Published Dec 01, 2000Who are you?
Jason Molina or Songs: Ohia.
What are you up to?
Currently preparing to have the new record, "Ghost Tropic," release. After that, I leave for a U.S. tour.
Hometown and current HQ:
I was born in Oberlin, Ohio, but have been making Chicago my home.
Watching: "Buffy." I do it for Willow. Listening: Nad Navillus (a super artist from Chicago); Lion (a lady called Emma from England, I think, who is a great songwriter); Parker Paul (a genius songwriter from the Jagjaguar label). Reading: The Onion, and "Take the Cannoli" by Sarah Vowel.
Mind altering work of art:
Anything by Cy Twombly or Sol Lewitt.
Most memorable/inspirational gig and why?
The Dirty Three. I have watched these men from a lot of different and shitty rooms, places where I would play the night before and then I would stay to watch them the next night. I know how much magic is up there because I see the transformation of the room from just the night before. I never stay but for a few songs, watching them hurts. If you ever wanted to see what it was like to really care about something, really really care, and to see someone ask so little in return, you have to see them.
What should everyone shut up about?
For one day, I would like to see everyone turn off their television and quit caring about their favourite shows and how they are going to work it into their day, then if everyone would take that hour and write something or draw something or make something and give it away, to a friend or someone who could maybe use some cheering up, that would really brighten up this joint.
Your greatest strength/weakness:
I like to work, so that could be a strength. Weakness I worry all the damn time about money and how I will survive. I have the ability to live without much, but it is a constant struggle to put it out of the picture.
Your vital daily ritual:
Sitting in the kitchen and writing, it doesn't matter what songs, letters, anything. Or else I go into the kitchen to draw. I have a great view of Chicago from here, a really unhip view of backs of tall buildings, a hospital, and during the season, the creepy late summer glow of Wrigley Field.
I love raw herring. This is something that absolutely turns the stomachs of mostly everyone I know, so I have to sneak off when I can get it and then try to explain to everyone when I come back and I smell like the ocean.
If I wasn't playing music I would be
I probably would be driving bands on their tours. I love the road. When I get out there it is a real exploration of my personality, my aspirations, my perspective on life and the world. All of it is looked at and built upon, since while I am touring I always want to come home, it makes me take great care and appreciate the whole touring experience, if I could just drive and not worry about playing the music, I would have a lot of free time to see some of these cities and concentrate on my art.
Your most memorable day job:
Working at the Art Institute of Chicago. I would go to work early in the morning and get to walk around the still-closed museum with the lights off. I could roam around there and it was so eerie the masks, armour, the swords and shields, the scary Gothic sculptures all have such a great life there in the dark. I would love that best of all the days. Also, I got to work with all the private papers of great artists and architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and all of the Bauhaus artists. I would sit there holding some old drawing and try to imagine all of the connections that had to be made in order to bring me to that person's work, and what this person now has to do with Songs: Ohia.
Best/worst advice received:
Worst advice ever? Get a credit card. At a time when I had no money at all, I took a friend's advice who could actually afford a credit card's payments, and I used this jackass card to help Songs: Ohia out on the road, buying gas in places, charging emergency items, strings, picks, replacing a broken amp, fixing a broken car, etc. So in the end, I owed so much on this damn thing it took several years to pay it all back.
I would drop everything to play a benefit for
Chicago food bank. I don't have the kind of money to ever give a lot away, but here at least is a cause that I support. They will feed you no matter who you are, sick, old, insane, a criminal, whatever, and every human deserves to eat.
What makes you want to take it off and get it on?
Duck Dunn, Soul Baby. That is S.O.L.I.D.
What personal trait would make you kick someone out of your band and/or bed? And have you?
Tusks. That's private.
When I think of Canada I think:
"My uncle had a country place "
Music and sex: Is there a difference? Why?
I supposed they are both emotional commerce. So I see a lot of sameness.
Strangest brush with celebrity:
I once had the pleasure of playing in a battle of the bands near Cleveland when one of the judges was a member of the James Gang. I thought that was the biggest deal.
What does your mom wish you were doing instead?
Probably she wishes I had a plan for myself at least to tell her so she wouldn't worry, but this is the least predictable career of any I could name, so go figure.