Jason Bieler (Saigon Kick, Talisman, Super Transatlantic) is releasing his latest solo album under the moniker of Jason Bieler and The Baron Von Bielski Orchestra. Songs For The Apocalypse includes numerous guests such as Todd LaTorre (Queensryche), Dave Ellefson (Megadeth), Devin Townsend, Bumblefoot and more. Bieler gives us the scoop on the new album.
Chad Bowar: Describe your songwriting process for Songs For The Apocalypse.
Jason Bieler: Music, for the most part, tends to come to me in complete pieces, music, melodies, lyrics. It becomes more of a battle of getting it all out while I am thinking of it. Then I will go back and refine things, but the vast majority of it comes to me pretty quickly.
How long have you been working on the record?
I started the writing process in March and we were finished by the end of May with everything. So around two months until final mastering, which for me is a long time.
Were all the guest appearances done remotely, or were you able to have any of them at the studio in person?
Sadly everything was done remotely, but I also think it had a positive effect because everyone was allowed to be creative in their own space, without any of my input or feeling pressured. To a person, I am stunned by the contributions and creativity of all involved. I learned a lot by working with these amazing musicians. You don’t need to produce them, they bring their A-game to everything and that is what you hope for. I wanted them to be themselves, not morph into something else. I think this brought a ton of color to the record.
Who was the toughest guest to convince to participate?
I asked everyone, assuming a few would say yes just due to life, scheduling, touring, or other priorities, but I was so thrilled and humbled when everyone said yes immediately. There was not one person that I had to convince, everyone seemed into it. Which was amazing! I actually had more collaborators in mind but due to only having so much room on a double album I will make them all a part of the next album.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
It will take time for me to have perspective on that, it is all a blur and I am always moving forward and thinking about the next songs or ideas.
How much attention do you pay to reviews?
It’s a double edge sword. It is wonderful when they are amazing and kind, and it is disappointing if they are bad. So far the initial reviews of this record have been amazing. In all honesty, getting to make this record with all these amazing artists and friends was the reward…everything from this point forward is just icing. But, specifically to “@hamsterfeet 2112”…bite me!
How did you come to sign with Frontiers for this album?
Nick Tieder and I had been speaking, we discussed what I do and what I am about, as I wanted to make sure they really understood that I was pretty different from the bulk of what they were known for. I have tons of respect for what they have accomplished and their roster, I just wanted to make sure they knew what they were getting into. They seem to be really into expanding their horizons beyond what they’ve been known for and they were super supportive. They let me do what I do, and so far everything is going really well. Also, I think while I still have my own label, having a deadline and expectations was probably a good thing.
With the state of the world and the music industry, how do you even go about setting goals and expectations for an album these days?
I have been a professional musician since I was 18, that is really the amazing part. Sometimes things all go your way, and sometimes they don’t but I get to make music and be creative so it is all good. Obviously, it is thrilling that the record seems to be creating a bit of a buzz, but I don’t focus on that too much. I kinda feel that if I just focus on the music, the rest takes care of itself.
Back in the day, the cover art was vital in drawing attention to albums. These days, is it still important?
I can’t speak to what others think, but I can say the person who did the art for the record (Robert Merrick) really perfectly captured what was happening musically, and so in this case, it was and is a really important part of the whole album.
When do you think you’ll be able to get back to touring again?
As soon as it is safe for everyone, as soon as possible!
How will the live landscape change due to the pandemic and its devastating impact on venues? Do you think live streaming shows will augment in person performances going forward?
I really hope the smaller independent venues get the help and the support they need, they have been amazingly kind to me and important throughout my career. Streaming seems to be all the rage. Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about it. To me a show is about an energy exchange between me and the crowd, not me and an iPhone or camera. Not saying I won’t consider it, it’s just how I feel right now as I write this.
What were some of your favorite albums released in 2020?
Opeth’s last release (I know that’s 2019 but I love it), Jaga Jazzist Pyramid, Devin Townsend Empath, Jakub Zyteci’s new live album, Tigran Hamasyan The Call Within.
What was the best thing you binge watched during the pandemic?
Toast Of London, one of my favorite shows of all time!
As one of the most entertaining people on social media, what advice would you give artists to improve their social media skills?
Why thank you! I’m in no position to offer tips to others but just be yourself. I just post and do things that make me laugh, and it seems to have found a home amongst a group of people with a warped sense of humor. (laughs)
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Hope everyone stays safe, and that we can all be together enjoying music, family, and friends in 2021!
(interview published January 20, 2021)