Jonathan Jackson (JJ) + Enation, hailing from Washington state, two siblings and a long-time friend are striving to reach people using their music with the release of Blame-shifter EP in May 2016. Brothers Jonathan, guitarist and a five-time Daytime EMMY Award-winning actor, and Richard Lee Jackson on drums work with bassist Daniel Sweatt to bring authentic music to the world. The EP was the band’s first new music since their last album, Radio Cinematic. The band was touring the US throughout the months of May and June this year.
At the age of 11 you started experimenting with music with your brother. What was your main influence to do this at such a young age?
JJ – Our dad was a country music artist as well as being a family practice physician. He made an album in Nashville, and performed a lot of concerts in our hometown. Our family performed with him, so I’m sure that had an influence on us growing up.
Explain what it’s like creating music with a brother and longtime friend. What are the advantages and/or disadvantages?
JJ – It’s great working with Richard. We’ve been creating projects together in music and film since we were kids, so it’s something that comes naturally to us. We have different strengths that add colors to the creative process. It’s also great having family on the road, so there isn’t really a downside. Our bass player Daniel is like a brother to us, so there’s a real synergy to the band.
How did starring on the hit show Nashville shape your goals in the music industry?
JJ – I guess I wouldn’t say that our goals have changed. Our goal is to be who we are and create music that’s authentic. But, you know, Nashville has exposed us to some amazing music and artists. Working with people like T Bone Burnett, Buddy Miller, and Colin Lindin, you can’t help but learn from them.
You chose to release Blame-shifter independently to be more interactive with fans. How has this decision made it a more positive experience than previously, and how have fans reacted?
JJ – We’ve been independent for most of our time as a band. Our last record, Radio Cinematic, we made with Loud & Proud Records, and it was a great experience. But at the end of the day, we feel more comfortable being independent. It just seems to fit us and the music. Plus, it puts an emphasis on the artist to fan connection in a real way, because the fans are literally helping to fuel the whole experience with us. The fans have been amazing supporting us as an independent band.
What was the main influence for this new EP?
JJ – We had about 30-40 songs when the process began. One thing we felt strongly was that this would be an alternative album. We even wrote that down in case we ever felt like we were veering in one direction or another. But we also wanted to explore, in some way, the roots music we’ve been exposed to, both from our dad’s gospel and country music as kids, along with the music from working on Nashville. So there was a duel thing, the alt-rock scene of the northwest where we grew up, along with the roots of rock ‘n roll of our childhood. We also wanted to capture the visceral energy of our live concerts. Our co-producer, Greg Archilla, was great at capturing that energy.
Who is the targeted audience for this EP?
JJ – It’s hard to place people in certain boxes. For us, we hope that it’s for anyone who loves good music, more than one specific music genre fan. With the blending of the alt-rock and the roots rock, I hope it’s music a lot of people can enjoy.
What did you enjoy most about the creation of Blame-shifter?
JJ – The whole process was enjoyable. I loved focusing on capturing the energy of our live shows. It has been mentioned that some of your biggest influences are U2, Peter Gabriel and Coldplay.
If you can have any collaboration with an artist, who would it be and why?
JJ – There are so many artists I would love to collaborate with. U2, Michael Stipe, Eddie Vedder and Leonard Cohen. The five new songs are said to be part of your next full length album.
As you continue your nationwide tour, both solo (with Nashville in concert) and with Jonathan Jackson + Enation, do you have any major performances that you’re looking forward to?
JJ – Every concert is unique and every venue is different. The experience of the concert can be just as exciting in a small club as an arena if the crowd is really a part of it.
What is one thing you want all fans and listeners to take away from Blame-shifter?
JJ – I don’t really have one particular thing but I would hope they enjoy the music and that the songs can become meaningful in their lives in some way.