For me, it's about what's best for the song. Sometimes simplicity is the best thing.Scott Jackson
Jackson's New Direction Proves Popular
New pop rock CD "My World" showcased at ACT concert Nov. 5
By Karin Mark
Staff Reporter of Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News
When local singer/songwriter Scott Jackson switched gears from in-your-face hard rock to melodic, soul-searching pop rock, an interesting thing happened. His mom started liking his music - and he didn't mind. "I couldn't believe she liked it," said Jackson. "My music kind of has a demographic of women between 25 and 45. I guess its easy listening, pretty melodic. I'm not into writing about chicks and cars."
He also started getting more attention. The former member of the local hard rock act MK Ultra has emerged from his transition with the makings of a solo CD supported by a group of top Canadian musicians.
There's also the matter of his popularity around Washington's Lake Chelan area, where he played some gigs in the summer and has been getting airplay on five radio stations.
"It's crazy. I was walking down the street and someone recognized me."
Jackson performs for a hometown crowd Nov. 5, 8 p.m. in a cabaret-style show at the Maple Ridge Arts Centre and Theatre. The studio theatre will be set up as a lounge, where Jackson will perform with a four-piece band.
The local show doubles as a release party for his six-song EP "My World". He's now in pre-production for the remaining seven songs, for release in February as a full-length effort.
Jackson was still with MK Ultra a few years ago when he wrote the cornerstone of “My World" a song called "What Are We Waiting For. It was a dramatic shift from the hard-driving music of MK Ultra, which had seen some success from its debut CD and was working on a follow-up. Frustrated that the band's sound wasn't evolving, Jackson sent his single to Jerry Wong, a producer and guitarist for Damn the Diva. The two had met through the Musicians' Hockey League.
Wong was impressed by the song - described as a modern-day version of Gather Ye Rosebuds Where They Lay - and it wasn't long before Jackson left MK Ultra to pursue his own style.
Before long, he was introduced to a top-notch backing band consisting of bassist Doug Elliot(the Odds, Colin James, Damn the Diva, Loverboy), bassist Thom Christiansen (Econoline Crush, Josh Kelly, Damn the Diva), drummer Pat Steward (Bryan Adams, Matthew Good, the Odds, Colin James, Craig Northey), Keyboardist Simon Kendall )Doug and the Slug, Cowboy Junkies and winner of a Genie for the Cold Squad core), vocalist Craig Northey (the Odds, composer for the movie Brain Candy) and Aaron Grant, a talented young multi-instrumentalist.
Jackson saw his songwriting process go from a free-for-all in which band members jockeyed for prominence to one where the musicians work together to create a better song.
"For me, it's about what's best for the song. Sometimes simplicity is the best thing," he said.
Playing with such talented musicians was initially daunting, but Jackson soon came to appreciate their expertise and the "grocery list" of suggestions to finesse his songs. Their respect for his talent has also been a confidence booster, he said.
For content, Jackson turns to personal experiences to seek universal themes. Reflecting on the drowning death of his brother-in-law prompted him to write about moving forward. He writes about guilt and taking chances. But there's also a lighter side: "I've got a song about a hangover."
In addition to pursuing his music, Jackson works full-time as a behavior consultant who works with autistic children through Ridge Meadows Association for Community Living. He and his wife Laurie also own their own east Maple Ridge home and have two children: Taylor, 7, and Noah, 5. How does he make it all work?
"I've got a tolerant wife," he said.
He also has an instant audience. "You know a song works when your kids like it. I test my songs on them."
While he finds great satisfaction in his music, Jackson has no delusions of grandeur regarding his future.
In the coming months, he and Rose Management - his mom's husband and friends who are promoting his music - are looking into some gigs around Greater Vancouver, a short Western Canada tour ending in his birthplace (Prince Albert, Sask.) and perhaps some festivals next summer.
In the next two years he hopes to play the Commodore - and he doesn't care if he headlines or not.
"I just want people to like my songs and identify with them. It would be nice to get some radio play," he said.
"But I'm not naive - it's a big machine. There are so many bands doing this."