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A Dirty Dozen with BRAD JACKSON from THE FIGHTING SIDE – August 2023

| 23 August 2023 | Reply

Photo credit: Josh Basco

According to a recent press release: “St. Louis-based group The Fighting Side has been bringing their brand of honkytonk rock ‘n’ roll to cities across the US for the better part of a decade. From their debut release Soggy Afternoon in 2016 to their newest EP Hellbent on Hardtimes (2022), the band’s sound continues to grow and mature along with its members.” We get Brad to discuss new music, influences, and more.

1. Tell us a little about your latest release. What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through? Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

“Fires” is just a really tight, really classic rock ‘n’ roll song about protecting your emotional energy and having the wisdom to know when to share your flame with others. The song was one of many of ours to come to life over the pandemic years. I was on a solo camping trip and kinda zoned out staring into the fire and some of the lines came to me. Normally I’d jot ‘em down and move on, but I had the whole thing together within the hour. In the following years, the lyrics proved to be an important reminder for me, so I started to really feel the message a lot. We’re really excited to release it.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Even though I was raised on good classic country, I fell into punk rock pretty early on. By 14, I was already playing bass in a basement band called Don’t Feed The Fat Kid. I’m not sure why or how, but it’s just what we all did. There were a lot of people in and around our crowd that played an instrument then, but don’t play now. Some groups of kids are into skateboarding or video games, we were into playing terrible music in each other’s basements. Haha. Right before graduation, a band from Baltimore took me out on Warped Tour as a merch guy, and I just never stopped. I kept myself on the road roughly 7 or 8 months of the year for the following 7 years. About the time I turned 24, I was feeling a little too old for Punk and I decided to go back to my roots, moved down to the Gulf of Mexico, and cut my teeth on classic country, playing for tourists in the beach bars. The rest kind of happened from there.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

I’ve always had a pretty eclectic taste in music. Back in the cassette days, I raided my dad’s collection for old Waylon Jennings and George Jones, even a little Randy Travis if you can believe it. I had some old Billy Joel and a bunch of early Green Day stuff. This was all around 5th grade. A lot of my friends were getting into Nirvana, and I was digging into all the John Prine my dad had. By the time I got into high school, I was really feeling Bad Religion, Propagandhi, Rancid, and early Blink-182. It really felt like those were the people having the most fun. I was so engrossed in that world that I didn’t even hear about bands like Uncle Tupelo, Lucero, or Old 97s until my mid twenties. I was already relatively obsessed with trying to combine the two types of music I grew up with, and somebody literally handed me a copy of Hitchhike to Rome. I was already touring with a band I’d put together out of Nashville, doing the casino circuit and pretty much hating every part of it but the money, and it really set me on a course. It couldn’t have been more than a couple years before I moved back to St Louis and got together with a bunch of high school buddies that still wanted to play and we started making this happen.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Man, this is definitely a multi-part question. In terms of what I think is attainable, people whose songwriting I really admire and would love to work with, I would immediately have to say Hayes Carll. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better writer. Now, for the totally out there, unexpected, pipe dream, probably most likely never going to happen kind of thing…Celine Dion. The pipes, man. Can you imagine? We’d be breaking hearts and taking names.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

I’m all about spending a ton of time with my kids. When they are with their mama, I have some old buddies that I play some video games with. I love to cook. I’m very involved with the local music scene in St Louis. Quality time with my partner, Merril. Just living out here!

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

We struggle a little bit with this description. It’s all a little too rock n roll for country. A little too country for punk. We normally just go with honky tonk rock n roll. We’ve recently had reviewers compare us to Green Day, and another to Chris Stapleton. Ultimately, art is always subjective and people will relate you to whatever makes sense in their head, so I don’t mind. I always think it’s really interesting to hear where people categorize us. A guy in a bar one time told us that we sounded exactly like Nickelback. That one was unacceptable.

Artwork credit: Nick Nihira / Kneehigh Prints

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Seth and I do a lot of cooking. Ben is pretty killer on a grill. Dave is brewing up the hot tea. Timmy loves a good whiskey. I roll a mean joint. Seth and Dave will break out the acoustic guitars for sure.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

Easy. Alan Jackson. I had conned my way into Miranda Lambert’s birthday party. I was big-wigging the best I could, being the only guy dressed in regular clothes while all the other dudes were in tuxedos and what not. Ty Pennington from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was telling some story that I was listening to, and I glanced to my right and then about 6 inches up and there he was. I’m tall and apparently exactly the same height, but I felt so small standing next to him. I said the stupidest thing ever: “Hey, man, I’m *Brad* Jackson.” He was pretty unimpressed.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

For me, making music is really just about that mutual energy exchange between fans and artists. You create something, you package it, you deliver it, and then you feel when people feel it. I think that exchange is literally what every performer feeds on. It’s why people pack into venues, so that artists they love can send that way of energy out and they can send theirs back. It’s a beautiful symbiosis. I don’t understand when musicians say they are going to stop. I don’t know how to stop. I’ve always done a lot of things, but I’m pretty sure I will always also do this.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

I’ve never had an interviewer ask me what I wanted for lunch. Answer: falafel. Or tacos. Thanks.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I would have a totally different conversation with Alan Jackson.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Not a record, per se, but I would have loved to be a featured artist on The Last Waltz. Tons of my heroes in that performance. Absolutely lightning captured in a bottle.




Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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