We’ve been meaning to do a Jason Manns post for a while now – he’s one of our favorite people, and even better, one of our collaborators on Fangasm.
One of the great things about fandom is that it expands your horizons, taking you places you never thought you’d go. We probably would never have discovered the music of Jason Manns or Steve Carlson if we hadn’t fallen for Supernatural – and what a shame that would be!
We first met Jason at the start of our roadtrip through fandom, introduced by mutual friends in LA. He was intrigued that we were writing a book on fandom — in fact, he’d written a song to express his appreciation for the fans’ support called “I Do It For You”, which seemed like a perfect fit for our book. We decided to offer it as an exclusive digital download. Voila, collaborators!
We knew he was a talented musician, but we’ve since had a chance to get to know Jason better as a person too. Much like practically everyone else we’ve met in connection with Supernatural, he’s a genuinely nice guy. What is it with this show? It’s not like the entire television production world is full of nice guys, after all!
Becoming involved with the Supernatural fandom brought Jason a whole new group of fans, a fact for which he is still grateful, and still somewhat surprised. The first time we sat down with Jason, chatting with him while he signed cd’s and autographs for fans at the Eyecon Supernatural convention in Florida, he talked about writing “I Do It For You.”
Jason: “I just wanted to write it as a sort of thank you to the fans. They have been unbelievable, and I have a pretty unique perspective because most guests come to a convention after they’re already famous, and I’m not famous yet, but it’s grown so that people are calling me and asking me to be part of the conventions as a separate entity, and it’s because of the fans.”
Of course, most of you know that the guy we have “in common” with Jason is Supernatural actor Jensen Ackles, one of Manns’ best buddies. Sometimes we forget that not everyone thinks the world revolves around SPN, as we found out at Jason’s show at the Tin Angel in Philly last year. Jason introduced us and our friend Kyle to two of his friends, Nico and Jon, and we sat with them to watch the show and chat between sets. Talk eventually turned to how we knew Jason, as might be expected. We mention we’re writing a book on fans. Jon chimes in with some of his own fan stories, since it turns out he’s the longsnapper with the Philadelphia Eagles. Between requests for autographs and pictures from the Eagles fans in the house, we ask Jon how he knows Jason – do they share a little known football past?
Jon: “Oh, no, we have a good buddy who’s a mutual friend, so we met through him.”
Lynn: (distracted by her attempts to help fans take pictures) “Oh, who?”
Jon: “Oh, you’ve probably never heard of him — a guy named Jensen Ackles.”
Kyle: (falls off chair laughing)
Lynn: “Uh, you know that book on fans we told you about?”
Small world, huh? Jon is a great guy too. We had some interesting discussions about the differences between sports fans and media fans and the plans for his wedding. He was a bit dumbfounded that we were writing a book on fans, let alone doing some of our research on fans of Supernatural. I’m not sure he realized there were that many of us. Surprise!
So, speaking of the guy we all seem to have in common — how did Jason meet Jensen?
Jason: “When I first moved to LA in 2002, I did a radio thing that Ryan Seacrest hosted, like a radio version of American Idol. A buddy of mine had sent some of the songs I’d recorded in, and they were like, you’re a finalist. I was like, what are you talking about??! I mean, it was Ryan Seacrest! So literally the day I moved to LA for good I was hearing my voice come out of other people’s car radios. They flew us out to Vegas and we chilled with one of Seacrest’s buddies, Brady. One night Brady and I were hanging and he said oh, a buddy of mine is having a party, you should come. And the party was at Jensen’s. I met Chris Dowling there too (of The Plight of Clownana fame – if you haven’t seen it, oh boy, you’re in for a treat! Jensen’s first production credit too) Just about everyone I know in LA I met through that party.”
Kathy: “Steve (Carlson) told us that sometimes Jensen just starts harmonizing, and that’s how some of their musical collaborations came to be. Is that how you guys started playing together?”
Jason: “That’s exactly what happened. When I met Jensen the first time, he had guitars laying around so I played ‘Crazy Love’, the song that had won the contest. And in a lot of ways, that was kind of the basis for our friendship because we started jamming, and then he said, you should come over tomorrow and we should jam. I was like yeah sure, and we just jammed out and had fun, and played Xbox or whatever. Jensen had a roommate and I had my brother with me, and it became like an every weekend deal. Then a friend asked us to sing ‘Crazy Love’ at this wedding, and one of our friends put it up on his MySpace page.”
(The video soon made it to Youtube, as many of you undoubtedly know – which, amusingly, Jason was unaware of before he went to the Asylum Supernatural convention in the UK with Jensen.)
Jason: “Jensen and I sang that song together, and when we were at Asylum I was just going to make a joke about it, because in the video we’re singing this super lovey dovey song, and there are these big huge football players behind us honestly trying not to laugh because we were singing this together, and it was a beautiful gorgeous day, and when I saw us singing on the video, everyone is cracking up behind us and it was like, oh….so I started talking about it at Asylum and the crowd went crazy, and I looked over at Jensen and he was like, okayyyyy.”
Kathy and Lynn: “The fandom wholeheartedly thanks you.”
Jason: “So billions of emails later, I told Jensen, I get emails every day saying you two should record this, so he was down and was like yeah, let’s do it, so we went down to the studio and recorded it.”
We asked Jason how he ended up performing at Supernatural conventions, and getting pulled into the fandom family.
Jason: “I didn’t anticipate that happening, but I’m very glad it did. The first convention Jensen did was the first Asylum, and he was telling me about it. I had seen Kane (Christian) play music at one for Buffy/Angel , and he had me open for one at the Whiskey, so that was my first introduction to a lot of the fans. There’s a lot of crossover in the fandoms – I love Joss Whedon.”
Lynn and Kathy: “We knew we liked you.”
Jason: “So Jensen was telling me about it and I asked, do you need music at these, and he was like, I don’t know, but I’ll ask.”
And the rest is fandom history.
We caught up with Jason recently at another Philly club, the NorthStar Bar, and he answered some questions about his new CD, titled ‘Soul’. How was the process of writing and producing this one different?
Jason: “It was a bit more collaborative than the first album….there are still love songs on this one, of course, but there are also some darker, more reaching songs. On the first album I just recorded whatever songs I had, whereas on this one, there was a bit more thought put into style and subject matter.”
The new CD includes a cover of one of our favorite songs, ‘Hallelujah’, which Jason has been performing live for some time. He had been reluctant to record it, since there are hundreds of versions all over the place, but eventually his opinion changed.
Jason: “I realized a good song is a good song. That song has such power, I just got addicted to singing it, so I recorded it, and then the response I got from family and friends encouraged me to put it on the album.”
Jason’s favorite cut is “Soul,” which was a joint effort with his brother, Henry O’Connor and the incredibly talented Jonah Dolan. It’s different, illustrating Jason’s growth as an artist, but still accessible to fans of the first album. Jason’s voice is in fine form on this new cd, particularly gorgeous on the title cut and the Hallelujah cover, in our humble opinions.
We asked him if he had a good time at his CD release party at King King in LA – we sure did, especially when so many of Jason’s musician buddies took the stage to back him up.
Jason: “So fun! That’s the best part of the show, when all the musicians get up there and jam out, and people are playing off each other and there’s multiple personalities having fun on stage. It’s an energy that’s difficult to recreate anywhere else.”
And how much fun did he have with that guy we have in common at the Rome SPN con last summer?
Jason: “It was an amazing experience. The fans were amazing. I think Rome was just one of those times when everything seems to conspire to give you the best possible trip. The weather, the time of year, the show, the fans, the city, hanging with the fellas. It was just a really fun trip.”
We asked Jason if he and Jensen were nervous about performing together for the fans at the Rome con.
Jason: “We really didn’t have time to be nervous, because it was completely impromptu! We really had already talked about it and weren’t going to sing anything. When the fans went crazy and Jensen acquiesced, I thought we’d just sing ‘Crazy Love’. He said “nah, they’ve already heard that one, how about, ‘The Weight’?” I told him I didn’t know the guitar part for the chorus, and just handed the guitar over! We really hadn’t rehearsed that one at all!”
Awww for Jensen not wanting to sing something the fans had already heard. Not that they wouldn’t have been ecstatic with a rendition of the phone book set to music, but still…..so sweet. Jensen, Jared, Jim, Jason, and just about everyone else we’ve interviewed (even those whose names don’t start with J…) all have the same appreciation and consideration when it comes to fans.
Jason: “I wrote ‘I Do It For You’ a while ago, in the midst of a few SPN conventions, and I had just started going over to the UK to play. It’s really just a song for the fans. I’m just thankful to the people who come out and support, and buy the albums, because literally without them, I wouldn’t be able to do what I love.”
What else has Jason been up to? He just finished up a tour of Germany, and the film he and some buddies made last year, Rock Slyde, is now out on DVD (available on www.rockslydethemovie.com ).
Jason: “Even if you’ve already seen the film, you should still get the DVD, because there are some behind the scenes things that are pretty entertaining. It’s actually kind of funny what happens when a few buddies make a tiny little movie for fun. We used 1% of a Hollywood comedy budget, and still had some good folks in it – Patrick Warburton, Andy Dick, Jason Alexander, and Eric Roberts, to name a few.”
We’ll save the rest of our conversations with Jason for Fangasm the book, including his eyewitness account of Jensen and the infamous ‘flying fangirl’ at Asylum and his close encounters with fanfiction. Jason, like so many of the other people we’ve interviewed for Fangasm, never fails to impress us with his insightful thoughts on fandom, fame and friendship, and his gratitude for everything that’s come his way through the support of the fans. Until you can buy Fangasm the book for all the friends on your list, here are some great ideas for holiday gift giving –
Jason’s fabulous new CD Soul is available at www.cdbaby.com
Jason’s quirky indie film Rock Slyde is available on DVD at www.rockslydethemovie.com
Happy shopping! And for more information and upcoming performances, check out Jason’s websites at: