Interview with Jason Fryer of River City Junction

Interview with Jason Fryer of River City Junction

Unlocked Doors caught up with River City Junction’s guitar front man, Jason Fryer, to talk a bit about the band and reminisce about the good’ol’days. It’s no coincidence that RCJ was invited to perform at the, SHAWBRIDGE: Stories From The Farm Gala being held on September 28th in Dorval Quebec. Their song, Freedom, from the Convergence CD is the name of the last chapter in author Erika Tafel’s book, Slave To The Farm: True tales of Truancy & Incarceration. You can find River City Junction on the net at:

rivercityjunction.com or at their Facebook page www.facebook.com/rivercityjunction

Better yet, if you are in Ontario check out their busy summer calendar, and SEE THEM LIVE!

Erika: What’s RCJ’s connection to Shawbridge? 

Jason: Me. I was a “client” there for some time when I was younger. Not the best moment in time for me, but a good learning experience nonetheless. It’s partially responsible for teaching me how desperately we need social reform, proper rehabilitation programs & not just a penal system. Proper education programs that don’t let people like myself fall through the cracks because we don’t fit the mold. It’s a useless, outdated draconic model that doesn’t recognize a person’s humanity & their inherent value as a HUMAN BEING. How much good they could do in this world if their true potential were tapped & channeled.

Erika: How important was music to you when you were on the Shawbridge Farm?  

Jason Fryer

Jason: Music was & still is everything to me. It was music that delivered me from a life of misery, strife & struggle. It created the person I am today. It gave me my wife, my children, my life… I believe that music & the pursuance of it through the medium of the guitar has been the vehicle that has connected me to God, or my higher self, Divine Universal Consciousness… Whatever you want to call it… It’s almost like playing Music brings you awareness. That awareness piques your curiosity & starts you thinking & exploring. The thinking & exploring lead you to knowledge, which in turn leads to wisdom, which in turn leads to understanding & ultimately, ends at compassion & enlightenment. I still have a long way to go, but at least now I know why I am here…

Erika: I find it truly inspiring that you have been making music with Caroline for so many years. How long have you been playing together, and have the two of you and Tom always been a band? 

Jason: Thank you Erika! Caroline & I have been making music together for going on 25 years. Tom has been with us for about 13 of those years, which is the full lifespan of River City Junction. He was in the band we had formed before & is one of the founding members of RCJ.

Erika: Can you share some of the rewards / challenges that playing with your spouse brings up. Do you think it’s harder or easier? How does it affect the third member of your trio?

Caroline Addison at Tone Kings Records

Jason: The rewards are that Caroline & I get to spend pretty much every moment of our lives together. Some may see that as one of the challenges & at times I suppose it is, but for the most part, we get along famously & are best friends, so in the end I’d have to say at this point that whatever challenges being in a band together may create, they are far outweighed by the rewards. In a sense, the challenges themselves are part of the rewards because being in a band together teaches you to work together & get along & make it work. That’s real good relationship practice… lol I can’t say whether or not it is more or less difficult because I don’t have any other experience to compare it to, but if I had to wager a guess, I’d have to say it makes things easier because we’re all on the same page, going through the same experiences, so we understand one another much better. As far as Tom is concerned, I’m sure everything we go through together has an affect on him, but in the end I also believe it ends up being a good one because we are a family now all of us. He’s raised our kids with us & has been through it all with us & we’re still here, so I think it’s all been a real blessing for all of us.

Erika: I love the obvious bond between all of you that is reflected in your original material. How do you write your songs? Is there one primary writer or do you do it collaboratively? 

Jason: Yes. LOL There is no rules where song writing is concerned. We all write, some material is for the band, some is for other projects, & songs just kind of grow organically from everywhere. I’ve taken a hiatus from writing lyrics to pursue other studies & to encourage Caroline to write more, so for the first & second records, I have more of a direct hand in the process, but for the third & fourth records, my role has been more of a support one. Shaping the tunes, arranging them, minor edits & adjustments, but for the most part it’s all Caroline at this point which is really amazing for me to see because she writes KILLER tunes & I got to watch her grow into this amazing songwriter.

Erika: Do you have favourite instruments and why?

Jason: Guitar. Don’t know why. It just calls to me over all other instruments. I have now fused with it on every level of my being. I love playing guitar. I love how it takes me places inside myself that I may not otherwise reach. It’s a very reflective & introspective instrument. Extremely complex in its Nature when you start truly exploring it. In order to master it, you have to accept that you can never master it. The journey never ends. You have to literally give yourself over to the instrument & to the music that it wants to create through you & just get out of the way. It forces you to acknowledge your ego & forces you to free yourself from the restrictions it places upon you. It forces you to acknowledge & accept that there is some kind of higher power that can & will work through you if you let it. It’s like having a constant & gentle teacher always by your side encouraging you to keep going, keep searching, keep exploring. To let go of your fear & embrace Love. With the exception of my Family, it’s the best thing that could have ever happened to me.

Erika: I hear a strong traditional Rock’n’Roll sound in your music, Hendrix, Zeppelin, for example, what are some of your less obvious influences and what kind of new bands are you listening to now? 

Jason: BB King, Freddie King, Pat Martino, Wes Montgomery, Stan Getz, John Scofield, Ray Charles, Aretha, Etta James, Kenny Burell, Ed Bickert, Melvin Sparks, George Benson, Henry Johnson, John Scofield, Medeski Martin & Wood & pretty much anything out of Motown too… I could go on & on, but lately I’ve been making a point of listening to anything I can that was produced by Rudy Van Gelder. I really love the sound of his recordings & want to get that natural, open sound happening on the records I produce. 

Tom Joanisse, Jason Fryer, Caroline Addison

As far as new music is concerned, most of it hurts my ears so I try not to pay too much attention to it. Some “newer” artists (Or perhaps better stated: Newer to us) of particular note that we truly Love & admire for their artistic & musical contributions are John Mayer, Ray LaMontagne, Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks, Norah Jones, Diana Krall, Paolo Nutini, Jack Johnson, Gotye, Harpdog Brown, Jack White, Kelly Joe Phelps, Sinistrio… A lot of the stuff that gets played on CBC Radio 2… It’s not necessarily the music that puts me off though it’s the production. The loudness war in particular. Trying to get everything as loud & as up front as possible. It just doesn’t feel right, so a lot of new music is just completely inaccessible to us…

By Erika Tafel.

 

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