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For Jason Wells, 2008 doesn't seem that far away. Despite a crumbling economy and tough job market then, Wells decided to leave his job and follow his dream to become a musician. Two full length albums later, Wells seems to be quite all right. The Hoosier is slated to play on Friday, July 19 at The Vogue.
NUVO: Your last album, Stepping Out, carried out the concept of leaving what you had previously been doing professionally in order to pursue a music career. How did this career changing process play out for you?
Jason Wells: In 2008, when everything got really crazy with the economy, I got laid off from my job. So, I started playing music. I've played music for years for gigs but this time I went out to see if I could make a living out of it. At the time, I was collecting unemployment. That kind of was a little cushion. It was only about half of what I was making. So, I started going out and playing music and was off work for a year and a half. After that year and a half, I did way better than what I ever gave myself credit for. I was gaining fans and doing really well. I went back to work for four months, I caved a little bit. [After four months] I quit. I quit my job and wasn't getting unemployment or anything so I just decided I was going to go for it and pick up where I left off. Just see where it goes and keep on rolling my career.
NUVO: How do you think your sound has evolved ever since?
Wells: The Stepping Out CD was the first one and was kind of a big learning process as far as making the CD and releasing it. The next year, I recorded another CD and that was recorded with electric guitar. The first CD was all acoustic stuff. Inside came out in 2012. I had a lot to learn and I just kept learning and kept learning. I tried to become a better songwriter. I tried to write songs that really meant a lot to me. More heartfelt songs, more close connections with me. I tried to make them so that it could relate to others.
As far as my sound, I have my own sound and always have. At times it kind of seems like a bad habit. But it's my sound, and that's what I'm going to go with.
NUVO: You've previously mentioned The Who, Deep Purple, and Jimi Hendrix as musical influences. Do you think they, or anyone else, still influence that sound that's so unique to you?
Wells: Yeah, definitely. I grew up listening to all of those. My dad had a record store for a while. He had thousands of records. I grew up listening to all of those. I would see one and go "Oh, who's this?" and then put it on. Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaugh, Robin Trower, all those definitely shaped me. When I was learning, I'd learn parts of songs that were cool and then make up my own riff from that. I've always been trying to make my own music. Now, it's formulating those into songs and putting lyrics with them. That's where I come from. Later on I learned a little bit of music theory. That's how I kind of evolved off of all of those bands.
NUVO: You mentioned that in Inside you wanted more of an emotional appeal. It seems like you consistently mention emotional obstacles and overcoming them in songs throughout the album. Do you think that, or anything else in particular, reveal an album theme?
Wells: The song "Inside" is about struggling with something. For me, it was my dad passing away. At that time, it was about a lot of heartache and a lot of grief. There's quite a few songs on there that deal with emotional things that I've worked through. That's kind of why I named it Inside. I gave it the title track because a lot of the songs [were] me looking at my own self and life and my own emotions.
NUVO: "There's No Easy Way" really breaks through the tough shell shown in songs like in "Hot Head Helen." Can you please explain the song's significance instrumentally and lyrically?
Wells: My daughter played piano on it and my twelve-year-old son played the bass guitar for it. It's just piano and bass, and I sing. The story behind the song is talking about losing somebody that is really close to you, which in my case was my father. I tried to write it in a way that wasn't too specific to me and that other people could relate to it. It was really cool to have my daughter and son play on it. It's cool anyway but especially for that song. It's about their grandpa. It was really cool for them to be able to do that. I usually don't play it, but I had people at shows request it. People tearing up. That really means a whole lot; touching people that way.
NUVO: Between "There's No Easy Way," "Man On The Moon," and "Magic Man," it really shows your range on the album. What do you think having this range adds to your album overall?
Wells: I've heard a lot of people make comments. They say that "it isn't all one sound" or that it's different genres or styles in there. I think that people like that. I think I pull from a lot of different influences to get all of those different sounds and styles. I definitely have my rock style that I said earlier. Somebody like Johnny Cash, he was kind of country but had rock and blues. He wrote a lot of different songs. I try to appeal to a lot of different people. I have fans that are kids and some that are in their 60's or 70's.
NUVO: You've been working on your third full length album. How have the beginning stages gone after bouncing off of your last album?
Wells: It's coming along very well. I've got about four more tracks to record and finish up. I've got the rest of them in the works. I'm not quite ready to set a release date yet. I'm going to get a little bit closer. It should be done in the next few months. I'm really looking forward to it. I've tried to pull a lot more of my style and my influences in the past. This will still be wide range of sounds and styles. There's a Lynyrd Skynyrd type song in there. There's a Robin Trower type of song on there. There's going to be a lot of different styles. I'm really pulling from all of those influences again.
NUVO: What has your Indiana fan base meant to you?
Wells: My fans, here in Indiana, are everything to me. Really. Without them, I cannot do what I am doing. I have a lot of people that really support me and root for me and are behind me. A lot of them come to so many shows. They mean everything to me. A lot of them really care about me and I care about them. I try to have a much more personal relationship with my friends, in almost a friendship way. I think that's really important, especially in today's music. People like that connection. I want people to connect with me. I want people to connect with my music. I want them to connect with everything that I stand for and everything that I'm doing.
NUVO: Your July 19 show is being held at The Vogue. It'll be nice to play at such a historic and well-known venue.
Wells: I'm really excited for this. This is a really cool opportunity. It's a really cool opportunity for us to play there. It's one of the personal goals I set for myself a while ago when I decided to start this career, to one day play at The Vogue. I think that a lot of musicians dream of playing there. I know I have ever since I can remember. It's cool for us and it's awesome for my fans because it's just a really awesome place for them to come and see us doing a show and my own original music. We do all kinds of different shows and festivals and cover gigs, but The Vogue will be a concert. It's going to be really cool.