FOLLOW YOUR HEART: An Interview with Jeff Carlson, Singer/Songwriter of THE JEFF CARLSON BAND
By: Jodi Reimer
VooDoo Queen Digital Magazine
Some people say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. THE JEFF CARLSON BAND ( Jeff Carlson - lead singer/rhythm guitars, Robbie Wolfe-Lead guitar, harmony vocals, Cory Kay- bass guitar, Mike Mytling- drums) is definitely one thing that has happened in Vegas but isn’t staying in Vegas. Aside from playing the legendary Whiskey A Go Go and sharing the stage with Rock legends: TESLA, TORA/TORA, and LITA FORD, TJCB are the Modern Day Cowboys of the 2020s taking the music scene back to a familiar era with a heavy modern edge. Upon returning from NAMM (NATIONAL ASSOCIATiON of MUSIC MERCHANTS) in Anaheim, California, Jeff had a few minutes to talk about what making music means to him, the new album and a little history about the band.
J.R.:What does making music mean to you?
J.C: It is a part of who I am, because I've loved music ever since I was four years old! I just want to make music that I'm proud of, even if it never makes me a huge artist, the bottom line is I love making music that I'm proud of!
J.R.How’d you guys all hook up?
JC: We originally met and started playing together in 1998, and when I got my first record deal in 2017, at the time I lived in Tucson, Arizona, but once I got my first deal I moved back to Las Vegas in 2018 and we all hooked back up. Robbie and Cory were with me originally, and when we hooked back up, Cory brought in Mike which worked out great! Timing is everything! Lol!
J.R.Did you always have the goal of becoming full time musicians?
J.C.: Yes, absolutely!
J.R.How did you guys get discovered?
J.C.: Hmm...well that's a pretty broad term, lol, but originally, Mike Bailey the drummer for Bret Michaels has a distribution label and he released my first three singles and our last E.P. on Potomac records. This last December, I got a hold of Jon from RFL records and sent him our stuff, and he loved it, so he signed me to our first "official" record deal with RFL records
J.R.:Why did you pick the name second chance for the record ?
J.C.: I picked the name Second Chance because I originally played with Robbie my guitar player, and Cory my bassist back in 1998, so we just hooked back up last year and it was really great to play with them again. I also in 2001 had to have surgery because I have Crohn's disease and actually died for almost three minutes on the operating table, and since then I feel like I've gotten a Second Chance to live my dream of recording and performing.
J.R.:Jeff, is it hard for you to be both a songwriter and guitarist?
J.C.: No, I learned to play guitar when I was about 10, and learned to sing when I was about 14, so it's always been a passion to do both.
J.R.I’m sure you guys all started playing music at a young age. What is the driving force that has kept you going through the years? Have there been any struggles?
J.C.: The driving force is that we all have loved music so much, and that's really what it's about for us. There's always struggles when it comes to doing anything that is your passion that has so much competition in it, but the important things like writing, recording and playing have never been an issue for us, so we work around any obstacle that we can and we all have a great work ethic as far as working together. At the end of the day, as long as we give it 110%, then we're happy!
J.R.:What would you consider as your first big breakthrough rock moment?
J.C.: Mine personally, was when I sang "Modern Day Cowboy" with Frank Hannon from Tesla. That was a pretty huge milestone for me! Lol!
J.R.:If there was one word to describe your band, what would it be?
J.R.:Out of all the songs you’ve written, were any written just for the band?
J.C.: Every song I've ever written were just for this band! Lol!
J.R.:Besides sharing the stage with bands like TORA/TORA, LITA FORD, playing at the legendary WHISKEY A GO GO and performing on tour is there any other joys that you’ve experienced as musicians you would like to share?
J.C.: I got to play a show once in Tucson with Mark Slaughter, and I actually sang "Livin' On A Prayer" by Bon-Jovi, while Mark played the lead and did the Sambora talk box parts! That was a fun show! Plus, just last November, I flew up to Sacramento, and sang a whole set of Tesla songs with Frank Hannon and his back up band! That was seriously awesome! Lol!
J.R.:How did you get to share the stage with such great acts?
J.C.: Most of the time we have to pay to play, especially at the Whisky in Hollywood. We actually get paid when we play Count's Vamp'd here in Vegas, as well as House Of Blues, depending on the show. Frank Hannon has been my close friend since 2010 when I opened for him in Tucson, and Mark Slaughter is a friend of mine that I played lead guitar for his solo show in Tucson.
J.R.:What was your recent NAMM experience like?
J.C.: Man, it was sensory overload! Lol! It was really cool though, I got to meet a few really great people, Eddie Trunk for one, and I told him that my newest single will be out shortly and Frank Hannon played the lead on it. It's a remake of Foreigner's Juke Box Hero, just updated so hopefully because Frank's name is on it, it will open more doors for us.
J.R.:In your opinion what do you think should be done in the music scene so more original bands can get out and be heard?
J.C.: I wish that the radio stations as far as FM rock stations go, would play songs on more of a rotation from bands who are really good, not just play the same songs that the program director tells them to. It's harder then ever to create a following without touring everywhere. The catch 22 comes when you need to tour to create a buzz for your self, but the radio stations won't play you so noone knows who you are.
J.R.:What would you like your fans to leave your show with?
J.C.: I would love for my fans to leave with the feeling of just having watched a band who not only put on a killer show, but they love the music, and actually got some worth from our show, as opposed to a show that they can't relate to the music or the performance to.
J.R.:Where do you plan on touring?
J.C.: We plan on touring initially out here on the west coast to create a following, and eventually we would like to play the whole U.S. along with maybe some festivals in Europe or Brazil
J.R.:Do you have any advice for musicians just starting out?
J.C.: Follow your heart, and do what you do. If you do it long enough, people will follow you. That advice was given to me by Gene Simmons!
J.R.:What is the band currently working on?
J.C.: We are currently working on our follow up E.P. to Second Chance. It's not yet named, but we hope to be done by the early part of this year!
J.R.:Is there anything additional you would like to add?
J.C.: I would like to thank-you for having me, and thank everybody out there who likes my music, and is willing to give us a chance to watch and listen to! The fans are where it's at, and we are just so grateful for all the support we've gotten up to this point.
Thank you Jeff for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview. I wish you and the band much continued success in your musical careers. Congratulations on being signed to RFL RECORDS and I’m sure your fans will agree that we can’t wait to hear the new material.
You can hear their music at: iTunes, CDBaby, Reverbnation, Spotify, iHeart