Album: “Child of the State” Label: Big Machine/Varvatos Records
“You’ll see my hands all over this record, really for the first time.” - Ayron Jones on the evolution of his recording process from his first indie album to the major label release of his third album “Child of the State.”
Seattle-born rocker (ne chess nut, ultimate frisbee champion, physics nerd) Ayron Jones wears his musical influences on his axe, unleashing a potent and penetrating major label debut with “Child of the State,” an autobiographical tour de force and clarion call announcing the singer-songwriting guitarist’s arrival on the international stage. Writing on all of the tracks, Jones’ “Child…” is a full-throated blues-rocking sonic experience, showcasing the artist’s volcanic vocal range with soul-stirring howls (from a son whose mother left him), raspy-scratchy vocal tonality and effortless arpeggios. Front and center on “Child…” is the self-taught multi-instrumentalist’s Stratocaster, through which Jones flexes his formidable guitar gawd chops and lightning licks, anchored by huge, head-banging production dynamics that make you feel this record, while the rocker says it with his chest.
The 12-track album opens with an emphatic exclamation mark titled “Boys From Puget Sound.” Jones’ grittiest, most visceral vocal performance, here the artist claims his roots, his crew (i.e., The Hollers, The Black Tones, King Youngblood, Barret Martin, Duff McKagan, Mike McCready, Jimi Hendrix, Sir Mix-a-Lot), and the grunge rock royalty who put the Pacific Northwest on the map. Jones follows up on Track 2 with his runaway Billboard #1 Mainstream Rock Airplay hit “Mercy,” a beautifully constructed, hook-laden burner that builds tension and amplitude before delivering a knockout guitar solo over Jones’ plaintive wails on the vamp.
Prior to “Mercy’s” breakout chart success, Jones got a taste of the Top 5 in December of 2020 when “Take Me Away” caught big air, a song he lifted off his second indie album, 2017’s “Audio Paint Job,” and planted on “Child of the State.” On “Take Me Away,” Jones is a musical medium, channeling Lemmy, Lenny, Ozzy, and Morrillo, nods to influences he boldly flaunts throughout “Child…” to paint a picture of his origins and give shape to his personal narrative as a black rocker on the verge.
Oliver X: As a new fan of your music, it’s been like being at a buffet of your favorite ice cream. It’s been so incredible to hear how much you’re seeped in your craft. I can hear your ear. You have the musical curiosity of Marvin Gaye, Prince and Michael Jackson. You have that proclivity and it’s so impressive.
Ayron Jones: Thank you man. I really appreciate that man. That really was the goal, ya know, in these years that I’ve been touring and doing all of this stuff as an indie artist. I think people who get discovered early on in their careers--they break--and then the public gets to watch them grow. Sometimes they like fizzle out because they never find their sound. I was kinda blessed in that way. Earlier on in my career there was a chance for us to break back in 2013 and 2014, when I dropped my first indie record with Sir-Mix-A-Lot. My band was getting really close to getting our name out there to the right people. And then we broke up because my drummer went down to Nashville, and my bassist was having a baby and he wanted to quit. So that installment of that band was Ayron Jones and The Way, that kinda fizzled out after that point. But it gave me an opportunity to really focus and continue to find my sound.
So, early on, I decided that the thing I wanted to do was bring forward all of those influences, all those 90s sounds that I grew up with--Michael Jackson, Prince, Nirvana—like, all those cats I listened to growing up…Those are the guys that I wanted to bring forth in my music, man. So, I’m really happy to hear that it’s reaching people in that way.
Oliver X: Does every great guitarist have to be a musical historian?
Ayron Jones: No, not at all. There’s so many different ways to interpret music and guitar. I think every guitarist should be curious though. But in terms of being a historian, no. I don’t consider myself to be a historian; I just consider myself to be a lover of different eras of music and of the history of the sounds that are being created. But a historian…I don’t know that I would put myself into that category…There could be like some 11 year-old kid a kid who could pick up a guitar today and just shred, and take over the world--and he has no idea. Think about the Kenny Wayne Sheppards and the Joe Bonomasses back in the early 90s, right when they were emerging. What did they know about musical history? And here they were making their impact. But there has to be an overall curious nature about life itself, because here we are, manipulators of frequency, manipulators of sound. If everything is a frequency, there lies the curiosity.
Oliver X: Let’s talk about “Child of the State.” It seems to be autobiographical. Do you consider this your major label debut?
Ayron Jones: Yeah man, I do consider this an autobiographical debut. Because, as my label put it when we had this big meeting about how we were going to roll this out, and what we wanted this record to be about, we said this record has to be Ayron Jones. The first time people really get to know me as a person inside and out. Because ya know for years, even here in Seattle man, when I was getting big here in Seattle before the world had heard of me, even here, I had friends who’d known me for decades now in the music industry, from playing in the scene, and they don’t know anything about me. These are some of my closest friends, ya know! As I grew and became more comfortable with myself, I figured it was really important—especially right now—to put it all out there man…So people could get to know me as a new artist…For me, it was really important for people to just really hear who I was as a person, even if I didn’t get to display everything I could truly do as an artist [on this record]. At least people would get to know me first. And that’s the best way to start a relationship with anybody—my fans and the ones I love included.
Get to know Ayron Jones when he plays live at Aftershock 2021 on Friday, October 8 in Sacramento California. Music and tour info at https://ayronjonesmusic.com/