[photo credit: Vince Estep]
Jason Achilles Mezilis’ latest album is now available for pre-order on vinyl. “COMEDOWN” is a project that Jason has been working on for a while in between his other commitments. He is a prolific musician who is involved in many different projects. As well as writing and producing his own solo records, he is the guitarist for rock bands Owl and Black Belt Karate. He also recently released a Ragtime album with Noah Engh, which I featured on the Real Rock and Roll blog in February (you can check that out here: https://realrockandroll.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/new-music-noah-engh-and-jason-mezilis/). Jason also produces records for other musicians at his recording studio, Organic Audio Recorders, in LA.
The new album “COMEDOWN” is instrumental. It contains 7 tracks. All of the tunes are very atmospheric with both mellow and heavier grooves. There’s a real mix of styles that come together to produce a wonderful, well produced album that entertains and has an addictive quality. This is the sort of music that could be used as background, or theme music for films. There are some beautiful and haunting melodies that evoke nostalgia and retrospection, and others that will make you want to dance.
You can listen to a preview on Soundcloud.
You can also get an idea of what to expect from the album from this preview video:
Take a look at the album cover:
You can order your copy of the vinyl LP online. There are two versions, “regular” and “deluxe” so make sure to read through both, before you place your order: http://jamezilis.bigcartel.com/
It can be shipped worldwide.
This will be a limited edition, numbered, gatefold album cover design, with beautiful graphics throughout.
Digital release of the album is scheduled for the end of June 2016.
I caught up with Jason recently to discuss the new release.
Interview with Jason Achilles Mezilis
[Photo Credit: Carl Mahoney]
I understand you recorded and mixed your latest album, “COMEDOWN”, on analog/tape. I’m not an expert on this but assume that most stuff is recorded digitally these days. What was the thinking behind recording on tape? Were the results what you expected?
Hello Maria, good to talk with you again. Yeah, it was awesome because it rekindled my love of working with tape, something I had lost touch with. It’s really an exciting way to record…you have to take a lot more chances, in terms of the decisions to be made throughout the process. And of course one has to be careful, there’s no “undo” button if you screw something up…which still happens, sometimes. Like Wesley said in The Princess Bride, ‘…one thing I’ll say for the Fire Swamp…it certainly keeps you on your toes”…it’s kinda like that.
In terms of the results, this whole album was a new way of recording for me (creatively speaking, from an arrangement perspective) so I really honestly didn’t know what to expect…just kept pushing forward until it was done. And yes, it turned out fantastic yeah, I’m really happy.
Did you set out to make an instrumental album, rather than songs with lyrics, or was that something that just happened?
I set out to quickly write some new instrumental material for a show I had booked, following the demise of one of my previous bands…but the idea of pulling it all together into a full LP release didn’t come until a bit later. I’ve never really written/performed music like this before, so I didn’t really know what was going on until it seemed to rear its ugly head at some point, demanding some sort of completion and resolve…kind of like the old science fiction narrative where the poor crazy scientist labors for months on end, and then all of the sudden the machine becomes self-aware and tries to kill him (ha).
I’d say about halfway through the recording of the songs, I realized this collection of material was going to have to be an LP release…though of course I thought it would take about a year less time then it actually did, to see it through. I’m quite excited it’s finally ready to go.
Do you have any favourite tracks on the album, and if so, why are they favourites?
I really do love them all, every track has been heavily considered and ultimately that’s why they are on there. I thought about not including “Ascension” only because to me it seemed more pop-oriented than the others, but at the behest of some strong outside influence and voices, friends that heard the track and so forth, it ultimately made the cut. I think it’s a great record, that everything is on there for a reason, and the package a a whole would be lacking without the inclusion of any of those specific elements. Oh, and nice British spelling on “favourite”, by the way 🙂
Haha! Yes, it’s amazing how many people don’t know that we love the letter ‘u’ in Britain, and all the other differences between UK and US English. Many people from America probably read my books and think I can’t spell! 😉
What were some of the inspirations behind the the tunes?
Inspiration, for me, comes from a very singular place…I suppose you could call it “abstract”…it’s very internal. As far as crafting the stuff that’s closest to my heart like this record, it really comes from a place that is about music for its own sake…a purity of melody, slamming groove and tones, delivered with the right kind of attitude. I’ve never had anything to say, lyrically, in music…that’s always been up to whatever singer in the band I was with. For me it’s the beauty of the sound, as presented…whether melodic, aggressive, or even more in the psychedelic and progressive realm. Whether viewing a beautiful sunset or a pretty girl…or stuck in a white room with four blank walls…it doesn’t make a lot of difference. To be honest with you I get more musical inspiration from just walking and hearing the rhythm of my own footsteps. External elements can always be a secondary influence, sure, but you and I can view the same event or experience through our different lens and quite probably will have an entirely different emotionally translational experience from that…so ultimately, regardless of the initiative or outside stimuli, I would maintain that the ultimate inspiration for music (for me, anyway) comes from that internal voice.
That’s very interesting. It made me think of the project I’m involved in, the Mind’s Eye series, where we write short stories/poems inspired by photographs. For Triptychs, which is one of the books in the series, we gave 3 different writers the same photo and everyone came up with completely different ideas for stories just from looking at the same photo. That was a great experiment.
There are some interesting titles to the tracks on “COMEDOWN” e.g. “Ghost”, and “Tokyo Drift”. Do you find it difficult/easy to think up the titles?
The titles are all pretty quickly inspired, usually some point very close to the first kernels of creating a song…sometimes even off the first demo track where I’ll need a name just to file it under, and that will stick. “Tokyo Drift” in particular is an interesting one, my studio neighbor Evan Rodaniche (very talented producer / guitarist & leader of his own band Cage9) and I were listening back to tracks in the studio, and these kids outside were peeling donuts like crazy in the huge parking lot…to which he commented “it sounds like goddamn Tokyo Drift out there”. I thought that was particularly funny, and when I went back to listen to that track next, there was something inherent in the Japanese influence of those words that was suggestive of that Daft Punk-styled electronica-driven element of the song, and it stuck. I guess it was a bit indicative to me of a soundtrack to an Anime/Akira meets Vin Diesel or something. Speaking of which, did anyone out there see the new Riddick movie? Was it any good? I had hopes…
Sorry, not me… haven’t seen those films. Maybe someone will comment about it 🙂
By the way nice American spelling of donut and neighbor 😉
Was this a completely solo project or did you work with other musicians on some of the tunes?
My collaborator on the COMEDOWN recordings was drummer Brett Rocha, with whom I wrote and conceived almost all the material…without his grooves, his feel…the record would not be what it is. And my bud Jason Sarracco co-wrote and performed that very cool melodic bass guitar line on the title track for the record. There is also a featured horn section on “Ghost – Part II” made up of a trio of local LA players that I found just through asking around town…and they killed it. Was my first session recording brass, exciting and scary all at once!
It sounds great! 🙂
If you could collaborate with any other musician/band who would you choose, and why?
In terms of the players on this new record, I’m completely happy with who I’ve got right now, everything in the live presentation is sounding fantastic. Brett has been on tour so my good friend Keith Larsen has been filling in on drum duties, locally, and killing it. As far as the production work, studio albums I record for other artists and so forth…I like working with top-level musicians that aren’t afraid to approach the honesty of the analog medium. On a larger level, sure yeah somebody like the band Muse, where you have this phenomenal level of ability, but perhaps it’s been delivered in a highly technologically-dependent format thus far…that would be damn cool. Those are the sorts of bands in particular I feel I could bring something new and exciting to. Really, anyone that can hit it hard, and hit it for real, is a joy to work with.
If you could tour and bring your music to any venue in the word, which would you choose and why?
My current sights are set on Europe/UK…even more so than touring the States, right now to me that is the most attractive and enticing market to get involved with. Also Australia/Japan would be amazing. There’s still that romanticized notion here in the USA of music gaining momentum from abroad and becoming newly fresh and appealing to the American crowd…that goes back all the way to the British Invasion, and somehow never really left. I think European music fans in particular really have got it down, in terms of properly and fully appreciating new music…they’re not afraid to show it, either. Sounds like a hell of a good time to me.
It’s definitely a vibrant underground music scene over here at the moment. I’ve noticed it even more since I’ve been blogging; there are a lot of really talented bands that really need to be heard. We’ll look forward to seeing you play here one day! 🙂
Back to the new album: instrumentals are often picked up by games companies, or as music for TV or film. If you could pick one of the songs from the album to be licensed for use in a film or TV series, which track would you choose and which series or film would you like it to be used for, in an ideal world?
I have my ideas behind where I see certain songs working well, sure…but honestly as long as it’s something cool that will do a service to the music, I’m open to considering anything. There are a few specific uses that I have reached out to people individually for, and some that have approached me as well. We’ll see if any of that plays out…and certainly there are other things that fall in the “oh HELL no” category…but beyond that, I’m crafting a few music videos that I hope will help bring to light some of those concepts. I do very much enjoy the idea of someone hearing this record, getting inspired to create their own film or visual artwork with it, that would certainly be amazing and welcome.
I can definitely see that happening. By the way, I love the video for “Panhandle” and can’t wait to see more videos for these tracks!
What was the last album/EP you bought?
I still listen to late ’70’s – early ’80’s Van Halen, Genesis and The Police recordings…that’s my jam. Joe Jackson is great too, all that stuff. Old Def Leppard recordings…Steve Clark is (was) still to this day one of my favorite guitarists. I was sad to never see him play, though having the honor of performing in a band with Vivian Campbell (in side-band Clock) years later…that was an unexpected and amazing treat. I guess that makes up for it a bit 🙂
That must have been cool 🙂
What are your musical plans for the rest of 2016?
Certainly promoting the COMEDOWN release is a big priority…I’d love to be able to bring this music forward on a bigger stage, either through touring or paired with some of the other ideas we discussed above. As far as other musical offerings, the band OWL in which I play, is in the early stages of crafting some new music for a release, no set date on that yet…there are rumblings of a 2016 summer tour, which would be awesome if it comes together. Chris, Dan and I make a lot of serious noise for just three guys on a stage together.
That’s one show you have to bring to the UK at some stage!
I have a regular performance gig at The Piano Bar in Hollywood, when I’m in town, playing high-energy ragtime/honky-tonk madness with Noah Engh and his band, and we may at some point begin work on a follow-up to our ragtime release from 2015.
That is a cool record 🙂
There’s of course the regular workload of production work with bands and artists in Los Angeles…and perhaps even something entirely new and different, that I am very excited about but not quite willing to share with everyone yet, until it comes to fruition. But if so, it’ll be really badass…ha!
Any other news for your fans?
I’ve got a brand new website at http://www.JAMezilis.com/ – please just visit there, or if you want to subscribe to my email list, you can sign up directly at jmezilis-at-gmail.com. And of course, start saving up your lunch money and pick up a copy of the new record! It’s worth it.
It definitely is! Good luck with the launch, Jason, and I look forward to hearing more music from you!
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