Header image credit: David L Peché
By Andrew Daly
Boogie-woogie licks, hard-driving solos, and undulating swagger are just a few of the hallmarks which define Jason Kane & the Jive. Menacing across the stages with the grandeur and bluster of the icons which influenced him, Kane’s sidewinding fretwork and ear-crunching solos are a thing of beauty.
Through three outstanding records – Jason Kane & the Jive (2017), Hellacious Boogie (2018), and Soggy Noggin’ (2020) – Kane has shown the world that good-time hard rock delivered through a Marshall stack isn’t only back, but it’s here to stay. And rumor has it that Kane and his cohorts are working on their fourth record, much to fans’ delight.
But in the meantime, Jason Kane beamed in with VWMusic to recount his origins with the guitar, the records that influenced him, the formation of the Jive, and what’s next as he moved into 2023.
What first inspired you to pick up the guitar?
Growing up surrounded by the music being blasted in the house, I think, is what really pushed me in the direction to start playing. I remember my uncles blasting KISS and Boston, my mother jammin’ Jim Croce, John Denver, and Janis Joplin. And my pops fillin’ up my head with guitar players like Alvin Lee, Johnny Winter, and then he’d put on Obituary and Bloodbath. [Laughs]. Even my grandparents would be crankin’ their tunes. So, it was only a matter of time before I started diving into music myself.
Can you recall your first guitar and the first riff you learned?
My first riff was “TNT” by ACϟDC, and my first solo was “Highway to Hell.” My first guitar was a Cherry Red Fender Squire gifted to me in second grade, and I do still own it! I’d wake up and just stare at it and only strum the strings. The main reason being is that shortly after it was gifted, I broke my finger on my fretting hand, which, funny enough, ended up adding some dexterity. [Laughs]. And by the time I introduced the fretting hand, I had felt a bit more comfortable with my strumming hand.
What are five albums that shaped the band? How is their influence best reflected in your playing?
Number one on my list has to be KISS’s Alive! I frequently played this album growing up. As a kid, seeing these monster-like superhero rock ‘n’ rollers blew my mind. And later on, as I started to write years later, going back and listening to there formula they used to write those catchy songs was definitely something I strived for.
Number two would be ACϟDC’s High Voltage. Bouncing off the falls in my room, crankin’ “Rock ‘N’ Roll Singer,” pretending to be Bon Scott and Angus Young quickly became an afterschool tradition for me. Bon’s delivery and charisma are untouchable; on top of his witty lyrics, you have the schoolboy from hell rippin’ boogie like nobody’s business next to one of the tightest rock ‘n’ roll rhythm sections of all time to back it up. ACϟDC strongly influences my approach to playing and performing.
Number three is Ted Nugent & The Amboy Dukes’ Tooth, Fang & Claw. This was my first vinyl and my introduction to the motor city madman. I was in 1st grade at a KISS convention when this album cover really stuck out to me, and then once I heard that first song, “Lady Luck,” it was game over. This album really captures something beautiful, raw, and real. You can’t beat the tone of that Byrdland being cranked for dear life. This album showed me feedback is your friend if you do it right. Ted’s total control over his feedback is magical to me.
Number four is Sly & The Family Stone’s Dance to the Music. I firmly believe Sly stone is a mad genius on another level. His compositions on his songs, his lyrics, and the way the whole band is constantly bouncing off each other are second to none. Not only did I learn how to write a song because of the song “Dance to the Music,” but this album made me put down the guitar to go buy a fuzz pedal and bass to sound like Larry Graham and later on try to play the organ. Definitely a never-ending source of inspiration.
Number five is Grand funk Railroad’s Red Album. The best for last on my list. The kings of rock ‘n’ roll soul, Mark [Farner], Don [Brewer], and Mel [Schacher], are unforgiving on this album. Mel’s bass runs riding alongside Don’s drumming, which is killer the whole time, but who really made Grand Funk for me is Mark Farner! He sang like a bird and wrote some of the heaviest riffs, and this album just takes you for a ride. He’s the reason why I sing and play guitar and the reason why I stepped on the stage in the first place.
Image courtesy of Getty Images/Wiki Commons
How did The Jive form? Can you recall the first gig?
I was 18, playing solo, just me and an acoustic. I maybe did a handful of shows at this point and went on a few small runs as an opening act. One day I got a call from a band looking for a rock ‘n’ roll singer! I auditioned and got the gig. Although we clicked, one problem was we had no songs, and in the few practices we had, we just partied. I was still taking pursuing my acoustic solo gigs and wasn’t sure how serious about taking the band at the moment.
I pitched the idea of getting some originals going and ended up adding lyrics to a few songs/jams they had at the time, and then one practice, the guitar player doesn’t show up. So, me and the rest of the band were there, and that’s when I told them, “Hey, I play guitar as well.” So, we revamped a few songs from my acoustic set, which later on became “Courthouse Blues” and “It Ain’t Easy,” off The Jive’s first album.
So, by the time the whole band reconvened, we had about a set worth of material. I had been booked for an acoustic show in the gangway of this local video game store downtown. I called in last minute and said, “I’m bringing my full band in, and the show will no longer be acoustic.” We ended up getting a nice little crowd of 70 people outside standing in the street. That’s when the band was born, and I’ve been running with it ever since.
Tell me about any original music you’re working on. Your songwriting approach and now that continues to evolve?
I’ve been putting the final touches on our upcoming fourth album with our friend Spenser Ramzel of Blackbuck Studiohaus. We’ve been in mixing mode lately. But if I ever write, I notice the best songs are the ones that come out on their own compared to the songs that I beat my head over to write. So, keeping it very natural and unforced has become my go-to.
What songs and recordings that you’ve done so far mean the most to you, and why? What lessons have you taken from them that you’ll carry forever?
My two songs have to be “Chains” and “Coming Through.” “Chains is off our third release, Soggy Noggin’, and I like that it’s a departure from our normal hellacious boogie rock ‘n’ roll. And the lyrics aren’t just about partying and all the rock ‘n’ roll stuff; it kinda shows some vulnerability. And then, with our newly released single, “Coming Through,” written by Nick Jive and myself, I went more of the route of making up a story and characters and getting more creative. So, my two lessons from those songs are not being afraid to try something different and being vulnerable, and not being shy about getting a little more creative and creating your own world within the lyrics.
How do you balance the want to craft quality songs with the desire to shred?
The first three albums are definitely more guitar solo driven. I definitely took a step back on our upcoming release on that, but not much, though. But definitely steering more in the direction of letting the song breathe and just serving the song, the less is more attitude. Although sometimes that may go out the window live if it calls for more!
What guitars, gear, pedals, amps, and effects are you using?
My main squeeze is a piss yellow 1973 Gibson double cutaway with a Lawrence on the bridge. My opening tuning guitar is a hornless ’80s Explorer with one Invader and a ’50s Dobro bridge added to switch between open tunings, owned by my friend Bob Catlin from Evil mothers, Pigface, and S.A Slayer. My backup is a 2016 tribute Gibson Goldtop. Live, I’m running everything dry through 2204 70s Marshall with a GX Shure Wireless. I’ll use some effects in the studio, like a wah or a vibe but live; I hate anything between me and the amp.
What are your most immediate goals, and what’s next for you in all lanes?
My main goal is getting this fourth album wrapped up and giving it a proper release on top of playing everywhere in the states we’ve yet to touch. Hopefully, add some oversea dates and keep spreading the word. My next stop is starting up our residency at Reggie’s Rock Club in Chicago for January and February of 2023 as the fourth album is coming together. After that, I want to begin writing for the fifth album.
Image credit: Oscar Moreno