Jason Bieler, mostly known for “Love is on the Way” by SAIGON KICK, is releasing his latest solo album, “Songs for the Apocalypse,” under the moniker of JASON BIELER AND THE BARON VON BIELSKI ORCHESTRA. The album includes numerous guests such as Todd LaTorre (QUEENSRYCHE), David Ellefson (MEGADETH), Devin Townsend, and many more. We had the opportunity to ask Jason Bieler a couple of questions about the release of his upcoming record.
Hi Jason! Nice to e-meet you and happy new year! Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. How have you been lately?
Happy new year to you as well! I’ve been doing great, all things considered. Thanks for asking and I hope you are doing as well as can be expected during these strange times!
You are most known as the guitarist and backing vocalist of SAIGON KICK. I can’t say that I am personally too familiar with that band, however, it seems like you also have some other influences present in the record? What can you tell fans about the sound?
I have always been a massive music fan, all types all genres. I grew up listening to everything from THE BEATLES to THE FIFTH DIMENSION, AM GOLD. I’ve always listened to all types of music, from Barry Manilow to MESSHUGAH, JANE’S ADDICTION to Tom Waits, Björk to GOJIRA, Miles Davis to JAGA JAZZIST…and obviously, QUEEN, E.L.O, SUPER TRAMPS, ABBA, Elvis Costello, etc…. I think it has all entered my brain over a lifetime and gets put into my mental blender and comes out through the filters of my personal experience.
Where did the idea come from to create another solo effort?
It is really my first official solo release. I have released some rarities and demos in the past and over the last few years, I had a writing experiment, where I would write, record, mix, and release a song in about 24 hours. I wound up releasing about 150 songs over the last few years. It was really great to just focus on writing and not be worried about snare reverb or the perfect mix. I always try and be creative… so I am always writing, practicing, tweaking in the lab, etc.
You run a successful label, so you must listen to a lot of (new) music on a daily basis. Does this inspire you at all to write your own songs?
I think my lifetime of listening to music is what probably shapes my tastes more than anything else… so I don’t look to a time period. Some days it is classical, sometimes ambient, sometimes meta. I am always drawn to new music, new sounds, and new ideas.
You mentioned that you made this album with friends (the guest appearances in the album). Was that for you one of the most motivating factors in pushing through with this release?
My whole focus was getting to make a record with a bunch of musicians I love and admire both as people and as artists. I wanted it to be something we all felt good about. Beyond that, I had no expectations… so the fact that the record seems to be getting some very nice reviews and playlists is really just icing on the cake.
How, in general, did the songwriting progress for this album?
I knew I wanted all the music to be written specifically for this new record, so nothing from the past or older demos. I started writing in March and we were finished with everything including mastering around May. Basically, I would write and record all of the frameworks of the tunes, so vocals, guitars, programmed drums, and then send them off to my friends, to add their parts.
Considering you had quite a lot of guests, did you give them freedom for their parts?
They had 100% freedom. I see no point in working with these great musicians and then trying to get them to do something other than what they do. It was such a thrill to hear their creativity and hear their parts come to life!
The title of the album is “Songs for the Apocalypse.” Does it connect the songs thematically together or how did you choose the title?
I wouldn’t call this a concept album, but there is a thread that runs through it all. There is a dystopian darkness, a python sense of absurdity, a vaudevillian, old-time sideshow aspect in the underbelly of the record.
You have released two singles so far, “Apology” and “Bring Out Your Dead.” How have the reactions been so far?
Without trying to jinx it, it has been absolutely amazing so far and seems like a whole new group of people are discovering what I do, as well as people who have been with me for 25+ years… so it feels like the most rewarding part of my career so far.
Judging by the cover art, the band name, and some of the song titles (eg. “Horror Wobbles The Hippo”) you seem to be inspired by cabaret. I’m not sure if that assumption is correct, but anyway, what can you tell me about the main inspirations for this album?
I love art, in all forms, but honestly, I think I do my best work when I am not consciously thinking when I let my brain wander around by itself in the dark with no judgment, it reaches into the memory banks, violently shakes things about and somehow music comes out. Comedy and humor play a major role in my world, as do movies. Simply put, I tend to be inspired by people doing inspiring things.
I’m always curious about the stories behind the people songs were named after. What is the story of “Analise”?
This is a wonderful question, but I do not really like explaining songs. To me the magic of music – and I do believe music is magic – is that everyone hears things differently, feels them differently, and discovers things no one else does. If I found out “Yesterday” was about a broken toaster oven…I would be crushed.
What does “FKSWYSO” stand for and what can you tell us about the song?
The title is short for “Fat Kid Swimming With Your Shirt On” (laughs), no check my answer above.
What are some of the biggest lessons you learned while creating this record?
Well, I’m not sure I learned a lesson as much as I experienced the joy of getting to work with my friends and creating something. I’ve been a professional musician since I was 18, so I realize how amazingly lucky I’ve been and I’m just thankful that I get to wake up, go to my studio and be creative for another day. Asking for more is tempting fate (laughs).
Lastly, do you have any last thoughts you want to share with our readers?
I hope that after the chaos of the last few years, the world returns back to some form of normal and we all get to go to shows, hang out with friends and family and maybe realize what is really important. Life can be harsh and short…there is no time for fussing and fighting my friends! Stay safe and hopefully, we will meet in 2021/22.