Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"Bad Things" by Jace Everett

ARTIST: Jace Everett
SONG: "Bad Things"
WRITER: Jace Everett
ALBUM: Jace Everett on Epic Records
YEAR: 2005
SITE: Jace Everett
BUY: Jace Everett - Jace Everett

If you've given any heed to the vampire craze of the past four years, you've heard "Bad Things" by Jace Everett. It's the sexy, swampy music that plays over the carnal and carnivorous imagery at the beginning of every True Blood episode. Jace, the song's blue-eyed author and composer, was gracious enough to tell me about the song that has inspired dark eye make-up and debauchery everywhere. 

BA: Hey Jace! Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions here.

No worries.

BA: Even though you have a substantial body of great work, I’m afraid I do have to ask you about your now extremely iconic song, “Bad Things.” Forgive me. Do you get sick of talking about it?

What are you gonna do? It’s a fun song attached to a juggernaut of a show. I did write it ten years ago, so it is a bit of “old news,” but I guess it’s better to be a one hit wonder than a no hit blunder . . . .

BA: I did a little research and saw that you released it on your eponymous album Jace Everett about three years before it was picked up as the theme for HBO’s True Blood series. How surprising was it when that happened? How did it happen?

Yea, I had to fight pretty hard to get it on the record. Certainly glad I did! The folks at iTunes loved it and used it as a “Single of the Week” about 3 months after it tanked at country radio. Alan Ball, the creator of True Blood, grabbed a copy and kinda fell in love with it. It’s a silly, campy, sexy tune so it matches the vibe of the show pretty well.

BA: The album version has a third verse where you speak the opening verse’s lyrics, as well as some other music the good people of TV Land don’t hear in the theme song version. Are you happy with the edit that HBO used? Did you have anything to do with the edit?

The folks at Digital Kitchen did the opening montage and did the edit on their own. We tweaked it for them once it was green lit, but they deserve credit for the edit. I think it’s pretty flawless on their end.

BA: Was it wild to see the imagery that accompanies the song in the opening credits for the True Blood?

I loved it. Still do. It’s really become an iconic thing. Again, credit due more to Digital Kitchen and Alan Ball. I’m just happy to be at the party!

BA: I know you have had success come at you from all angles, for your songwriting contributions to other people’s hits, as well as your own artistry. Did the show’s use of your song make a difference in your career?

It did, of course. I was kind of trapped as a “country artist.” Although I love great country music and write it pretty damn well, I’m not a country artist. Certainly not the kind that is out there on country radio. I was doubly lucky; firstly, that I “failed” as a country act and secondly, that I’ve been able to forge ahead and make the music I truly love. Whatever the hell it’s classified as! True Blood is almost singularly responsible for offering me that chance.

BA: I applaud your ability to keep the music so wonderfully gritty on a major label release. That’s not always the case. How much (if at all) did you have to advocate for your vision when this song was unfolding in the studio?

Yea, we cut it once and I hated it. Way too slick and too Nashville/Radio. I insisted we go back a month later and get closer to my demo. The band really dug in and made it talk. Eric “EBO” Borash and Chris Raspante are two of my band guys and the bulk of the killer guitar stuff is their work.

BA: It looks like roughly eight-thousand people played on the record, but I’d love to know about the rest of the band on “Bad Things.” Like, who’s playing that organ? Buy that guy a coffee.

Russ Pahl did the stellar lap steel and Steve Nathan played keys. Shannon Forest on drums and Glen Worf on bass. Just those six guys really.

BA: Your vocal on the song sounds very natural, as if you woke up one morning, walked into the studio, sang it once, and left. True or false?

I think it was a late evening. Second take. The first take is always for warming up, the second take for keeping and the third take for becoming bored. We almost always use the second take! I’m too impatient for a bunch of overdub bullshit. I can either sing it or I can’t. I’ve been known to pull the Sinatra bit, walk up to the mic, shake my head and go home!

BA: Who were your biggest influences when you were writing and recording “Bad Things”?

Well let’s see, John Lee Hooker, Rolling Stones and ZZ Top have all written the same song! Of course, Chris Isaak has “Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing.” But the truth is, I was listening to Steve Earle’s “Poor Boy Blues” off of the I Feel Alright record and playing along. Turned off the record player and made things minor instead of major . . . voila!

BA: What’s your favorite song right this minute?

“Only Black Man in South Dakota” by Andre Williams

BA: Thank you so much for your time, Jace. I’m looking forward to your show at the High Watt on July 19th (hint hint, Nashville folks).

It’s gonna be great. I’m just doing a handful of songs opening up for my main man Chuck Prophet. Thanks Buick.

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