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Jason Falkner (born June 2, 1968) is an American pop and rock musician. Active since the late 1980s, he has performed with several bands. In addition to releasing several albums as a solo artist, he is a prolific session musician and producer who has contributed to dozens of other recordings by other bands and musicians.
If you amassed a decent music collection during the ’90s and ’00s, then there’s a good chance you own at least one record on which Jason Falkner has played, written or produced. The guy has worked with everyone from Paul McCartney to Beck to Cheap Trick to Air to Brendan Benson to Daniel Johnston, and that’s just scratching the surface. Play “Six Degrees Of Falkner Separation” and you can probably come up with any pop musician of the last twenty years — I tried it and even made a connection to a friend’s drummer ex-boyfriend. If Falkner was merely a session musician, he’d have a resume he could be proud of, and a waiting list of potential clients.
Problem is, he doesn’t like playing sideman for other people. He’s an astoundingly gifted and creative singer/songwriter/performer in his own right, one of the foremost practitioners of the guitar-based, melody and harmony-happy genre known as power pop. If you like the Beatles, or XTC, or ELO, or Big Star — any pop music with strong melodies and intelligent lyrics, really — then Jason Falkner belongs in your pantheon of faves. […]
At the request of producer Nigel Godrich, Jason Falkner participated to three songs from the Chaos And Creation In The Backyard sessions. In an interview to transatlanticmodern.com, he explained how he was asked to contribute:
Jason: […] And then definitely the McCartney thing happened because of [Nigel Godrich]. He called me one day and was like, “Hey Jay, would you be interested in working with Paul McCartney?” I got the call and I was just like, “Uh…” [Nigel Godrich] was like, “I need an ally. I need people in my corner, because he’s got so many yes men around him.”
Jason: Which is completely understandable.
Jason: And he’s like, “And I don’t like his band. So I’d like to put together my own guys and I’m thinking just you and James Gadson on drums.”
Jason: And basically, he didn’t really explain it to me that well in those phone calls. He basically just wanted me to be there to kind of play on the skeletal tracks and then he was gonna really work at getting Paul to go back and redo most of that stuff himself so he would do another record where he’s playing almost everything like his first solo …
Interviewer: Right, like McCartney and McCartney II.
Jason: Exactly. So, I ended up on two or three things on that record, and that was insane. You know, that was hanging out with Paul McCartney for 2 weeks.
Interviewer: Yeah. What was that like?
Jason: Let’s put it this way. Paul McCartney has a nickname for me. Paul McCartney calls me [adopts Liverpudlian accent] “Jayce!” No one else calls me Jayce. Just Paul McCartney decided to call me Jayce. And it was unbelievable. I still kind of pinch myself and remember as much of it as I can. It was just a lot of talking to him in the hallway. Talking to him a lot about—you’re scared to bring up anything, you know? It’s more, whatever he wants to reveal, it’s more “OK. I’m listening.” I didn’t want to be like, “Hey, what was John like?” You’re not gonna do that. But I did have an hour-long conversation with him about the Beatles and about the early days. And he was like, “Oh Jayce, you know, the girls, man!” I’m like “Jesus!” And he’s going, “And I got to be in a band with John …” You know, he’s like that. Some people would think false modesty. He definitely has kind of a thing that he does which can seem like that, but he’s an amazing guy. He’s not like “I’m Paul McCartney.” Of course he doesn’t have to do that, and if he was like that, it would be excruciating. We all know who he is.
Interviewer: Of course.
Jason: But I’ll never forget, the first morning I showed up at 11 or something and he was gonna be there at noon. And I’ve got cool gear, but I don’t maintain it. I don’t have a tech and I don’t put my stuff in storage. I don’t have my stuff at a music place that’s being professionally handled. My stuff is just bouncing about in my car with me. And I had a ‘50s Fender amp, and I hadn’t even plugged it in in like a year. I had a bunch of amps, but I brought that one because I thought it would be the right vibe. So I get there, and I don’t have a tuner in my rig, because I just tune to a piano or to my ear. And I was looking around and I’m in this behemoth tracking room. I’m looking around at the vocal booth and where the drums will be, and it starts to dawn on me that the only people making this record are me and Paul McCartney. There’s nobody else there! So it was insane, and it’s dawning on me, he’s gonna be here and I don’t even know if my fucking amp works. So I put everything on, and I quickly tune up to the piano, and I’m looking down at my pedals or something and someone taps me on the shoulder from the front. And I look up and it’s Paul. He goes, “You must be Jason.” And I was like, “Uh …” And I was totally fine. Until I saw him. And then I literally got those wobbly knees and I’m trying to be as cool as possible, but I’m fucking dying. I’m trying to understand what is happening here.
Jason: It was so cool. I mean, we just instantly went to work, and I had played with James because James was in on [Beck’s] Sea Change, and I love James Gadson. He’s not only one of the coolest drummers, but he’s one of the coolest dudes ever. […]
From Highway 81 revisited, May 14, 2017:
What was it like working with Paul McCartney on his album, “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard” (2005)?
That was obviously insane. I’m not really like a session guy. I don’t do 80 percent of the session stuff I’m called about. I don’t really enjoy doing it that much, but of course depending on the project; when the Paul McCartney thing came around, it was a no-brainer.
I have tons of cool amps and pedals, but I don’t always know if they’re working, unlike a session guy. I showed up at Ocean Way Studio and I had like a ’58 Fender Vibrolux Tweed Fender Amp but again didn’t really know if it was working properly. I brought like a Fender Super Reverb as well. So I knew that McCartney was going to show up. I showed up around 10, and he showed up at 12. I check out that amp, and it sounds phenomenal. But I didn’t have a tuner with me. That’s not very professional, so I started getting like insecure. Then I get this tap on my shoulder, and it’s Paul, he’s right in front of me. I thought I was mentally prepared to meet Paul McCartney; I’d met some gnarly people, the fact is, he’s the most gnarly. As soon as I look up, he says, “You must be Jason.” I literally got what people describe as the elastic knees, I thought I was going to fall over. …
It was just my station, we had a grand piano, Wurlitzer, my basses and guitars and all pedals and a chair facing Paul’s station with grand piano and Wurlitzer. Basically, they were mirror image stations. So right away he says, “Let’s get into it.” He started playing something on acoustic guitar or piano, and we just learned the thing and started recording it. Within an hour of meeting him, we were recording. I was playing acoustic and he was playing bass — and yes, it was his Hofner bass — and James [Gadson] was playing drums, and it was maybe the second of third pass at this tune, and I completely knew it. But I looked up, and I kind of got lost in the song, and I look over and Paul is doing that thing where he’s trying to get my attention, and he mouths, “Where are we?” I had fucking no idea, I just totally fell apart. It was hilarious.
Last updated on June 10, 2017