METAL PULP AND PAPER: Hello Jason. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us here at Metal Pulp And Paper. We appreciate it. So, how are you? How are things going right now?
JASON HARTLESS: Great! Just wrapped up another amazing US tour with Ted Nugent!
MPAP: For those that don’t know you, you’re Jason Hartless, and you play the drums. Let me rephrase that, you play the drums pretty damn good according to a few other legendary drummers out there. Do you feel that you are good, or maybe even one of the best, or do you think you still have so much more to prove?
JASON: I absolutely feel I always need to prove something and always work hard at becoming the best I can be. I always say that 'The day you stop learning, is the day you die', kind of dark, but very true.
MPAP: You started drumming at the very young age of six months and have been playing professionally since the age of five years old, correct?
JASON: Yes, That is correct!
MPAP: Six months old? Most babies are just learning motor skills and trying to sit up or roll over, and you’re already starting to play the drums? Please tell us how this all began for you? Did you start out banging on pots and pans?
JASON: Well, my dad was a professional drummer around the time I was born, so the drums were always in the house. I started banging on my dad’s late 80s Pearl World Series kit about 6 months old and the rest is history!
MPAP: Then when you were eight years old, you recorded your first album with rock legends Corky Laing (Mountain), Richie Scarlet (Ace Frehley) and Jim McCarty (Cactus, The Rockets, Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels). How did you get into the music industry at such an early age?
JASON: I started jamming with some of my dad’s musician friends around the time I was 3 or 4. Then when I was 5, we started doing cover gigs around Detroit, playing tunes such as, "Nantucket Sleighride" by Mountain, "Hocus Pocus" by Focus, a few Alice Cooper tunes and a whole host of others. My dad ended up sending a video of me playing "Nantucket Sleighride" to my godfather Richie Scarlet, who was playing bass for Mountain at the time; Richie then showed the video to Mountain drummer Corky Laing. Corky called my dad up and expressed interest in working together on a record. From the time I was 7 to about 10 years old, Corky would drive to Detroit from Toronto and we would sit behind two drum kits and woodshed for hours. The biggest part of our time working together was him mentoring me on what it takes to be a working professional in the studio and on the road. Those sessions were my first experience as a working studio musician.
MPAP: You are only 23 years old, and you are the drummer for the guitar legend Ted Nugent? Not too many drummers’ starting out can say that? Some drummers that have been around for a while still can’t even say that? So, how does it make you feel that you are so young and have gotten so far as a drummer?
JASON: I have been very fortunate to have been able to play with so many legendary musicians throughout my career; but It takes a lot of hard work, work ethic, drive and knowing the right people at the right time. I kind of live my life modeled after a quote Doc Brown said in Back To The Future, “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything”, to me that quote speaks volumes and really such a true statement.
MPAP: You’ve probably been asked the same drumming questions over and over, so let’s ask a few that you might not have before. Playing drums is difficult enough for the most part, but imagine playing drums with one arm like Rick Allen from the hard-rock band Def Leppard? Could you ever imagine what it would be like?
JASON: It would be a challenge, but Rick is such a great player. Seen Def Leppard many times live and Rick’s smile never leaves his face for 2 hours they are on stage.
MPAP: How many drums are too many? Neil Peart from the classic rock band Rush seemed to have every type of drum there is. Do you think that was just for show, or does he, or any drummer for that matter, really need that many drums?
JASON: I play a very small 'jazz' set up most of the time. I feel most drummers that have big kits do it for show; however, a drummer like Todd Sucherman from Styx, who has a large kit, uses every single piece very tastefully.
MPAP: What does this sentence "the drummer keeps the beat" mean to you? Do you feel you are the backbone of the band?
JASON: That’s the #1 job as a drummer. I call it 'playing time', because a drummer needs to worry about staying in time and holding down the groove of the song.
MPAP: If you could invite three drummers to join you in a duel to the end, who would you want to call and have join you?
JASON: Oooo that’s a tough one… I would love to play next to three of many favorite drummers: Todd Sucherman, Steve Smith, and Vinnie Colaiuta, just so I can get schooled and learn a thing or two.
MPAP: You find yourself stranded on a deserted island, do you build shelter, or a badass drum kit first?
JASON: Shelter, then build some log drums
MPAP: So, honestly, would you recommend that all babies get a drum set at six months old?
JASON: I always encourage kids to at one point in their life growing up to pick up an instrument and make music.
MPAP: And before they even pick up those drumsticks, and made it part of their lifelong passion, what would you want to tell them first? What do they need to know to make it all happen and maybe even get to where you are at today?
JASON: Find a love for the instrument. I am very lucky that I had parents that never pushed me into music and allowed me to find a love for drums on my own.
MPAP: On behalf of myself and Metal Pulp And Paper, I’d like to thank you, Jason, for doing this interview. It was great getting to know you a little bit better. I hope other’s out there reading this enjoyed it as well. We look forward to what you do to finish out 2018 and beyond. Any last words for all your fans out there?
JASON: The new Ted Nugent record titled The Music Made Me Do It will be coming very soon; we tracked it beginning of the year and I am very excited about this record. I have been told that the new record will also include a live DVD from our 2017 tour.
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Jason Hartless / August 23rd, 2018/ Interview #116