Dallas Singer Jason Elmore Wants to Bring Hard Rock To Blues Purists
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Jason Elmore has a long, rich history with the blues. He grew up learning blues guitar and loving old master recordings of the instrument. He was brought up in two musical households, and the time he spent at his mom’s and grandparents’ was soundtracked by blues rock greats: ZZ Top, Steppenwolf, Tom Jones. After over a decade on the local music scene, the Dallas blues rocker hasn’t been one to stray far from genre traditions.
A self-proclaimed fan of the classics, Elmore and his personal discography have stuck to some of what he knows best. String-bending guitar solos and heavy, soulful vocals define most of his top tracks, such as “Dirt Ain’t Enough” and “All It Does Is Rain.” For years, the artist had planted roots in his love for blues rock, but still felt something was missing.
“I’ve made a lot of sacrifices to try to make music that I think other people might like, but now I don’t know,” Elmore says. “I don’t know if it’s just the way the world is now, or me just getting older and more stubborn, but I’m just gonna make what I like. My music’s for me.”
Now, Elmore is revealing a previously unexplored side of his childhood inspirations. While weeks with Mom and his grandparents meant country rock and folksy blues, weekends with Dad were full of headbanging heavy metal. The musician fondly looks back on the “rad-ass concerts” he attended with his dad as defining moments that led to his career.
Seeing and feeling the power of groups like AC/DC and Pantera live on stage changed his perspective of music forever, says Elmore. After all, what’s better than the music you listened to at 13?
“Every time I see my dad, I’m like, ‘Man, thanks so much for doing that,’” Elmore says. “And he’s regretful about it. Sometimes he’s like, ‘I shouldn’t have taken you to beer joints at that age.’ […] But I’m grateful for it. I was just lost in what was happening, and it really changed my life for the better.”
Elmore’s new album, Rise Up Lights, proudly exhibits his harder side and that of his band, Jason Elmore and Hoodoo Witch. The group’s latest singles, “Fragile” and “Burning Bridge,” introduce longtime blues fans to a more aggressive, classic rock sound. Taking inspiration from the likes of Van Halen, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, Elmore aspires to leave imprints mirroring those of his favorite bands.
“I think you just kind of absorb that stuff through osmosis,” Elmore says. “Hopefully, I’m able to move people the way that that music moves me. This album shows a lot of what I’m made of.”
Elmore’s strong connection to the album is partially due to the emotions that kick-started its creative process. In 2020, Elmore hadn’t released new music in four years and had trouble finding a good place to start. That all changed when rock legend Eddie Van Halen died in October of that year.
“Blues fans want to listen to the blues, metal fans want to listen to hard metal … Life’s too short to stay pigeon-holed into these boxes, with anything — music or otherwise.” – Jason Elmore
Moved by the death of his idol, Elmore almost immediately got back into the groove of things. He returned to unfinished songs, wrote new tracks and reshaped his focus to follow sounds set by one of the most impactful musicians in his life.
“They [the songs] have been there with me for a long time; I was able to finally find them,” Elmore says, adding that his ability to switch across genres is both a blessing and a curse. What’s fulfilling for him may not be the same for his listening base, adding newer obstacles to his creative journey.
“Blues fans want to listen to the blues, metal fans want to listen to hard metal,” Elmore says. “Life’s too short to stay pigeon-holed into these boxes, with anything — music or otherwise. […] The kind of people I’m reaching out to are those who are more open-minded about what defines good music.”
Moving to a space beyond a people-pleasing sound has been good for Elmore. When looking back on his three previous albums, he says he crafts neverending lists of technical flaws and what-could’ve-beens. Through his fourth release, Rise Up Lights, Elmore has entered a new era of confidence and familiarity with himself and his sound.
“I’m probably going to die poor and unknown anyway, so I might as well have some music that I’m proud of,” Elmore says. “This new rock record is the first record that I’ve made where I enjoy listening to it. I love it all.”
But Elmore knows that even this album isn’t perfect. No artist can look back on their work and find something they wouldn’t change. He says some vocals probably could’ve been rerecorded if studio expenses had allowed, and certain guitar plays might have been better with one more play through. However, with each step he takes, Elmore says he’s growing with each album — and that’s all he can ask for.
“I get to do this for a living, and you can imagine there’s not a whole lot of money involved in it, but it’s still worth everything to me,” Elmore says. “It took me a long time to get here, and thousands of bucks, but I’ve now really got a record that I believe in. It’s just gonna crush everybody’s f—king skulls.”
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