Sass Jordan’s new project, Something Unto Nothing (S.U.N.) is a much welcome relief from the force fed blandness that’s currently being marketed as “music” these days. With a raw vibe and groovy goodness to it, the 13 track opus is reminiscent of the epic rock albums that ruled the charts in the 1970′s. Together with guitarist Brian Tichy, bassist Michael Devin and drummer Tommy Stewart, Jordan and S.U.N take the listener on a rock and roll journey of honest songwriting and cool hooks.
S.U.N is infused with a variety of Jordan and Tichy’s influences. From the opening lines of ‘Burned’ to songs like ‘Nomad’, ‘Mobile Again, ‘I’m the One’ and the title track, it’s a sound music fans have been jonesin for a long time.
S.U.N isn’t just a record. Something Unto Nothing is an experience. One that brings back the days when wearing huge headphones, listening to new vinyl and becoming immersed in music was all the rage. And that’s no jive.
Jordan, the beautiful blonde, vocal dynamo, is one of the best singers in rock. With a bluesy tone and power that commands an audience’s attention, perhaps it’s no surprise that same command may have been a reason why she was chosen to become an Honorary Colonel in the Royal Canadian Air Force; a title bestowed upon her this year while touring with the Canadian Forces.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Sass about the new album. We also discuss the day she realized she wanted to become a singer, her stint with the Canadian Forces as well as the origin of one of her biggest hits, “Make You A Believer”. With an infectious new album and spirit about music, she’s certainly made one out of me.
goJimmygo (gJg): Congratulations on the new album! How did the release event go?
Sass Jordan (SJ): It was amazing! We held it at the Key Club in Hollywood. I’m very happy.
Brian (Tichy) is known primarily for his drumming but in this band, when you play live, he’s the guitarist!
He’s an incredible drummer but also a great guitar player as well. He played both instruments on our album.
gJg: You guys were also recently joined onstage by another amazing guitarist – Jake E. Lee! How did that experience come about?
SJ: Jake is a bad ass! Still an amazing player and a lovely human being as well! He knew we were playing and texted me ‘What am I coming up to play?’ It was so cool. He also asked me to sing on a new record he’s currently working on. I’ll be singing a song that I co-wrote with him, Ron Mancuso and Derek Sharp.
Tichy had played on a 1993 record of mine called ‘Rats’, but over the years we had lost touch with each other. We somehow got back together again through MySpace back in 2010 and we decided to get together and write some songs. So, we got together and started writing and instantly it was a fountain of creativity. One of the most creative relationships I’ve ever had. After we’d written 4 or 5 songs over the course of the year, we decided we needed to be a band. Being an equal part of a band is something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time.
What would your songwriting process be like?
We would write in the loft at his house. First, we’d write and arrange a song and then he’d go downstairs and get on the drum kit and record the drum part from his head. Then we’d start putting on the guitars, bass and vocals. We recorded the entire album in his house, up at Tish Rock Ranch, in the California Canyons. There’s something about the light and space in the Canyons that inspires this kind of big rock sound. We wanted to make a record of songs that sound like you’ve heard them before, but not quite – so that it would be familiar but still fresh!
One of my favorite songs from the album is the title track, Something Unto Nothing. It reminds me of the days of big headphones, putting a song on the turntable and being taken to another plane of existence.
SJ: It’s so cool that you say that because that’s exactly what we were trying to achieve. It’s like early Styx or Kansas; or even Genesis – those epic songs that they used to play on the radio. FM radio back in the seventies was so great. Back then, they’d play everything, and it was up to the disk jockey’s what they would play on their own shows. Before radio became a corporate entity designed to sell things other than music.
When did you realize that you wanted to become a singer?
When I was young, my parents only listened to classical music. Then one day, my brother and I discovered that if you changed the dial on the radio, a different sound would come out. [laughs] That’s when I first started to hear pop/rock music. In fact, the very first song I ever heard was “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” by The Band. That changed my life. I remember my Mom came home from grocery shopping and I went running up to her and said “MOM! I know what I want to do. I want to be a singer!”
When I was 14, I started singing in Westmount Park, Montreal, with my friends. We’d just sit in the park, play acoustic guitars and sing songs of the day: The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young … that’s how I started. My last two solo records are rootsy like that: ‘Get What You Give’ and ‘From Dusk til Dawn’. I recorded ‘Get What You Give’ in Nashville and there are a lot of amazing players on it. Colin Linden, the great blues/roots guitarist and Audley Freed from ‘Cry of Love’. Richard Bell from the Band (keyboards) and Bob Babbit (bass) from The Funk Brothers both played on it as well. That was one of the last recordings that Bob and Richard played on, as both of them are no longer with us, unfortunately. They were two of the greats, and I am honored to have had the chance to work with them.
Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?
SJ: I’m an honorary Colonel in the Canadian Forces. My squadron is up at 4 Wing in Cold Lake, Alberta, 417 Combat Support Squadron. We’re working on a TV show about my experiences with them, but the show is mostly about the men and women who serve, and what fascinating and incredible people they are – it’s a chance to get to know them, and maybe get a feel for their lives and lifestyle.
How did you get involved with them?
I was doing a Canadian Northern Entertainment Show Tour (similar to a USO Tour) and we were up at the North Pole, CF Alert, on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut. While we were there, it was 24-hour darkness. The sun never came up. I ran into the station warrant officer, MWO Rob Dumelie, and he said to me, “My squadron in Cold Lake, Alberta would like to have someone like you as our Honorary Colonel. Would you ever consider it?” And I said, “Absolutely!”
What duties does your job entail?
I’m a liaison (or public face) for my squadron and get to go out into the world and talk about them. I’m also a big part of morale and get to hang out with the families. It’s truly an amazing honor, because these men and women are performing such a huge service for us. It’s good to acknowledge them and let them know that people care.
One of my favorite Sass songs is “Make You A Believer”. How did that song come to be?
Rick Neigher and I were at his writing studio in Hollywood, and I wanted to write a song that sounded like the Faces mixed with a southern rock kind of vibe. So he just started playing that chord progression and I just started singing… “I’ve been sitting here all night, tryin’ to make this thing work out right…” and it just flowed from there. At that moment, we pretty much knew we had something!
What are you most looking forward to with S.U.N and this new music?
We really want to tour and we know that we have to build this person by person. The good thing is, when people see the band they love it. This type of music and attitude seems to be something that people are really hungry for, if all the comments and reviews we’ve been getting are any indication. We aren’t neophytes – we’re veterans – we’ve been working our whole lives to be this good at what we do, and we are the real deal. We don’t use auto tune, we don’t use click tracks we don’t use any studio trickery. What you hear on the record is what you get live. This music is genuine and it comes from our hearts and souls. And if we can provide what’s missing in that little niche gap, that’s the greatest thing on Earth!
Article first published as Nothing Like The S.U.N: Sass Jordan Discusses New Album on Technorati.