Jason Richardson has made a name for himself and his guitar playing abilities in bands such as All Shall Perish, Born Of Osiris, Chelsea Grin – and most recently as a solo artist with the release of his debut album, “I”.
He also just released his “Hos Down” music video and we got a chance to speak with Jason on the phone at the start of his recent US tour with Polyphia.
Z: This is the Iron Serbian with Capital Chaos TV and we have Jason Richardson on the phone. And you are currently on tour with Covet and Polyphia, is that correct?
JR: Yeah Polyphia, Yeah bit of a crazy name and Covet their first band on the tour, a three band package, and it’s been sold out every night so far. Pretty crazy. Five shows in a row all sold out so far.
Z: Wow!! How familiar are you with Polyphia and Covet.
JR: I’ve done a guest solo and music video with the dudes in Polyphia a couple years ago, so I’ve known them for quite a while and I’ve been going up and playing that song every night after our set is done. And the Covet dudes are really awesome too. Everybody on this package is insanely talented. It’s a really good line up I’m super stoked to be on tour killing it. Hopefully it keeps selling out.
Z: Have they been adding a bunch of local bands on the tour? Or is it just three bands per night?
JR: There’s been a couple every now and then. I’ve not been able to catch to many of them unfortunately cuz stuff happens you got to make sure stuff is warmed up, food and all that stuff but it’s definitely cool to have local talent. It’s good exposure for them getting out and playing. They will help sell the tickets too.
Z: How important is warming up and how much time is a minimum of warming up for you?
JR: You can definitely overdo it when you warm up because you just play too much then your just exhausted and can’t play quite as well when you overdo it. I try to get at least a half hour to an hour in of playing before I go up on stage. And usually if I notice I’m getting sore or anything like that I will just stop then just stretch til I have to go back up on stage. So over warming up is definitely a thing. I’ve done it quite a few times before and then you just don’t play near as well. So I try to stop like a half hour before hand and then just stretch til I go up on stage. Once I get all nice and loose. Definitely makes a huge difference especially with playing this type of stuff. Where it stuff like 100% stability the whole time almost.
Z: Yes. Your music is very acrobatic.
JR: Thanks man
Z; Your originally from Virginia. Is that correct?
JR: Correct. Yeah Northern Virginia up in Manassas is the exact name of the city forty five minutes to an hour south of DC. Depending on traffic
Z: Is that a pretty big town? Or relatively small?
JR: I feel it’s just like normal it’s not like crazy big or crazy small. I feel like it’s a pretty normal size place. The place I’m living at now is 1.7 acres and everything you want to do is at least a 5-10 min drive from where I live. It’s pretty nice it’s pretty quiet but there still anything you want to do
Z: Do you have time to be involved in the local music scene?
JR: I could if I wanted to but it’s just making sure that everything for my solo stuff is good to go and all that takes up a ton of my time and I don’t have much opportunity to get out and do things like that. I try focus more on writing and getting more stuff set up for future solo stuff overseas and more tours and things like that. That definitely takes priority for me versus just going out and playing a few gigs at a bar.
Z: You joined a touring band right out of high school All Shall Perish?
JR: Yep I dropped out my senior year to go on tour with them when I was 17. And I’ve just been doing it ever since. I had a partial scholarship to Berklee College Of Music before I dropped out but the only reason why I’d want to go to Berklee was to join a band and start touring, so I just completely bypassed that phase. I decently don’t regret it.
Z: I take it you’ve not had time to take Berklee up on that offer. It’s just been nonstop right?
JR: Yep. Pretty much just been going the whole time. I haven’t been on tour for like a year and a half til this one because I’ve been getting everything ready for the solo stuff. Recording an album and doing videos and things like that to build up the hype and to get it out there more. But everything been exceeding expectations so far.
Z: And so for you it’s been from one band to the next. All Shall Perish to Born of Osiris to Chelsea Grin. Did you just decide no more joining other people’s bands, I just want to do it myself? Is that where you’re at?
JR: Yeah it got to that point where it was just getting a little intense with all this band hopping so. And I was sick of having to cater to a specific fan base with my writing. So I just wanted to write whatever I wanted on this album and it ended up working really well. A lot better than I thought it was going to. People ended up giving me $33,000 on crowd fund to do that album so that is just absolutely insane. It’s like way more than any record label would offer for this type of music and album.
Z: So the music industry is alive and well just on a different level.
JR: Yeah it’s changing for sure with social media and that type stuff definitely evolving.
Z: So not dead but evolving.
Jr: Yeah that’s a good way to put it.
Z: I hear you come from a musical family?
JR: Yeah my dad plays bass and when I was growing up I always had instruments around. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be doing this right now.
Z: I take it a very supportive family as far as your music ambitions?
JR: Yeah Big time. Their huge help. They have my back for anything like this, it’s awesome. Very fortunate in that aspect
Z: Have you ever jammed with your dad?
JR: Yes I have. Not too much recently cuz what we play is opposite of each other but I feel that I need to start doing it more that’s for sure cuz in my opinion I’m not the best at improve so I need to start stepping up my game in that aspect because all the past bands that I’ve been in has never really been an opportunity to jam it’s all break downs and pre-written out metal stuff and that’s not just exactly what you do in a band like that so every night on this tour we’ve been forcing ourselves to do an improv thing for a couple minutes but If I went out and jammed with my dad it would definitely help. His band is just like cover stuff, top 40 rock and old rock songs.
Z: So your dad’s an old rocker?
JR: Yep Beatles all the way. Paul McCartney is his #1.
Z: Who is your #1?
JR: When I was growing up, still learning everything, my main two dudes that I was taking influence from and learning all their songs were John Petrucci and Alexi Laiho. Dream Theater and Children of Bodom. Those were my #1’s when I was learning everything still and practicing my ass of for like 10 hours a day trying to get my technique up. And now you can definitely hear it in my playing, I don’t try to hide it that’s for sure.
Z: Do you know whole Dream Theater albums and whole Children of Bodom albums?
JR: I did at one point. Not currently right now. But that’s what I did for fun in high school. Instead of hanging out with people and going to parties I would just come home and put Dream Theater on. I definitely made the right decision. It payed off.
Z: Totally. And so the guitar not the drums, the guitar not the bass? What was it that drove you to the guitar as opposed to the drums?
JR: Well actually before I went to guitar I played piano, violin, drums then guitar. And the reason I started focusing on guitar more was because I wanted to write songs and that one ended up working out the best for me. Practicing, learning the instrument and getting the talent that just worked out way better than anything else, so I just stuck with that one and put all my efforts toward that. But primarily I just wanted to write songs. I wanted to make music not just learn other peoples, not that there is anything wrong with that. It definitely helped I recommend everyone learning anything they think is sick, try and find it and take influence from it. See exactly what those dudes you look up to are doing and put your own spin on it.
Z: And you’re a Stratacaster guy and not a Les Paul guy. What’s that all about?
JR: I play music man. I don’t play strats not that their not sick guitars but I’m a Music Man all the way. I play the John Petrucci models right now. The Majesty in particular but I’m currently working with Ernie Ball on my own production signature model that you’ll be able to get in stores. Which I’m really really excited for. It’s surreal that it’s actually happening. We’ve already had one meeting about it and they are working on the first prototype right now. It’s going to be a completely new model.
Z: But they are more like a Strat than a Les Paul though. I mean the body obviously they are more space age Music Man?
JR: Yeah they are more futuristic. The Majesty is supposed to have the aesthetics of a really nice sports car a beefed up sports car in a way. The white is actually BMW paint. They get the paint from the BMW factory for the white majesty.
Z: I guess there isn’t’ much tweaking you can do on a Les Paul as far as the body
JR: It’s definitely iconic that’s for sure. That’s what my first guitar was a Les Paul when I was 12. Then I realized I wanted a 7 string a year later saved up for over a year to get my first music man right before I turned 15 and I just been playing those ever since. I just lucked out. I wanted John Petrucci’s guitar. JP’s guitar was sick and I wanted that one and it just ended up being one of the most sick of all time.
Z: Those guitars are not cheap.
JR: No their not especially for a teenager. I mowed a lot of lawns. My guitar teacher knew that I wanted one so he would give me like $70 to mow his lawn anytime I would go over there and do it. But yeah I saved up for well over a year to get the money for that thing. From like 12 to 14 years old. I had to save up $1037 bucks. A lot of money for a kid that age.
Z: You definitely have a strong work ethic.
JR: Yeah trying that’s for sure
Z: So now you have a new CD and some new gadgets. A new CDI?
JR: It’s the Roman numeral for 1. It works as well it could go either way. I kind of meant for it to be a little vague. They next one’s just going to be II or 11. Whichever you want to see it as.
Z: Is it a self-produced self-recorded album?
JR: I did not record it myself no. I had Taylor Larson record it and engineer the whole thing. I don’t ever want to leave that element up to myself. I just want to focus on being able to write the music the best I can and have another dude do all the mixing. I probably am not going to go anywhere else for a very long time other than Taylor that dude absolutely killed it he’s the best in the game right now in my opinion I can’t find anyone else that tops his mixes.
Z: Did he bring his own ideas to your project?
JR: Two of the songs yes. I pretty much wrote and did the majority of everything. Then Lou my drummer he put in his own flavor and feel on all the drums on the entire album. I had the meat and the bones there and he just made it his own. But there were two song fragments and Tonga that were only a minute and half each before we went into the studio. Taylor and Lou helped to finish up those songs in the studio. Everything else was already pre written up and I did all the programming of the orchestral and electronic elements that was 100% me. And then Taylor just mixed everything and just made it sound huge and clear and clean as possible.
Z: It’s a great sounding record. And you have a new affordable gadget on the market?
JR: Yeah, The JST Plug-in. Yeah that thing sounds great. I can’t believe how well that thing jams. It’s pretty mind blowing that you can do stuff like that with technology now days. It’s like if I want to run a few robot noises through amps and then send it to computer and turn it into software that you can play your guitar through sounds scary similar to that album.
Z: Is that something you’ve worked on for a while? And what was the inspiration for playing with toys or gadgets?
JR: I’ve always been interested in the recording process of everything. It’s endless you can never stop learning about that stuff trying new things out. The JST Dudes essentially just hit me up and asked if I wanted to do a plug-in with us and I said yeah and we were in the middle of recording the album and then Taylor got these insanely elaborate guitar tones that were like 3 separate layers that all need to be phase aligned through vintage mics and all these different heads, heads and caps, and then we ran all the sign waves to get the information turned in to .wav files that the JSP dudes needed to turn it into a plug-in. That’s pretty much all we had to do on our end. Got the tones and ran the sign waves through and send it to them and just had to wait for them to get it all dialed in. It was well worth the wait. Taylor’s already been using it on some of his new mixes with other bands and he already tops the mixes he got on my album. Pretty crazy.
Z: Sounds like your very happy with it?
JR: Yeah Big time. It came out way better than any of us expected. JST included.
Z: Did you unleash it already at NAMM?
JR: Yep it’s already out you can go and buy it right now it’s only $100 bucks. Pretty cheap for a guitar sim that is as sick as it is. Other ones are like $200 and 300. A UAD you have to buy a PGI card or universal audio you have to buy a PGI card which can be anywhere from Like $500 to $1200 bucks then buy the amp sim on top of that for like $300 or $400 and that will only give you 1 amp. Ours, the JST plug-in is three separate amps and with a built in effects and all modeled off the effects that we got dialed in on the album. Pretty good all in one clean rhythms and leads type plug in.
Z: Cool well just one more question. I wanted to ask about vinyl. Vinyl is something that people have been talking about as far as the warmth and the sounds. What is your opinion on vinyl?
JR: I like collecting it. I honestly haven’t heard too many recordings through a vinyl player. My albums out on vinyl and I haven’t even heard that yet. I just haven’t had an opportunity yet or come across a player that I could put my vinyl in. But they are definitely like that they are making a comeback. It’s way cooler to collect than CD’s. I think vinyl’s outsold CD’s like last year. People bought way more vinyl’s than they bought CD’s. Which is awesome.
Z: You say you have a collection of vinyl. Have you been collecting vinyl throughout the years?
JR: No not through the years. I just try to get the recording that I’m on. So I can put them up on my wall. I have a Polyphia album on vinyl that I did a guest solo on and I have a Veil Of Maya’s “Matriarch” one that I did a guest solo on helped write part of a song and another part on a different song. I have the old Born Of Osiris album that I helped write on vinyl. Chelsea Grin album I helped write on vinyl “Ashes to Ashes” and now mine. So I don’t have like a ton I just all the one I helped make on vinyl so I can put them up on my wall that looks really cool.
Z: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us and we will see soon. You have some shows in Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. So I will be coming out to your San Francisco show.
JR: Thanks for having me. Stoked to see you. Bye