The guy that I am sitting with today is a singer and a songwriter that was brought to my attention from a coworker of mine. He was on vacation and saw this acoustic guitarist on the beach singing his heart out. Getting the chance to see this man play one last time before heading back to the Midwest he made a mention about Indyconcerts.com and how I was a writer. Long story short after getting to hear his music I immediately wanted to speak with this talent. So, after a few shared emails, it is my pleasure to introduce to you, Jordan Ross.
What is your first memory of the guitar?
My grandfather gave me my first guitar, when I was about 13. It was a Harmony with an orange sunburst. Of course, I immediately gutted it an painted it ice blue because the band I joined was called Deep Blue Hero. We were awesomely bad but that’s what it was all about in those days.
How long have you been performing?
Officially, I’ve been performing since 1998. So, a little over 10 years. That would put me as a freshman in high school. My first band, Deep Blue Hero, was Mark Winkeljohn (singer/drummer) and myself. I never sang. I didn’t have the chops. I barely had the chops to play guitar, but I did it anyway.
Do you write all your own lyrics?
Absolutely. Writing music is sort of sacred to me, because I had to write really bad material to learn what not to do. I wouldn’t shy away from a collaboration, but at this point I’ve been around someone long enough to collaborate. I’ve been moving too often. Am I off the point? Lyrics are what should drive the song, in my opinion. After all, words are the only ingredient in a song that can be fully understood (or in the case of Bush, misunderstood).
Where do you get inspiration for a new track?
Life experience is always a good start for me, but I tend to wander off the beaten life experience path more often now than I used to. When I wrote Anywhere USA I was in a state of transition, living in Hilton Head and going to school at Miami of Ohio. It’s an album about all kinds of different things seen while living that lifestyle.
Have you ever co-written with anyone?
I’ve not, but I’d love to eventually. I think for me now, it’s about finding my voice. Once my voice is established for me, I can feel comfortable writing with another voice. It’s a lot like being in love. You can’t truly be in love with someone if you don’t know yourself, or what you’re capable of. If I know what I ‘m capable of lyrically, I can let those emotions fly in a session with more contributors.
Do you have any thoughts on a nation wide tour this year?
Not this year. I tend to stick locally. Eventually, I’ll consider a regional tour, or perhaps an East Coast Tour. But until then, I’m finding my voice and establishing some key players for an eventual band. Then the touring can begin.
What is your favorite venue to play?
It may be touristy, but my favorite venue by far is the Tiki Hut. It’s right on the ocean. The atmosphere is electric most nights. In fact I’m playing there tonight. Hurray!
What is it like living on the beach?
It’s pretty laid back. My wife and I live about 30 min from the Hilton Head beaches but we definitely jump at the opportunity to hang out there. Hilton Head is a magical time warp of a place. I highly recommend it.
Is that gorilla your logo?
It was, and is still. It was for the promo for Anywhere USA, and it kinda stuck. We did a show in my hometown high school auditorium (Rockford, OH. Population: 1,000) and sold T-shirts and stickers with the logo. It’s still alive.
Who does all your graphic design?
John “Sketti” Kleinoeder designed the gorilla logo, with a contribution from Nick Zoffel. Both of these folks were friends of mine from Bowling Green, OH where we lived for a little over a year. The logo inside the gorilla was the work of Nicole Schweiterman, which is the official Jordan Ross logo.
Where can I get some Jordan Ross merchandise?
The best way to get Jordan Ross merchandise is to ask for it. I know it sounds dumb, but all I have is stickers. I used to have t-shirts with the gorilla logo in it, and they were the best, but I sold out and haven’t had enough interest to make more. So, if anyone really, really wants a t-shirt with the gorilla logo, all the have to do is contact me via my website www.jordanrossimport.com or on Myspace at /jordanross.
What’s your favorite song to play?
My favorite cover to play is still Elton John’s “Rocketman”. That song is rangy, it’s ballsy, its quiet, it screams, its every song balled up into one package. If I could play a one song show, that would be the song of choice. My favorite original right now is “Alison” off of Anywhere USA. It’s a song about how I felt about my wife when I first met her. Those feelings sometimes are hard to capture when you first meet someone, but for me those emotions were so strong that I couldn’t deny the song. It was there the whole time.
Is there any song that you play in every single set
I make it a point to play a new song of mine “Better Year” at the end. It’s about taking the rough patches and turning them into a positive. I like to leave the audience with hope.
Do you have any pre show rituals?
Not necessarily, but I do notice that I have an alter ego. It’s wild, but I’m usually a pretty quiet guy around the neighborhood. Then, when I get to a venue, I’m a chatterbox. I can’t control it. I think after years of performing, the mind can switch to a mode that it knows is most suited to putting on a good performance.
Pepsi or Coke?
Water. Also, living in the south taught me that Pepsi is unacceptable, and the choice of Yankees.
If you could live anywhere besides Hilton Head where would you go?
Denver. No doubt. That city is magical. The atmosphere seems so alive and primed for anything. And you’re next to the Rockies! What could be better?
Was that the first time that you met Peter Hart?
Yes. He was in attendance of a couple of my shows down here.
Do you play any instruments other that the guitar?
I do. I play the piano, bass, drums (I was in the percussion section throughout my school days. Read: I was a band geek), harmonica (does that count?). I did all the instruments on Anywhere USA except for the violin on “When I Met You” which was performed by Titus Monteanu, the drums in “Against the Ropes” which was performed by Justin Thomes, and the guitar solo in “Alison” which was performed by Lumen Sivitz.
How does someone make it to your top friends list?
They have to either be a close friend, someone I respect, or someone that can write great music.
Ever shared the stage with someone famous?
Kind of a long story, and I don’t know how famous he is, but here we go.
A friend (Justin Steel) and I traveled to Athens, GA to see Seven Mary Three perform. At the time we were both working at a venue in Hilton Head called Monkey Business that was having Seven Mary Three two days later, so we figured we’d go to their show in Athens to actually enjoy the show. After a blistering set, they came to their bus, and we were standing out front and introduced ourselves. They were on their way to Hilton Head that night, so we told them if they really wanted to have something to do, they could catch one of my shows at a late night club the next night. So, thinking that there’d be no way they would show, I began the gig like any other, and lo and behold there they were. All of them. Even the tour manager and bus driver. So, after a set, I asked the lead guitarist Thomas if he would join me onstage. Of course, I told the audience he was my cousin, and he grabbed my guitar and played “Lucky”. I sang the song while Jason, the lead singer, watched. It was an amazing experience.
Do you have a job outside of music?
I had odd jobs for a couple years, but I’m now fully at the mercy of the populace. I couldn’t see myself being truly happy doing anything else. I’ve tried, but nothing comes close to the feeling of being on stage and sharing thoughts with strangers.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
I’m a huge fan of Paul Simon, as well as Oasis. Their attitude is what got me to really want to play guitar. Paul can write about anything and make it sound appealing, poignant, and essential.
What is the best concert that you have ever seen?
Man, that’s a hard decision. I’d have to say Angie Aparo in Columbia, SC on Aug. 18, 2005. There were about 30 people there, and Angie brought down the house. That was also the night I proposed to Alison.
So not staying single out there on the beach?
There was a time when I was single here, and it was fun, but I’m very happily married to a wonderful woman. In fact, we celebrated our 3rd anniversary yesterday. Being married has made me a better writer, and a better person. I have perspective now that I never had when I was starting out.
Tell me about the guys that are behind you when you are playing full band?
When I’m with a band, I would pick from a lineup that would include Titus Monteanu on violin, Julio Appling on bass, Mark Poseler on drums, and Lumen Sivitz on lead guitar. Of course, these guys are living throughout the US, but when I decide to do a tour, these are the go-to guys. Titus is Romanian-American living in Bowling Green, OH that is the most phenomenal violinist I’ve ever heard. In fact, he’s so on point that he nailed three part harmony on “When I Met You” without missing a take. Julio is a great bass player living in Portland, OR with impeccable timing and great hair (fro-type deal). We played together for awhile when he lived in BG. Mark is a steady drummer with good vision for where the song is going, and is a good guy to have around. Lumen is an old college friend that can absolutely wail on the guitar. That and he’s crazy. Controlled crazy is paramount to a great live show.
What is the biggest challenge of being a singer and a songwriter?
I’m not quite sure how to answer that, because I’ve never just been one or the other. But I will say the rub is you have to allow for people to remember you somehow. Whether it be a lyric that they can’t forget, or a melody that’s stuck in their head, or a performance that was spot-on. It’s not the easiest job in the world, and I don’t recommend it to anyone looking to make a quick buck, but it is by far the most rewarding occupation I’ve ever tried.
What are your thoughts on the Jonas Brothers?
Disney. Cookie-cutter songwriting. Kiss-ass live shows! I don’t know. I’ve never really heard their music, but if they are within 50 yards of being on a Disney-type label, they don’t get to write many of their own songs. That’s how I judge an artist. If they don’t have the gall to write and perform their own material, they are karaoke performers. Lots of people are sweet at karaoke, right?
Where can I get a copy of your album?
iTunes would be the easiest bet for anyone outside of the Bluffton/Hilton Head area. You could also go to CDBaby if you wanted a hard copy, but there’s only 4 left of my first demo (spoiler: it sounds like a demo). You could also just cruise on over to my website at JordanRossImport.com and order from Big Cartel, which is a company that allows me to ship directly from my hands to yours. I handle the shipments. So, if you want a hard copy of Anywhere USA, do it that way.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
As happy and as healthy as I am now. Hopefully, we’ll still be in this area of the world. I will have three more albums out (I have two ready for market now…just binding my time). Maybe have a beard.
What do you want to be remembered for when this is said and done?
That I knew what I was doing, and that a song of mine helped someone through a hard time in their life. I don’t want to be famous. I want to be happy. Fame very rarely equals happiness. I do what I love, and love what I do. I want to be remembered as being the songwriter who wrote good music and lived a long, happy life.
I always let the artist get the last word. Go.
I have a third album releasing soon. It’s a coin flip as to which album I will release, but when it does I will let everyone in my world know. I’m very excited about the projects. I may just release them as a double album. I’ve yet to decide. Look for hard copies on my website at www.jordanrossimport.com as well as digitally on iTunes when they become available. Also, I’ll be releasing an EP of harder rock exclusively on iTunes very soon. Look for those announcements in the coming months.