An Interview with
'Jason Achilles Mezilis'
that took place Mid. November 2016.
Interviewed By Dawn Belotti & Jack Lauler.
My introduction to Jason Achilles Mezilis was an invitation, from a friend, to hear the trio OWL at a New York City venue. Jason was manning the guitar; with the other members on bass and drums the treble side of the music was all on him. My first thought was he was playing a left handed guitar, while my greatest accomplishment, as a leftie, was becoming a quick typist so not to get ink on my hand and to maneuver right handed scissors. That trivial mention aside; what I really noticed was what a technical and creative musician he is. His style fluctuates from melodic to a rip roaring solo frenzy.
I recently had the opportunity to see one of Jason’s solo shows at Rockwood’s in NYC. Jason had been touring to promote his latest release, 'Comedown', which is an instrumental masterpiece. I have repeatedly said it is a risk releasing an instrumental album in time of short attention spans, therefore, it had better be good; and this is.
Not only is the album well produced but it is a multi-layered technically brilliant piece of art. Watching Mezilis perform live reminds us of what a top notch professional showman he is. He performed with his east coast choices of musicians: Scoops Dardaris and Tom Baxter. Both being stellar musicians themselves, they added to what was already an afternoon of pure entertainment. Jason’s music has a groove that makes you not want his performance to end. As if this isn’t reason enough to catch Jason Achilles Mezilis live, he is also a hell of a nice guy.
Jason took some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few interview questions that myself, and fellow music enthusiast and friend of Jason’s Jack Lauler, derived for him.
'Comedown' is quite impressive. What made you consider an instrumental album?
Jason: Thank you kindly…I was actually pleasantly surprised how it all came together in the end. The album began in rather fragmented fashion, sometimes these things have a way of finding their path and mending themselves as you go…sort of like slow-cooking a stew, you don’t necessarily get the 'flavor' until close to the end. My consideration for going the instrumental route was really out of necessity, following the disbanding of one of my previous musical projects, and a desire to keep working. Being an instrumentalist per say wasn’t anything I ever had specific aspirations towards, but it’s funny how things turn out sometimes. I’m enjoying it.
With several band projects over the past year or so, where did you find the time to work on the album?
Jason: Start to finish “Comedown” took about 6 months to complete…but it was another year before I finally released the record, this past June. In some ways, figuring out what to do with the album, after the fact, was the difficult part. Musical inspiration has never been difficult for me, but packaging and planning a proper release is on a whole another level – one that is definitely NOT tied to the music brain. I don’t think the whole project ever really took shape until the decision came to incorporate the photography that became the cover artwork…that really helped lend focus, not just to the album, but the entire new course of this musical direction in my life.
Who were your primary influences that lead to you choosing a career in music?
Jason: Eddie Van Halen, Vladimir Horowitz, and The Muppets.
Several years ago you released your solo album ‘Between The Lines’. How does it contrast to ‘Comedown’?
Jason: Ah yes, that was an album of mostly cover tunes I had worked up with my friends here in LA, comprised of various down-time recordings between bands and session work. I basically compiled a bunch of tracks and released it all on an EP with I think one original acoustic tune ‘Jerry’s Song’. I should look into re-releasing that, actually…that was all a lot of fun to do, and I’m fairly certain we should have gotten an endorsement deal from Jack Daniels between all those sessions.
Owning Organic Audio Recorders and having an audio engineer background, gives you an edge in creating music from the bottom up. Have you considered producing other artists?
Jason: I do actually produce and record other artists when here in town, though probably not as commonly as other producers and engineers that dedicate themselves solely to that craft. Being that my own work is my main focus, I tend to be a bit more picky with whom I externally work with…but if it’s a fun project and the music and personnel are all good to go, it can be really rewarding.
Recently, I teamed up with Portland transplant Producer/Engineer, Rian Lewis – he brought a truckload of equipment (and knowledge) to Organic Audio…the studio is quite literally bursting at the seams now with mountains of gear, amplifiers, pedals, weird old keyboards. We’ve got a goddamn toaster with a speaker in it.
If you could play with any band/artist either in the past or present, which would you choose?
Jason: There’s a couple 'mega' acts that I think this music could really vibe with…but for now just getting in front of as many new and interested folks as possible is the goal. I just completed a full month-long tour through the eastern & western US, and the response we got was very inspiring. I can’t wait to go out again.
What is next for you?
Jason: Right now I’m working on a new music video & collaboration with director Robert Saitzyk, which I’m very excited about…he (like myself) is really interested in pushing the limits of what we can do, creatively. I think it’s gonna be really cool. Besides that, I’m hoping for a new single release in time for the holiday season that’s basically all set and ready to go – it’s completely different, this next one…not like anything I’ve done before. I think (I hope) everyone will be quite surprised and pleased, maybe even a bit excited when they first hear this new track...and of course, all go out and buy four copies apiece. Hey, it’s Christmas!!
Be sure to catch Jason on tour when he visits a city near you. You can find Jason on Facebook and can purchase a copy of 'Comedown' at http://jamezilis.bigcartel.com You won’t be disappointed.