Published In The January 2014 Issue Of Cycle Source
So you think the life of a singer/rock/country star is all lavish and great? Well, over my course of time being with the magazine, I have had the honor of meeting several music artists, and it is not all roses like the media makes it out to be. Most are just regular people like you and me. It just so happens to be that the job they have chosen to do is what puts them in the spotlight of millions of people and the media. What most people don’t realize is that the music is their career and is something that is their heart and passion. Recently, during the Lone Star Rally in Galveston, I got to meet Jared Blake and his manager Jennifer Rachidi. We spent the entire day riding and chatting. I cannot say enough as to how refreshing it was to meet people who are in the music industry and are honest about what they are trying to accomplish. These are great people in my eyes and will be friends for life! After riding for the day, we took some time to sit and talk with Jared about his career.
He’s what he had to say:
CS: What do you think of Galveston and the Lone Star Rally? JB: It became my favorite when I came here 3 years ago. It’s amazing; I love it. The people are great.
CS: Where are you from? JB: I live in Nashville, but I was born in Arkansas. I moved to Nashville 10 years ago.
CS: What label are you currently signed with? JB: I signed with Skiddco Records about a year ago.
CS: What’s the name of your first single and what’s it about? JB: The song is called “Countryfied.” It’s a song that kinda says who we were because the band gets confused with a rock band a lot since everybody is pretty hardcore. It’s pretty heavy for country. I wanted to make a statement as to what the piece was and what we were.
CS: Who in the music industry has inspired you the most? JB: The guys that have inspired me the most are no doubt Johnny Cash and Guns N’ Roses. To me it’s not about the song or the production or anything else, it’s a matter of who you are. I come from the country so everything is country, but we will rock out!
CS: Other than you on lead vocals and guitar, who else is in the band? JB: There’s Will Gustofson/Chris Sorensen – lead guitar, Allen Jones – drums and Lee Vacaro – bass.
CS: Tell us about your time on The Voice? JB: I was on season one of The Voice and was on Blake Shelton’s team. That was the coolest part of the experience. Being from a small town in Arkansas and being thrown in front of cameras with everything going on it was comforting being on Blake’s team. He seemed just as lost about it as everyone else did. He would do stuff that the producers didn’t want him to do because he didn’t know any better. He’d call at like two in the morning and say, “Let’s go to the karaoke bar.” With Blake, he knew that I had been in Nashville and that I had been doing the music industry thing for a while. So, he kinda took it more in the sense that this is a big opportunity and a big platform and coached me on what to do after The Voice. The most important thing he told me was that it all comes back to the fans so that has been the thing we have embraced. Both of our singles have been inspired by the fans; we asked them what they wanted to hear. We even take advice from them on how they want the music video to look. The new single has been entirely pushed by the fans.
CS: Nashville is a tough town. What was your lowest point and when was it you decided you weren’t giving up? JB: My lowest was also my highest point. The town does really beat you down. I went through my lowest point about 5 years ago when I found myself in rehab from drug addiction. That was the turning point in my life. I woke up in there and said to myself, I didn’t move to town to be this guy…I decided to just focus on the music and to forget about having some sort of stature. I am just going to play music for people who want to hear it.
CS: It is so refreshing to hear someone speak the truth. You rode up along the coast today with us; how long have you been riding? JB: I was slightly intoxicated when I bought my first bike. I told my buddies one night at the bar that I was going to buy a bike in the morning. They all knew I had never ridden before. I remember getting to the Harley dealer and I was still drunk. I asked the sales’ guy to go over all of the basics with me because it had been a while since I had ridden. I got on the bike, jumped the clutch, went up on a curb and it slid on its side down the road. I jumped up and said to the guys at the dealership, ‘You deliver right?’ That bike sat in front of my house for about 2 months before I got back on it.
CS: Through the years did you try this and that in music, and did you ever have to do anything other than music? JB: I worked concrete. I am addicted to pain apparently, being in the music industry. I think you are always trying different things because that is what society tells us; that is what we are supposed to do. Yeah, we tried a lot of different things, but I was always me because I don’t know how not to be. You get tired of chasing something and finally say this is what I do so why don’t we just have fun doin’ it. I think that it comes across differently at that point, and the audience sees it differently too. They feel genuineness about it and they are attracted to that.
CS: So how long you have you guys been out touring? JB: It has been pretty steady for the last three years. Before that it was kind of off and on. Typically we will be out for 2 or 3 weeks sometimes a month to two months and then back in for a couple weeks.
CS: Is it hard to keep 5 guys together like that for so much time on the road? JB: You know it hasn’t been; my guys are just good dudes. I am the kinda cat that can’t deal with drama so if you are bringin’ drama to the table, you gotta go! At this point, they’re all drama free and cool cats. We all get along very well.
CS: Who are some of the most memorable acts that you have played with or shared a bill with? JB: There has been a lot because we do all the Sturgis stuff so you are out there with Saving Able, Three Days Grace, Saliva, all the newer cats like that. We also get grouped in with a lot of the new country acts like Lee Brice, Jarrod Neimann, and Randy Houser. We just played with Brantley Gilbert and Tim McGraw not long ago. Oddly enough the night that I remember the most was being on stage with the Mountain Man from the Oakridge Boys. That is just ‘cause he is the frickin’ Mountain Man from the Oakridge Boys!
CS: Has there been a venue that you just couldn’t believe you were playing? JB: I think that is one of the reasons that this rally is such a big deal to me every year. The first year they brought us out for only one show. Then the next year they immediately had us as the main band. To be standing there with 10 to 20 thousand people just right their filling up all the blocks and running down the streets is pretty insane. The other one was when we were playing with The Band Perry one night. We were the opening band so not everybody had really filled in yet. You’re looking out over this huge area, and all of the sudden when we’re on our third song, this sea of something is moving towards us. You can’t tell what it is ‘cause its dark; you only see it moving forward. Finally, I looked over to my guitar player and said ‘Dude, is that people?’ He was like, “Yeah it is.” We literally watched like 15 to 20 thousand people just swarm to the stage. You can’t explain something like that or what it feels like.
CS: Let’s talk about your new single. Where did it come from? JB: The new single I actually wrote with Carl Bell from Fuel and my producer. The idea came from the girls that we were both dating that were from Florida and LA. We got to talking about what a culture shock it was for the girls the first time we took them to our hometowns. I am from Arkansas and he is from Mississippi. The girls had only been in a beach town or a big city and that was it. They didn’t think people were really like how they are on Duck Dynasty. It was a whole new experience for them. What we noticed with them was if you take someone who is not from the south and put them there for a little while they become addicted. They became instantly southern. The whole basis of this song was just watching this chick kind of fall in love with the country, and just become country.
CS: Where is this all going from here? What do you guys have coming up? JB: The album is coming out around March or so. You can catch the video to “Countryfied” on CMT. CMT is also doing a special on the new project as a breakout artist. Your readers can see us on Facebook or YouTube JaredBlakeMusic. I just want to say thank you again to Jared for taking the time to give us this interview. Make sure you check him out; you won’t be disappointed.