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"Radio pop stars are one thing, but artists have a duty to tell the truth." - Jesse Dayton

Posted: January 2, 2023
My influences were seeing Chuck Berry on Johnny Carson as a kid. He was perfect. Great voice, the best lyrics, coolest guitar parts and an entertainer like no other. Later I would go down lots of rabbit holes like rockabilly, jazz, hard rock, punk, George Jones, Bob Dylan and lots of blues music like Magic Sam and Buddy Guy.

State of mind - The status of one’s consciousness, as in their perception of the outside world, their perception of their own intuition. Have you ever considered the state of mind of an artist when they create amazing lyrics to a song? What is the state of their consciousness and the perception of the world outside? This often impacts them, and then the words become a masterpiece written on a sheet of paper or scribbled on a napkin beside a warm glass of whiskey. Well, that may not be exactly how it starts. Though it is the quintessential means of how an idea may get be recalled by the editors at Guitar Thrills Magazine. When an idea arises, you don’t wait until late to put it into words. You write it down on a post it, napkin, brick, or hand even. Whatever it takes!!

Every idea, or word lost is a moment forgotten. What is your perception of how artists compose or produce music? How does it start? What preparations do they make to build upon works of art? These are some of the questions, that we will consider with our guest today. However, we really need to understand that the concept of building music is more than just writing down a couple of words. There is much more involved. Which is why only the most talented songwriters and artists make it to the big stage. There are millions of artists, and only a small percentage will make a profitable living at it. Others will continue to struggle and even pay to play at a local dive or bar. Despite the outcome, what is the process? What goes on in the brain of an artist that helps them to develop some of the most powerful works of art? We need to find out.

I was introduced to the works of an outlaw artist, that simply amazed me. I was quick to categorize him as a rockabilly artist. Just the speed, and sound to what he performs would define him. However, Jesse Dayton has other ideas behind his style and state of mind as he performs on stage. Let’s get moving onto the interview, but we need to cover a bit more about Jesse Dayton.

ABOUT JESSE DAYTON

Jesse Dayton’s Beaumonster is filled with song interpretations that are part-greaser, a whole lotta twang, and quintessentially outlaw country badasss. Beaumonster encapsulates a life filled with adventure and lore featuring some of the greatest musicians this world has ever known.

Now a successful independent act, in the last handful of years Dayton has played guitar on Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan’s latest solo album, launched his own weekly radio show, Dayton’s “Badass Country Show,” on Gimme Country and licensed more than 50 songs for film and television…not to mention touring his arse off playing over 150 live dates per year throughout Europe and North America while also releasing five albums for Blue Élan Records.

Dayton’s life story reads like a “who’s who” of American music. In his debut memoir Beaumonster, Dayton reveals the stranger-than-fiction encounters and outlandish experiences that have ensued across his wide-ranging career. After sneaking into nightclubs to play gigs in his youth, 18-year-old Dayton and his trio began packing clubs and theaters across Houston, Dallas, and Austin. His first solo record—featuring great luminaries like Doug Sahm, Flaco Jimenez, and Johnny Gimble—hit #1 on the Americana Radio Charts, and then he was off to the races, touring the world as an opener for punk legends Social Distortion, The Supersuckers, and X, and helping with arrangements and guitar on The Supersuckers’ biggest selling record, “Must’ve Been High.” While doing press in Nashville, he caught the attention of Waylon Jennings and was whisked off to Woodland Studios, where he was greeted by none other than Johnny Cash, who tells Dayton: “We’ve been waiting for you.”

After that meeting with “The Man In Black,” Dayton’s ride across the entertainment industry, traversing genre and format, has only gotten wilder. Whether it’s playing guitar on records and film with the likes of Cash, Ray Price, Willie Nelson, Johnny Bush, and Glen Campbell; writing and recording soundtracks for horror director/rockstar Rob Zombie; directing Malcolm McDowell and Sid Haig in his own horror movie; or filling in for the iconic punk band X’s guitarist on a massive 40-city US tour, Dayton is down to make his mark—making Beaumonster a uniquely entertaining tale that will impress new and old fans alike.

The companion album finds Dayton performing songs written by the many talented musicians and songwriters featured throughout his memoir. The album zigs and zags from Waylon Jennings to Social Distortion and Townes Van Zandt to Willie Nelson — all who shared a connection with the storied Beaumont guitar slinger.

When Billy Zoom was going through cancer treatment in 2015, Dayton filled in on the X summer tour. Dayton, first and foremost a fan, was thrilled to play X songs each night in the spot of one of his guitar idols. He wrote about the once in a lifetime experience and decided to cover what he calls a “Johnny and June hillbilly version” of X’s “Burning House of Love” which features Dayton’s signature Texas twang with a dash of outlaw country.

While on tour with the Supersuckers in 1994 Dayton found himself “…praying’ the Devil didn’t steal [his] soul, and that [his] mama wouldn’t find out about [his] evil ways.” On his cover of “Born with a Tail,” Dayton starts off with a driving intro then adds a Spaghetti Western flair and somehow even more slide guitar that does justice to the Supersuckers own, the late Rontrose Heathman.

“Story of My Life,” a classic Social Distortion song was an easy pick for Dayton, “This song pretty much explains why [Mike Ness’] working class fans love him so much… he’s one of them.” Dayton’s punkabilly drawl cuts through a mix of organ and background vocals to give an entirely new feel to the group’s most iconic song.

Working with Waylon Jennings was a dream come true for Dayton, “[Waylon] put a dangerous cool factor into country music when it really needed it and playing with him was mind blow in’.” Dayton’s cover of “Just to Satisfy You” is a tender interpretation of the heartbreak song and showcases a softer side to Dayton’s vocal abilities.

Interviewing an artist of Jesse’s caliber doesn’t come around every day. So, there is no reason for us to delay, are interaction with him. We need to know what is behind his creativity. We need to know the “state of mind” when Jessie builds upon amazing lyrics.

Interview with Jesse Dayton and Guitar Thrills Magazine

Guitar Thrills: Hi Jesse, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer some directed and pointed questions regarding your state of mind. Recall, we made mention that its part of your perception of the outside world. How would you best describe your state of mind?

Jesse: Right now, I would describe my state of mind as being in a flow state. I’m managing lots of work things now which takes more focus than I’m used to. But this is a quality problem, considering when Covid slowed us all down.

Guitar Thrills: There are some very important topics that are covered in your music. It would be easy to spontaneously write about your thoughts at a given moment. However, do you take time to thoroughly write down what you want to say?

Jesse: When I started writing down all my ideas on Stick It notes around my desk in my office, it changed my level of productivity. I know that sounds kind of like business stuff, but I lost a lot of great ideas over the years by forgetting to write them down. So, yea, sometimes I even take a break from writing & ask myself “what are you trying to say here?” Writing is not all stream of consciousness and romance, it’s blue-collar work!

Guitar Thrills: Do you consider what others might think when they hear your lyrics?

Jesse: Initially I write everything for myself. It’s a totally selfish act under the auspices of hoping others might be missing or wanting to hear themes that I want to. If you start writing what you think other people want to hear, than you start second guessing, and the honesty of your work suffers.

Guitar Thrills: We know the type of world we live in. It is evident that someone is always going to be offended to some degree or another. You can’t always worry about who you are going to alienate. Does this even cross your mind?

Jesse: During Covid, I started writing rants on social media because the universe had completely changed, and the world was in trouble. My writing caught the eye of a literary agent and a publisher at Hachette Books, and it landed me a book deal. The only time I edit myself is when I think I sound too cynical, dark, or negative. The world has plenty of that already and it doesn’t take any real courage to spread fear.

Guitar Thrills: I am going to be the first person to try to avoid controversial topics. However, it isn’t easy. If you do, you always speak in generic terms, and it never draws out emotions. Do what extent do emotions become when designing a song or album?

Jesse: Usually “controversial” means you’re telling the truth. I grew up hearing Neil Young, Johnny Cash & Joe Strummer on the radio and songs like “Ohio” or “The Man In Black” or “Know Your Rights” were designed to elicit emotion. Radio pop stars are one thing, but artists have a duty to tell the truth.

Guitar Thrills: Not every artist is going to have the same perception of the world that we live in. However, you can’t avoid the truth and the reality of the day. I believe that you create a foundation for change. We hope that you continue to motivate and inspire others through your music.

Guitar Thrills: What projects are you currently working on?

Jesse: Well, I just finished a new solo record with Shooter Jennings producing. Then I did a book tour in the US, the UK & Australia for my book Beaumonster out on Hachette. Then flew up to NY and recorded a new recorded w/ Samantha Fish w/ Jon Spencer,(from The Blues Explosion), producing that’s coming out. Looks like 2023 is going to be crazy.

Guitar Thrills: Nice. I really dig your sound. I made mention that it sounds more rockabilly to me. You mentioned that its more outlaw country. Is that accurate?Jesse: My music is really a hybrid of blues, rock n roll and country. Depends on what song you’re listening to, but it’s always those 3 elements. Lately I’ve been leaning harder into the blues in my writing, because I think there’s more opportunity to do some new stuff in that right now. But I love Robert Johnson, Chuck Berry and Hank Williams Sr all the same!

Guitar Thrills: Who were your inspirations as you developed as an artist in the music industry?

Jesse: My influences were seeing Chuck Berry on Johnny Carson as a kid. He was perfect. Great voice, the best lyrics, coolest guitar parts and an entertainer like no other. Later I would go down lots of rabbit holes like rockabilly, jazz, hard rock, punk, George Jones, Bob Dylan and lots of blues music like Magic Sam and Buddy Guy.

Guitar Thrills: What do you hope to accomplish when all is said in done

Jesse: All I want to accomplish is getting my music to as many people as I can, while trying to live a meaningful life. Time is flying by so fast, so now is the time for work.

Guitar Thrills: I know the sky is the limit when comes to your talent. There isn’t anything that Jesse Dayton cannot achieve. What is next for you?

Jesse: Well, thanks for saying that and I wish it were true! Right now, is all we have, so I’m deeply committed to working with Samantha Fish right now on touring our new record. Samantha has become a close musical partner for co-writing songs and performing duets live and I’m lucky to have her in my life. So, no films or books for now, just music.

Guitar Thrills: We want to let you know that you will be in the January issue of Guitar Thrills Magazine. 2023 is going to bring about changes to the type of artist that will be allowed to appear in the magazine. All artists that we interview, will make it to our online platform. Not all of them will make into the magazine. Thank you for taking the time to interview with us, and we hope that you come back soon.

Jesse: Thanks for having me and let me know when you want to come see a show and i’ll put you on my guest list! Best, JD

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