Sunday, July 13, 2008
An Interview with Jasmine Cain of the Jasmine Cain Band
If you haven't heard the music of The Jasmine Cain Band you are missing out! I discovered "The Inside", the band's first album, about a year back. I was blown away! Every song is amazing on this album and you find yourself listening to it over and over again and before you know it you have memorized every word. I contacted Jasmine to tell her how much I loved her album and to ask her a couple questions about the song "November". I never thought I'd hear back from her but I was so wrong. A week or so after I sent my e-mail I was pleasantly surprised to find a reply from Jasmine thanking me for my support and answering my question about "November". I was instantly impressed. In all my years of loving music I had never had a performer respond to anything. Recently when the band released their 2nd album, "Locks and Keys" I contacted Jasmine to see if she'd do an interview. She agreed...I'm sure by the time you are through reading this interview you will be a fan too! She's an amazing woman who has total passion for what she does! And she loves entertaining bikers too! BONUS!!!
If you could give me a bio that would be great....where u grew up, siblings, schools, etc...
I was born in Sturgis and grew up in rural South Dakota on a cattle ranch. I have 3 brothers (1 older and 2 younger). I went to school in a 2 room school house with one teacher that taught kindergarten through 8th grade. After that you had to move to a nearby town to continue through high school. I rode my horse to school through grade school and moved out of the house when I was 13 years old to go to high school. I graduated from Faith HS in 1996 and was a track and volleyball stand out. I still hold the school, conference, and regional record in the 100 meter. I went to college for one year in Bismark, ND where I studied Athletic Training in hopes of going into Physical Therapy. I had to leave that college due to an ex-boyfriend who continued to violate a restraining order against him but I did end up studying dental assisting at a vocational college in Rapid City, SD. I have always had a fascination with music and sound. Even though I have no formal training, I have always been able to hear interesting and unusual pieces of music in my head. In 2003, I decided that it was time to pursue my career seriously and moved to Tennessee. At that point I had already put in 19 years of playing bar gigs with various bands. Stage experience was my strength and I soon found that I was able to really capture a crowd with my music.
I haven't been writing long, but I have been writing with complete determination to be one of the best. I want to be different, I want to be unique. That's a hard thing to do. But I will find it and I will do it.
Since I was raised on country music, tapped into bluegrass, had a love affair with the blues and R & B, and then discovered the power of rock....I was really confused on which genre I felt more passionate about performing. Against the advice of all industry people, I chose to be all of those things because that's me, so no matter what I'm playing at the time, it's all inside me. When I actually chose what it was I wanted to do, there was one thing that stood out about rock music that no other form of music was able to compete with......the energy. I am addicted to the energy on stage. People used to go to concerts years ago (what happened, by the way?) partially to hear good music and mostly to get hyped up on the energy. You feed off of it...you crave it and when it's being delivered you have your fix. The energy is undeniable. I want everyone in my audience to feel like they have the power to do something with their lives and make a difference. Too many people count on someone else to take control and change something; it's really up to you. Be the best, be different, take control, and make a difference. Find your passion and deliver it. That's why we're here.
When did you know you wanted to be a singer/songwriter?
Every year my Dad would ask me on my birthday what I wanted to be when I grew up. I remember telling him at 4 years old I wanted to be a singer. Every year when he asked me I would tell him the same thing. I didn’t know if I would ever be a great songwriter because I didn’t have anyone to learn from and really didn’t know how to even begin writing a song. I stumbled into songwriting because I had vivid dreams that would play out like movies in my mind and all throughout the movie that played out in my head while I slept would be accompanied by a soundtrack. When I would wake up, I would hear a song playing over and over….much like you do when you sing in the shower in the morning and that song sticks in your head all day…only these were songs I’ve never heard before. I started writing them down after I realized they were a gift and I was actually channeling from a higher power. I still don’t consider myself a songwriter because I don’t sit down and create a song in a conscious state of mind.
Where was the first venue that you played?
I’m not sure, but I would guess it to be at the Opal Community Hall where our ranch was. My Dad was on the hall board and my brothers and I had a country band. We would set up our gear and play all night and people would come from hundreds of miles around and party. It was BYOB so even minors were there getting hammered and everyone would usually camp out there. We would charge $4 per person at the gate and there would be hundreds of people there. It was really something to see. All the older people and young children would sit in the hall and dance and listen to the music and all the hell-raisers would be outside drinking. It was outdoor toilets only and they didn’t allow any kind of drinks in the upstairs part of the hall because they didn’t want people spilling on the nice hardwood floors. At midnight all the rancher’s wives would go downstairs and serve food to anyone who was hungry. Hot dogs, hamburgers, and sloppy joes were usually on the menu. It was a last minute attempt to temporarily sober anyone up who was planning on trying to drive home from there. Plenty of coffee and soft drinks also. It was really unusual now that I think about it. Like a good old fashioned hoe down or something. They were really popular and people would always ask when the next one was going to be. Most of the time they were held in the fall after the kids were back in high school or in the early spring before calving season.
Did you sing your own songs at first or did you do covers or both?
Always covers. I didn’t start writing my own songs until about 10 years ago. I’ve been playing music in bars, etc for around 24 years, so I had quite a jump start on the stage before I ever started writing. I played in every kind of cover band known to man-kind. Country was the first, then bluegrass, blues, funk, hip-hop, rhythm & blues, soul, and any kind of rock I could get my hands on. I thought by being well rounded musically I would be a better writer and more versatile so I could fill in with any band in any situation. It worked.
How did you meet your band members?
I met my guitarist, Jeff Caughron, while he was playing in another band called Deep Shag. They were based out of Memphis. I had taken a break from playing live after 3 years of touring on my first album, The Inside, and I was working for my boyfriend at the time at the Full Throttle Saloon. I designed, ordered, printed, and stocked all the merchandise, helped build, insulate, and furnish 100 cabins, booked all the bands for 2 different stages for the week of Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and I wasn’t really planning on playing that year even though I had been the house band every year since it opened in 2000. He told me a month before Rally that he needed me to perform and I didn’t have a band together so I hired an entire band to back me up during the week. It was totally thrown together. He was so easy to be around and incredibly talented. I was blown away. I joined up with the band temporarily after the Rally but quit after just a short time because I just wasn’t meant to be a side person. He quit the band a few months later and came to join me in my project.
David Michael Thomas is my keyboardist/rhythm guitarist and I’ve known him for 5 years or so. I met him almost immediately after I moved to Tennessee in January 2003. At the time David was battling alcoholism and after one failed writing appointment I could tell he wasn’t going to be reliable so I didn’t use him for anything for years. We did, however become good friends and after getting to know him a little better I realized that he was a genuine, caring, compassionate, sensitive guy who had more talent in his little finger than most people do in a lifetime of learning. I encouraged him to get sober and in the fall of 2006 he finally checked into rehab and kicked the habit. He’s been sober for over 600 days now and each day he reminds me what day it is. He’s been by my side ever since he came back from rehab. He continues to impress me with his talent. There is no end to what he can do.
We have went through drummers much like the movie Spinal Tap, but the guy I would always consider to be “my drummer” is Brian Hobaugh. Brian and I moved from South Dakota to Tennessee together in January 2003 with nothing more than a little cash and a big dream. We struggled through a lot of really hard times and through it all he remained supportive. He continues to be my biggest cheerleader and will remain a member of this band whether he’s actually her or not. He played the drum tracks on both albums and is always the first one I call with any new news. He taught me how to survive on the road and took care of me when I was feeling down. Even though we would go days without eating sometimes…he never complained. He will always be involved with this project.
How many days a year do you work?
It really depends. I’ve taken a whole year off to work for Full Throttle, but I played around 200 or more dates a year for 3 years leading up to that. I recorded an album last year and that took 4 or 5 months of my time so I didn’t do as many dates then either. The whole point of this is to try and work less and actually make more. I’ve done a lot of damage to my voice by overworking it. I did what I had to do to get our name out there. I’m just trying to take better care of myself now.
What has it been like doing the Easyrider events?
John Green from Easyrider Events basically saved my life. I came out of the Full Throttle deal with $60,000 credit card debt and no job. I didn’t get paid for the work I had done and he viewed me as a traitor for leaving and was “teaching me a lesson”. I had the papers in front of me to file for bankruptcy but I just couldn’t sign on the dotted line. I decided to fight it and work my ass off to get out of the hole. It seemed like an impossible feat and I’m still working on it (3 years later) but I’m not going down that easily. I’m going to make it work. I’m too stubborn. I called John and told him the situation and said I needed a job. He hired me immediately to do all the shows except for the West Coast shows. I played every show as if it were my last and poured my heart and soul into each performance. It paid off and he hired me to headline all the shows for 2008. He has continued to take care of me by booking me in the Broken Spoke in Sturgis for the last 2 years and involving me in any major event that they take part in. He is a constant supporter and I owe him a great deal. Support Easyrider Events….they make dreams come true. He really is a dreamer just like me. I love him dearly. And I love the staff. They are my new family.
Are your songs based on experiences in your life? If so would you be willing to share a few?
All songs I write are based on experiences in my life or in the lives of people that I have been close to.
Close my Eyes was written in 2 parts: The first verse is written about Hurricane Katrina and how it affected those people in New Orleans and how nobody was helping them. The 2nd part was written about the tornados that wiped out parts of Tennessee. I saw the picture of a 17 year old boy on the cover of the Tennessean newspaper who had just lost his house, his family, and his belongings and had no one to turn to. It was very sad. I turned on the TV and saw where people were taking advantage of the tornado victims by robbing them in their vulnerable state. It was very sad. I cried a lot when I saw that.
Give me Love was the first song I ever wrote. It was written about an ex-boyfriend of mine who was so amazingly beautiful and talented and I loved him so much, but he struggled with depression and could never seem to get out of the rut. I wanted to help him so much but I just couldn’t…no matter what I did. It broke my heart to see him that way. I just asked him to pray a lot and I had to step away from him to keep from being sucked down into his depression. It was very difficult.
Fade is written about a few friends of mine that I have watched self destruct. I had to also cut them out of my life to avoid being dragged down with them. It’s such a hard thing to do when you really care about someone.
All the songs have a story. Those are just a few.
Who are your musical influences and why?
Wynonna Judd was my first real influence because I loved how powerful her voice was. I met her one summer at a fair and was totally disappointed because she was so rude to her fans. But she was my first.
I am fascinated with Donna Summers here recently. That woman is such a powerhouse. Her new album “Crayons” is fantastic.
I was pleasantly surprised by Juliette Lewis and the Licks new album. She is just a wide open rocker chick. Totally old school. I love it.
Chris Cornell and Ian Thornley’s writing has always blown me away.
I love Bonnie Raitt because she is so soulful and so talented instrumentally as well as vocally. That was important to me.
Alanis Morisette and Tori Amos always made me smile because they perform with such intensity. You can’t take your eyes off them. They are totally in the zone.
Pat Benatar’s voice is a force to be reckoned with. I used to do vocal warm-ups to her music.
When I was learning to sing, I learned from soul singers like Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey because I wanted extensive range and flexibility. They can sing anything convincingly.
Steven Tyler’s live show is ridiculously demanding and all these years later he can still hang with the best of them. I want that kind of crazy energy.
Linda Perry has went from super star to super songwriter to super producer. She does it all.
So does Sheryl Crow. And both with such elegance.
I could go on and on because I’m inspired by tons of artists. It never stops either. I am constantly finding new people that amaze me. I learn from everyone.
Is there anyone in particular that you would love to jam with or maybe you have already...if so who was it?
I’d love to jam with Carlos Santana because he just seems like so much fun. Plus I love Latin rhythms. I’d probably do more dancing than jamming. I bet that Eddie Vedder would be a trip. He’s so deep and mysterious. I love that. But I know that he and Chris Cornell are old buddies and I’d want them both to be there. I’d probably have a heart-attack and fall over dead.
Where do you call home now?
My truck. I honestly don’t feel like I’ve found my home yet. I feel too disconnected from my childhood home to call it home, but I haven’t really latched on to my Nashville home either. I camp out in my truck. Anywhere I can pull my truck up and watch stars on a clear night with a river nearby is home. I love being outdoors. Someday I’d like to live in the Smoky Mountains. There is something very magical about those mountains. The Black Hills are also quite spiritual for me. That’s the biggest thing I miss about South Dakota.
What is it about Bikers that you like because you seem to gravitate to playing a lot of biker events?
They are free spirits and they are all brothers and sisters. They are the most loyal fans and friends and you never have to worry about being on the road and being in trouble. I know someone almost everywhere I go and I can always call a brother or sister to come and help me get my truck fixed up or have a place to crash for the night. They are always welcoming and I love their simple ways and their sense of humor. They really know how to appreciate the little things. They are really just great people. Plus they know how to party….and that’s always interesting. I tend to get carried away at times because their energy is infectious.
You seem to really care about your fans...where does that come from?
I can’t imagine any artist not caring about their fans. I play music because it’s in my soul, but without loyal fans and listeners, there would be no demand for it. I wouldn’t be able to live my dream the way I have. My fans support me and I write songs to connect with them. I consider myself a dream infuser. My job is to remind people to follow their dreams. I’m living mine and it’s because of my fans. I owe them everything.
Do you have any crazy stories about a particular gig you played? Do you have a favorite gig?
Last week I had a fan ask me to sign his chest. He came back later with it tattooed. That’s kinda crazy. I sold my underwear off the stage for $100 bucks. That’s crazy. I had my guitar player (not Jeff) get arrested off the stage in the middle of a guitar solo. That’s crazy. I had a drummer shoot bottle rockets out of his asshole. That’s crazy. I have a million crazy stories. It would take me 3 pages to type just what I can remember. My favorite gig hasn’t happened yet. It will be the one that I perform just before I win my first Grammy.
What is your favorite swear word?
Fuck…because it can be used as any part of a sentence and since I’m really into grammar…well. This explains it all
What CDs are you listening to in your vehicle?
I almost always drive in silence. But I do have a few key CD’s that I put on once in a while. Bob Segar’s Greatest Hits, Juliette and the Licks “Four on the Floor”, Flyleaf, Donna Summer’s “Crayons”, Live “Throwing Copper”, and Thornley’s first album “Come Again”.
What is it like being a female in the music industry?
It has it pros and cons. People love female artists and female voices. There has really been a big demand for more female artists in the last few years which I think is awesome. Plus we look better in photographs!! But earning respect as a female artist is quite different. You have to be a hell of a businesswoman and you have to be on top of your game. There is no room for weakness and no tolerance for lack of stamina. You have to be better and smarter than the rest to be a leader. It takes a lot of studying and a great deal of integrity to get band members to follow you, industry people to take you seriously, and for your peers to not lose respect for you. You can’t compromise things that are important to you. It’s easy for a woman to give into demands that will make her look desperate and cheap…but you have to stand strong and demand respect. You will be honored for that in the long run.
What is the most difficult thing about what you do?
Being patient. I work so hard and put in so many hours. I expect things to work as fast as I do, but they don’t. The thing I struggle with the most is stopping long enough to really listen to my band members, my friends and my family because they know me better than anyone and they can see when I’m wearing myself out, when I need to eat, and when I need to sleep. They also tell me when I’m “steamrolling” which is what I call it when they have a problem and instead of taking the time to really help them with it, I am so caught up in work that I just offer a quick fix and keep rolling. It’s unfair. I’ve always been fairly patient, but I have to constantly remind myself to be that way. I’m always glad I took the time out. I work too hard.
What is your biggest joy?
Seeing the look on people’s faces when I’m onstage. I love it when a fan finds me after a show and tells me what the songs I write really mean to them and how it helped them in a time of need. It’s like being a friend to someone you don’t even know when they really need you to be there.
Do you have any pets and if so what and names?
I have two kitties right now. Cleopatra and Mr. Brownstone. Cleopatra was my first rescue kitty. I came across her 3 times and finally decided to get her because I knew she was important to have around. She reminds me to take time out and rest. She sleeps a lot…when she’s not guarding her favorite stick toy. Mr. Brownstone came along about 6 months later when I rescued him in my backyard from a hungry possum. He was 5 weeks old and was hopping like a bunny in the tall grass. I introduced him to Cleopatra and let her make the decision on whether he stayed with us or not. She took to him immediately and has been like a mother to him. They are best friends. They keep each other company when I’m away for long periods of time. I love coming home to them. Mr. Brownstone is always happy to see me but Cleopatra sometimes holds a grudge for me being gone so long. She always comes around eventually.
What's it like to play Sturgis and the Broken Spoke/Full Throttle every year?
I always felt like a part of the Full Throttle because I helped with everything since the year he bought the property. I really felt like I left a part of me there. It was every bit my dream to help build the perfect biker bar and it was Michael’s but through the years, the whole vibe changed and soon I didn’t belong there anymore. For the time I was there, it was absolutely amazing. I started out on the indoor small stage and my crowd was growing larger at every show. I really had to play the “grunt” gigs for the first couple years, but I earned my spot and soon I was the opening act for all the national acts that took the stage every year. It was such an honor. I really believe that The Full Throttle gave me my credentials I needed to move forward. I was very lucky to have that position.
The Broken Spoke is my new family. Even though the bar is smaller, it is by far the most genuine. This is a true biker bar. The staff is like one big family and they always have a smile on their face…even at the end of the week when they’ve worked their asses off and they’re all sunburned. They really love the place and the people that go there. These are the old-schoolers, the true bikers who have miles and miles of stories and appreciate anyone who has a genuine heart and smile. They love stories and they appreciate good music and musicians with soul. I feel very “at home” there. I am so grateful to them for taking me in as part of their family.
What would you describe your musical style as?
I don’t think I can do that. I’m a mash up of country, blues, rock, folk, and soul. What is that called? If you can find a name for it…I’ll use it.
What is your favorite song on The Inside?
Aaah, an impossible question. I don’t choose songs that I don’t absolutely LOVE for my albums. I spent a great deal of time rummaging through my songs before I picked these particular ones. If I had to choose one, November comes to mind only because I wrote it during the most difficult part of my life and the words are very meaningful to me. I didn’t finish the song musically for many years later, but the lyrics were written while I was still in high school. I knew I was different and it was so hard to survive in a small town when you don’t fit the mold. I was doing a lot of soul searching at that time.
What is your favorite song on Locks and Keys?
You make these questions brutally impossible. Again…I’m proud of ALL of these songs. Each one has a story and each one is meaningful. Give me Love was the first song I ever wrote. It was the first time I learned how to channel from somewhere beyond myself. That was a life changing experience.
What do you enjoy doing if you have free time?
What’s that? I’ve never heard of such a thing. I do need to sleep at some point. I guess that is what I WOULD do if I had free time.
What was it like playing the Whiskey and the Viper Room in LA?
Holy Shit! The energy in the Whiskey was undeniable. It’s like everyone that has ever taken that stage left a part of their spirit there and you can feel that energy churning in the air. You can’t help but feel like a rock star when you’re on that stage. It’s not what it used to be like back in the day, but the energy is still very much alive.
The Viper Room is so notorious. Only the best of the best can even exist in that place so the fact that we were asked to perform was mind blowing. What made it even better was the fact that even after our time limit had elapsed to play, they wanted us to keep going because everyone was having such a killer time. That’s cool. I was a little more intimidated on that stage. I felt like I was being critiqued so hard. The Whiskey was more like a bunch of music lovers coming out to see what was hot now. I felt more at ease there. Both shows were such an honor because as far as I know, nobody just walks off the street and gets a gig there….but I did. We played the Whiskey twice while were on the West Coast and the Viper Room on our last Whiskey trip. That was another awesome coincidence…we played 2 places on Sunset Strip in the same night. They aren’t even a block apart. That’s unheard of there.
What instruments do you play?
There is a difference in playing and instrument and playing an instrument well. I play the bass guitar pretty well. I’m no virtuoso by any means, but I’m solid and I can stand on a stage and hold my own. I write on acoustic guitar so I have to be semi-proficient but I’m not a stellar rhythm player. I found out I could at least play a beat on drums by accident one night when we were bored and decided to play each other’s instruments. I’ve always wanted to be a drummer but I don’t think I have the coordination for it. I have owned at different times: a saxophone, violin, banjo, and kazoo. I’m really killer on the kazoo. The others just collect dust. The banjo is impossible to play…I’m convinced. The saxophone and violin were annoying to me and anyone else who heard me trying to tame the beasts. I can also play the hell out of a jaw harp (not the harmonica).
Tell me anything else that you would like me and my readers to know about you.
I want to be a unicorn that can fly.
If you are going to Sturgis this year make sure that you take one evening to check The Jasmine Cain Band out at the Broken Spoke. They play August 1 - 9 at 8 pm. Check Out Jasmine's website for more information on this amazing woman and her band:http://www.jasminecain.com/