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BLUES PLAYER

An integral component of what a band accomplishes comes from a dynamic skill-set.

Posted: June 29, 2023
I love being a drummer. Everyone thinks you’re dumb. What they don’t realize is that if it weren’t for you, their band would suck. – Dave Grohl

I believe a lot of drummers echo those same words from Dave Grohl. Former drummer of Nirvana and founder of the Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl took played lead guitar. While handing over the sticks to his friend and late drummer Taylor Hawkins. I read, that he never felt that he was being replaced by Taylor Hawkins. It was a collaboration of brilliant minds. They both were very talented on drummers. Dave Grohl had already established his ability as a drummer when he played for Nirvana. He also went on to play for Queens of the Stone Age.

If you look back in time, some influential bands wouldn’t have been so successful without their drummer. Where would have Rush been without Neil Pert? What would the Beatles have achieved without Ringo? The Eagles wouldn’t have been the same without Don Henley. You could say it was Don Henley’s talent that enabled them to show case artists such as Linda Ronstadt and Joe Walsh. Other bands that were successful because of their drummer were Kiss. They were never the same once Peter Criss was gone. If it was for Eddie Van Halen, his brother would have received the nod from me. Alex Van Halen was awesome at drums.

These are the foundations of some of the most influential bands. However, we never overlook those that were the brick and mortar as guitarists. Our entire magazine is built upon dynamic guitarists of varying genre’s. Consider Jason Ebs for instance. Easily, one of the best guitarists of all time.

 

ABOUT JASON EBS

As a long time Los Angeles resident, my wife Janea and I landed in Las Vegas in 2012, though we’re back and forth often and consider ourselves part of both cities. I've been fortunate enough to tour North America with Peter Criss & Ace Frehley from KISS on the Bad Boys of KISS Tours and have since jammed with so many cool people that I grew up listening to as I honed my passion.

I'm a Rock and Roll Lead Singing multi-instrumentalist who plays Guitar, Bass (fretted and fretless), percussion and drums. I'm always open to a cool situation for me to step into, whether it's touring in a rock & roll band, recording in the studio, or being in a rockin' cast in a Vegas show like Raiding the Rock Vault.

My Studio, Ebsworthy Sounds, is finishing our debut SWAGGERMOUTH due out on Rock Avenue Records USA late summer/fall 2023.

My publishing company is Kinky Organ Music Publishing and is establishing relationships with music supervisors for placements in Film, TV, and Motion Pictures. We have a vast catalogue, ranging from harder rock to delicate singer/songwriter songs with both a Male and Female approach. Whatever music you seek can be created for your specific project if it’s not already in our arsenal. Songs have been placed on CMT, The CW Network, and FOX, with and several tracks are appeared in the thriller "Chain Letter" starring Nicki Reed from "Twilight". ECOTONIC’S hard rockin’ song "I'm So Ready" was in heavy rotation at the recent USA Wrestling Semi Finals here in Vegas as they competed live on Universal Sports, and most recently their acoustic song “You’re Alive” was featured in the new movie “Hunt Club” from Latigo Films that features Mickey Rourke.

As an Actor, Trinity Artists International in Los Angeles manages me. Due to Covid, the past several years have been dedicated primarily to music, but I’ve stayed busy with parts on True Blood, Don't Trust the B in apt 23, and Blackout TV Miniseries, and others.

 

INTERVIEW WITH JASON EBS AND GUITAR THRILLS MAGAZINE

GT: Many questions come to mind, but probably one of the first things I must know is, how did you get your start as a guitarist? Where did your inspiration originate?

Jason: Well first of all, thanks so much for having me! And wow (gulp), thank you for the compliment of about being “one of the best guitarists of all time”! I’m very flattered and I think perhaps somebody may have dosed your cocktail! Seriously though, I’m very humbled and I thank you so much.
It all started when I came home from school when I was 11 years old and my older brother Drew was jamming with his friend upstairs in our bedroom. They were playing “Smoke on the Water” through this crappy little amp turned up to 11, and I was hooked on the distorted raunchy sound. From that point on, I’d run home from school so I could play. At the time I ran everywhere, as I was a runner growing up doing 10k races, running cross country, and on my paper route. After that day guitar was all I wanted to do. I was happy doing rhythm at the time
My pragmatic parents decided to put me in lessons, but I HATED them. I had this horrible acoustic guitar with action ½ ” high, and had a few boring instructors who were teaching me chords & songs out of Mel Bay book – no offense, but playing Greensleeves was not working for me! I already knew back then that I was playing music for the freedom and expression of it all, not to be told what to do and follow any guidelines that theory was forcing upon me.

Well, my sister got me a used Teisco Del Rey electric guitar for $25, and that played wonderfully! Thankfully I still have it and it hangs on my wall as a reminder of my beginnings. I finally found a cool teacher who would let me bring in KISS records and he’d show me how to play a song each week. I was obsessed with KISS, and soon my ear developed far beyond my knowledge of theory. I was a sponge, learning every song that I could from bands like Black Sabbath, Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Grand Funk, DEVO, Genesis, The Cars, Peter Frampton, and oh so many more things that my older brothers and sister were playing.

My first real job was at McDonald’s, and there was an amazing guitar player named Jay that worked there. He gave me a few song ideas he had and I took them home and wrote some parts to them. This led to the formation my first real band called Southern Cross! We were all original, but I think we covered “Sign of the Southern Cross” and few other Dio songs. We were serious and rehearsed 2 times a week in our drummer Gary’s basement, and to this is day still one of my favorite bands that I’ve been in. Our 4-song demo still rocks when I hear it today. Unfortunately, we broke up because everyone went to college; that was my first experience with “Band Break-Up Depression”. I was devastated.

 

GT: Those are some excellent bands. You have your old school classic rock and top bands from the 70s. Love it. What age did you start playing professionally?

Jason: I think Southern Cross did get paid a few times, but my first regular professional gigs took place when I was going to Penn State. State College & Main Campus had a thriving music scene, with lots of clubs on College Ave and tons of Fraternities to play. There was a posting for a band called “Split Decision” that was looking for a guitarist, sarcastically stating that their other guitar player had “left for the big time”! I loved the sarcasm, so I called them and we got together to jam. The first song that we did was “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” and we crushed it, so I knew that we had the makings for a great band! We literally all quite our jobs on the spot, just never going back…this was my official first leap towards musical success. I stepped into the Lead Vocal & Guitarist role, and we took over the town, ultimately playing the Beta Sigma Beta Regatta in front of a crowd of 35,000 people opening for Joan Jett I think! We broke up when people graduated and went to law school. Band Break-up depression #2.

But…I was hooked, so I and headed to LA to went to GIT at Musician’s Institute to force myself to learn music theory and to go for the brass ring. I learned theory and then forgot it as soon as I could -- that was the theory of the 1-year course at the time. Get bombarded by theory for a year and then just let it settle into your playing. I think it worked.

 

GT: What kind of challenges have you experienced performing in a band? Is it the touring, or just playing night after night?

Jason: Good question! Being in a great band to me is one of the best feelings in the world. When everyone gels on and off the stage with a cool group identity, the band is unstoppable; however, often egos, girlfriends, and expectations interfere with potential and progress.
So the biggest challenge that I’ve experienced is balancing the band personalities while steering the ship and leading by example without being too forceful. Although I really like presenting as a band, it’s very rarely a democracy. There’s usually a leader and a strong #2 supporting the cause. I’ve experienced mutiny from band members that wanted to be leaders but should have remained a #2, and it’s caused the band to implode in the middle of recording our label debut. Completely Devastating once again, band break-up depression #3!

So I would say that the biggest challenge is to have people in the band be evolved human beings who know their role and stay in their lane so things can go smoothly in order to achieve and maintain success. 99% of the famous & awesome people that I get to play with know their roles and there is no BS ego drama, we all step confidently into our roles and the music does the talking.
I love playing when I’m crunchy – by this I mean properly worn in from 4 nights a week; my voice, playing, and overall vibe is best in road dog mode! So I never really look at touring like it’s a hassle, we are so lucky to be able to play for a living and say what we like through song and have people appreciating what we do. Bring it on!

 

GT: Did you always envision yourself as a musician? Was there something else that you wanted to accomplish?

Jason: Why yes, first I wanted to be a professional baseball player! I was a pitcher and a shortstop, and my older brother Drew was really into it and we’d play all summer long in Pennsylvania. Then I was on course to become a professional runner. We would run 10k races and my dad, brother, and I would all take 1st place in our age group. I made high school varsity cross country in 9th grade and would win races.

But once I started playing, it was my passion that I wanted to do all the time. However, I was trepidatious about how I would feel turning my passion into my full time job, so it took me awhile to mentally make the plunge. I went to Penn State and consequently joined the ARMY Reserves for the GI Bill. Things really clicked in the ARMY – I kept being promoted and offered situations that I declined to their shock and surprise. They made me Squad Leader in Basic Training (I said “No Thank you Drill Sergeant and my drill instructor flipped his lid!), I was Guidon Bearer in AIT, captain of the Drill Team, Captain of the Running Squad, and they wanted to send me to Jump School and OCS to become and officer. But I declined, knowing that I wanted to get back to music. I have the utmost respect for our military and keep an American Flag on my mic stand in honor of them.

I moved to LA and was hired by ALESIS as a technical support specialist and then promoted to Sales & Marketing. It was a great company, but I took a leap once again and decided to quit because it was taking all of my time away from music. To survive I started doing background work for movies; I got my 3 SAG Vouchers and joined the Screen Actors Guild, got an Agent, and never looked back. 2 Years later I was on tour with half of KISS, fronting Peter Criss’band CRISS on the“Bad Boys of KISS” Tours along with the Ace Frehley Band. I was stupefied, having grown up such a devoted KISS fan! It is amazing what can happen when you take the plunge and follow your dreams! That’s why it’s tattooed on my right hand – Yume!

 

GT: You are very accomplished. From what I understand you are performing live with your wife? How did that start?

Jason: Thank you! Well I had to work very hard at it. I was a natural at hearing a song and figuring it out by ear (still my modus operandi), but I had to practice hard for other aspects of it. Singing, thankfully, came to me naturally and rather effortlessly.

My wife Janea Chadwick Ebs is awesome! She is a singer/songwriter and comes from a soulful background. Growing up in Santa Barbara, she has performed with Joe Cocker, Kenny Loggins, Sheryl Crow, Nancy Wilson, and has worked with the elite like producer David Foster. She has a very original sound to her; I like to define her voice as “hauntingly beautiful”. It has been a blast incorporating it into the unified sound that we now have.

I too love breaking things down acoustically, so that is where we initially came together in sound. When we were first dating, we housesat for a friend in Malibu on PCH just next to Moonshadows. We brought a few acoustic guitars with roller blades, fire logs, hunkered down & started writing. We pounded out 2 songs a day for a few weeks, blading down to Venice for meals and such. It was an awesome connection, and we recorded an acoustic CD when we moved in together, which we are planning to release in the near future. One of the songs from this session, “You’re Alive”, appears in the new movie Hunt Club as the climax scene.

Me being the rock & roller that I am, I have brought out the rock & roll singer in her. We put together a band called ECOTONIC and did our first electric record called Electrified. We went through a few member changes, and ended up having bassist Martin Motnik (ACCEPT) and legendary drummer Chris Slade (AC/DC) in the band. We recorded our second CD Sound Bites before Slade got called back into AC/DC on their last tour, which put that band on hold. Then Covid hit and he was in England for the duration.

Enter present day. We have a brand new band called SWAGGERMOUTH that just signed with Rock Avenue Records USA. We are finishing our debut album entitled “Never Shut Up” in our studio Ebsworthy Sounds while we finalize the live band. Many of the songs are co writes with Slade, Janea, and myself. I am playing all the the guitars & bass, and drums on the songs that Slade is not playing. Janea and I are sharing the lead vocals – as our label says, we“Cradle” each other’s voices, a description that summarizes us nicely. Slade described SWAGGERMOUTH as “Controlled Chaos”, which I ABSOLUTELY love as a description!

 

GT: That is awesome.

GT: From what I understand you are heavily involved in Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp. For those that are not aware of what it accomplished, would you like to provide some insight?

Jason: Yea, I have been a rocks star counselor now for about 10 years. It is an amazing organization, and I love changing lives of the campers who attend. The experience lasts far beyond any given camp and transfers into their real lives.

Picture this – we all have opportunity cost from decisions made and paths not followed. As an example, I was in the ARMY and attending Penn State when I decided to go another direction and pursue music full time. So I did not become an Officer or get that 4-year degree. And there are Doctors, Lawyers, Screenwriters, and Movie Producers that did not pursue their dream of playing music full time because they went to med school or law school.
Well, we all meet in the middle at Rock ‘n’Roll Fantasy Camp! It’s a 4-day boot camp of eating, sleeping, and living music. Upon arrival, campers get together with their assigned Rock Star Counselor and start practicing in preparation for their upcoming performances with the headlining Rocks Stars, who’ve included Gene Simmons, Roger Daltrey, Kim Thayil, STP, Sammy Hagar, Paul Stanley, Scorpions, Joe Perry, Zakk Wylde, Sebastian Bach, and oh so many more.

We lock down and pound out the tunes, and then the headliners start rolling in on day 2 to jam with the newly formed band. On Saturday and Sunday nights the band performs live at the best rock clubs in the given city (LA, NY, Nashville, Ft Lauderdale) and are usually joined by the headliner on Sunday night in front of a packed house! It is a Bucket list item for some, and a regular occurrence for others. We have many “repeat offenders”, as I call them, coming back camp after camp!

Once they step onto a stage with someone that they have seen perform in an arena, they are forever changed. I always say that you will not see music the same way after that, as you’ve crossed the line between fan and star – you became equals, if but for only a moment, and the feeling does not fade! There is a huge network of campers who stay in contact with each other, and I am friends with a few people from every band that I’ve had! And that’s quite a few after 10 years

To see what Fantasy Camp is about, check out the movie for free on Amazon or other digital platforms! Rock Camp: The Movie and www.rockcamp.com for upcoming camps and tell them I sent you!

GT: I watched the video on You Tube and was impressed by the artists that are involved.

 

GT: Have you had anyone from the Fantasy Camp go on to accomplishing solo acts or join a band?

Jason: Actually yes, quite a few campers have gone on to do so! Off the top of my head, some of the other recording projects and bands that campers have formed include Suzy and the Substitutes, The Intemperate Sons, and most recently one that I produced called Red Cash. So many of the younger drummers & guitarist are full steam ahead pursuing their dream of music with the full support of their parents.

Janea and I actually have a project with camper Loren Wessel called The New Twenty! We’ve developed an awesome 3 way writing team and have over 3 albums worth of material.
I know that there are many more, as it lights a fire within them to bring their dream to fruition. I know I’m forgetting many, so pardon me for missing you RRFC Peeps!

 

GT: What impresses you most about those that join the Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp?

Jason: What impresses me most is their eagerness to learn and how seriously they take each experience. The campers work really hard well in advance of the camp to prepare and perform the best that they can. Many of them are busy with their lives and jobs, but they make the room for to follow their passion! And their courage in incomparable…do you know how much courage it takes to step on stage and jam with someone like Joe Perry?
And some campers like to continue improving post camp and reach out to me for private zoom lessons for Vocals, Guitars, Bass, & Production. I am always amazed at how seriously they follow their passion! I enjoy paying it forward to people willing to learn, so when I can I take on a few new students. Anybody interested should PM me on the socials!

 

GT: I know you are busy, and I am glad that you took the time of your schedule to answer some questions for Guitar Thrills Magazine. I would like to do a follow up later this year. Would that work for you?

Jason: Absolutely, I would love to do a follow up with you and tell a few Peter & Ace Tour Stories, talk more SWAGGERMOUTH & discuss The Jet Velocity All Star Band in The Hollywood Christmas Parade! Here is a little tease for next time:

https://youtu.be/uN-CLhZyw70 Jet Velocity with Michael Anthony (Van Halen)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iNJcXdT0jY Jet Velocity In Hollywood Christmas Parade

Jason Ebs: Thanks you so much for having me, and thanks for listening everyone! Keep an eye out for our new SWAGGERMOUTH record & look forward to seeing you all on the road!. Be good to each other, Onward and Upward…

 

GT: Awesome. We look forward to it.

GT: It is apparent that you represent a host of brands. Have you had a specific brand or endorsement that really made a huge impression on you? If so, which one and why?

Rikki: Seth Baccus Guitars was the first to reach out to me. Seth was a really nice gentleman who sees my potential way before every other brand reached out to me. He has worked with Led Zepellin, Muse, etc. The blue sparkle guitar that I often use was handmade by him. So this partnership is quite special to me.
Another brand is Fender, I feel honoured by their recognition. Notably, I was featured twice on Fender's Technique of the Week on YouTube, which garnered over 1.5 million views. Also, I'm grateful to D’addario for supplying all the strings I use in my music. Focusrite has been a great partner too as they supply quite a few recordings gear for me. Their support has been invaluable.

 

GT: Do you think it is a waste of efforts or talent to just endorse brands or should a guitarist have loftier goals?

Rikki: It’s not a waste of efforts to have a big brand backing you, it’s useful for a portfolio career. But gaining endorsements should probably be at the bottom of your priority list.

 

GT: Where do you plan on performing? Do you make it outside the country for shows?

Rikki: Yeah, I have a few shows coming up in the UK and some in Europe.

 

GT: You are very talented Rikki. It was with much pleasure that we had an opportunity to interview you. Please keep us updated on what your plans are for future releases and performances. We want to be a valuable resource to promote your music.

Rikki: Thank you!

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