Here’s to being here

Collett talks about friends, family and music kicking open doors for him

Torontonian Jason Collett is paying Kingston a visit, playing at The Grad Club tomorrow night.
Torontonian Jason Collett is paying Kingston a visit, playing at The Grad Club tomorrow night.
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Supplied Photo

From speaking with him, it’s clear that for Jason Collett, home is where the heart is, and his heart lies with his friends. In fact, his integral role as a member of the Canadian rock supergroup Broken Social Scene rarely goes unmentioned in interviews—but that doesn’t seem to faze him.

“I don’t mind. I’m very proud of all the work we’ve done together.” Collett said. “You do better work because you’re inspired by them. Working in an environment like that is healthy.” A lack of inspiration doesn’t seem to be a problem for Collett, who recorded his latest album, Here’s To Being Here, in two intense but productive sessions in a friend’s barn north of Toronto. The album is energetic and lively and Collett said he worked hard to create a space that would capture the upbeat mood present on the record.

“It can be tricky trying to create an atmosphere in the studio,” Collett said.

But recording his album during the winter months helped in ways only a Canadian winter can.

“Recording in winter seems to be very Canadian. It’s guilt free. You don’t feel as bad about staying in all day when the snow is piled high outside.” Collett and his band lived together, made meals together and collectively created a space that was right for the recording process. In the end, “the space had a vibe to it,” Collett recalled, which allowed for the energetic “live-show feel” to be captured in the studio.

Collett’s last record, Idols of Exile, was critically well received and brought with it comparisons to the likes of Bob Dylan and Tom Petty. But Collett’s not too concerned with over-thinking his success.

“I don’t think about it when I’m recording. I’m very engrossed in the studio,” he said.

“Whenever you intellectualize things too much it all starts going downhill.” Fellow musician Howie Beck worked with Collett producing his latest effort.

“He’s got great ears, Howie. He’s a gifted mixer and we both have a shared loved for that mid-70’s sound,” Collett said.

“We work fast to capture the magic.” Collett is touring his album across North America, but unlike many musicians, he doesn’t mind travelling. As a father of three, he’s able to use his time effectively on the road and sees the down-time he gets on the road as a plus.

“Touring in a band is a lot of hurry up and then waiting. You wait around all day for a few hours,” Collett said.

“For me, my domestic life is hectic, so I take advantage of the time by writing, reading and sleeping.”

It’s not surprising then that many of Collett’s songs are road songs, written from the perspective of Canadian highway travellers lamenting for home.

But Collett hasn’t always felt that sense of longing. Having grown up in the Toronto suburb of Bramalea, music provided an escape from the tedium of suburbia.

“Music affected my suburban space. Music kicked open doors,” Collett recalls of his teenage years discovering music.

“I’m not kidding when I say that rock and roll saved my life. I can distinctly remember being 13 and hearing Bob Dylan for the first time on the radio.” Collett now lives with his family in Toronto and couldn’t be happier.

“My kids know the neighbourhood grocers by name—I never knew them by name where I grew up,” Collett said.

“I wish I had roots like that. My wife has that because she grew up in an urban space that felt more like a small town. Suburbia is an alienating architecture.” Collett also strives to work outside the nine-to-five lifestyle. He enjoyed this freedom in his previous job as a carpenter before Broken Social Scene—a career that he still loves.

“[Carpentry and music have] always been very creative and satisfying because you get tangible results,” Collett said.

“I miss having a shop. But I still do jobs for friends. I did a deck for Hayden, actually,” Collett said with a laugh.

Collett’s desire for community and keeping friends close isn’t something he leaves at home when he goes on tour.

“I’ve got some friends in Kingston. Sarah Harmer, Chris Brown, and the manager of the Grad Club, Virginia Clark—she’s a sweetheart. You develop good relationships over the years,” Collett said.

“Yeah, I’ve always liked Kingston.” Jason Collett plays The Grad Club tomorrow night. Tickets are sold out.

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