Interview: Jason Devore

Interview: Jason Devore

After more than three years, Authority Zero frontman Jason DeVore is releasing a follow up to his first solo-release, Conviction (The Smokehouse Sessions). Again partnering with producer, friend and former Authority band mate Bryan Sandell, DeVore has created the 14-track, infectiously melodic Conviction 2 (The Crooked Path). The Pier caught up with the singer via telephone just two days after he returned from his first European tour with Authority. DeVore graciously talked about what it was like performing across the pond, his inspirations for and how he benefits as a musician from going solo to explore his musical skills.

The Pier: Conviction 2, the Crooked Path is pretty different than your work as frontman for Authority Zero. It’s much more melodic and acoustic driven. So, as a musician, why do you like to do the solo albums vs. just fronting your band?
Devore: The solo stuff started years ago with the first Conviction and came about because, obviously, we have a lot of time on the road while touring and going from town to town. So, I started messing around and pushing myself to learn more about playing acoustic and, at the same time, my writing was going in a different direction and coming from a more natural place, which made the lyrical content a little more personal. Authority Zero obviously mixes a lot different genres and sounds, but the stuff I was playing around with didn’t fit any of it and I didn’t want to throw it away. Then it all came together with my buddy Bryan. He had this home studio and asked if I wanted to lay it down and before we knew it we had this whole album. It was fun when I started playing the stripped-down music around town, rather than full on productions and going through all the activity that goes into being in a full band and all the politics of that stuff. It’s kind of my get away from all that. After so many years of doing music under those conditions, I still love it with all my heart, but it’s a nice separate release when I can sit back and relax and really sing a different style and actually use my voice a little more.

The Pier: Would you say one of the things you like about doing the solo stuff is it allows for a more intimate vibe between you and your listeners, both in the album format and, especially, when playing live?
Devore: Definitely, and that’s what’s so cool about it. It’s raw and stripped down and we don’t do real big shows with the acoustic stuff. It’s more of a coffeehouse-type setting or a small club deal with the audience right there. So, I can actually interact with them without screaming at ‘em or yelling at an entire crowd. We kind of talk back and forth and it is a totally cool, different outlet.

The Pier: The lyrics on Crooked Path are very expressive. What were you trying to communicate with this album as far as the lyrical content?
Devore: A lot of the songs are just stories. Like “Carefree Highway” is about when I was working my day job when I wasn’t touring with Authority and I’d drive all around the city for the job, like 130 miles each day. It had already caused my car to break down and I was borrowing a friend’s car when the same thing happened out by Carefree Highway in Phoenix. So, it was kind of a cheesy way for the title to come about, but I was stuck out there for five hours with my acoustic waiting for a tow truck. So, I actually wrote the song to kill time and it ended up being more of a life story, but it came from being broken down on the side of the road. So, it’s just about the cool timing, observing what’s going on around me and, I realized, I can use the written word to pair things in my life and to express those things in a more melodic way – it’s kind of hard to explain (laughs).

As for all the different melodies and lyrics of the songwriting process, it just comes to me from being in a place and experiencing that place in a certain moment. There can be an event that happens on the road and you start sketching down the emotions and feelings at that time, just in a more poem type structure than writing out full sentences of emotions and frustrations.

The Pier: Tell me a little about the title track as far as what it’s about and how it shows where you are now as a musician, compared to five or so years ago with Conviction 1, The Smokehouse Sessions.
Devore: The idea behind Crooked Path is my choosing to do music for more than half my life now, since the whole thing got started up back in the day with Authority, and all the ups and downs. It’s about the things a lot of people hope to do, and want to take the certain steps to do, but the reality is sometimes you can’t. You have to work, you can’t afford it, you have a family and all these different things, which are sometimes an obstacle to the aspirations you had as a kid. So, mine is just a different path than a lot of people would take. It’s a path with a lot of different lifestyle things involved with it, like all the traveling and being away from family . It’s just not the straight and narrow path. People are always telling others, “you need to go to college and you need to get this kind of job,” and I’ve done completely the opposite of all that. I’ve woven in and out of things and I’m still alive, able to follow my dreams and have a lot of crazy adventures along the way. The album kind of affirms how I’ve gone through this pretty cool leap of faith.

The Pier: So, you were just in Europe with Authority Zero, correct? Where did you guys go? Any memorable shows you can tell me about?
Devore: Yea, we just did our first European and UK tour. We went to Belgium, France, Luxemburg and United Kingdom. It was insane and really cool. Obviously, some of the shows were a thin crowd because they didn’t know who we were. There were some shows with like 20 kids and we would play like there were 1,000, because hopefully next time they’ll bring 20 more kids. One of my favorite shows we played was the first one in Belgium. It was amazing. There were probably a couple hundred people and they just went freakin’ ape-shit — flyin’ all over the stage and on top on each other from start to finish. It was a really cool entry into the tour, but it also set the bar really high. Still, it’s really refreshing to go over and do shows out of your normal element, so you don’t feel like you’re just going in circles, playing for the same group of kids. And it just opens up the world a little bit and I think we’re headed back in July again to do a couple festivals.

The Pier: Anything else you would like to let fans know about? Perhaps what you’ll be up to in the coming months of twenty-eleven?
Devore: I’ll be out supporting the new album and then I’m headed out in April with Authority for two weeks, touring with Unwritten Law, who also has a new album coming out. Then we might do another Canadian tour in May leading into June and, other than that, I’m just writing already for the new record and trying to get things in motion so it won’t be another three year period before getting out new music again.

Jason Devore Links:
Jason Devore Website
Jason Devore Facebook
Jason Devore YouTube

– Interview by: Amber McDonald
[Read Amber Mcdonald’s album review of Conviction 2 (Crooked Path) by clicking HERE]
– Photos by: David Norris