Jason Fitz of The Band Perry
The Band Perry, a family trio from Nashville, Tennessee, is winning over countless fans nationwide. They scored Billboard #1 hits with "All Your Life" and "If I Die Young," and went certified quadruple platinum, outselling any other country artist in an 18 month timeframe. The band's youthful energy and skilled combination of pop sensibilities and home-cooked country feel have lent a helpful hand in bringing them to the top of the charts, as well as a Best New Artist Grammy Nomination in 2012. Musical Director Jason Fitz is the Swiss Army knife of the band, handling several instruments on stage. We spoke with Jason while he was out on tour and here's what he has to say about playing music, memorable moments, and the Korg Kronos:
Korg: How did you get into music?
Jason Fitz: My mom started taking piano lessons in our house when I was four. I would sit by the bench during her lesson and then crawl up afterwards to play what she had been studying. They took me to UNLV to start me with piano lessons, but there weren't any teachers available. Therefore, they suggested violin, and that really kick-started my life [as a musician]. I was a classical kid; playing Carnegie Hall at the age of ten and attended Juilliard as a kid. As I got older, piano came back into my life for composition purposes, and after I moved to Nashville, I started branching out to play as many things as possible. Violin/fiddle and piano remain my true loves and best instruments.
Korg: That's impressive stuff! How did you hook up with The Band Perry?
Jason Fitz: Nashville is a small town, and I've known their touring drummer for over ten years. We reconnected on tour last year when I was playing with a different country artist, and I met the Perry family then. The band decided to make some changes, and I was honored that they called me to fill in. After I started, it was an immediate fit and I've felt like a member of their family ever since.
Korg: So you're playing keys, violin, and resonator guitar for The Band Perry...anything I'm missing?
Jason Fitz: I also play acoustic, mandolin, viola, and anything else needed. I learned long ago that not every song has the same utility instrument, so the more things you can play at a proficient level, the more valuable you become to the artists you work with.
Korg: Are there any recent performances that were extra special for you?
Jason Fitz: Man…The Band Perry has made several dreams come true for me. I think playing the American Music Awards and Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve were especially touching for me. I grew up a fan of all types of music, and those were shows that I watched year after year. To share the stage in those moments was truly special. To think that I had the chance to have meaningful conversations with people like LL Cool J, that I admired so much for so long, and current artists like Bruno Mars…and realizing how complimentary they have been of my work on stage…it's truly an honor.
Korg: That is awesome. Are there any upcoming projects from you in the works that we should keep an eye/ear out for?
Jason Fitz: So much of my time and energy right now is devoted specifically to The Band Perry...so it puts much of my side work as a singer, songwriter, arranger, etc. on hold. That being said, we have several moments with this organization coming up that I'm particularly excited for. We've been to Europe once already this year, but we have another run already scheduled for July. Not to mention places like Australia are in the cards for next year. We will see the world, and that's amazing to me. Also, we are continuing to do more TV appearances; The Today Show is coming up. Any time I can be in New York and play something that significant gives me a moment to realize that my dreams are coming true.
Korg: Well congrats, Jason. Let's switch gears a bit and talk keys. You've been using the Korg Kronos with The Band Perry…what drew you to that over other keyboard workstations out there?
Jason Fitz: Honestly, everything. I've played so many brands over the years, and never been passionate about any until the Kronos. From the first time I put my hands on it, I was simply stunned by the feel and response. You can have great sounds on so many boards, but none of those boards can even remotely come close to the feel, the ease of use, and the functionality that Kronos offers. I have other expensive bright red boards that sit in a road case and never get used now, because this one does it all. Also, because our set list moves so rapidly, I cannot stress enough how amazing the Set List Mode is for me night-in and night-out.
Korg: What sounds are you using the Kronos for? Have you created any settings that you can share?
Jason Fitz: Playing for a country artist, the majority of my sounds are focused on being able to duplicate the tones of the instruments that were used in the initial recording process. For example, each song may have been played with a different electric organ or piano or acoustic piano on hand and it's my job to ensure that what the crowd hears feels completely right live each night. As a result, many of my settings are simple tweaks to the different pianos and organs already in the Kronos. It's an amazing feature that I can dial in the perfect piano sound for "You Lie," which has a much brighter, pop-type honky-tonk vibe…and then easily switch the tones to the perfect sounds for "Postcard from Paris," which feels warmer and more sustained. The rotary speaker sensitivity controls are also mind blowing. Even our Front of House Engineer commented the first night that it actually sounded like air moving. The realistic acoustic instrument capabilities are unmatched on any other board, bar none. For The Band Perry's mega single, "If I Die Young," I have created a combined patch that pulls some of the ethereal deep range string sounds, mixed with piano tones to give the progression enough punch to cut through in arenas but still fill space in the best possible way. It truly helps set the mood for the performance of the song.
Korg: Do you have any favorite features?
Jason Fitz: The Set List feature is used daily in my life. It allows me to continue tweaking things, but still be able to reference different ideas and tones even weeks later. I should also say that our audio team is in love with this board's ability to split outputs, giving total control of each tone to them for the purpose of blending live. Overall, the usability is hard to describe in a way that gives it justice…but there simply isn't any way for me to switch between pianos, organs (while easily triggering the rotary with my left hand), pop synths, and bass tones this easily on any other device. We run a demanding, fast paced set and as the Musical Director of this project, I cannot afford mistakes, delays or problems. I not only have to play my set, but I have to lead a set as well. That wouldn't be possible without everything this board is capable of.
Korg: Are there any other Korg products getting work from you in the studio or on stage?
Jason Fitz: The boards Korg make are amazing…but frankly, I'm so Kronos loyal that I make sure whenever I perform, one is on hand. Even when The Band Perry has recently gone into the studio to cut tracks, I have elected to use the Kronos over the baby grands, and vintage organ set-ups that the studios provided. It's what my hands love.
Korg: Is there anything else you'd like us to mention?
Jason Fitz: The Band Perry's current single, "Postcard from Paris," is on the radio now, and we're anticipating a new record late this year. In addition, we're on tour with Brad Paisley for the rest of the year, along with dates of our own. I'd love nothing more than to talk Korg with anyone, anytime. Follow me at twitter.com/jasonfitzmusic.com and I'll give you the lowdown, answer any questions, and gladly fill you in on all things Korg!
Korg: Thanks, Jason! That's very cool of you.
Jason Fitz: I've spent my life settling on keyboards that didn't feel, sound, or work quite right until I found the Kronos. Sometimes you play something and it's so perfect that it inspires you to play more, write more, arrange more, and become a better creative person. That's what the Kronos has done for me since day one.
Korg: Thanks again, Jason. We wish you all the best with the tour!
For more information on Jason and The Band Perry, please check out: www.thebandperry.com and twitter.com/jasonfitzmusic.com
Photo Credit: Schenk Photography