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INTERVIEW: JASON HARTLESS – August 2019

| 30 August 2019 | Reply

 

According to a recent press release: “Jason Hartless has performed with legendary artists such as Ted Nugent, Joe Lynn Turner & Mitch Ryder. Jason started drumming at the age of 6 months old. He created a buzz in the music industry and at 8 years old he recorded his first album with rock legends Corky Laing (Mountain), Richie Scarlet (Ace Frehley) and Jim McCarty (Cactus, The Rockets, Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels). He started touring at 12 years old and has toured as the support act for Motley Crue, GodSmack, Ted Nugent, Theory of a Deadman, Drowning Pool, Rev Theory, Mountain and Warrior Soul just to name a few. From a young age he has been mentored by drummers such as Corky Laing (Mountain), Tommy Clufetos (Black Sabbath, Rob Zombie), Eric Singer (Kiss, Alice Cooper), Todd Sucherman (Styx), Anton Fig (Renown Session Drummer) and many more. Jason has established himself as a first call session musician in the recording scene in Detroit and has played on countless albums and singles, as well as jingles that have been featured in commercials for Chevy, Art Van Furniture and many more. Jason is currently a student at the renowned Berklee College of Music working towards a masters degree in Music Business.” We spoke with Jason minutes before he hit the stage with Ted Nugent in Lexington, MI the other night…

Toddstar: Thanks for the time Jason. How’s the tour going so far? I know this is an anniversary of sorts for you.

Jason: Well, you know it’s going great. This is my fourth year with Ted and it’s just an absolute pleasure being on with such a legend. Especially being from Detroit, playing with a home town hero is always great.

Toddstar: You talk about a home town hero. You’re in Michigan. What’s it like when you guys play shows like this where you know it’s going to be all Ted all night full on? From a perspective of playing behind him.

Jason: Well it’s great. Again, playing these iconic rock songs with the guy that wrote them is just such an absolute pleasure. And our shows are a lot of improvisation going on, so every show is going to be different. Just him playing his ass off every single night is just phenomenal.

Toddstar: Cool. Now how do you use this experience and these tour dates to help expand your solo horizon and the things that you do on your own when you’re not out with Ted?

Jason: Well I’m actually not a solo artist. I’ve never had a desire to be a solo artist, so I’m a studio and tour musician. Being a hired gun musician playing with whomever hires me to do their tours or studio work. Doing a big tour like this is great because playing with a legend it definitely helps broaden your connections and resume of course. But I’m the type of guy that I live on the road 24/7 all year round.

Toddstar: You mentioned being a hired gun. Do you ever feel pressure to do what the guy before you did when you take over say a role here or any other roles you’ve taken over?

Jason: When I get hired for a gig, the artist says what they’re looking for in a player. I take what they want on top of listening to the record. Trying to listen to what the original recording was and then adding my own flair, too, on top of what the artist wants. And that’s being the guy that can just say yes and do whatever you’re asked to do is really the trick to having a successful career as a hired musician.

Toddstar: You’ve talked about the iconic career of Ted Nugent and he’s got one hell of a catalog. What’s the song that you were most excited about putting your own touch or your own flair on?

Jason: I don’t know. Songs like “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang,” we go into this long, long jam session. So you’re really able to just express yourself musically and play a little over much as opposed to the record which is a little more straightforward. Songs like “Hey Baby” I do tend to play a little different, more of a halftime shuffle as opposed to what the original was. Doing things like that is really, really it depends on the song and it depends on what the artist wants.

Toddstar: Again, with this tour, what’s the one song you guys wish they would throw in the repertoire that you’ve wanted to play live out of his catalog?

Jason: I don’t know. Because we’re always bringing in different songs and deep cuts. Especially this year we’ve got a couple of deep cuts that we’re putting in there. When you’ve got a catalog that big, it’s hard to pick the best one. But at the same time, you’ve got the songs that everybody wants to hear. And if you don’t play “Free For All,” you don’t play “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang,” you don’t play “Cat Scratch Fever” people will get a little angry. So it’s being able to slide in those deep cuts every once in a while is kind of cool.

Toddstar: You mentioned you’ve been out with Ted for four years. I know this is your third round up here at Lexington. What is it about this venue that you like as a performer?

Jason: It’s a cool little small little club which is definitely different for us because we play anywhere from 1,500 seaters to 20,000 seat amphitheaters depending on the market. So coming up here to play in front of 400 people or whatever it is here, it’s really, really awesome for the fans because they get such a different intimate experience seeing such a legend.

Toddstar: With this tour you’re going on, what’s next for you? Do you already have your eye on that next prize, Jason?

Jason: Absolutely. I’m always working. I’m the type of guy that I need to be working 24/7/365. If not, I’ll go crazy. I split my time between Detroit and Nashville doing recording sessions, always in the studio doing jingles or commercials or publishing stuff. Funny, a couple weeks before I left for tour I was in my car listening to the radio and a Chevy commercial came on and I’m like, “Wait. Wait a minute. I think that’s me.” It’s fun because you never know what you’re playing on half the time. You just come in and do what they ask you to do it and then get the check and leave.

Toddstar: I know you’re getting ready to hit the stage, so I’ve got one more for you before we let you go if you don’t mind. What’s the one thing that you’ve played on, other than a jingle maybe, that fans of yours would be surprised to know you’ve played on?

Jason: I recently played on a big band Christmas album. I don’t know if that’s come out yet. I’ve played on a hip hop record about a year ago. I don’t think that’s been out yet, either. And then a couple years ago I played on an acid jazz track for the guitar player of Question Mark and the Mysterians. It was playing on the Weather Channel and something like this. Again, that’s why as a studio player I love doing it because it’s such a large variety of stuff that you’re doing. And it’s going to be different every single day. You’re not focused on just doing rock music.

Toddstar: Awesome. Well thank you so much for your time. We look forward to the show.

Jason: Awesome.

JASON HARTLESS LINKS:

OFFICIAL SITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

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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