After releasing 11 studio albums and an EP as a solo artist, Jesse Dayton’s new album, Mixtape Volume 1, is a series of 10 cover songs that he reinterprets and revisits in a brand-new way. Jesse, of course, is a blues, country, *and* punk artist known for his work with Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, X, and others as well as his soundtracks for Rob Zombie.
Parklife DC’s Mickey McCarter emailed Jesse Dayton to ask him about the new album and his career prior to his show at City Winery DC on Thursday, Sept. 26.
Mickey McCarter: You’ll perform in DC soon at City Winery! What can we expect from the show? How cool is it to perform at City Winery in different cities?
Jesse Dayton: Our shows have been crossing over to a lot of different genre listeners because they’re so high energy. We have younger folks into rock music, and older folks who are into Americana and country standing next to each other in the crowd. I love playing the City Winery venues. I played almost all of them with John Doe and his band X, and they really take great care of the musicians.
MM: It’s fascinating that you have a career in movies and making soundtracks as well as touring your own material. How did you begin collaborating with Rob Zombie? What’s it like to work with him outside of his “scary” public persona? Will you work with him again in the future?
JD: Working on films with Rob Zombie completely changed my career. Outside of his public persona as a wild rock ‘n’ roll frontman, he’s one of the smartest and coolest guys I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. After three different films and a tour, no plans on working on anything new with him as of yet, but ya never know!
MM: Your new covers album has some surprising artists on it — even for a guy who is known for embracing country and punk. Gordon Lightfoot? The Cars? Do you feel there is a common bond among these 10 tracks and their artists? Or does this say something about the formative period for your popular music education?
JD: My new record “Mixtape Volume 1” definitely speaks to the variety of music I was raised around. Some folks think that singer-songwriters like Gordon Lightfoot and Jackson Browne can’t exist in the same world as The Cars, AC/DC, and The Clash. But to me, it’s all about great songs, not genre loyalty. This record has really brought me a whole new bunch of new listeners out of their sheer curiosity.
Stream Jesse Dayton covering “Whole Lotta Rosie” by AC/DC on YouTube:
MM: As your wikipedia page says, you began your career by contributing to albums by Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson. What do you think of folks who say, “Never meet your heroes?” Much less work with them?
JD: The whole “never meet your heroes” saying, I think, was for folks who may have had a weird experience meeting their favorite entertainers. I’ve never really had any bad experiences meeting or working with my heroes. Waylon was hands down the coolest of them all, but all the greats I’ve played guitar for or worked with on film stuff have been really nice people, who just happened to be geniuses who work harder than everyone else. I don’t think people realize how hard you have to work to be on top. It would exhaust most marathon runners, much less everyone else.
MM: Right now, if you could work on a project with any collaborator — stage or screen — who would it be and why? What would you work on?
JD: If I could work with anyone (since we’re dreaming) I would direct a 35-year-old Elvis in a great film with a serious script, and co-write and record the soundtrack with Chuck Berry and have Jerry Wexler produce. Reality? I’d like to co-write and record a huge hip-hop song with Snoop or Dre that has a very big electric guitar part in it, so kids today would rediscover just how cool the electric guitar is.
Jesse Dayton performs at City Winery on Thursday, Sept. 26!
Thursday, Sept. 26
Doors @ 6pm