“Willing” to Disprove the Stereotype

Jason Plumb and The Willing. Photo credit: Ivan Otis

I’ve always scoffed at band names that have someone’s name in it. After all, having your own name as part of the bands name… sounds a bit conceited, right?

But Jason Plumb, of Jason Plumb and The Willing, disproves the stereotype. “I never really wanted to be ‘Jason Plumb [and The Willing]’… I would have much rather been The Willing. But, at the time, putting out my first solo record, the label I was involved with – MapleMusic – thought there was some name recognition, having ‘Jason Plumb’. In a perfect world, I would just rather be in a band called ‘The Willing’ and leave my name out of it… I guess it sounds funny for a lead singer-songwriter to say that I don’t want the spotlight, but it’s kind of true. I like being in a band. I would just prefer to be in a band, kind of like I was with The Waltons… I think everyone works just as hard as me, so I feel a little weird having my name in the band name.”

Jason Plumb and The Willing’s album, All is More than Both, is being touted as being, “about coming full circle, recognizing the power of getting back to basics, and letting the repetitive nature of life just do its thing.” I wasn’t quite sure what that meant. Musically, I understand what “getting back to the basics” means – but the album isn’t anything resembling an acoustic record (just one way bands “get back to the basics”). So I asked Plumb what those descriptors really meant. “Oh, I don’t know, that’s the first time I’ve heard that. [Laugh]… No, I’m joking. As far as getting back to basics – a lot of that had to do with getting back to the method of recording that we used. It was very reminiscent of a time of when computers weren’t used to make records. It was us all playing live together in a big room and capturing as much of it live as possible, using tape machines, using analogue equipment, vintage microphones… I demoed the songs for this record in a very simple way as well… I started very simply – just acoustic guitar and voice.” Doing so allowed the band – Gord Smith, Cody Gamracy, and Mike Thompson – to shape the song in their mind as they heard the bare-bones demo, and bring those ideas into the recording sessions. “The album turned out differently than I had imagined… it came out better… It’s a real band record.”

Listening to All is More than Both is a musical roller coaster – spanning from the upbeat “First Time” and “Naturally” to the more ballad-esque “Falling Star”. I ask Plumb if the album has an overarching theme. He replies, “the human experience. Birth, life, death, love, heartbreak… those universal themes. This album covers a lot of them. I don’t think there’s one overarching theme.”

Above all, what comes through in my 20 minute chat with Jason Plumb is a sense of humility. For example, when asked what his favorite moment at a live performance was, he says, “I’ve played a lot of shows but… it never gets old. It’s a real honor. A real thrill.” It seems like this humility will transfer to his shows next week. “They’re going to hear most the songs on the new record… these will be solo shows. It’ll be just me, and the guitar. It’ll probably be pretty intimate. I might engage some people, as far as telling stories, I might take some requests… You never know what you’re going to get. Every show is different. I never know what songs I’m going to play until I’m on stage.”

Jason Plumb will be playing with Skydiggers and Peter Katz at Haven Social Club on May 9 and 10. The show starts at 6:00 and tickets can be bought through YegLive.ca or Blackbyrd Myoozik (10442 82 Avenue).

– Jenna Marynowski

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