Jace Everett is perhaps best-known for his song Bad Things, which was used as the theme tune to the hugely popular HBO series True Blood.
The success of that song established Jace across the world and has enabled him to tour extensively in support of his music. Today Jace releases his latest album Dust & Dirt, the follow-up to 2013’s Terra Rosa.
When Jace was in the UK recently for a one-off show at The Water Rats, I caught up with him to talk about Dust & Dirt, discuss his position on incorporating politics in his music, and to discuss his plans to return to the UK and Ireland for a more extensive tour later this year.
How’s the UK treating you so far?
A little chilly but other than that I’m pleased to be here.
Your new album is Dust & Dirt. Tell me a little bit about the album and the concept behind it.
There wasn’t really a profound concept. In the writing process there seemed to be some some touchstones. I’m not really known for writing romantic songs or love songs but those seem to have come about fairly strongly on this collection, which is good. It’s just kind of marrying some of my favourite themes.
There’s a little bit of politics and a lot of romance and always with a little bit of a dark bent to certain things. It came about really quickly and really naturally.
You mentioned politics just now. The track What We Do seems to be making a statement about the state of the world right now. Do you ever feel nervous about integrating politics into music or do you feel that you have a duty to do so, as you have this platform?
It’s not like I’m going to lose my career over it (laughs). Perhaps if I was making millions of pounds each year, I might be more careful. I do think artists have a, if not responsibility then certainly a right. A lot of people will complain about an actor or a musician making a political statement that they disagree with, which I always find charming because those same people tend to like the actors and artists that agree with them politically.
It wasn’t necessarily that song specifically, which is as much about the human condition and how our selfishness and our shortsightedness seem to cause political problems. We just don’t seem to embrace empathy and love for one other quite enough to sustain a peaceful world. That’s certainly an angry song. It was actually an improvised lyric that happened all in one take. I apologize for getting a little too angry but I’d just been watching the Presidential debate and I was a little peeved.
I can imagine. There’s much to be peeved about…
There is. It’s profoundly disappointing. This is the world we’re living in and then hopefully I can contribute to making it better as opposed to just whining about it. That’s certainly the ambition.
Why did you choose to name the album Dust & Dirt?
I typically grab an album title out of a verse or just a passing lyric in a given song, and the line ‘dust and dirt’ appears in two separate songs unintentionally. It’s in Woke Up in This Town, the new single, and probably the most country song on the record called Rescue Me. It seemed like there’s kind of two sides to this album so why not play with that imagery?
The sound of every single track is completely different. Is that something that just happened in the writing process or is that just where you are as a musician now?
Sadly it’s kind of where I am and where I’ve been for some time. I have a bit of musical schizophrenia, which is not a good career move but creatively it just seems to be inevitable. I love real country music. I love swampy rock n roll. I love blues. I even love kind of arty pop at times. I just can’t seem to help myself but incorporate all of those into a collection of songs.
Red Revelations was the album that is considered to be your breakthrough. Five of the tracks from that have been used in film and TV. What was that experience like and how important has it been in pushing your career forward?
It’s been phenomenal. Obviously the True Blood Bad Things situation immediately preceded the creation of that album. That was an album where I did have a bit of a vision and direction to make music that in that world a bit. It holds together as an album pretty well from that perspective. When you have a bit of success like the Bad Things True Blood thing, it tends to lead to other successes because people want to participate in that. It was great and I still play a good portion of that record when I tour. People do gravitate towards that album a lot.
That album really opened you up to international success…
It did. It was a less genuinely Nashville country record. There was elements of that but it was also a lot of rock and roll and more experimentation on it, which is more who I am truly. It broke open that mold a little bit and allowed me to dabble in other arenas which is nice.
Have you found as you’ve been touring around the world with your music that the audiences outside of America are very different?
Yeah, each country tends to have a bit of its own national personality. Even playing the Borderline in London is much different than playing The Water Rats or playing up in Glasgow at King Tuts. In Great Britain audiences will vary. The American audience has its own its own thing for sure.
We tend to have a reputation of being very polite and very quiet during performances, which artists can find off putting. Has that been your experience of performing in the UK?
It can be disconcerting to some artists I know. I look at it as a form of respect that people have queued up and paid money to listen to music. I find it quite refreshing. The Scandinavian audience is much the same. They’re very respectful and very attentive to the music. Inversely if you play a pub at 11 o’clock at night a fight might break out so it depends on the room. I’ve always been grateful for the respect afforded me by the British audience.
You recently played in the UK. Do you have any plans to come back before the end of the year?
We’re going to be coming back in October with the band, going up and down the country. We’ll hit Scotland and we’ll probably even pop over to Ireland for a couple of dates, and then all throughout England itself.
What else do you have coming up this year? Will it be mostly touring the world in support of this record?
I’m going to be doing some of that. I’m actually going out for a few weeks this summer as the bass player for a rock band and getting on their tour bus to help them out for a string of dates, which is going to be fun. I don’t get to do that very often. Playing bass is always my favourite thing to do. That’ll be a hoot to be up there with an actual rock n roll band playing somebody else’s music for a while.
How would describe Dust & Dirt if you could only describe it in one sentence?
Oh gosh! A hybrid of traditional country and modern rock for people that like to think.
Jace Everett’s new album Dust & Dirt is available now through Humphead. Watch the video for Woke Up in This Town below: