Tim Lambesis (of As I Lay Dying fame) has a quote I like to break out from time to time:
“I think it’s very rare to making a living doing what you’re passionate about, and especially standing up for what you believe in.”
Which now brings us to our next guest:
Jason Wells was your typical person: family, a job that paid well, and an unrivaled passion for music stemming from his youth. When certain live events happened to him, he forced to make a choice to either press on in his career field or follow his passion and make music not just a hobby, but instead, a way of life.
And fortunately for us, he chose the latter. Today, you’ll see him playing shows around the area, teaching guitar, and getting set for the release of his forthcoming effort, appropriately titled “Stepping Out.”
I first met Wells while judging the Acoustic Live Challenge. Impressed with his sound, his stage presence, and the kind of passion he has for his craft, I just had to find out more. So I brought him in to the IndyConcerts.com office to talk about his new album, stepping away from everything to follow his passion, performance philosophy, and more:
About Jason Wells:
I had a guitar ever since I could remember. I started learning to play the guitar in like 7th grade. I just kind of had one guitar lesson, and just kind of didn’t learn much of those so I just learned most of it on my own. Just workin’, workin’ at it. Over the years I played with a few different bands and ended up just picking up the acoustic guitar and really liking that and really versatile. So probably the last 10-12 years, (I’ve) been mostly (playing) acoustic guitar. Then I got into a looping thing and really enjoyed that. I always had dreams of playing full time and being a musician and all that kind of stuff, and it’s fear really (that) kind of stopped me from pursuing it and not sure where to go and what to do with it. I was kind of forced to do it about two years ago. I lost my job and didn’t know anything else so I thought, “well, I’ll just use music to make a living” and it worked. I got out there and got it started going and got building more of a fan base and playing more and doing all kinds of different things. Recording music for hunting videos and doing gigs and giving lessons, and then I had an opportunity to go back to my job. So I went back for four months and during that four months I worked on my CD after work every night, and then really, my father passed away and that really changed everything and I thought…I even regretted going back to work for the four months that I had there. After he passed away, I was like “you know, you’ve only got one life, might as well live your passion and do what you want to do and enjoy it,” you know?
Kind of like a “no regrets” thing?
Yeah, yeah I mean. You know, I looked at the people at this job and was like “(is) this supposed to be such a great job?”…but I looked around at everybody and they were all miserable…and I was like, “I can’t do this.” I just can’t do this. So I kind of had to make a decision again. You know, at first I was like forced to, so it was kind of like still. It was like “okay, I’m gonna try this, but then I always gonna end up back at the mines.” Like I’m just trying it, you know, and then after that four months and everything that happened…I was like “this is what I need to do,” and so now I’m out and I’m gonna make it…there’s no trying to do it.
You also teach guitar during the week?
Yeah, during the week I teach guitar and I play at nursing homes. Like I said, I have another website where we sell, we as in me and a partner, sell royalty-free music to mostly hunting videos. We’re just trying to get that off the ground. Yeah, that’s kind of through the week, and at night and on the weekend, I do gigs and…play all over. So I’m trying to…I’m getting to Ohio and trying to get down to Kentucky and branch out from…Central Indiana…just getting further out.
You have a new album coming out?
Yeah, it’s called “Stepping Out,” and it’s kind of the whole where I’m at right now. Like I said, I walked away from $20+ an hour. Gave that up because I realized that money’s not gonna make me happy. It’s living your life the way you were made or created to be. Being the person you were supposed to be, and I really feel like music is my passion. It’s in me. It’s there and so a lot of people think I’m crazy…from walking away from that, but that’s kind of where the name of the CD, “Stepping Out” came from. For obvious reasons (laughs).
What’s the progress on it right now?
Right at moment, it’s done. It’s available on my website for download…and I sent them off to…actually I’m waiting. I sent them off to the distribution company so they’re in the process of getting it ready. So it should be (out by) like June and then we’re gonna start marketing the CD and it’ll be up on Amazon and iTunes and…all different countries around the world. They’re gonna market it. I’ve got a video, but anyway, so it’s really by the beginning of June they’re going to be (out)…Within like a few weeks, or days, I mean, hopefully days, I’ll have an actual release date. Right now, it’s kind of waiting on that and then…they’re supposed to send me a few things like a UPC code and a couple of other things I need to put on my artwork, and some logos. Their logos and all that kind of stuff. Then I can send it off to duplication and then it’ll be about a week. So I’m hoping within a couple of weeks I’ll have the physical CDs and then the beginning of June it’ll be…the official release date.
What can we expect from it?
It’s mostly, I mean it’s all acoustic, but it has a full band, and it’s pretty, I’d say it’s pretty basic in a sense of it’s like acoustic guitar, bass guitar, drums and vocals, and it’s just very bluesy, kind of rock. Rock, blues, maybe funky. You know, there’s a couple funky songs, but it’s…mostly like rock/blues style. I guess that’s how I would describe it (laughs). I know I’m not very good at describing my music (laughs).
Are you one of those musicians who plays everything on the album?
On the CD, the recording, I…did everything but the drums. I had an actual drummer. Some that played the drums for me, but I did the guitar and the bass and the vocals.
You’re primarily acoustic?
Yeah, I mean, like I said. The last 10-12 years I’ve been mostly acoustic and…I play electric guitar and I do some other things with electric guitar, but if you’re gonna come to one of my concerts or something, you’re gonna see an acoustic guitar. I do the looping and everything, so like looping-wise, it might have a sound like a full band, and I can even my guitar sound like an electric guitar…and it sounds good with everything I’m doing, but yeah, it’s acoustic.
Do you have the Peter Frampton talk box?
I used to. I haven’t done that in a while.
Do you prefer acoustic or electric?
I don’t know. I’ve been playing acoustic for so long. I guess…(it) just depends on what I’m doing. You know, I mean, I would someday maybe like to get a band if I had a need for it and I would play electric guitar if I had a band, but since I don’t have a band, I just want to do an acoustic thing.
You were in the Acoustic Live Challenge this year?
That was my second (time). Yeah, in the first year I went and I took all my pedals and did the whole thing. You know, the looping and everything, and they didn’t take it as much as I thought, and this year I just went and just plugged in my acoustic (and) did my thing. So I think it went over pretty good.
Is it hard coming all the way from Frankfort for something like this?
No. I mean, as long as it’s worth it, and things like this are definitely worth it. You know, I meet people, get to network, get to play music…I mean…I’d go play everywhere for free if I could. You know, just because I love to play. So I have to always stop and think “okay, if I do this, how is this gonna be worth it?” because if I do too many things like that, then I’m gonna go broke (laughs).
What are your future plans?
Well. What I have lined up is I have…many gigs I”m playing. A couple of pretty big festival. I’m playing (at) Taste of Tippecanoe in Lafayette, Uptown Jazz & Blues Festival, couple fairs and one…(in) Vigo County. It’s in Terre Haute. I’m playing in Terre Haute for their county fair. I got a lot of gigs. I’m getting to Monticello and playing on…Lake Shafer and, I mean really this CD. I’m getting a CD out there. Kind of waiting to see what happens with that and then use that to…get the ball rolling even farther and faster. You know, get the CD out there, see where it’s picking up at then kind of market myself in those areas. Basically, that’s what I kind of what I want to have lined up. My hopes, my goal is to play more concert venues. Go farther and play concert venues. Maybe do a few week tours or something like that in the surrounding areas. So that’s kind of my goals I guess for…the rest of this year.
What’s your philosophy for live shows?
Just basically try to connect with the people and keep them interested. I mean, that’s what I try to do. In different venues, you’re gonna do different things but I guess the philosophy is just…somebody told me this a long time ago and it really made a lot of sense. It’s like don’t get any of your energy from the crowd. You give energy. So I try to always remember that. To be the one giving them energy ’cause they’ll feed off of me. You know, I’m not count(ing) on them to feed me and get me going. You know, I think a lot of times, at first it was hard for me ’cause I was like “oh they’re not really into it so I’m just gonna kind of lay back. You know, I’m just gonna kind of play.” He told me that and…it changed everything. So now I try reach out to them and get them fired up…involved. So I guess that’s my philosophy. That’s kind of how I look at it when I go up on stage. Just try to get them involved and keep them involved.
Actually give them a show?
Right, yeah, and me being the energy for them. ‘Cause they’re all looking at me. They’re all kind of waiting. That’s why they’re there. It’s easy to get it backwards though. I guess that’s kind of my philosophy I guess.
Anything you’d like to add?
I’d like to add that my song “Cancer,” all the proceeds from that are gonna be donated to cancer victims and cancer associations. I wrote that song after my dad was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago, and then a good friend of mine’s 8-year-old son was diagnosed, and I knew other people. We all know lots of people who have been affected by cancer. So I kind of wrote that song, and (when) I wrote that song it was kind of an angry and then like two weeks later, I went back and added like the last verse and so it is what is. It’s not a happy, feel-good song, it’s an angry song kind of. Like I said, all the proceeds from that from downloads, from physical CDs, from everything, whatever money that song is, is gonna be donated. So…hopefully, like I’ve been telling people at my shows, I don’t care if you buy any of my songs, just by that one. I don’t care. Just at least spend $.99 and by that one. Let’s make a difference. So I’d guess I’d like to put that out there, too, and I’m making a video of that song to help promote it. 27 Storms Entertainment, there’s a guy, a company here in…Indianapolis. We’re making an official music video. It’s gonna be pretty cool I think. We’re gonna get that promoted and get that on some websites and hopefully some TV shows and the distribution company’s gonna take it and…market that off so hopefully that’ll help.
“Stepping Out” is set to be released June 7. Want more Jason Wells? Check him out at: