It has been an interesting ride for the front man of ‘Jackson Cavalier and The Fevertones’. Starting out as a punk rocker, Jackson has become a phenomenal folk musician. His newest EP ‘Devil’s Undertow’ explores the dark side of old school Americana folk. We met up with Jackson to talk about busking, his punk roots, old school folk music, and his new release.
You released “The Devil’s Undertow last month?
We had been working on it since October. We’re really excited. We recorded the whole album over at GFI music out in Ontario. We recorded the first EP through them. We tried to make each song flow into the next one, but we didn’t quite execute it [with the first EP]. This one we did a lot better of a job. We worked with them once prior, so working in the studio was like a well oiled machine. We got it masted by Roger Lian, who did work for Muse and The White Stripes in the studio through GFI. This newest EP turned out really nice. There are a lot of creepier, dark songs on it. It’s really nice.
Is the line up the same as the last EP?
It is a little different. It’s always a little bit different. We started recording this EP with our violinist, James, but he moved to South Dakota for the winter. He’s back in May, but we had to finish up violin tracks with Caitlyn Yarsky. She did a really good job. We also picked up a trumpet player. Dave Chrisholm, from the band Talking Under Water. He added a really nice touch to it. I’m pretty excited with the line up now. It’s super solid.
The Devil’s Undertow is part of a series correct?
This EP is the second of the trilogy. Once the series is done we plan to combine them into a full album. The [On A Mountain and The Things Below] was 20 minutes long. Devils Undertow is a half an hour so we are already pretty close to a full album. We have a lot of stuff in the works now. I have been working on some protest songs, and going back to Such Wreckless Children days.
Your first band, Such Wreckless Children, was one of my first interviews years ago.
Yea, I was eighteen just getting started into punk music. Its been a long, interesting ride.
What made you evolve, gradually from punk to folk?
It took me a while to find my footing with folk and folk rock stuff. I always liked it, but I didn’t have the song writing chops to go into that realm. It progressed from very simplistic and passionate punk music, where I could express stuff easily. The messages were very alike, and there just wasn’t much to sift through. Then there was a ska band that I realized, like most people in a ska band, that I didn’t want to do it. After that I took up blues rock, starting The Fevertones, and it evolved into the folk thing finally. Since then there has been line up changes but the style and the sound has been there ever since.
Do you think busking has influenced your sound?
I think so. About three years ago is when I started busking pretty hard. I started writing a lot of material that would kind of fit any day I could go out and play acoustic. It could be high energy at times, but I could also perform them mellow and take a break. I started getting into the folk scene more. Folk has exploded over the last two to three years in Upstate NY. It’s kind of fortunate that I went that path at that time. Busking definitely influences how I play. When I’m busking I throw in a bunch of covers that everyone knows, but at the end of the day i get to play traditional folk and blues songs. Folk has a tradition of passing down songs from generation to generation. The songs change overtime, but at the end of the day it still has a core feel to it.
I saw you performed at the ‘Feel The Bern’ Festival. Are some of the protest songs geared towards whats going on now in politics?
There is one song I have been playing for the last couple years. It’s about an impending Revolution, getting rid of the old hypocritical ways, and moving on to something more enlightening and less shitty. It fell out of the Such Wreckless Children days. I picked it up and loved it ever since. It is super intense and chaotic, which is nice. I do that a lot, which is funny. I still have these punk roots. I still write stuff that is very dissonant and super intense and high energy, it’s just more acoustic or different instrumentation.
Has a lot of stuff from previous bands survived?
I would say so. That whole scene and what we did in SWC kind of paved the way to everything I had done so far. That was my first experience to any sort of scene, and my first time in front of a crowd gauging what people like to hear. It will always be my home base while I play music.
Do you find a lot of similarities between punk music and folk music?
It’s weird, because you go back and listen to old folk songs from the 20’s and 30’s, and you’ll find a lot of similarities to punk. There is some really out there, rebellious songs in folk music. That ultra violent and weird vibe you get in some certain punk genres; you can find in those really old blues standards. There is a song by Johnny Roll Morton called the ‘A to Z blues’. The song is about a guy who gets cheated on and he carves the ABC’s into the girl. It’s bizarre to me, because you think of the 30s and you would think [the music] would be conservative, but stuff like that has always existed. That song is super catchy too, which makes it disturbing, because it will get stuck in your head.
Your EP’s are based off of Dante’s Inferno, so you must really be looking into those darker songs.
The second EP is definitely a lot more in-depth and much more lyrical. It doesn’t rely on instruments as much as the last one. The lyrics were kind of light in the first one. They were symbolic, but they followed the book . This EP is supposed to be the second part of the book. It gets dark and really detailed about the devils and evils he sees through bits of hell. It’s really disturbing and fucked up shit. The book has dead souls talking about their regret, or how they don’t regret what they did, which really reflects in our music in this latest one.