Aaron Lee Tasjan's Karma For Cheap is one of the most thrilling and celebrated releases of the year. The album, released on Aug. 31, finds the Ohio native turned Nashville staple delivering socially conscious power pop, psychedelic Brit Rock and classic rock riffs that would make his hero Tom Petty proud.
And as one of the busiest performers at the 2018 AmericanaFest, Tasjan had plenty of chances to share his songs with the music-loving public. Following Tasjan's appearance at the British Underground's Bootleg BBQ, an annual celebration that brings the best of British Americana to Nashville, Wide Open Country caught up with Tasjan via email. The singer-songwriter opened up about his Brit Rock influences, collaborating with rising star Yola Carter and playing loud--even when he doesn't mean to.
You recently performed at the British Underground's Bootleg BBQ and your latest album has drawn comparisons to classic British rock -- how has the British music scene inspired you over the years?
ALT: "British music has always been a big influence on me. Certain elements from British music are always going to be present in my music and most of those are borrowed from artists most people would now probably call classic rock. I listened to a lot of the bands that Alan McGee had on his roster at Creation Records. Those bands had melodies and tunes and they were generally on the louder side of things. Interestingly enough though, Karma For Cheap is the loudest record I've made so far and I find myself trying to play more quietly on stage. The lower volume live makes things more musical and I feel like I can bring more musicality out in my singing because I'm able to incorporate more dynamics...but I guess we're still pretty loud."
You played the U.K. Americana Awards last year--how would you describe the response to Americana music in the U.K.?
ALT: "It seems in the UK at the moment, Americana has a slightly narrow scope from my vantage point. Most of it is more what I would call folk music. It's acoustic based and there's some great writers and beautiful voices. I think what I do is part of Americana certainly, and I indentify with a lot of it, but my records and performances are also broader than the subgenre really allows for. In American music you have jazz, country, the blues and Rock'n'Roll. Though I would also say hip-hop is also a major genre in American music. I consider myself a Rock'n'Roll artist and I would consider Americana a subgenre of both Rock'n'Roll and Country. I dont really care what people call it though, I'm just trying to make music that's fresh and fun and thought provoking."
Your new album includes a song you wrote with British Americana artist Yola Carter -- how did that collaboration come about?
ALT: "Yola Carter and I met on a tour of Scandanavia called The Rolling Rootsy review. I was taken with her voice of course, and she's a really interesting writer. Excellent lyricist. But she's also a joy of a person. All heart and soul. I have a feeling we'll do more together. I can't wait to see what it is."