|i n t e r v i e w|
|JASON & THE
|Thunder and Fire (1989)|
|The Nashville-based Jason & the Scorchers released their last studio album in 1996 (Clear Impetuous Morning), yet since that time they’ve continued to release live and re-issue material. They’ve also done one-off gigs now and then (including a series of shows this past July). Meanwhile, Jason Ringenberg has set up his own record company, Courageous Chicken, and releases solo material. Jason has toured extensively this year in support of his latest All Over Creation. The tour included a European jaunt where he and the Scorchers are still revered. Both Lorry Doll and I were huge Scorchers fans and we managed to see almost all their shows in New York (along with Jason’s solo gigs). The Scorchers were a personable bunch and they did a number of interviews for both the magazine and TV versions of NEON (which will eventually appear in our archives). If you aren’t familiar with the band, but enjoy your rock ‘n roll with intense lyrics, strong rhythms and few frills, Jason & the Scorchers are a must-hear group.
|Interview conducted by Lorry Doll
Live photos by Lorry Doll
All rights reserved and copyrighted 1990, 1993, 2003
NEON and blue door productions
|Lost & Found (1985)|
|From the archives: Lorry Doll's 1990 interview with
alt-country rocker Jason Ringenberg
|Jason & the Scorchers were labeled roots-rock, then country-punk and later alt-country, but after 20 years they are still perhaps the purest rock ‘n roll band in America. By 1990 they had released their fifth album Thunder & Fire and had just come off a tour with Bob Dylan (the Scorchers had done a blistering version of Dylan’s “Absolutely Sweet Marie” on their 1983 recording Fervor). It was at this point that NEON’s Lorry Doll had the following chat with frontman Jason Ringenberg:|
|Lorry Doll: Hey, Jason how's it going? How was the tour with Dylan?
Jason Ringenberg: With Bob?! I call him Bob, we're big buddies (laughs) It was a memorable experience. He's a really nice guy. You hear so many horror stories about him and he turned out to be a helluva nice guy.
Your new album, Thunder and Fire, has a bit more lead guitar then your other records. Is that because Andy York has joined the band?
Yeah, I got a couple of them now to keep happy. I got two of those guys now instead of one.
Andy and Warner Hodges are trading off leads?
Andy does some leads and Warner of course still does most of them. Andy's an excellent guitar player.
Yeah, this album is a bit more rocky then Still Standing.
I think it had more energy, anyway.
Is that because of producer Barry Beckett?
It had a lot to do with Barry and a lot to do with our attitude. We had a real fired-up sorta gung-ho attitude on this one. A new band and a new record company (A&M) and it's been a while since we recorded, so we were really into it. I think it does have a lot more energy then Still Standing cause a lot of it we recorded live in the studio. It's attitude wise. Sometimes you feel more high energy then others.
|On the album cover under "Pickers, Writers and Rockers" it mentions the Georgia Satellites, Emmylou Harris and the T-Birds, are they influences of yours?
No, mostly just friends. We wrote with Emmylou Harris' husband (Jason later recorded a duet with Emmylou – Ed.). The T-Birds 'cause we toured with them before and they were always real good to us, really nice guys to work with and the Satellites were old friends.
Do you play guitar?
No, very little, enough to get by. Every now and then I'll play live a little bit just to flesh out the sound.
Any tunes in particular that you like the most to do live?
All of them seem to have a place now and then. "You Got A Way With Me" is real fine and "My Kingdom For A Car" is fun. This is a real fun album to play live because the overdub situation is so sparse that we can do the songs without feeling like it's real empty sounding.
Something really terrible happened on this tour.
Our drummer Perry (Baggs) developed diabetes on the tour and the last week of the tour we had to do the shows acoustically and that was real interesting.
That's a bit of a challenge.
Yeah, it was a challenge. But I came from that tradition anyway. I was used to doing country music and I was used to being up there with my acoustic guitar singing to people. For Warner it really shook him up. We adapted to it well. Dylan liked it better when we did it acoustic. He like watched the shows when it was acoustic. It was really strange. He'd stand right off the side of the stage with his blue sweatshirt on and I'd look over at Warner and I'd see Bob and think, “Oh no, there he is.” It was inspirational and a bit disarming too. There I am singing my songs for Bob Dylan. It was pretty cool.
What do you do to get psyched up before you go on stage?
Well it depends on the night. I try to get off alone or whatever. Like fifteen minutes before the show I have a built in mechanism to kinda clear out my mind and focus on the show.
You sound like a man who enjoys his work.
I enjoy it very much.
|The Original Scorchers: above Warner Hodges and Jeff Johnson; Jason Ringenberg (top of page); missing is drummer Perry Baggs.
Photos by Lorry Doll - 1993 live show at The Grand, New York (formerly The Cat Club)