EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Jason Manns about Covers With Friends, The Station Breaks and What’s Next!
We recently got the chance to interview Jason Manns! He’s a fantastic musician who’s latest album, Covers with Friends debuted at #8 on ITunes (we can’t stop listening to this album!) For the album, Jason rounded up a few of his friends including Jensen Ackles, Rob Benedict, Richard Speight, Jr., Michael Rosenbaum and more to sing covers of some beloved songs.
A few days ago Jason launched a new Kickstarter for his next album, the 3rd installment of “Covers with Friends”. There are some great rewards for donating (other than receiving a great album!), so make sure you check the Kickstarter out!
Jason’s frequently a part of Creation Entertainment’s Supernatural conventions, where fans can see him perform, buy his albums and meet him.
Aside from his solo work, Jason is also a part of The Station Breaks, who have a show coming up in Hollywood in November.
We got the chance to ask him a few questions about Covers with Friends, The Station Breaks, the new album, the Supernatural Fandom and more.
Nerds and Beyond: Just the other day you announced the 3rd installment of “Covers with Friends”. This includes an exciting Kickstarter campaign. You also listed a lot of people that you would be excited to collaborate with, Mark Sheppard already agreed to be part of it. Can you share more about your next steps in moving forward with this project?
Jason: Well, when dealing with so many busy people it’s a whole lot of planning meets a little bit of scattershot. I’ve got a few regulars that I know will be on the album that I don’t even have to ask. I’ve got a few I’m almost positive will say yes, and a few I’m pretty sure will say no… haha. Once I’ve got a tentative list of friends I’m going to be working with, I usually pick 10-15 songs I like and I think the fans will like. Then I try my best to match them up with the person I think will best shine on them. I’ll then send over the song with a description of how I picture the song working with them, i.e. we’re going to slow it down and do an acoustic version with a cello coming in half way through, and see what they think about it. I just have ideas and I throw them out, and I’m not offended in the slightest if someone isn’t feeling that song or arrangement, it’s usually just a starting point. Sometimes it’s a “sounds great, lets do that” and sometimes is a “I don’t like that song.” Either one of those is fine. Sometimes folks have a song they really want to do, and I’m always down to see if we can make it work. Of course, if we’re doing a pop/rock album and someone loves showtunes… we may have to compromise a little and find a song we both like and will fit on the the record. So once we’ve got the track list, I’ll disappear into the studio with my guys and we’ll produce the record usually with me singing scratch tracks for all the songs, and then I try to wrangle everyone in to the studio in LA if they can, or I’ll go meet them wherever they are and find a studio there to replace my scratch track vocals with the real thing. Once the ground work is laid it’s relatively easy to find a spot to lay down vocals. Then once I’ve got all the voices we go back in the studio for bells, whistles, and finishing touches. That’s it in a nutshell!
Nerds and Beyond: Is there anyone you’re especially excited to collaborate with? Are there any songs you are hoping make it on the album?
Jason: Well as you mentioned, the only officially confirmed guest at this point is Mark Sheppard and I’m really stoked about working with him. I have no idea yet what we’ll end up doing. He’s a heck of a drummer, as we all know, so I can think of a few fun tunes he can hit on. But most people also don’t know that he can also sing and play the guitar… No idea if he’ll wanna throw down like that on this album, but I look forward to seeing what we end up doing! As far as songs I hope make it on the album.. yes there are, but I’m gonna leave it at that for now. 😉
Nerds and Beyond: Your current “Covers with Friends” album has had a very positive reception. How do you feel about the completion of that project? Do you have a favorite song from the album that you enjoy performing live?
Jason: With the success of Supernatural and the truly amazing fanbase it has, plus the success of the cast and all those guys playing music regularly now at conventions, I knew it would be a popular album. I knew those guys are talented enough to make a great record, so for me it was just a matter of not screwing it up! Seeing the reception that is has gotten both in and out of the fandom has been really amazing. Obviously I wanted to make a good record, but beyond that, I was honored that those guys trusted me with their voices and had faith that I would deliver a good product. I’m pretty sure everyone is happy with the results and honestly to me that’s more important than the fact that I saw my album at #8 on iTunes. (Very close second on that list of importance though!) as far as a favorite song goes, I really can’t pick just one. I really love the way the Weight had 5 singers and harmonies, and speaking of harmonies, that 4 part harmony in Wagon Wheel was fun! I also love the grit in Come Together, and of course, Simple Man turned out even better than I was expecting, and I always expect a lot when Jensen’s singing a classic rock tune!
Nerds and Beyond: Are there any songs that you really wanted to do on “Covers with Friends” but weren’t able to?
Jason: There were, but I might try to put them on the next one, so I don’t wanna ruin the surprise!
Nerds and Beyond: Is there any more news on The Station Breaks?
Jason: yes! We’re in the process of mixing our debut album right now, and we should have a release date soon! I’m guessing it’ll be out in the next month or so. We have a free show at The 3 of Clubs in Hollywood Nov. 17th, with the Brian Buckley Band, and hopefully something in LA in Dec. before we head out on tour to Germany, The UK, and The Netherlands in Feb. Those tickets will be on sale in the next week or so.
Nerds and Beyond: How has being part of the Supernatural family impacted your life? What is your experience with being part of the fan convention experience?
Jason: Well how much space do we have? In short, the SPN fam is everything. I’m reminded daily how lucky I am to be accepted into this phenomenon of a fandom. It’s the absolute best of both worlds. It’s really comparatively a small family compared with some shows, so you feel a bit more connected, but there really is no competition when it comes to the ability to get things done. I don’t hesitate to say I owe the vast majority of my career to the SPN fans, which is why I don’t ever hesitate to thank them when I can. As far as the conventions go, there is no circus I’d rather be a part of. I’ve had a bit of a crazy perspective on it as I played at the very first SPN con a decade ago, (long story, but having nothing to do with the show, I was just there as entertainment because they needed someone to fill a night, and Jensen threw my hat in the ring) over the last 10 years, it’s been awesome to see the “newbies” turn into the “Kings” and seeing guys like Misha go from “what the heck is this?” to making the world a better place while winning world records. We as the performers really are best friends. Some of us have been friends for 15 years, and some quite a bit less, but we are all truly a family. We hang in the off time, and see each other at our BBQs and birthday parties. So to travel the world playing music to awesome fans, while hanging with your best friends… I mean, if there is a better job than that I’ve not seen it yet.