July 21, 2024

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Rocket: Where were you born and raised?

Jon: I was born in Charlotte, N.C. and raised pretty much in the Charlotte area. We moved around a lot but never really strayed too far. I ended up in Locust, N.C. when I was around 13 and never really left permanently, although I have spent YEARS on the road living in hotels and so on. I wont bore you with the details, it was just work, no music.

Rocket: Killer. What first drew you to music?

Jon: I guess it was my father. He was amazing. He went to college for music, then played in the Navy band while he served. That was actually his job in the Navy. When he got out he toured and played with some of the greatest jazz musicians of all time. Woody Herman and Charlie Byrd were a couple he knew really well. I just remember being very young and these people coming over and jamming with him all weekend. There would be a drum set taking up half the living room (we didn't exactly live in a mansion either as musicians rarely got rich quick back then). He played trombone mainly, but could pick up anything and figure it out eventually by just playing around with it. I guess just being around all this at that age programmed me want to be like my father because he freakin' amazed me.

Rocket: When did you start playing the bass guitar?

Jon: When I was around 15. I was visiting with my father (my mom took me with her when I was around 6 and moved out). He had a '75 Fender Precision bass sitting in the corner with his guitars and so on so I asked him if I could take it home. After a little pleading he gave it to me and I just started trying to play it.

Rocket: Who are a few of your biggest playing influences?

Jon: I would say Cliff Burton (R.I.P. bro) and Steve Harris would be the biggest. Really there are several others as well. Ummm, lets see; Geezer (Butler), of course. Les Claypool is a big one for me. Man really, anyone who I can learn anything from will find their way into my book of badass bassists. Ryan from Mudvayne is awesome. He taught me a whole new approach to percussive playing just by watching him on videos and listening. Like I said, anyone who does something cool enough to catch my ear the right way will get studied. Not really ripped off so to speak, but just studied and taken note of mentally for future reference. I just try to incorporate new styles into my own should I say "Jeet Kune Do" of bass playing.

Rocket: Did you ever take any formal bass guitar lessons?

Jon: No, I took the hard way and taught myself by ear. It took me for freaking ever! I was probably 20 before i was worthy of even attempting to call myself a musician. Actually, believe it or not, I learned by getting a magazine that had Master of Puppets bass tabs and playing that song over and over 50 times a day for like 6 months until I could play it all the way through. It may sound crazy, but it somehow worked! After I had a foundation to base all other music on I started hearing things a little better over time. By the time I was 22 or so, I could hear anything and play it within a couple of tries no matter how hard it was. In a way it was somehow beneficial to train my ear to that level. Of course, I have taught myself theory and scales and lots of other things since then. Like how to play guitar. I just wanted to learn to play leads and apply that to bass sort of like Cliff, but more as a harmony type lead with the guitar. You can hear the interaction I have with Wood. Sometimes its very subtle, others it is like an Iron Maiden type dual guitar thing but with bass playing one part.


Rocket: What guitars are you playing currently live and in the studio?

Jon: I am exclusively playing Schecters right now. No special deal or anything, I just love their basses! The EMG HZ pickups and active eq onboard sound awesome to me. Also I like the way they feel for some reason, I never really tried to figure out why,but they just feel good to me. I wouldn't change basses for anything. I might play another kind if I liked it, but the Schecters are here to stay! I have two right now, a black custom CXXX with the sexy women on the fret markers and a two tone natural C-4 custom with gold powder coated hardware. As for the other stuff, my rack has a Gallien-Krueger 700RB head, an Aphex 204 Aural Exciter, and a Furman power conditioner. I use two G-K 410 SBX sealed back cabinets in bi-amp mode. I also use a Boss GT-6B bass effects pedal. Thats pretty much it.

Rocket: Briefly, how did NIASIN band initially form?

Jon: LJ and I had split from our previous project(s) because we wanted to take it farther than anyone else we played with. We answered an ad at Guitar Center in Charlotte and out pops wood, no pun intended. He met us at the aforementioned parking lot one night and just played his guitar with no amp and sang a little and pretty much blew us away! We just started jamming from there and the rest is history.

Rocket: You guys are working on doing a new EP, correct? What can we expect with the material?

Jon: Yes, we are in the studio working on our debut album now. It will have a few of the demo songs and about 5 or 6 more we have written since we recorded the demo. We really want to do the demo over because it is actually part of the album, we just had to go in and crank out a quick cd to get booked or whatever. We didn't really try to make a masterpiece, just to get some of our stuff out there was all we wanted. We recorded all five songs in twelve hours, so that is why we are basically redoing everything the way we really wanted to do it in the first place. The newer stuff is definitely maturing quite nicely. It's still the same but just more refined I guess. Maybe a little more intricate in places, I cant really put my finger on it though. I have learned how to sing with Wood 1000% better since the demo and that makes a big difference from the demo stuff. In the end it is still NIASIN and always will be, just better!

Rocket: Where are you recording it and are you going to use
a pro level engineer?

Jon: A place in China Grove, N.C. called Audio Tech Productions or ATP Studios if you like. It is just two guys with like a half million dollars worth of equipment and they are very competent at what they do. John Furr is the recording and Pro Tools guru, while Danny Billings is the ear and is unbelievable in his ability to tweak things to get the stuff you are looking for. Between the two, I think YES, we are using a pro level engineer.

Rocket: I like to have fun with this next one. What's the funniest thing that ever happened to you on stage while performing?

Jon: Well, it's not funny per say, but I have this recurring problem of knocking the pickups out of my basses from smacking the strings and plucking like hell with my index and middle fingers. I did trip and fall at the battle of the bands awhile back. That was funny to everyone I'm sure. I fell back and about halfway down ended up leaning way back on the PA speakers and someone had to push me back up straight because I was stuck like that. I never missed a note though, I was gonna hit the ground playing if I had to!

Rocket: It was another great year for metal in '07. What one album was your personal favorite from last year?

Jon: I have a lot of them. All That Remains- The Fall Of Ideals really impressed me. I like the new Devildriver. Amon Amarths new one, cant remember the name. I really dont buy alot of albums. I mostly watch Headbangers Ball or listen to Sirius Hard Attack. I do buy quite a few DVD's though, I guess I am into the visual aspect of it all now as well. In this age of the media revolution I find it hard to just listen to the music if I can see it as well.

Rocket: Thanks for rockin this out with me. Go ahead and give a shout out to your biggest supporters.

Jon: I would have to say thanks to ATP Studios and Blue Haze Records who picked us up a while back. Also to Keith Robbins, our live sound man and a big part of what we do "out there" on the road. I definitely have to thank Randy and Hope at The Metal Den, without them believing in us I wouldn't be here talking to you now! Bill "Lou Cypher", our first contact to the metal world deserves a big high five as well. And last but definitely not least, all the people who came out to see us and the clubs that let us play. Thats all we ever wanted to do was just play dammit! Peace!