7/18/05 Interview with Jordan White by K.R. Reed
Jordan White of Nazareth has been playing his music across the area and beyond for the past couple of years. Although he has been covered in the media, there are not any interviews I could find personally, so I asked him to sit down with me on a rainy summer afternoon on the campus to answer some questions.
KR: [After some small talk] So seriously, what makes you want to do this? The music biz is not easy at least from the way the media portrays it.
JW: Yeah, I know. But I think alot of it is bull. You want to know why I do it?
JW: Well sometimes I don't even know. I've just never known how to live any other way. Even when I was in 3rd or 4th grade I think I defined happiness or misery through music and song. It's kind of like celebrating the emotion by catching it and forcing it to become this sound in your head.
KR: Sound in your head?
JW: Yeah. For me and I think alot of musicians the songs we write starts as this sound in our heads. In fact this morning I woke up with one. It's not always specific, sometimes it's very general but it's there and that's where it comes from.
KR: Tell me about your musical background.
JW: Um, my parents bought me a little keyboard when I was like 7. I guess they recognized something in me and helped to push it along. I joined a boy's choir when we moved from New Jersey to Pennsylvania, toured all over the country on a bus singing folk and gospel songs in concert halls and auditoriums.
KR: You toured the country at 11 years old?
JW: [Laughs] Yeah. It was pretty wild, both good and bad. I really got a taste of life on the road early. I was supposed to go to Japan also, but I dropped out right before. I was just a kid, I didn't want to. I was 11, 12 years old and suddenly away from my family for weeks. It was too much, I was scared.
KR: Who are you currently playing music with?
JW: Well I really love the singer songwriter package, when a person sits up there by himself with just a guitar. It's raw and you're vulnerable. But then sometimes I really would love to get up and rock out with other people. Whats funny is a few weeks ago I sang at this karaoke bar and these guys came up to me and asked me if I wanted to sing in their band. They're pretty good actually. But so far we haven't accomplished much.
KR: You sing karaoke?
JW: Oh yeah, it's alot of fun. I first started going to those bars a few years ago. I'm not a tremendously outgoing person and it was a way for me to become more comfortable singing in front of other people. Now I get up there on stage at my shows and I feel better than I did when I was standing around backstage waiting to go on. It's a series of highs and lows.
KR: So you recommend that new singers start out with karaoke?
JW: Well, whatever works for you. It did for me. You have to tolerate the drunk college kids trying to sing Britney Spears and shit like that though. [Laughs] There are alot of really awful singers. Every karaoke bar has one. But it's all in good fun and my friends and I still go.
KR: You told me earlier you took some heat for your song 'Baby's Breath', the one recorded for the Tsunami Relief CD, released with Bamboo Bird Records. What do you mean exactly and from whom?
JW: Ah you know I really expected that from the beginning. This one girl, who said she was a fan, told me flat out that I have no right to talk about something like abortion because I'm a guy and have no perspective on it. I get that, I mean I understand where she's coming from. But the lyrics are just being honest, I think.
KR: Do you regret that song being published on that CD?
JW: Oh, definately not. I think you can really start to mess yourself up if you try guessing who will and who won't like something you have to say. The funny thing is, that song is not for or against anything. It's actually about not being able to make a decision at all. Just how the guy is a big mess and takes the path of least resistance to the situation.
KR: Bummer. So where are you headed next?
JW: I'm actually off to Chicago next week for the Leukemia benefit tour. A handful of other artists from Care Package are playing with me as well.
KR: And the radio?
JW: Oh, I have another spot on 90.3 in a few weeks and then I'm live again with Phil Stahl on his radio show. Those have been a blast.
KR: You seem to associate alot with Mr. Stahl.
JW: Yeah, I do. He's a great guy, he really believes in music and he's a great musician as well. He's given me opportunities.
KR: If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
JW: Just one? [Laughs] Man I don't know. Weight goes up, weight goes down. I have alot of grey days and I can't figure out a pattern to them so I could change whatever is exacerbating them. I think it's just me, either up or down.
KR: What's your pre-show ritual?
JW: Um, lately I've been drinking a couple of Vodka and Redbulls. It's like a shot of caffeine and a drink, the best of both all in one. [Laughs]
KR: Just a couple drinks? That doesn't seem very rock 'n rollish.
JW: Um, no comment! [Laughs]
KR: Switching gears a bit. Whats the very best thing a fan has told you?
JW: There's been alot of things that I could say, but this girl told me she listens to my CD while jogging, and she cried to it as she watched the sunset. I told her I waited a long time for someone to say something like that to me. It was really inspiring.
KR: What about autographs? What's that like?
JW: I remember the first time it happened. It was awhile ago when I was playing out at a college in Long Island. After the show like thirty people lined up at this table they set up for us to talk to me and to sign their CD's and promo fliers. It was bizarre, because everyone is staring at you and you start to wonder what they're thinking. It happens now and then. I'm slowly adjusting to it. There is a certain look people get in their eye while I'm on stage, like they're examining you....
KR: Interesting. Last question. Are you satisfied with your progress so far and where are you headed?
JW: Um, to a point. Theres alot more I want to do and that is coming. One of my songs has been published by a label, and for any musician thats a step forward. I've played from the midwest to eastern Long Island. I've hung out backstage with alot of famous people. But there's still alot more to come and plenty to accomplish, it's a long road ahead, so much more I want and so much more I'll do.
KR: What famous people?
JW: Some guys from 98 degrees, recent contestants on 'American Idol', people like that.
KR: I was hoping you were going to say someone talented!
JW: Hey! [Laughs] Some of those people on that show can really sing.