Jason:
Well, I worked at Fat for years and I just happened to start a band while working there. As naive and ridiculous as it sounds, I never thought for a moment that our band would “be on Fat.” I didn’t even think about labels. I just wanted to make a 7″ record. We recorded at a little studio and I just passed the songs out to people at work because I thought it was cool. Weirdly, Mike (label owner) liked the songs. I feel he thought we were off-time and endearing in a sloppy, late 80s, LA type of way and he mentioned liking my voice. I didn’t even know how to sing. I got incredible headaches in the studio from screaming so hard and my whole body was sore from the intensity. 

Jason Hall of Western Addiction Interviews Russ Rankin of Good Riddance

Andrew:
Let’s switch gears a bit now. Tell me your thoughts on the current state of the music scene these days. In your opinion, what’s it like out there for an indie artist?

Jason:
I follow music closely and being in a band, I get an additional perspective on it. I think it’s incredibly difficult to “know what’s popular” nowadays. There is just SO much music and there is no rhyme or reason to the industry. It’s very difficult to get a show and I used to get my feelings hurt that we didn’t get shows but it’s really a cosmic collision if something comes together. It has nothing to do with “how good your songs are.” I’m not saying we have “good songs” but I just know that for the most part, song quality, live quality, etc. have very little influence on what gets noticed in the short term. I have learned to not expect anything from music, except for the good feeling, and that has been comforting. Music doesn’t owe me anything except that feeling. 

Andrew:
Are you into vinyl? Tapes? CDs? Or are you all digital now? Where do you like to shop for music?

Jason:
I buy less vinyl now but just yesterday, I bought the new Sturgill Simpson LP from a physical store, Amoeba Records. They are both very deserving of my money so I thought it was the right thing to do during the pandemic. As a family, we are trying to support small, local outlets. Oddly enough, I also like tapes. My wife bought me this cool little tape player because lots of Black Metal bands release on this format. She also has a ripping tape collection (Black Flag, Descendents, etc.) from when she was a kid. So cool!

Andrew:
What are a few albums that mean the most to you and why?

Jason:
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’ve been cleaning out my Spotify albums unless I think the record is good overall. I’m currently building a playlist of a week’s worth of “good” music, 24 hours for seven days. I’m at 99 hours and I need to get to 168. There are several albums that mean a lot to me (AC/DC High Voltage, Old 97’s Too Far to Care, Pixies Doolittle, etc.) but I also build these playlists of all the good songs (in my opinion) from a particular artist like Willie Nelson or the Clash or Sam Cooke, etc. I tell my wife the songs I want played at my funeral. That sounds morbid but it sets a standard for a song. I want “Highway Patrolman” by Bruce Springsteen played at mine. You’ll cry for weeks. 

Episode 14: Jason Hall of Western Addiction on mental health breakdowns  & emotional intelligence by Scream Therapy

Andrew:
Once COVID-19 is finished with us, what’s next for Western Addiction?

Jason:
We just want to play shows and songs from our new record, Frail Bray. I would love to see if people react to some of them. We’ve actually played ‘Frail Bray’ and ‘Utter Despair’ live before and people went pretty wild so that was promising.

Andrew:
Last question. You’ve been at it for awhile now. Looking back, how much satisfaction have you gotten out of it? What are some of your fondest memories? What advice would you have for young artists?

Jason:
Everything great in my life is because of music. My wife is because of music. My best friends are because of music. And I never stop getting that great feeling from a powerful song. The other day, I stumbled on the song “Square One” by Tom Petty and the vocal melody in the chorus is so good that it makes my body shudder. That’s what I’m chasing. My fondest memories from music are going to Hawaii for the first time with the record label, touring Europe, going to Japan twice, etc. We played a show on the East Coast of Italy and it was wild. It was raining and the tour manager was fighting with the venue and there were punks and club kids everywhere. It was like that scene in Almost Famous where the band had to load up quick and drive through the gates after the singer was electrocuted. We were lucky enough to share a bus for that tour and this sounds cliche’ but we all watched Spinal Tap in lounge as we drove through the night and drank wine. I can’t imagine a more Spinal Tap moment than that. I never take these opportunities lightly and I’m thankful for every moment. The advice I give to young bands, make good, short songs with great vocal melodies and never stop being authentic. People can sense when you care, so you better care. 

Thanks so much for the interview and checking out our new record, Frail Bray. 

Interview: The Double Life of Western Addiction's Jason Hall

Interested in learned more about the music of Western Addiction? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

Andrew has always felt himself to be a "jack of all trades, master of none" type of person. With an immense passion for music, a disposition for writing, and an eagerness to teach and share both, Andrew decided to found Vinyl Writer in 2019 as a freelance column under the column Stories from the Stacks. Over time, the column grew into a website which now features contributors who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles and interviews. While Andrew enjoys running the website, his real passion lies in teaching and facilitating others to do what they do best, and giving them the opportunity to explore their passions in the process.
Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %

Average Rating

5 Star
0%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%

Leave a Reply

Social profiles
%d bloggers like this: