Jason Collett Interview

Jason Collett has been playing music for over twenty years, both as a member of Candian indie powerhouse Broken Social Scene and as a solo artists. Although he’s visited Australia with Broken Social Scene in Janauary he will be visting our shores as a solo artist for the first time, joined by fellow Canadians Zeus.  I was lucky enough to interview him before he starts the tour.

Electric Skeleton: Do you prefer playing with Broken Social Scene or as a solo artist?

Jason Collett: It’s fun taking a back seat and not concerning yourself with navigating, but ultimately I like being in the driver’s seat.

ES:You will be playing Peats Ridge festival this year. Do you enjoy festivals or prefer playing smaller shows?

JC: Festivals are fun for their social aspect, it’s an opportunity to hang with your peers for a few days, but I love nothing more than playing in a packed, sweaty club where the energy is reciprocated because the room is a defined space. Playing outside only begins to resemble this when night falls and the lights come on. Sunshine and open-air are nice for camping, but not so conducive to rock ‘n roll.

ES: In Australia it seems that bands have to get noticed overseas before they can get noticed here. Is it a similar situation in Canada?

JC:  you mean to say that you’re a nation of second-guessing, self-doubters, reluctant to celebrate your own talent? Awesome, I’ll feel right at home then.

ES:  You’ve been playing music for twenty years. Has the internet changed how you go about promoting and releasing music?

JC: Well, I wasn’t doing interviews over the internet 20 years ago, but it’s changed how my label and management operate more than it’s changed how I do my thing. Much to their chagrin, I’m just not interested in all the social media hustle. I miss the mystique that rocknroll had in my youth, there’s not much left to the imagination these days. I feel the time spent schilling tweets or blogging about what I ate for breakfast is time robbed from creating. It just doesn’t resonate with me.

ES: How hard is it to juggle having a family when you’re a touring musician?

JC: Family is hard to juggle for most folks, but parenting has become a bit of a fetish these days. Far too many people use it as an excuse to give up being engaged in work they’re passionate about. Kids need to grow up seeing their parents engaged in the world, how else do they learn to do the same? Doing what I do requires some sacrifice on my family’s part, but the flip-side is that when I’m home, I’m not rushing out the door at 8am five days of the week.

ES: This will be your first lo tour to Australia. Is there anything you’re planning to see or do?

JC: The thing about touring is you can’t plan too much. It’s better to be open to whatever comes up. You hope the venue is in an interesting neighbourhood and you can find a decent coffee and maybe a good bookshop in the few hours you have before leaving town again. However, given that we’re touring with Dead Letter Chorus, I plan on letting them be our tour guides.

ES: What are you listening to at the moment?

JC: Al Tuck. He’s the best writer of my generation in Canada. Only problem is, he’s not ventured outside of Canada, so nobody in Canada knows who he is yet. Maybe our two countries should have an unheralded-artist exchange program. We’ll celebrate yours and you celebrate ours and then they won’t have to be imports to their native lands.


The tour dates are:

Thursday 6th January 2011: The Brass Monkey – Cronulla

Friday 7th January 2011: Oxford Arts Factory – Sydney

Saturday 8th January 2011: Northcote Social Club – Melbourne

Sunday 9th January 2011: Northcote Social Club – Melbourne

Wednesday 12th January 2011: The Great Northern – Newcastle

Thursday 13th January 2011: The Zoo – Brisbane

Friday 14th January 2011: Joe’s Waterhole – Eumundi

Saturday 15th January 2011: The Loft – Gold Coast

Sunday 16th January 2011: The Northern – Byron Bay (NSW)

Jason Collett’s latest album Rat A Tat Tat and Zeus’ debut album Say Us are both out now on Arts & Crafts.


The Quarry Mountain Dead Rats, Loren and Carus, NSC 9/12/10

Photo: Sabrina Robertson

December is a month full of eating too much, awkward work functions and hearing endless Christmas carols about snow when it’s thirty-five degrees every time you go shopping. Thankfully, it’s also the month of Christmas gigs.

The Quarry Mountain Dead Rats kicked off tonight’s show at the Northcote Social Club  with their infectious brand of bluegrass. While banjos and washboards are an odd sight at a city venue, most of the crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves. The dancing from some punters alone was enough to dispel the myth that Melbourne crowds are inattentive.

Loren’s set was very different to the Quarry Mountain Dead Rats, with many audience members sitting on the floor. This wasn’t out of boredom however, as crowd joined him for a sing-a-long. Instead of using a setlist, Loren asked the crowd to request songs and despite the shouting and confusion, it led to a set of old favourites with the odd new track thrown in. His cover of his sister Freya Hanley’s song Come Around, an ode to being stood up for a date caused a lot of cheering from the female members of the audience. While he comes from the school of lazy chorus writing, it lent itself perfectly to this kind of setting and tracks like Good Seed and Island Man went down incredibly well.

After a short wait, Carus and his band took to the stage. As soon as their first song started it was clear that we would get to see more of Carus’ rock side than his usual solo set delivers. Tracks like Burn and Doing Time went down well with the restless crowd, however the same cannot be said for the new songs and some of the quieter moments. While these songs were all of the same standard, it was clear the crowd just wanted to have a good time. As usual, Carus brought a milk crate and his band to the middle of the crowd to perform his tale of prison love Doing Time and one other song before making his way back on stage. He asked Loren back on stage and after retelling the story of how they met, the pair launched into Thrown, which tonight was dedicated to Shaun O’Callaghan, a sound engineer who recently passed away. They finished the night with a reggae cover of Men At Work’s Land  Down Under before Greg Arnold stepped away form the keyboard to lead a cover of Happy Birthday Helen.

While the crowd may have been a bit restless, the gig showcased some of the best talent in the Australian folk scene. Here’s hoping the 2011 show will be just as good.

Tuesday Covers 7/12/10

It’s about time I started this covers thing again.

The Antlers recorded a cover of The Xx’s VCR quite a while ago, and like everything else they’ve recorded, it’s a tad depressing, but strangely addictive. Sometimes I seriously wonder about Peter Silberman’s mental health.

The Antlers- VCR (The Xx Cover).mp3

A few years ago a Finn Brothers tribute album She Will Have Her Way featured cover songs from female artists. Now a follow-up compilation, He Will Have His Way gives the blokes a go at covering New Zealand’s finest exports. While most of the album is a bit hit and miss, which is to be expected from this kind of thing, Boy and Bear’s cover of Fall At Your Feet is everything a cover should be. It retains the spirit of the original while distinctly being a Boy and Bear Song. If you haven’t heard it yet, it’s a must listen.

Boy and Bear Fall At Your Feet (Crowded House Cover).mp3