A modest multi-instrumentalist who can trash dressing rooms with Doritos alone; Sinead Matthews meets Jason Stollsteimer of the Von Bondies.
IT’S HARD NOT TO stereotype the lead singer of a rock ‘n’ roll band as an out of control egomaniac, yet Jason Stollsteimer has his feet planted firmly on the ground.
Having first commented on the size of the television in the conference room in the Westbury he then exclaimed, “Don’t get used to this because I’m not used to this.”
Although he may not be used to the surroundings Jason is no stranger to interviews, owing this to the fact that the Von Bondies, with whom he is singer, lead guitarist and songwriter, have been on the go for ten years.
What most people don’t realise is that Jason also plays bass guitar on most of their tracks and it’s generally just him and drummer Don Blum rocking out in the studio.
“I’m a bass player at heart. I always play both guitar parts. I play on the records which was always interesting when there would be a review of the album; the press would always assume that they [the bass players] played their parts,” he states. “And I never said anything, ten years later I can joke about it but at the time I was like who cares, and live I would do all the solos so it’s not like they can [have] mistaken it.”
Although evidently multi-talented; Jason’s passion for what he does is something bigger then himself, created entirely for the fans. He wishes to make his concerts a memorable experience for everyone, with a habit of getting people up onstage to sing.
“Rock ‘n’ roll has to be sexy and dangerous”
“I pull people from the audience to come up and sing because I get tired. I’m like ‘do it, I want to play guitar over here’ and they have so much fun and those people will never forget that they were on stage, no matter how small a band we are. It’s like a memory,” he says excitedly.
“So our job is to have people go home with an experience. I just can’t put four or five hundred people on stage, although I’ve tried it.”
This consideration for his fans doesn’t just stop at momentous concerts, as Jason explains that their new album Love, Hate and Then There’s You is void of any complication and is just a good set of songs to rock out in the car to.
“It’s not arty; I’m not trying to make you lose sleep over it. We keep getting told it’s good to listen to on a long road trip, which is a good thing.” He also has the fans foremost in his mind when contemplating the future and believes that there’s a time when all rockers must hang up their guitars and settle down.
“I like playing music but music is for the young, playing it is anyway. I mean it should be energetic and passionate and you can’t keep it up forever.”
Although charmingly modest the Von Bondies are not to be overlooked, with their song ‘C’mon C’mon’ having been selected for Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Jason admits that he may not be the best at Guitar Hero but insists that it’s a great way to get kids interested and involved in music.
He also cites this track as being the song he is proudest of writing as it allows him to feel close to the bands that influenced him. “I grew up listening to pop, like Nirvana’s a pop band, Pixies are a pop band, Weezer’s a pop band that I like.” He explains, “I like listening to pop music and so ‘C’mon C’mon’ was the poppiest song I wrote.”
Jason may like pop but he has had his fair share of rock ‘n’ roll moments, most notably his brawl with Jack White of the White Stripes, which he would rather not comment on. He’s also no stranger to trashing a hotel room as he relates a story in which he destroyed a dressing room with packets of Doritos.
He also reveals that as part of a bet he once smashed open a dressing room door with his ass. “See that’s not rock ‘n’ roll, there is nothing sexy about that. Rock ‘n’ roll has to be sexy and dangerous – well it is dangerous; I could have gotten a splinter. Ah, I’m so bad at selling myself.”
He may be extremely talented, but an out of control diva Jason Stollsteimer certainly isn’t.