Exclusive Interview: Jasmine Cain Is a Modern Rocker in an Old School Package

Hard rocker Jasmine Cain brings a breadth of experience on her new album, “White Noise.” The multi-talented bass player is joined by Cinderella veteran, Jeff LaBar, and the result is a mix of different genres that highlight her musical background. Ms. Cain recently stopped by to talk about her new album, the recording process, and being an independent rock artist.

Real quick, how did you get involved with music? Bass? There aren't a lot of female bass players.

Music has always been a part of me.  I knew I wanted to be a musician when I was 4-years-old. I learned how to play rhythm guitar at that age. I later learned piano, drums, bass, mandolin, and ukulele.  Becoming a bass player wasn't really my idea at first. We had a family country band when I was a kid and my older brother had just recently gotten married. His new bride wasn't thrilled with him being in a band and gave him an ultimatum after a Friday night show. We had to perform Saturday night without him. I learned how to play bass for that show and our bass player stepped up to lead guitar. I sucked at it and instantly hated it. As soon as I got the chance, I went back to guitar.

Fast forward about three years later and I was performing on a bluegrass music show and the bass player had decided to try his hand randomly at saddle bronc riding. He didn't do so well and broke his leg and was out for the rest of the season, so I became the bass player for the rest of the summer. Again, I didn't really think it was my thing.

About two years later, I joined a Top 40 country and classic rock band and after their bass player got busted for drugs and didn't show up, they gave me 10 days to learn 80 songs on bass or else I was fired. I learned them and played the show....and they fired me anyway. I think they wanted to fire me anyway and were just looking for an impossible goal for me to fail so they could ditch me. But regardless, it made me so mad I told them I was going to learn how to play bass and start my own band and kick their band's ass.

Six months later, we were the number one rock band in the area and their band had gone their separate ways. You're right, there aren't a lot of female bass players, but there should be because most girls have great rhythm. It's built in.

Your music mixes 80s rock with some modern flair. How would you describe your music for those yet to discover you?

I'm definitely a modern day rocker in an old school package. I simply write music that makes you feel something. I try not to categorize it because the lines are so blurred in music these days...I'm not sure what's country or pop or rock. It's kind of all becoming a melting pot of the same thing. We are usually considered alternative rock. I'm good with that.  

I recently saw Tom Keifer (Cinderella) perform and he played in front of a near sold out venue. Do you see 80s music making a comeback?

There is still a great deal of demand for 80's rock. But if you look back at that time, these bands were larger than life! Record labels were 100% behind their bands and put a great deal of effort and money into their image and shows. Endorsement companies were more generous and we had "guitar heroes."

Nowadays, labels don't really support the bands like they used to and endorsement companies are on strict budgets so they don't take out the ads in magazines that they used to promote their "rock stars."

Bands can only promote themselves so much before they have to get some credibility from somewhere higher than they are. The 80's were such a fun time. It didn't seem as stressful as it is now. The mood of the music was very light-hearted and fun and when people want an escape from today's stressful world, they look for a fun show. All hands point to pop music or 80's rock.  Besides, who doesn't want to get the old spandex out and rock it one more time? C'mon.

Fellow Cinderella veteran, Jeff LaBar, joins you on the new album, "White Noise." First of all, how did you and Jeff get together?

Jeff and I met several years ago at Tom Keifer's birthday party, but when Jeff released his EP earlier this year "One for the Road," he did a music video for his first single "No Strings" and asked me to be the bass player in his band for the music video. I was totally honored. He's an iconic guitarist and an overall great dude. I've never laughed so hard in my life as I have when doing shows with Jeff LaBar. Every inch of that guy is rock star.  

Secondly, what did Jeff bring to the table in terms of experience and advice?

He always pulls out these signature "Jeff LaBar" solos that we love. He is a master of harmony guitar parts. It's really fun to watch him in the studio. He performs as if he is onstage in front of thousands of people. You can hear the difference in the recordings. There's an energy there. He also taught me a lot about the Backstreet Boys and Taylor Swift that I didn't know. LOL. 

 Describe the making of "White Noise." The writing process, recording process, etc.

We were waiting for about two years for a financial backer to come through so we could progress with this project and even though he was offering suggestions and trying to make massive plans for the recording and marketing of this album, he never actually came up with any money to get it going. Everyone was getting really frustrated because we were fired up with ideas and couldn't execute any of them.

We finally decided to move on without him and do it ourselves, but right at the last second, Michael McKelvy stepped up and became our financial backing for the album. He has been a longtime friend and fan of the band and a drummer himself. He totally saved the entire project because it would've taken us several years to complete this on the financial plan we would have to follow on our own. He expedited the entire process and we began writing immediately. 

All songs were written in a time span of about two weeks. It's the first time I've ever had to write that way, but they always said, "You have your entire life to write your first album and about six weeks to write your second."

For the first time, I felt the pressure of writing in a limited amount of time. I wanted to make sure that the songs were meaningful and so I just paid up all my bills and became completely irresponsible for a few months to make sure I was just completely focused on the songs. It was really fun and because I was writing with trusted friends and incredibly talented writers, it was a very natural process. At first I was stumped for content and even started questioning whether or not this was meant to happen, but when the flood gates opened...man did they flow.

Recording was also pretty seamless, which is how I knew this whole thing was meant to happen in a big way. We ran into a snag about halfway through due to our producer's availability, but we just decided to push forward and complete the project while we were in the vein. It was the most experimental I've ever been on an album because I wasn't on a time limit. I got to try anything I wanted and that was incredibly liberating.  

I've seen bands like Pop Evil and Shinedown bring number one albums to the charts, yet they're still only playing theaters, instead of arenas that pop acts sell out. Do you think rock music deserves more respect? It seems like outdoor rock festivals is the only place where rock acts can thrive?

I don't know about Pop Evil, but Shinedown plays very large arenas. They are one of my favorite rock bands out there. I feel Brent's voice and even though I have never met him personally, I have spent time with the rest of the band and they are all very talented and serious about what they do. They're a team. 

Regarding your question about whether rock music deserves more respect, I'd say I think ALL music deserves more respect. If we had more respect for it, then I think the quality of all of it would improve and stand for something. Everyone has such a low expectation for what they want to hear that leaves the door open for the pipe dreamers with a large bank account to buy their way into stardom when there are so many musicians out here that truly live it and bleed it that will never be heard. Thank goodness there are so many other ways to find new music other than radio. I've found some amazing artists out there. 

Rock festivals are great because for one ticket price, you get to see all the bands you want in the same weekend and it's the best way to discover upcoming rock acts. But the only reason that rock music isn't "thriving" outside of that is because fans don't have the money to support their bands or they simply don't take the initiative to go out and support. This world of convenience has left everyone kind of lazy. They'd rather just check YouTube for a video of it tomorrow. It could very well lead to the end of live shows.

But when you go see a band like Shinedown or Foo Fighters or Slipknot and they're playing sold out shows to huge crowds in arenas, it's kinda hard to make the argument that rock is dead. I don't think rock is dead at all, I think it's building a new direction. Let's talk about this again in about five years. I think you're going to see a very different story.

How has playing live and touring been? For independent artists, it seems that hitting the road is a necessity.

Absolutely. If you don't figure out how to tour, you won't survive. I want to write a book about touring because there is an art to it when you're independent. You've got to be so smart about money. You've got to be smart about everything, really.

The number one mistake I see with live bands that are touring is that they don't have merchandise for their fans. Even though it's a hassle to carry around and most times nobody really buys anything, you can make a good amount of money by having small items for the people that saw your show to buy and support you with. Bands don't know how big of a mistake they're making by not offering a variety of items for sale. You're ripping off your fans and yourself by not allowing them the opportunity to endorse you with a sticker or a koozie. If they buy a t-shirt...even better!

Thanks, fans! We love you guys.

For more information on Jasmine Cain, visit her on the web at www.jasminecain.com.


Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He also is the author of the novels, The Extraordinary Life of Shady Gray, Hello Lesbian!, Hello Fabulous!, and Anonymous. Visit him at www.tanamor.com. Email him at jason@zoiksonline.com.
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