Dirty Dozen: Jason Haywood

Jason Haywood’s new album Folklore began with the idea of a man walking across a frozen lake in heavy snow, not sure if the sounds he’s hearing are the howling wind, the ghost of his murdered lover or the Devil himself. It was from this idea that the first song ‘The Ballad of Clara Leigh’ came forth. Coming from a more traditional country music background, this album is quite a large step into the unknown for Jason, both lyrically and musically speaking.

 Can you tell us about yourself? Where you’re from and what you’ve been up to over the past few years?
I hail from the east coast of Canada from the small community of Lower Coverdale, New Brunswick. I drive a truck for a living and write songs whenever I can. Over the past 2 years, I’ve been writing this album and raising my (almost) 3 year-old daughter.

How would you describe your music?
I would describe my music as “dark Americana”. I come from a more traditional country music background, but I felt I wanted to write songs from the perspective of a storyteller, rather than the more confessional singer-songwriter approach I had done in past records. These are stories from the darker side of the Americana/Roots music. They range from murder ballads to tales of lost love to stories of shipwrecks and the cruel hand of fate.

Can you tell us a little bit about your influences?
My influences range from Johnny Cash, Gram Parsons and Gene Clark to The Smiths, The Beatles and Elliott Smith. I also love British pop from the 60s (Beatles, Stones, The Zombies,The Yardbirds, early Pink Floyd) and my favourite singer-songwriters would be Townes Van Zandt, Nick Drake, Kris Kristofferson and of course Bob Dylan.

What are you currently promoting?
My latest release “Folklore”.

Have you got a particular song you’ve done that you’re particularly proud of, one that might define you?
The Ballad of Clara Leigh and The Promised Land are two of which I’m particularly proud. Clara Leigh was the starting point for this record – it got the ball rolling, so to speak. I’m not sure where it came from, but it set me on the path to writing these dark stories.

The Promised Land is another song I’m very proud of. It was inspired by all the westerns I’d seen over the years about doomed settlers looking for a better life in the frontier and how badly many of those stories ended.

What are you currently listening to?
Currently, I’m listening to Lera Lynn, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Nick Cave, Kacy & Clayton, Gillian Welch, Jason Isbell, to name but a few.

And your favourite album of all time, the one you couldn’t do without?
That’s a difficult question to answer – there would be a few; George Harrison “All Things Must Pass”, Gene Clark “No Other”, Kacy and Clayton “The Day is Past and Gone”, The Smiths “The Queen is Dead”, Nick Cave “Murder Ballads” – too many to name!

What are your hopes for your future career?
I would love to tour in the UK and Europe, Scandinavia (everywhere, really), have my music included in film soundtracks, and write with some more notable and respected songwriter and play the folk and roots festival circuit.

If money were no object what would be your dream project?
To record my next album (which will likely be a live off the floor country record) with producer Dave Cobb (Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell)

What’s the best thing about being a musician?
Being in the studio and seeing how a song takes shape. It’s always turns out a bit differently from how you originally envisioned it, but that’s a good thing, I think.

And the worst?
The current state of the music industry is disheartening. It’s difficult for artists to make a living and sustain themselves.

Finally, have you anything you’d like to say to the readers of Americana UK?
I hope you all like the new record and I’m really hoping to travel to the UK to play some shows in the near future. My ancestors are from England and I’ve always felt an affinity to your country. Looking forward to seeing you later this year perhaps.

Author: Rudie Hayes

Rudie is the weekly host of the syndicated radio show – The Horseshoe Lounge Music Session – playing the best American Roots and hosting terrific live guests.

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