For over a decade frontman Jason C. Miller has been determined to make his Washington, D.C. based band Godhead, a household name. The band was the first band signed to Marilyn Manson’s ill fated label for their 2001 album 2000 Years of Human Error, which landed them a hit with their eerie cover of the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby.” The band returned in 2003 with Evolver, but quickly faded from the limelight when their record company failed to promote the album effectively. Now after a brief hiatus, Godhead has finally put their label woes behind them and is looking ahead to a bright future with the release of The Shadow Line. The first release by new label Cement Shoes (Ra, Ill Nino), the album takes a stripped down approach to the Godhead sound with the band embracing their melodic rock roots. Here is what Jason had to say about his new album.
Going back a little bit here, can you catch fans up to date that don’t know what happened to you since you were signed to Post Human back in 2001? What happened with Manson’s label and then with Reality Entertainment and “eVolver”? Jason: Well after Manson’s label went out of business we were in a situation where we didn’t know what to do. We entertained a lot of offers from interested labels and then a producer that I had previously worked with was starting up a label called Reality Entertainment. That seemed like a really good situation at the time, but after we recorded the record with him it turned out to be not as good of a situation as we had originally thought. Those things happen and I don’t blame anyone, but it turned out to be a step backwards promotion and marketing wise as a lot of people didn’t even know we put out a record in 2003. It was definitely discouraging, but we stayed together and stayed focused.
Tell us a little about this record, where it was recorded, who produced it and where you were coming from with its creation? Jason: We recorded this record on our own and then decided to shop it around to labels. We felt we had a strong enough name that we could find a really good label. We recorded it at Central Command Studios and it was actually really nice to not have a label putting pressure on us. The only pressure we had was the pressure we were putting on ourselves. I think it gave us the freedom to be more creative and do things the way we wanted to do them, so if a label liked it that was cool and if they didn’t like it fine. Ultimately it was up to us to sink or swim and there was nobody telling us what direction to go in. I think that made the entire record more diverse.
Where did the title “The Shadow Line” originate from? Jason:It was taken from this book by Joseph Conrad called “The Shadow Line” The book is about stepping out of the show of adolescence and into manhood. I think that sort of represents this album and we’re really stepping into the mature sound of what Godhead is. It’s sort of like we’ve stepped out of the shadows and into what we’re supposed to be.
This effort is a lot less industrial than past efforts and goes for a more stripped down approach than previous records… Jason: I think it’s stripped down as far as electronics go, but we just wanted to write a record that we felt better represented how we sound live with more of a rock feel, which is the direction we’ve been heading. It’s just an evolution of the band throughout the years. We worked on this record longer than any other record, so I don’t know if “stripped down” is how I would put it; I think it is a little bit more raw sounding.
Your vocals on don’t have any effects on them and you seem much more comfortable with your voice on this record… Jason: Back when we were more in the industrial vein, it was almost like I had to hide the fact that I could sing. Now, I’ve just sort of embraced the fact that I can sing and I’m not a screamer or hiding it behind any effects, this is just what I sound like. I wanted to highlight that to a certain extent and go deeper into that direction. I also try to write each song in a different key, so I can be as diverse as I can. I’m always trying to push the envelope and not be complacent or happy in one spot. As far as the grooves on this record are concerned, I think we just tried to experiment in that realm.
You worked quite a bit with Ben Moody (Evanescence) recording some tracks. What was that like and how did the collaboration come about? Jason: We met when he was still in Evanescence and we became really good friends. I’ve actually worked with him and co-written about half of his solo record that is going to come out in 2007. I think he helped open my eyes to songwriting and working with different songwriters is a really good tool to see how things can work in different ways. I think he’s a really talented guy.
It seems like every band out there today is trying to be as heavy as possible and they’ve lost sight of writing good songs. Jason: I agree with you and think that people can get too heavy and it’s just about being heavy, which means there isn’t a whole lot of art in that; it’s more mechanical. Just always keep in mind that melody is what makes something memorable and if you take that out of the equation then you may have something that’s technically played very well, but you still can’t lose sight of the song.
Do you think that is what sets Godhead apart from other band on the scene? Jason: I wouldn’t be so bold as to say that what we’re doing is what sets us apart from everyone, I think that’s for everyone else to decide. You’re walking the thin line by saying something like that and we don’t try and pay attention to what’s popular right now. The second you do that you’re just going to start sounding like other people and you’re going to lose sigh of who you are. I tend to listen to the artists that originally inspired me to start playing music in the first place, because there is a multitude of wisdom that can be gained by bands like Black Sabbath, Depeche Mode, Pink Floyd and the Cure. I think if we were to pay close attention to what’s on the radio right now then we’d lose our identity entirely.
“Fall Down” has got to be one of the most emotional tracks on the record. Does that song kind of summarize what the band has been through in the past few years? Jason: Without a doubt, because now in the music business talent and hard work isn’t enough. There is just a lot of luck and marketing money involved in making any artist break. “Fall Down” is about a relationship, but you could certainly apply it to the relationship we’ve had with each other and throughout our career.
Is there one message you’re trying to get across with this record? Jason: I think I’m just trying to show a more mature side of the band and I think we’ve really come into the sound of our band. With every album we’ve grown, but I think this is just a really good picture of where we are right now and how we feel our music represents us. Under the thumb of other record companies we haven’t had as much creative control and I think with this record we really did our own thing. [ END ]