Jason Ringenberg – We will always be on that road trying to get there
As with many great bands, the sound of Jason & the Scorchers emerges from a culture clash. The band is unique partly because of how the tastes and influences of its members diverge as much as they converge. Singer Jason Ringenberg’s determination to write songs of meaning and depth is as integral to the band as guitarist Warner Hodges’ interest in flash and stomp and drummer Perry Baggs’ desire to keep it simple and savage. If not for Ringenberg’s folkie heart, the Scorchers would have been just another wildass roots-rock band — albeit one with a one-of-a-kind guitarist.
With A Pocketful Of Soul, Ringenberg’s second solo album, the former Illinois farmboy lets his folk flag fly. Sprung from the bliss of a loving family and a fertile rural home, his new songs own a heartfelt sweetness toasting the good fortune that currently surrounds him. On other songs, though, Scorchers fans will recognize the singer’s uncommon way at creating narratives fired by history and the passion of people unwilling to bend to the forces of society and the evils of man.
Still, A Pocketful Of Soul is decidedly not a Scorchers record. The guitars resonate instead of burn, the rhythms lope rather than gallop, the emotions bubble instead of boil. In talking about the album, which he released on his own newly formed Courageous Chicken Records, Ringenberg dwelled on its inspirations, especially his wife Suzy and his daughters, two (Addie Rose and Camille Grace) who live with him on his farm outside of Nashville and one (Kelsey) who resides out West with his ex-wife. He also made it evident that he’s more content than ever, and that he’s wholly reconciled with his role within the music industry as an outsider who has been able to construct a staunchly loyal fan base through touring and word-of-mouth.
I. NOW I SEE MYSELF AS BEING ABLE TO EXIST IN THE WORLD
NO DEPRESSION: Did you decide to put out this album yourself for a philosophical reason or a practical one?
JASON RINGENBERG: I think it was both. It was philosophical in that it was the easiest way to get a record out. I didn’t want to go deal-hunting. I just wanted this project to be fun. Now I’m so profoundly glad I’ve done it this way; it’s really invigorated my whole creative life and the way I look at music. Now I see myself as being able to exist in the world, no matter what happens. If no one wants to release a record by me, I can still put it out.
ND: Obviously, you’ve put out a solo record before, but this seems much different in a lot of ways.
JR: [laughs] I can’t imagine any more different of a situation. The first one was completely corporate, completely Music Row. There are points of the record I like. I enjoyed it. But it was a Music Row version of Jason Ringenberg — or Jason & the Scorchers.
ND: Would you say this record is more reflective of where you are now in your life?
JR: Absolutely. No doubt about it. When I made my first solo record, I was going through a divorce and the Scorchers had just broken up. It lent itself real well to the honky-tonk country thing. This record represents my life now — more down-to-earth, more satisfied with things. Family is way more important to me now than it ever has been.
ND: Amid all the personal stuff, you included a couple of cover songs. Why’d you do “Lonesome Pines”?
JR: I’ve always loved that song. I’ve always wanted to record it. But if you want to get really deep with it, when my mother-in-law first heard “Lonesome Pines”, she said, “That song’s about Kelsey, isn’t it?” I thought, “Wow, that’s probably true.” I miss Kelsey a lot. I see her a lot, too, but she doesn’t live with me. It’s sort of the answer to the Addie song. I also think Fats Kaplin deserves a lot of credit for how that song turned out. Those twin fiddles — man.