Sunday, March 30, 2008

Interview: Jason Collett

Lately, it’s getting harder and harder to keep track of all those talented Broken Social Sceners; but Jason Collett is definitely one man that you need to keep in mind. With the release of his fourth solo album, Here’s To Being Here, in February, Collett has further solidified his role as one of the better underrated songwriters out there. We were lucky enough to get a few minutes of Collett’s time away from his busy touring schedule to chat about his new record, the differences between Canadians and Americans, and, uh, carpentry. If you’re in the Chicago-area, be sure to check out Collett’s shows at Schubas this Saturday and Sunday.

nql: You’re currently on tour promoting your new album, Here’s To Being Here. What was the recording process like for that album? Did it differ at all from your previous releases?

Jason Collett: More focused on my touring band. We'd been playing together since the release of Idols of Exile and I wanted to capture the energy of our live shows.

nql: How did your backing band, Paso Mino, come about and what is the significance of their name?

JC: I really don't know the significance of that name. No one will give me a straight answer. Anyhow, they approached me just after I finished my previous record and had the nerve to tell me they should be my band. When I checked them out at my jam space they blew me away. Not only had the learned the material but they had already rehearsed it without me. It immediately felt like we'd been playing together for years.

nql: You’ve been on hiatus from Broken Social Scene since 2005. Do you think you’ll ever rejoin the band?

JC: I've never really left. It really comes down to the overlap in our schedules. It's a good problem to have though.

nql: If you could collaborate with any living musician, who would it be and why?

JC: Feist. She's a friend and an astounding talent.

nql: Besides musical influences, what are some literary or cinematic influences that inspire your music?

JC: I recently wrote a tune after reading Karen Abbott's "Sin and the Second City". A tantalizing history of the red light district in Chicago at the turn of the last century. A book full of amazing characters; pimps, madams, politicians on the take, hustlers, and all sorts of ner-do-wells.

nql: Which band with whom you’ve played with has most inspired you to evolve as a musician and a live performer?

JC: BSS of course. There's such spontaneity to what the band does it seems to inspire us all to stretch further on our own.

nql: As someone who lives in Canada but tours in America a lot, do you find that the music scenes differ a lot from country to country?

JC: Not that much. Canadians are a little more reserved than Americans. There's a real sense of entitlement to expressing emotions amongst Americans that we lack. It's pretty subtle, but there nevertheless.

nql: I read that you have three children. How do they feel about your music and what you do for a living?

JC: It's a juggling act, but not that different than what most families deal with.

nql: You’re playing two shows in Chicago at Schubas. Have you ever played Schubas before? What are some of your favorite things to do when you’re in Chicago?

JC: Yes I've played Schubas before, it's a great venue. Chicago feels much like Toronto in character, just bigger. It makes me feel at home, so I like to find a good coffee, a good breakfast joint, visit some bookstores, record stores... all the simple pleasures any good city has to offer. I took the architectural boat tour once, I really enjoyed that.

nql: You played the annual SXSW festival a few weeks ago. What was that experience like? Any favorite bands you saw at SXSW that we should check out?

JC: I stumbled upon a great young band from Brooklyn called Via Audio. Great energy, the woman in the band reminded me of Feist, like she was her kid sister.

nql: I read online that you used to work as a carpenter. What was the last thing you built or worked on?

JC: I bought a house in Toronto three years ago. I've been renovating it top to bottom, including all the cabinetry. I'm close to finishing (it), it's been a real pleasure to work on my own place.

--Anna Deem

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