Texas is home to the latest NBA champions. You’re not into sports? You like music more? Me too, me too and while Basketball’s all fun and games, it’ll never compare to the art of a musician. So when I think of Texas I think of Selena, SXSW and now Jason Reece of …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, or simply Trail of Dead. Jason was happy to see Texas take that NBA title, but as a Spurs fan was a bit saddened his team didn’t make it this year. Maybe they’ll get ‘em next time buddy. But while Jason and the rest of his band mates wait for a new Basketball season, they’ll be keeping busy promoting and touring of their latest, Tao of the Dead. And before Jason hit the stage in San Diego at the The Casbah, he was nice enough to chat with me about the trail of ex-members, dwarfs, nostalgia and a whole lot more, so stay tuned (keep on reading people) and make sure and catch them on tour while you can.
Kendra Beltran: When you were younger did you have an idea of what your music would sound like?
Jason Reece: You know it really kind of didn’t become fully realized until we started really messing around with certain things and listening to certain albums while forming Trail of Dead. I had a lot of bands that I was influenced by and I definitely loved a lot of music, but I didn’t want to copy it. More of the way of just being inspired by the music you know; Ozzy, My Bloody Valentine or Public Enemy. There were a lot of artists that helped shaped what we were trying to shoot for. Pink Floyd is another one. But yeah, you just don’t know until you start writing the music, and then you notice that something’s picking your direction and you should follow it.
Kendra: You’ve been following the right direction because you’re on your seventh album now, Tao of the Dead. Being the 7th…if this album were one of the classic 7 dwarfs, which would it, is?
Jason: (Laughs) I don’t know, okay there’s seven dwarfs. I know Sleepy and Dopey but I don’t think we’re any of that what’s the other ones?
Kendra: Happy, Bashful, Grumpy, Sneezy…
Jason: I’d have to say grumpy!
Kendra: That’s an interesting one to pick for the album, and sticking with Tao of the Dead, was there a song that wasn’t supposed to make the album, but did? Like one you all were on the fence about?
Jason: “The Spiral Jetty” was definitely one of the more last minute songs that we actually wrote while we we’re in the studio. Whereas most of the music was written before we went to the studio. We just kind of like that moment of inspiration. Autry Fulbright played a riff on the bass then he started messing around with ideas for it. You know. It just happened naturally, but it definitely was one of those tracks like where it’s like “where’s it going to fit and what does it mean?” But it started to make sense as we put it in order.
Kendra: Another order that’s changed the members. You all have had a lot of changes over the years. Are there differences or advantages you didn’t expect as a quartet?
Jason: Well when there’s more people there’s definitely more of a tendency to have a lot of opinions and chaos flowing around; it’s hard to get everybody on the same page. With that in mind you can also make things a little more layered, but with what we’re doing now it very guitar centric. There’s a lot of guitar on the new album, so I don’t know. We don’t miss having a ton of people. In fact it’s kinda nice to have it more simplified. I mean we used to be a two piece and that’s daunting. But four, four’s a good number to have.
Kendra: Nevertheless, the four of you have a good amount of touring to do in 2011. After years of playing, how do you keep the show fresh for fans who’ve been coming to your shows over the years?
Jason: I definitely feel like what we’re doing right now is we definitely putting a lot of our physical energy into the performance and I think that’s why people come to the show. They can get that from us. We’re not just going to be standing around letting a lighting chick do all the work. We put a lot of effort into getting into the music and losing ourselves. I don’t know, whenever I go watch bands that I truly like, they’re enjoying what they’re giving out to the people, so I think that’s sort of how we run our band. So how we keep things fresh is that as long as we’re into it, we’ll commit to a great performance, or at least try to.
Kendra: And you’ve recently gotten to bring your live act to the small screen. You all were recently on George Lopez and Jimmy Fallon. Do you ever get star struck when do those sorts of things?
Jason: Not really, we thought it was kind of funny that we were there, like oh that’s strange, we’re doing George Lopez and we’re meeting Cheech Marin from Cheech and Chong. Yeah, I don’t really get star struck . I just realize everyone’s kind of like human, so I mean I appreciate what great artists do like if I met Lady Gaga I’d be like, oh that’s cool, but I wouldn’t freak out.
Kendra: A couple more and then I’ll let you get back to preparing for your show down in San Diego. You guys started when cassettes still owned. Do you think they’ll ever make a come back?
Jason: (Laughs) Well, I keep hearing people are having these cassette clubs. They’re definitely trying to bring the medium back but I don’t know I think albums, definitely vinyl is definitely making a comeback. Even last night when we played Pomona, these young kids are buying vinyls and I’m like, you kids got a record player? That’s crazy! They’re like 19 listening to records, not mp3s.
Kendra: Yeah, some kids are all about that nostalgia factor. So lastly, what’s up for the rest of your guys 2011?
Jason: We’re gonna go to Europe for a little bit. Australia seems to be wanting us. Then there’s plans of working on new music something in August, kind of really get going and striking while the irons hot to use that cliché. We like to keep busy. The idea of sitting and not making or creating is really disturbing to me.