by Kimmie Chameleon:
Like a runaway train barreling down a mountainside, JetSet Rejects comes at you with a force so great, the impact slams you to the ground and embeds a lasting impression. To describe the band is nearly impossible. There really is no comparison to their sound because the four of them are so vastly different from one another. They are almost elemental. Lead Singer, Mick Scott, is much like fire. His powerful voice erupts into flames and chars everything in its path. On stage, he literally climbs the walls and runs amuck in the crowd. Songwriter/Guitarist Jason Stalk is like water. There is no bass in this band, and you don’t need one with Jason. His 12 strings cover more ground musically than a full orchestra. He is fluid, yet unpredictable. Lead guitarist David Portnoy is like the brutal air of a tornado. He demolishes everything with his skill and accuracy. Henry Higgs is a death metal drummer that unleashes an earthquake of pounding fury. He somehow manages to effortlessly fuse together and ground the entire band whilst pushing them forward. Although the band formed a little over a year ago, they have already penetrated the Southern California music scene with their live antics. Opening up for such bands as Dramarama, Skid Row, Eddie Money, Cherie Curie, The Motels, and Bow Wow Wow to name a few, the guys are becoming a crowd favorite and have recently headed back to the recording studio to lay down some new tracks for their upcoming full-length album.
Kimmie Chameleon: You guys are on fire! How did you guys score so many shows right off the bat?
Jason Stalk: One of the owners of an establishment we first performed at saw something in us and passed it on to the promoter… and it started something. He knew we were dedicated and not a bunch of screw ups. He could tell we were really serious about doing this with energy on stage.
Mick Scott: Yes, a lot of bands just go out there and do their show. We actually make a spike before the top billed band. We really do warm up the crowd. I want bands to put more pride in their live shows. I think people would support their bands more. For what it’s worth, the 80’s were crazy about that. That’s why we’re getting all of our shows… because we’re busting our ass and performing.
KC: It’s really hard to describe this band. It is so diverse musically, but it all cohesively comes together. How would you describe your music?
JS: We’ve been told that the songs sound like they are ready to be played on the radio. Classic rock stations are extremely popular and there’s a reason for it. When you turn on the station you’re hearing Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, The Beatles. What we’ve done is taken a death metal drummer from hell, a Jimmy Page/Slash guitar player, a great singer who has been compared to everything from Iggy Pop to Marilyn Manson, and I write songs much like Bob Dylan. We’ve turned into an intricate style of music because of the uniqueness and quirkiness we have individually.
MS: That is what gets me right there; quirkiness and uniqueness. Not only should we not be in the same band, we shouldn’t even be in the same restaurant. We also have different personalities, but again, Jason writes all of the songs and he’s got the equal balance to say this is the format I’ve got, and can encourage us to give what we’ve got. We have a death metal drummer. We have of a folk traditional songwriter. We also don’t have a bass player. The stuff that people are afraid of is always the most interesting.
JS: I put this band together piece by piece. I saw Henry playing with a death metal band at The Roxy. When I heard Mick for the first time, I knew I had to have him in my band, and the reason is because I write songs to be heard and understood. The lyrics are extremely important and Mick gets the message across lyrically. We tried putting a bass player in the band, but it just never worked. Whenever we play a gig, the sound guys don’t know what to do with us because we don’t have a bass player.
MS: Now I don’t ever want to have a bass player. I especially don’t want to do it now because so many people have told us we couldn’t do it. I’m going to do the opposite of what they want and I’m going to wear that like a badge of honor.
JS: At every show we hear it: “Where’s the bass player?!”
MS: And I’ll answer them, “At your mother’s house!” We recently did an acoustic set at a coffee shop and our drummer showed up just to egg us on, and he sat in the back and yelled, “Where’s the bass player?!” I want that to be the name of our first album: “Where’s the Bass Player?” Jason is playing 12 strings and Dave is playing 6, so we are two strings ahead of the game. We aren’t missing anything.
JS: I’m playing a Rickenbacker. It almost has a hurdy gurdy type of sound. In a lot of ways we are traditional, and in a lot of ways, yes, we are cutting edge. I used to write really complicated songs and I thought I just had this work of art… this genius…then I thought, “You know what? I need to simplify this to get the message across.” If you do that musically as well, hopefully when you perform it, people will get it. People either get it, or they don’t.
KC: So, you guys are headed back to record a few more songs for your first full length album?
JS: Yes, we have a window of opportunity to go back to the recording studio in the beginning of July. When I am recording the band, I set it up like how it is on a stage. All of our instruments are recorded at the same time.
MS: Jason is the conductor of the whole thing, and when it’s done, we just walk away because his job is arduous enough just to make sense out of what we’ve done… but I tell ya, some people take awhile to get back to me about the recording… but with Jason I will wake up in the morning and there will be four different versions of the song.
JS: The song, Living in the Now, is actually kind of like a spiritual song. It’s about living in the moment. I wrote it for my dad really, who didn’t know how to enjoy everything in life. He was always looking in the future, not in the now. I still believe if we end up in a professional recording studio where we can sit there and really record the songs, the song “99” is going to shine. “99” is a song written for the Occupy movement as an anthem for the 99 percent of us politically, socially, and financially disenfranchised. I wrote that song to be an anthem for those people. My goal isn’t to make money at this. My goal is to leave this planet with something behind that is remembered, and important, and powerful. I will wake up from a dream and have a melody in my head. As a little kid, something would happen in my life and I would start singing about it. It was just something that was always there. I’m not religious, but I am spiritual. Music just comes from within me. I have never been more excited about a project than this one. I don’t know what it is. Could it be the singer that deserves it with all of his talent? Or is it the drummer who is incredibly gifted? Is it their time? I don’t know, he’s a really dedicated guy. Or is it Dave, the guitar player? This is his dream. Something is driving this.
MS: Just in the mere 14 months that we’ve been together, I walk into what he is writing, and I get the lyrics that he writes right away. They are songs that everyone can relate to.
JS: It’s like a perfect marriage of artists. I write the songs, and I am not a singer, but Mick gets it. To do what he does… with his energy… I appreciate it. Mick taught me the expression, “Don’t bore us. Get to the chorus.” The chorus is so important. Back in the day, if you had something interesting to say, whether it be through poetry or art or music, that is what interested people. Nowadays, everybody is walking on eggshells and they’re afraid they’re going to offend somebody.
Experience the hottest live band in Southern California. JetSet Rejects are a high energy band that does not hold out on intensity. It is only a matter of time before they start touring and infecting the rest of the nation with their copious amounts of enthusiasm. They seem to be performing weekly, so it is easy to catch them in SoCal. For all of their latest info, and to also get a taste of their music, be sure to visit them on their Facebook page and also their website.
DarkMedia contributing writer Kimmie Chameleon was born and raised with a healthy appreciation for horror and science fiction. She currently covers Supernatural, Ghost Adventures, BBC’s Being Human, Syfy’s Being Human, and Sherlock. When she’s not out ghost hunting with her kids, you can find her stealing a moment to add to her own pieces of fiction. Follow her on Twitter @dvsduo and “friend” her on Facebook.