It is like a cool breeze on a hot summer day when I come across an independent band that just acts & feels like a major. That is the impression that I got when I came across my guest today, Livy High. Jason Carroll and the guys know exactly what they are doing from the music, image, marketing, & visuals. I caught wind of them after seeing the video for “Stay.” From there I knew I had to have these guys embrace the Skope audience worldwide. Join us this weekend as we chat with lead singer Jason Carroll about everything from politics to starting out, and much more. Who is that blonde woman in the “No Angel” video, wow?!
Stoli: Where are we talking from and where will you be spending the holidays this year?
Jason Carroll: Funny you should ask that because I initially planned on attending Livy High’s induction into the “Wendy’s Chili Hall of Fame” but due to budget constraints, we decided to record new music instead. We can’t afford both and since I’m already an individual inductee, I figured recording was a better use of the time and money. It’s sad too, because it’s a pretty exclusive club. They only let the first 5,000 people with $10,000 join every quarter. Oh well, there’s always January. And to not answer your question, my favorite color is bingo.
Stoli: How did the five of you link up and start calling yourself Livy High?
Jason Carroll: The name ‘Livy High’ was already chosen by the time the other guys came onboard but it was picked because of its historical significance. Livy documented much of Rome’s history and reminds us all that even the best can fall if they don’t stick to their convictions and beliefs. From the time the CD was recorded to the time that the last member joined (Jett) was 19 months. My philosophy was to take my time and find the right guys who weren’t only great players but had character and were enjoyable to be around. I told myself I was going to do this the right way or no way at all; I was tired of half-assing and settling. I figured it would be impossible to assemble such a band in Wichita because while there are lots of awesome musicians, it’s hard to get them together in the same band and drive towards the same goal. I scoured online ads for musicians and Pat was the first guy onboard. It’s funny because he didn’t meet any of the “requirements” that I was looking for. He didn’t have good gear, stage experience, and didn’t sing…but damn, he could play and was a good guy. The former three things were easily fixable and the latter two could not be bought. So I asked him to join. He also shared my philosophy of doing this the right way and being patient with who we bring into the project. The rest of the guys were found by referrals from people in the local scene. The third guy to join was Andy. He’s rock-solid and pretty much the nicest guy ever; we knew he’d be a good fit. Next was Jonny K. I saw Jonny a few years before and he didn’t stick out to me. But after prodding from another local musician, I checked him out again and I was blown away. The band lives and dies with the drummer; I knew this would be the toughest piece to find and was pleasantly surprised to find a guy in Wichita who wasn’t just a human metronome but could do it while singing and putting on a show. And lastly, Jett joined the band. He quickly showed why he is called “The Man” by the rest of the band. He’s pretty much Chuck Norris with long hair. Playing keys, guitar, singing, making complicated stuff work, being the third smartest guy I know…you name it, he does it. Once Jett joined, I personally knew this was it and we could move forward with no doubts.
Stoli: Growing up what 2 artists or bands inspired you to start playing music and when did it become more than a hobby?
Jason Carroll: Although I grew up being a huge fan of 90’s radio rock, I wasn’t inspired to play music by any band on the radio. I used to be scared to death to sing in front of people but years of karaoke helped me get over that. Years later, when I saw another band in Wichita playing and having fun, that’s when I decided to join my first band. I knew it was going to be more than a hobby the very first time I jammed with live musicians. I was hooked.
Stoli: How is the music scene in Wichita, KS and what live venues allowed you to get your feet wet and start performing in front of an audience?
Jason Carroll: Like most cities, the local scene is what you make of it. From our view, it’s awesome. If you get out there and bust your ass, good things will happen. If you have a bad attitude and feel like somebody owes you and your band something, it’s going to suck. This town has great musicians and great people who LOVE to see live music. You just have to go out, find and connect with them, and give them a quality product. Locally, America ’s Pub is a great place to play. They treat us right and it’s a big room.
Stoli: How long were you writing & recording, ‘Love Hate and Everything In Between?’
Jason Carroll: It took a little over 2 months of 14-hour days to write and 3 weeks to record. That was a lonely process. Not having a job, my own place, a band, or any prospects musically made it a very tough time. But I believe that strength comes through persevering through those tough times, even if what you’re doing has no immediate payoff. Anyone can press on in good times; it’s getting through the valleys that reveal who you really are and determines if you have the guts to see your vision through.
Stoli: What message were you trying to send with this album to fans both old & new?
Jason Carroll: I wanted to give people something to relate too other than chicks and beer. There are happy songs and there are sad songs; it’s all been done. But I wanted to approach it my own way and reach people on another level. I want the songs to speak to their soul and let them know it’s ok to hurt, it’s ok to be angry, and it’s ok to love. The main thing is to keep going and press on, no matter how much it pains you. When you can do that with a hook or catchy lyric, it’s a great feeling.
Stoli: Jason Carroll is a lead singer with the vocals and appeal. Was it already known that he was the lead singer & face of Livy High before you even got started?
Jason Carroll: Pat made it immediately known that I better step it up or he was going to take the lead vocal spot and demote me to third Chair Baritone Kazoo. And since no one would hire me as a guitarist, I worked hard (and paid Andy $50 to vote for me) to maintain my role as lead singer. It was a pretty good move considering I’m the one singing on the CD. As far as being the ‘face’ of Livy High, I don’t see it that way. It’s not the ‘Jason’ show and last time I checked, nobody is beating down my door to see me by myself on stage. Everyone in the band works hard and deserves to be in the spotlight. And besides, Jonny is pretty damn handsome.
Stoli: Your new video “Stay” is getting major plays. How was it working with Cassandra Nuss and is the storyline based on real life events?
Jason Carroll: Sandy is a pro and totally nailed her part. I had the luxury of using the song to get my message across; she sold hers without saying a word. She definitely has a bright future in acting. After shooting the video and seeing how hard it is to “act”, I definitely have more respect for the craft. The story line has some relevance to real-life events. Music has a tendency to ruin relationships, so most musicians can relate to it. Everyone else has probably experienced heartache as well. That’s about as ‘real life’ as it gets.[youtube iZKe9O1joWw nolink]
Stoli: What do you want knew fans to know about Livy High that is unique?
Jason Carroll: ‘Unique’ is a tough thing to qualify. In a literal sense, there’s nothing ‘unique’ about any band or their sound unless you count the fact that we’re the only band in Wichita with a guy named ‘Jett’ in it. Not to sound cynical but whenever I hear bands try to justify their ‘uniqueness’, I have to laugh. So I won’t attempt to. As far as something that people don’t know, I’d say that most people don’t know that Jonny and Andy secretly planned the entire demise of ‘Bacon Fortress’ just so they could reunite and make tons of cash…the Bubble Machine debacle was a hoax. But before that could happen, they joined Livy High.
Stoli: You have two videos out for “No Angel” and “Stay.” How important is offering a visual along with your singles?
Jason Carroll: I can’t even begin to express how important it is. Next to having great songs, it’s THE most important thing you can do; it’s instant credibility. It used to be that if you had a CD, you were a big deal. Now that any clown with a computer and the strength to click a mouse can produce music, you have to step it up both with the quality of your recordings and with a video. It not only shows the band in their absolute best light but it also lets people compare the video they had in their mind to the one that was produced by the band. Some bands don’t think videos are important but we definitely do.
Stoli: Would you say that the definition of success in the music business is different today than 15 years ago and where would you like to see Livy High?
Jason Carroll: I wasn’t in a band 15 years ago but it’s definitely changed. From what I’ve read and from how many crappy CDs I bought in the 90’s, all it took was one decent song to get a record deal. Now it appears that not only are deals scarce but the ones that are offered are really bad. You have signed bands that have a few million iTunes downloads and are broke. That’s not right. I really believe that with the right business plan and some effort, you can make a living at this without a major label deal. That’s where I see Livy High going. Stay tuned for the details…
Stoli: The American people are heading to the polls today Nov 2? Do you think it matters who gets elected or all politicians greedy & corrupt?
Jason Carroll: I definitely think it matters. There are crooks everywhere but there’s definitely a contrasting line between the two sides. One side believes in hard work and personal responsibility; the other believes in dependence on government. I’ll let the readers figure out which is which. I don’t get caught up too much in the issues; I like to keep things simple. I ask myself “who can make the best decisions for ME? Me or someone 1,500 miles away?” And I apply that to whatever issue is at hand. To me, the answer is obvious but not everyone feels that way. The bottom line is that if people have more money in their pockets at the end of the day, maybe they’ll buy Livy High merch and will be able to come to shows.
Stoli: You are going into the studio with Rick Beato this month. How did you hook up with him and what are you looking to gain from his expertise?
Jason Carroll: I met Rick 3 years ago when my ex-girlfriend saw his profile on EMI’s website. She thought he’d be awesome to record with, so she proceeded to call the VP of EMI Publishing and get his contact info. It was a pretty ballsy move but it worked out. I’ve already learned a ton about songwriting from him; I’m hoping to further that education when we go down there. I’m also excited to share that experience with a great group of guys.
Stoli: What is coming up for Livy High and where can we follow you online?
Jason Carroll: We’re headed to Atlanta to record with Rick Beato in a few weeks. After that, we have a few shows coming up. We always have things pop up, so following us online is definitely the way to go. You can go to www.livyhigh.com and there are links to all our social sites. Facebook is probably the best one to join if you want to get an inside track to the humor and width of Livy High. All of us log in and all of us update the status. It’s like a box of chocolates!