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Rap Sessions: Who The Hell Is Jak Paris?
Posted on Monday, March 20 @ 23:50:16 MST by roadrash
 New Artist - RockIt's not a question of who he is, rather who he's going to be ... and with all the exciting new artists rising up from the underground, perhaps it's Jak Paris whose music will stand out the most. Three weeks before its release, his debut album Electric Revolution is already charting and he's even had a video on MTV. So, who is he? To hear his side of the story, he's just a guy with a passion for his songs, but for the rest of us there stands a clear star quality, a plethora of talent and at least a little sex appeal!

Who The Hell Is Jak Paris?
Interview by Janice French

Jak, I've listened to your record and quite frankly I'm impressed. Your sound isn't molded on any other band or artist, your sound is completely your own. Do you write your own songs and what is the process like?

It's funny ... I had quit playing music for a while maybe four years. Music is something that touches your life. It was fifteen months ago I picked up my guitar again (and) I had written "Not Back Down." Not only does the title "Not Back Down" reflect not just about anything you do in life that you are passionate about, but that specific story was about a relationship I had with a woman. It's a story about two dysfunctional people that get together and try to have a functional relationship. Well, we all know the outcome of that scenario. I had written "Not Back Down" on a twelve string I had bought at a pawn shop. I said gosh this is a great song and I really need to do something with it. I went to a local recording studio here in Vegas and I met a guy named Bobby Ferrari who I had kind of known from the LA music scene back when I lived in LA and was playing in Hollywood. We recorded a couple more that I did on the twelve strings and I did acoustic versions.

At that time I was just sitting there and I said "You know what? This is the one." It finally happened out of the blue when I was least trying to have a successful music career or write a successful album. I went back and I called Bob and I said "Bob there is something magical about this song." He said "Yeah, I've been thinking about that for the last couple of weeks too." I played most of the instruments myself. By the way ... I do have an awesome band. These guys are the final pieces in this band. I want to mention that, because I definitely don't want to take anything away from their greatness and what they contribute to the band now and what we're going to be doing down the road. Fortunately the band members Henry Soriano, Jason Juadines who's great, Swett, who not only is his bass playing great ... his personality is cool too. These guys have been the finishing touches that it takes to go two more song albums down the road and the next eighteen months to two years working on this record. Which we plan to be performing and touring and all the things that go with putting out a big record.

That sounds exciting. I would love to see you live.

I would love you to. You know we have never played a live show yet. Our live sound is the record on stun, it's awesome. I get goose bumps just talking about it. The people in the band, the songs themselves, the song writing ... just everything in general. It's just magical for us. We are having a good time and we are itching so bad to get out and play. This Tuesday in Vegas we are doing a practice show for all our friends and people who have worked on the record, at a small club down here and it's just gonna be like a fun thing, there will be free drinks and free food for everybody. We will be doing our CD release party here in April in Vegas, possibly at the Empire Ballroom.

I understand your getting some airplay already.

Yeah. I think we've got about six or seven stations. We just started pushing to radio about three weeks ago.

That's remarkable.

Yeah. I understand that's good for a new band. I understand the process takes about six or nine months just to pop a single from a new band and "Not Back Down" is definitely that song that we want to build our fan base from. You know we have that super hit in "Overrated" which is the first song on the record. That's the one that, stepping outside of my own record and thinking as a listener who loves music, that is the song you hear it the first time and you go ‘I gotta get that album today before I do anything else' and you rewind and rewind and you put it back to song one because you can't get enough of it and then you're ‘ok, I'm over it." And "Not Back Down" is that song that is going to last for a long time. That you don't get sick of because it has so much meaning for everybody, for every purpose in their life. We are getting lots of adds on radio stations. A lot of (stations) in the Midwest starting to pick it up and these are all reporting stations, Hot AC, Rock, Alternative stations. We went from 154 a couple of weeks ago when we started all the way up to 102 on the Hot AC charts already which is where all the starting bands really are.

But most don't get airplay already.

This is true. I am the kind of person that if I get on the phone and someone tells me no, I hang up the phone and start dialing 'til someone tells me yes. In this business there's so much adversity and so many people who think they know what they are doing or people who want to do things the way the last guy did it. I am an innovator, I'm not the kind of person who says, "That's what works for everybody else so let's go do it." I'm the kind of person who says ‘Ok lets take a risk, lets find our own avenues to do it, let's put out our own record company, which we have, let's hire our own team for radio promotion, our own management, let's get our own licensing person to license out the songs to movies and television, let's build our own empire and not worry about what everybody else is doing. Let's just be the Jak Paris family and go to work. The music is good enough, people like it, it's going to work.

You're playing to your fans, not a record label.

Yeah, were not trying to do what Bob and Joe Schmo record label tell us they think we should do, because they're just worried about how to make some quick money and go on to the next thing. We're not, we have a solid record, we spent over a year making it and we want to spend a couple of years sharing it with music fanatics around the world.

I love your video for "Not Back Down" and so does about every female in my apartment building. So what is it like wearing a straight jacket during all those hours of filming?

All those hours, you mean like seventeen hours? We did it on an indie guy's budget. We probably made that video cheaper than any band that's ever made a video and had it air on MTV. They debuted it a couple weeks ago on MTV On-Demand. I can guarantee you that is the most inexpensive video ... the most well planned out. It has a story line. When you watch the video it coincides with the song. Where as when you see videos today it has a bunch of guys standing around with the spiky hair trying to look cute and not telling any story about what the music is. If you notice the opening scene on the video you've got, by the way that's my friend Ernie ... the big tall guy, he's a monster. I look like a midget next to him. When you see that opening scene and you see him walking some guy down the hall in a straight jacket with the look I have on my face and you've got to stop and see what's going on here. Then there's the rest of the story.

The acting in it is superb. It really draws the viewer in, it highlights all the vocals.

We really had a good cast. If you noticed at the end, the girl who plays the angel is Scarlet Pomers from the TV show Reba. Her and I recorded the cover version of "The Chain" that's on the CD. She is actually my niece. We announced that on Access Hollywood a couple of weeks ago. She has been going through some tough times. She has been having some difficulties with an eating disorder. She came right out and said to the world on Television "Yep, I've got a problem, I'm dealing with it. So what? I'm human." We are actually donating the proceeds from that download ("The Chain"), which will be available March 28 everywhere downloads are sold, including Napster, Emusic, MSN, ITunes ... all those places. We're donating the proceeds from that single to a charity that Scarlet started to help other kids and other people that don't have the money to get help. It affects millions and millions of people every year.

That is a tough song to remake and have people love it. Was it scary making it for you?

Not at all, we didn't go into any of this trying to impress people, we went in saying look we lose all our money and we went broke doing something we enjoyed doing. Where as if being on a record label it's like ‘if you don't do this and you don't do that you're getting shelved and we gotta go on to the next thing, blah, blah, blah. We didn't have those kind of pressures. Bob and I, the band members Jason, Brian, Henry have pressures because we want to be great, we want to deliver great things for people to come and buy a ticket, buy the CD, for people to listen to on their IPod when they're working out and motivates their life. We do have those kind of pressures on us for people who support us. But we didn't have the pressures of being great to some fat guy with a cigar who drives a Cadillac from a record label who is telling us we had to do something. "The Chain" was forwarded to Stevie Nicks and she loved it. The secret to making a remake isn't rewriting the song. That's the problem ... everybody does. They say, "We need to remake something that was a hit and make thirty million dollars. How do you do that?" You don't. You take a song and you do it in your own modern way but you keep all the flavor of the original. Because people get used to hooks that are in the original song and if you start taking those out and try to do something different you lose the listeners' interest.

You're self taught and started singing in grade school. You formed your first band at the age of sixteen called Dreams and it was pretty successful. But it broke up, that's a young age to be in a band.

A friend of mine named Jeremy Popoff, who plays in a band called Lit now, Jeremy and I had done really well in Dreams. It was a really cool project. We taught each other how to write songs. If you listen to Lit stuff and Jak Paris stuff and you listen to the background vocals in the songs you will hear serious similarities. That's because Jeremy and I taught ourselves to write backups and all that stuff at the same time so we came from that same school. That was just our style, him and I developed that way back when. We did that for a few years and I decided I wanted to take a break and go into acting. I read for a few roles, I had a couple good things cooking at that time. I was just at a pivotal point in my life where I had been playing music for nine years and I kept running into that same wall every time. I didn't have that magical song or that magical meaning in my life to write songs. Then my father passed away. That was a spur of the moment thing. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He was on vacation and was getting headaches, he came back and went to the doctor and they said, "You've got a month to live." That was the pivotal point because my father was my best friend. You're at a turning point as a man that you're not sure where your life is going to go and you feel all this responsibility catch up with you. I just went and climbed under a rock and let everything go in my life. I needed to take a break in my life and take a step back so I could go forward. A few years later I meet a great girl. I'm involved in this relationship and it's confusing. I am torn inside my head about what right and wrong is, trust, faith and all those great things that come with relationships. I picked up a twelve string and I started writing a song and here we are today ... doing an interview with an album coming out.

I agree and I think a lot of it has to do with your emotions and the way you express them in your vocals, they are real without being over dramatic.

When you just be honest it isn't overdone, when you just be yourself. I'm not one of those guys that will ever go up in front of a crowd of people and try to act like I'm cool and better than everybody. I want to go up in front of a crowd of people and say, "Hey, I'm your buddy" and that's the kind of attitude that all the people in this band have. They're very down to earth people. We're all on the verge where we almost need to quit our other jobs because things are starting to go. We're going to be doing tryouts every weekend for shows, appearances and radio tours. We got an upcoming radio tour in April. We're all at the verge to stop our normal lives and what we have been doing. These three guys in this band deserve it. Not only for myself do I want this but even more for the family of people who are with the Jak Paris camp. Like Rhonda my publicist, Bobby and Clair who do our radio promotion. I didn't have a bunch of money to throw at these people. These people are doing this because they got the record and they said ‘Wow, this guy's got heart and I love these songs. Let's just make this work because it's great." I'm extremely fortunate.

I have some fan girly questions. How do you feel about being considered a sex symbol?

Wow! Is that gonna happen?

Yeah. I think so.

Ah ... oh boy. I better go to the gym again. I better go tomorrow. Bring it on ... I'm ready!

Do you have a girl friend?

No, but I wouldn't mind.

Do you believe in love at first sight?

Absolutely, 100%. I think every time I've been in love, which is about ninety times. I'm that guy ... but seriously this is embarrassing in front of guys, but I think the girls are gonna laugh at this. I'm that guy that every girl I meet I go, "Oh my God that's the one, I love her." It's not a bad thing. I guess I have a good heart ... Plus I love women. What are you gonna do. They make the world go around.

We love men. Do you have any tattoos or piercing?

Yes I do. I have a tattoo on my left arm of the Universe. It's got the whole solar system. It's got comets going through it and stuff. My roommate back in Huntington Beach, where I grew up, was a tattoo artist. I wouldn't let anybody tattoo me for a long time. I went in there on my birthday about four years ago and I said ‘Hey it's time to do it,' and his eyes lit up and he was ‘alright sit down in the chair' and he did it free hand. It's an amazing piece of art. You would never know he did it free hand. I am ready to get another one. I would kinda want to get the album cover, but a picture of yourself? well ... That guy from Jackass has his name tattooed on his back.

What would you consider a good night out with friends?

I guess just being funny, lots of laughter and joking around and picking on each other. Just being guys I guess. I think laughter is something that is so important. So healthy for you as a person.

Do you have any pets?

Oh Sasha! She is sitting right here with me right now. She's my little yellow Lab. She's awesome! It's funny, she was sitting here when I wrote "Not Back Down," so a couple of radio stations out here in Vegas are starting to spike the song plus a plethora of Internet stations that play the song all day and I usually listen to Internet radio while I am working. So every time "Not Back Down" comes on the radio my dog grabs her toy, comes over and lays at my feet and chews on her toy. My dog loves that song. She's heard the song as many times as I have and if she could speak she'd sing the words. When you play the acoustic guitar you've got to play to someone.

So you're from Southern California have you ever surfed?

Yes I did. I grew up surfing. I hate cold water. I lived in Mexico from the time I was ten to thirteen down in a little town about 120 miles north of Acapulco. I skipped fifth and sixth grade and all I did was surf. I came back here to go to Junior High because I wanted a real hamburger, like McDonalds.

What kind of movies do you like? Do you have any favorites?

Oh boy…(laughs)…I'm a total chick flick fan. I am the kind of guy who goes to the movies by himself and sits in the back of the theater so nobody can see him with his hoodie pulled over head.

I've seen that guy.

I go to every movie that comes out, every week. Having your own record label and putting this stuff together, it takes a lot of effort. At some point I need something to clear my head. Because if I'm breathing and my eyes are open, my first thought and my last thought before my eyes close are about this band. The only chance I get, while my eyes are open during the day, to get my mind off of it is (when) I go to a matinee. I dig Harrison Ford dramas and stuff like that, but I am a chick flick fan. I'm not going to deny that.

Women love men who go to chick flicks. What would you like people to take away with them from your music?

If there is a CD like My Chemical Romance that on Friday night at 8pm when you're on your way out to go somewhere with your buddies and you crank it up. Then there is that CD that you put on at midnight or 4am, you listen to something else, you want something different. I think our record is that record that you listen to feel normal and hear some stories that relate to you or a song like "Lead the Way," which is an upbeat song about life. I think our CD is more of a driving CD. You get in your car and you're going somewhere and you've got to drive for three hours ... grab the Jak Paris CD.

Yes, It's definitely a road trip CD.

We wanted it to be and I think that's a great thing. You have to know what your place is. I don't write Disturbed songs, I don't write My Chemical Romance songs. I didn't want to try to go for something that isn't us.

No they're Jak Paris songs and there is nothing like them.

We have a huge demographic, anywhere from the 14 year old person to the 40 year old person. I have heard "Not Back Down" before the new Sheryl Crow single and that same day I've heard it after Metallica. We are truly blessed that we can fit on three different radio formats, Rock, Hot AC and the Alternative Rock.

For the alternative it's really good. I think it's more of a trend that is coming out now.

For any of the up-and-coming musicians out there: when you're doing something just be yourself. Don't try to do compete or do what everybody is doing today because a year from now, things change. Just go out and be yourself and don't worry if you don't sound like them.

That's really good advice. Thank you Jak for joining us and it's been a pleasure talking to you.

It's been a pleasure to be here.

Photo credit: Michelle Pederson


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