7 Spin / Sony recording artist Jordan-Morgan Lansdowne shares his background in music and more through this in-depth interview. Check him out this November on The Hiding Places Tour, presented by Indie Vision Music and 7 Spin Music.
What’s some history of your music career?
I started playing music at an early age. I was literally an infant when I started playing drums. And by the time I was in 2nd/3rd grade, I had picked up bass and guitar. I had such a love for music, you know? My parents were into music and worked in music. My dad was a roadie and my mom sang so I was around music all the time. When middle school came around, I had started 2 bands, one with my brother and the other with some kids down the street. Both were more punk rock bands. Me and my brother’s band played stuff like MxPx and Bad Religion. And the other band was a little more experimental like Black Flag, Ramones and Rancid-esque. We weren’t good at all but at the time, we thought we were. (Me and my brother’s band were pretty good, though).
I grew up in 2 environments since my parents divorced when I was 2 years old. I had spent a lot of time with various genres in both, the secular and Christian music scenes. At my dad’s house, I was exposed to anything from Stryper, Sometime Sunday, Altar Boys, the Clergy, to the Crucified. And at my mom’s house, it was anything from Guns N’ Roses to Social Distortion. By the time I reached high school, I had discovered a lot of music that was never exposed to me. I would go to record stores and hang out with the owners and they would literally hand me a pile of music to listen to. I got really into stuff like the Cure, Elvis Costello, the Clash, Smithereens and some other music with a darker tone.
My grandmother had a collection of vinyl that I found when I was really young which consisted of Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, so my musical roots had been set in place.
With being exposed to so much music and playing music of my own, I started playing solo shows when I was about 17 years old down in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I had moved in with my mom and she would take me to local bars and coffee shops to get shows. I started out doing the open mic scene and it wasn’t long after that, I was opening for the local singer/songwriters and recorded my first folk/country album with a Hattiesburg-based DIY label. A year and a half after that, I had moved up to Portland, Oregon to sign with an indie label. A guy who ran a punk label started a side label and signed me. Talk about identity crisis. The early 2000’s were a strange time for me when it came to fine-tuning my sound, especially getting signed to a “real” indie label. At the time, I felt like I was competing with the urgency to sound like Dashboard Confessional and the Calling. It was horrible. I had a strange outlook at the time and felt that if you got signed, you needed to fit in with what was popular, you know? I wasn’t that good, my writing style changed for no apparent reason and my artistic side just completely shut down. I told my A&R guy that we needed to re-record the record but the label had already made plans to ship it out to get pressed. So, what’s done is done. You live, learn and move on.
That record came out and got a decent review from HM Magazine which essentially landed me on a tour with Rookie of the Year and other dates with bands that weren’t popular at the time such as Mae, the Spill Canvas, This Providence and even a band called Mos Eisley who later changed their name to Eisley. I met a lot of great people, did a ton of traveling and lived a soon-to-become tiring lifestyle.
There I was, 17 then 19, touring the country with people I didn’t even know, sleeping on floors and couches (sometimes the luxury of hotel rooms, sometimes in cars and vans) and before I knew it, I had turned 21.
I had started out with one DIY CD at 17 years old to 21 years old with a loyal fan base, 4 CD’s and a merch table with T-Shirts, stickers, buttons and 8×10 photos. Don’t get me wrong, all this took place at a very underground level. I wasn’t on some big label nor would I even come close to consider myself popular. I parted ways with the label in 2004 and began talking to a few major labels in Southern California. In 2005, one label sent me on a mission to record a single with a producer. I didn’t choose the right producer but the song got played on a few radio stations and ended up having about 15 seconds of the song played on MTV’s The Real World. After those 15 seconds of fame, things began to slowly domino effect themselves in a downward spiral. Life as I knew it became an extremely dark place. I had been a part of some musical endeavors and went through some challenging times.
In 2007, I started playing under the moniker, Parker Roads, and eventually released some EP’s and played through an extensive schedule. As time went on, I wanted to return to my musical roots and start over fresh. After all the releases, radio play, interviews and overall change (Parker Roads, Embers Of Brave), I felt I was ready to perform under my name and not perform under a moniker or a stage name. It wasn’t long after that, I signed with 7 Spin / Sony.
Now at 30 years old, I look back at it all and thank the Lord that I am still alive and survived all the chaos.
How would you describe your sound?
Well, that’s tough. I write songs in my bedroom or on the road and record them how they’re written. In between the writing and recording, I fine-tune the songs and shape them for live performance and give them a new personality. What you hear on the records and what you hear live are two different versions. I call it: Different. Not trying to fit in. Not this time, not ever again.
I can’t really pinpoint a specific description but No Depression Magazine readers labeled me as “Americana Music’s New, Cool Younger Brother” and a friend of mine (Orion Walsh) labeled me as “Southern City Folk.” So I’ll stick with that.
Your newest release,The Sweet Hereafter, came out in June. What do you think are some notable parts of the album?
There were so many things that took place during the writing and recording process. Without getting into detail, the songs came together and tell a story. It may not make any sense to the listener but it does to me. It’s got nothing to do with camouflaging scenarios or dodging root subjects but it’s simply the reality of real life and what can go on in one person’s life to take them on a journey and on to the next level of their ability or even their very own life. And that’s why I called it The Sweet Hereafter.
I loved every moment of recording the record. The cool thing is the label didn’t do the creative control thing like most labels would do. I love it because it’s personal. It’s like a journal entry to me, you know? Some songs were written on the road, some in between schedules. But as far as notable parts go, I’d have to say the overall production. I loved building it from the scratch tracks up, even if the song was left with just vocals and guitar without any extra accompaniment.
What kind of feedback are you getting about the album at your shows?
It’s been received really well, you know? I think people are slowly becoming familiar with me and adapting to the studio sound because they get the writer at home who secludes them self behind closed doors and when they come out to a show, they get to hear the songs showcased in a way that can’t be portrayed on tape. It’s like any artist, really. Some artists can do minimalist work [which is really great] at home but then you see them at an art expo and they’re on fire. There are two different angles going on there. And I feel that the listener can grasp what the artist is actually doing and that’s just simply being an artist.
What do you have in the works now?
November 5th, 7 Spin will release an album called, Love & Sin, which was recorded in 2011 so I’m pretty excited about that. We released a free digital EP in October called Conversations. And we just released my first single for a song called, “Midtown Sundown (Crazy Love)” to radio and iTunes. The song also features Scott Silletta (formerly of Plankeye).
I’ve also been working on some new material that’s a lot different than what people have heard so far. My thing is that I don’t want to be pigeon-holed in one genre.
As an artist, I want to be able to express myself. I want to draw pictures for my Father. If you keep handing out the same drawing, you’re limiting yourself and not challenging yourself to have variety. The good book tells us, “sing to the Lord a new song,” not the same song over and over.
What plans do you have for shows right now, and where can fans find the details?
Right now, a few spot dates here and there. I’m gearing up to hit the road in November where I will be supporting Myla Smith and Karen Choi on the Hiding Places Tour:
11/07 Nashville, TN @ Belcourt Taps
11/08 Memphis, TN @ The Poplar Lounge
11/09 Jackson, MS @ Cups
11/10 Houston, TX @ House Show
11/11 Austin, TX @ Parish Underground
11/12 Dallas, TX @ Opening Bell
11/13 Dallas, TX @ Opening Bell
11/15 St. Louis, MO @ The Focal Point
All the info and details can be found at http://jmlansdowne.wordpress.com or on Facebook at http://facebook.com/jmlansdowne
Who are some of your musical influences?
Not to state the obvious, man, but of course Dylan, Cash, Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Steve Earle, Joe Strummer, Gov’t Mule, Dave Matthews, Jon Foreman, Orion Walsh, Alan Stockard and Scott Silletta. There are quite a few.
I also listen to a lot of Jazz and Blues so there are a lot of different styles that influence me. But I don’t like to hinder myself to only be influenced by music. There are a lot of things that can influence me when I’m writing. I just let it all happen naturally.
What music are you currently enjoying?
Coldplay’s Parachutes record quite a bit these days. That and Dave Matthews’ “Some Devil.” I don’t really listen to a ton of the new modern music. I listen to all kinds, anything from John Coltrane to the Blamed.
I’ve discovered a few artists while being on the road such as Natalie Walker and Matt Hires. They’re both really incredible.
What are some activities you do outside of music?
Fireworks. I love blowing stuff up. I also enjoy going to the beach, movies and nachos. I love spending time with family.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you, Indie Vision Music for all you’ve done. I had a blast touring with Orion Walsh on this past summer’s IVM tour and I am looking forward to doing the tour this November.
Be sure and come out to the shows, pick up the records and download all the free stuff on Bandcamp.
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with Indie Vision Music, Jordan!