“The band I’m most excited about is also my latest signing, an amazing seven-piece rock group from Austin featuring an electric cello player and violinist. They're called Alpha Rev.”
——Jason Jordan


In an In-Depth Interview, Hollywood Records A&R Exec Jason Jordan Runs Down His Current Faves, Both Signed and Unsigned
This week, along with spotlighting some great new artists, we take an in-depth look at the A&R process in conversation with Hollywood Records Jason Jordan. Next week, I’ll be talking with Marc Wilson from Warner/Chappell. Keep feeding my inbox at [email protected]

(http://www.myspace.com/deluka): Female-fronted four-piece electronica band from the U.K., signed to Brooklyn indie Vel Records. The band recently finished shooting a video for their single “Cascade,” which will be airing on AOL later this month. Currently goings for adds at Alternative, with the first coming in this week at WEQX. The band also has a track on the EA game SIMS 3.

Miss Derringer
(www.mysapce.com/missderringer) is fronted by artist/sculptor Liz McGrath (www.elizabethmcgrath), who was voted Artist of the Year by LA's City Beat before it folded, as well as being pictured on the cover of LA Weekly. The band has toured with Bad Religion, Blondie, Girl in a Coma and IAMX, and has played dates with Tiger Army, Strung Out and others. They’ve lined up a tour with Reverend Horton Heat and Cracker, they’re getting spins on KROQ and BBC Radio One, and they’ve had music synced in How I Met Your Mother, Camel cigarette ads and Morgan’s Hotel Group, with a slot on an upcoming TV show in the works. Check out the video of their hot track "Click Click, Bang Bang" here.

Where did you grow up and how did you get into the music business? What's the quick Cliff Notes version of your biography
I grew up on the blood-soaked streets of Cherry Hill, NJ, and went to high school in North Philadelphia. My twin brother Joel T and I spent every weekend traveling the East Coast, going to hardcore and punk rock shows as much as possible. Each night after finishing our homework, we went deep inside our haven in our parents’ basement to blast punk vinyl, stuff 7" records into their prospective jackets, listen to demos and fulfill mail order for our indie punk and hardcore label, Watermark Records. That's how I got into the music business—I did it myself. We started the label at 13 years old because we both wanted to be a part of the scene. I never dreamed it would become a real business. In my late teen years, it led me to meeting loads of A&R guys who wanted to sign bands on my label. None of them did, for either "indie credibility" issues (laughable now, remember that?) or just not having their business together enough to get a proper record deal. Eventually, through Josh Rosenthal (who ran Sony's alt distribution arm, and now runs the very cool indie label Tompkins Square Records), I was blessed enough to meet my favorite producer, David Kahne. He was head of A&R at Columbia at the time. I felt like I had found a kindred spirit in someone who liked esoteric music, as well as big, commercial stuff (as long as it was crafted well). In 1993, I started and ran the entire music-marketing department for Urban Outfitters, based in their corporate offices in Philly. In 1994, I left there to focus entirely on my label. David intercepted that and hired me to do A&R for Columbia at 20 years old. I wasn't legally even allowed to go into bars yet to see live music.

How did you end up at Hollywood Records?
Through my best friend, David Katznelson (who signed The Flaming Lips, Mudhoney and so much other cool music whilst an A&R guy at Warner/Reprise Records in the '90s, and now runs the really hip Birdman Records out of SF), I was lucky enough to meet Rob Cavallo (who is still a major producer and also now serves in a senior creative position at Warner Music Group), and his father (who is still my boss to this day). I've been really blessed to have had a lot of great people believe in me—from Bob Cavallo, Abbey Konowitch, Jon Lind, Ken Bunt and Justin Fontaine to the entire staff at Hollywood, who I engage with on a daily basis, even if it's on the telephone, mostly. It's incredible really. So, after my initial meeting with Rob and Bob for a few hours, I was sold. I didn't care if they were starting an ice cream company—it sounded so exciting I wanted to be a part of it, instantly. Plus, there was no catalog, so that was incredibly appealing to me—actually signing artists that would matter and have to have impact immediately because we had no catalog (other than Queen at the time) to fall back on. We had to succeed. That drive and determination has not changed since the very beginning, whatsoever—It has only become more intense, if anything. That was 11+ years ago, and I've never looked back!

How would you define your position at Hollywood? How do you sign new music?
I currently serve as Vice President of A&R, based in New York City. We have six people working full time here in the NYC office covering radio promotion, sales, publicity and, of course, A&R. It's just my right hand man Bladimir Jimenez and me on the A&R front out here, so we cover a lot of ground. Our entire A&R staff between NYC and LA works hard to get the job done, and it's great to have a presence on both coasts. We see a lot of shows, take a lot of meetings and have a lot of music to digest. It's still my dream job, and I'm blessed to work with music on a daily basis. As we are 3,000 miles from our home office in Burbank- I try to be out west as often as possible. In order to stay in the loop, we have a weekly meeting for the entire A&R staff to discuss projects, play new music and talk and roundtable on anything that needs to be addressed. When my office discovers something that rings the bells on both the artistic and commercial side, I take it to the LA office and play it for my colleagues and we decide where to go from there. We don't sign a lot of new artists, so my bar is incredibly high. It has to be.

What are the projects you’re most excited for on Hollywood Records this year?
I'd be lying if I didn’t say I’m super excited about the current success of the latest Breaking Benjamin album, Dear Agony. It's their fourth album (the last two albums have been back to back platinum-certified) and my favorite album of theirs thus far. It's was produced and mixed by David Bendeth (the third album in a row he's worked on with them). It's badass. We've had a #1 single already with the first single from this album called "I Will Not Bow". Their latest single just came out recently and is called "Give Me A Sign". It is starting to climb at active and modern, which is very rewarding, that people are responding to it. The album will hopefully scan gold within the next couple of months, which is always a major achievement, especially in this day and age. I'm really proud of them as a band and their musical growth, their producer and what David was able to do with them, and the entire team around them. I couldn't be happier. The band that I am most excited about on Hollywood Records, however, is also my latest signing. They're an amazing seven-piece rock group from Austin featuring an electric cello player and violinist. It's very artistic but also commercial. They're called Alpha Rev and are fronted by Casey McPherson. After 15 years, David Kahne and I finally got to make an album together! David produced, Joe Barresi engineered, Michael Brauer mixed it, and Greg Calbi mastered. I finally got my dream team on this record and we tracked it here in NYC at Avatar Studios, and mixed at Michael Brauer's room within the legendary Electric Lady Studios. I'm so in love with this record on every level—I really cannot wait for it to come out (April 20). The album and their debut single share the same name, "New Morning" (this is a live, acoustic version we decided to record and video when the band was visiting LA). It’s just hitting airwaves now and is available as a digital single already at iTunes, etc. Mark Pellington is directing the video in Austin, and they're doing some dates in the coming month with Owl City, amongst others. People can check them out at http://www.alpharev.com, and I'd encourage them to do so while I'm whoring myself out to this stupid website for this interview. 101X will present them on Thursday night at the Dirty Dog during SXSW, so please come and check them out live (alongside Glint, The Soldier Thread and The Daylights). Aside from that, I love Matt Harris’ newest signing to Hollywood called Valora, which was produced by Johnny K, as well as the new Grace Potter and the Nocturnals album. I think it is gorgeous, actually. It's an artistic achievement for Grace and her band, for Mark Batson, who produced it, and Allison Hamamura who A&R’d it. It's coming this spring.

What are the projects you are excited for this year, not on Hollywood?
I am very curious to hear what Katy Perry is going to do next. Another great aspect of doing A&R is having a lot of hit material pitched at me. So I get to hear a lot of big records being pitched as possible singles to much bigger artists on other labels. "I wrote this one with Britney in mind, bro, check it out", etc. It happens all the time, to all of us. So to that end, I'm excited about music I've heard that will become possible singles in the near future for other artists on other labels. My current favorite writer/producers out there are people like John Hill, Greg Kurstin, Benny Blanco, Claude Kelly, Anna Wayland, Sam and Dave and Rene Arsenault. I like it when I get a sneak peak at what's coming around the corner. As far as other major label material, there are two that I look forward to: Shep Goodman just finished an album by Four Year Strong, whom I love. I look forward to hearing that album for sure on Universal Motown sometime in the near future. Also, David Wolter has a very cool record coming out on RCA from LA's Funeral Party. Produced by Lars Stalfors of The Mars Volta and mixed by Dave Sardy. That's another one to look for.

What was your favorite movie of '09?
I think it had to be Fantastic Mr. Fox—I love anything by Wes Anderson, but that was really a new level for him. The voiceovers and animation were outstanding. The music, as always, kicked ass. If you haven't seen it, you must. What, did you think I'd say, Avatar?

When you aren't busy with work, what do you enjoy doing for fun?
Back in the day I'd say something really vague about my personal life and my work life being one-in-the-same. But I've really made an effort to distinguish between the two over the last couple of years, much to the delight of my wife. The real answer is anything that is super meditative and in nature—current examples would be snowboarding and surfing, which I do as often as possible. That is, when I'm not just purely spacing out on the West Side Highway, staring at the Hudson, listening to music I've loaded that people have sent me. I find myself doing that often—does that count as a hobby? Currently "unsigned and/or worth hearing and in rotation" on my iPod is new music from: The Angry Kids (from Toronto), The Sequel (living in LA, but from NYC), Greek Fire (from St. Louis), Me Talk Pretty (from NYC) and The Dirty Pearls (their David Kahne-produced single, "New York City Is a Drug", is super-infectious)—from NYC! There are some tips, kids--now go make some money for yourselves and leave me alone.

Final question: boxers or briefs?
Boxers, man. Boxers. Always.

ATL legend (6/17a)
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Three chords and some truth you may not be ready for.
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