In Conversation With Gaston Light’s Jason Corcoran
As you might imagine, we come across a lot of new music every single day. It's hard to listen to every single album or track that crosses our desks, but we do everything we can to put our ears on whatever comes our way. Recently, I came across a tune from a Dallas-based band, Gaston Light, who I quickly found out is essentially a one-man operation with Jason Corcoran.
Thrilled to debut his latest song, "Wake Up and Fight," I wanted to learn more about his past and what has led to this song, which if I'm being honest, is one of the most powerful tracks I've heard in a long time.
Graciously, Corcoran spared a few minutes to chat about the song, his teenage years and how he battled with -- and ultimately conquered -- alcohol abuse. Check out our exclusive chat below:
Is it true that you started writing music when you were 13 years old?
Yeah, roughly 13. I was definitely playing guitar by then. Pretty quickly I was trying to write songs by 13, 14.
What kind of music were you writing?
At that time, I was probably doing a lot of emulating. I was usually taking songs that I loved or songwriters that I loved and was just studying their work. Typically I was just kind of writing songs, kind of in the same structure as other songs, if that makes sense. More as an exercise to first learn how to do it. I wouldn't say it was very ... the lyrics were original, but I was just trying to figure it all out.
Who were you emulating?
I would say probably -- what was out at the time? Definitely Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot came out that year. I remember a friend of mine, his older brother somehow got me a copy of that. I really dove into that and the whole Wilco catalog for sure. I definitely remember writing to songs off that record and I remember doing it to early Springsteen records, too.
What happened to you as a musician throughout those years? You started writing around 13 or 14, and by 18 you were living in Los Angeles.
I was kind of figuring out who I was. By 16 or 17, I had a pretty good grasp of how I wanted to try and write songs. My first instinct was going out and playing live. So, junior year and senior year of high school were spent playing down in an area called Deep Ellum in Dallas, which is where I grew up. I went and did the whole singer-songwriter thing and I was playing all original stuff and kind of, during that time, it was just turbulent drug and alcohol use. Specifically alcohol. I was doing it quite excessively, even that young. It was quite a geographical change on my part and the people around me to try and go out to California. I just got my head on straight. That's the gap.
So when you got to California you got your head on straight immediately?
No, of course not. Not at all. As a matter of fact, the truth is I had moments and I was doing well and was on the right path. A term that most people know is relapse and there were several of those. [Laughs] They were on and off, but somehow during all that time I was always writing and always building. That was probably the only thing that kept me sane, was the music. I always was writing, no matter how bad it was. It wasn't a fun time.
How long were you in California?
I was there from 2006 to roughly 2011. Not to get too sidetracked, but at 2011 I moved to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and then from there went to Nashville. Then from Nashville I ended up back in Dallas. I was in Dallas from 2011 to 2012, about a year and a half. Then I was immediately back out in Los Angeles. There's a brief amount of time where we were kind of hopping around from Idaho, Nashville and Dallas. But most of that time was spent in Los Angeles.
You say "we" -- had you found your future wife then by this time?
Yeah, this is my now wife. And why she put up with me, I have no clue.
I'm sure she's a big reason why you were able to get clean.
Yeah, 100-percent. It's a very common story I'm finding out more and more -- I don't have a unique story. In a sense, having a child will also change everything. It's pretty cut and dry. I had tried a lot of ways to get just sober and kick it, for whatever reason that's what I needed. I needed that major of a change. My daughter saved my life. It's cheesy, but true.
And now you're back in Dallas?
Throughout all that time, is it true you wrote two albums that have never been released?
Yeah, absolutely. There was a period between 2008 and 2010 that I made two records in two different studios. I even did a five-song EP. They've never seen the light of day. Actually, to go back a little bit, in 2006 before I moved to L.A. when I was still 17 or 18, I did an EP here that we printed up copies and I think you can maybe find a copy at a Half Price Books ... but there aren't really copies of it. That was a cool little thing that the drummer from Killbilly actually played on.
What was the name of the EP?
I think we just called it Jason Corcoran.
And what has led up to "Wake Up and Fight"?
I wouldn't go as far to say I made a conscious decision to put the music career on the back burner after we had our daughter. I was writing throughout all of that and actually put together a big group of songs. Then my old producer who produced a record I did called Peel -- that came out in 2011, which was a full length -- that same producer, he has a home studio in Venice and he was my best man in my wedding ... he's my best friend. We went ahead and said, let's go in and track three songs. Pick three and we'll just do them. That's one of the resulting songs, "Wake Up and Fight."
That inspiration came from Woody Guthrie, right?
Yeah, it did. I feel like that article gets printed by some publication every time around New Year's Eve and somebody posts it [Guthrie's New Year's "rulins"]. I really did feel ... I remember I said to my wife, "This is just ridiculous. Why would you write a song with a title like that?" I think I was sitting in our house in Long Beach one night and I said f--- it. I'm gonna try and write this and try not to ruin it. That's the result. I wrote it very quickly, actually, surprisingly. I came across the demo on my iPhone the other day.
When you come across that demo or if you go back and listen to some of your older stuff, do you enjoy that? Do you enjoy revisiting things you've created in the past or are you not into that?
Not in particular. I'm pretty scatterbrained, to be honest. That's why something like, if I write 40 songs, about 27 of them, for whatever reason, I don't really relate to. I'm always thinking about the next song, I think that way creatively.
Do you think there will ever be a time when those two albums you've mentioned, that you'll reissue them or release them?
Maybe. It's possible.
It's not something you're against?
No, not at all. I would just how to see how the quality is.
What's next for you?
This is the exciting stuff. [Laughs] I'm working on building a studio, finally. My wife and I finally found a house here in Dallas and I'm gonna finally take the plunge and do what a lot of artists have chosen to do, which is bring it all in-house. It makes sense financially long term. I'm writing constantly. We have one more song in our pocket that I might do as a single, maybe, in the summer. Otherwise, the plan is to definitely go in. I think I'll do a full length, or a six-song EP. I would hope that would be out by the fall of this year.
What made you decide to pick up a band name like Gaston Light and not just stay Jason Corcoran?
It's interesting. I don't necessarily feel this way anymore, but at some point I got it in my head when I was around 21 that the singer-songwriter idea was limiting in some respect and somehow it pigeonholed people. But what I'm finding out is, the band or songwriter or the moniker doesn't do what I thought it was going to do, to be honest. It's really just a vehicle. It's also a collaborative effort on some level, so I guess I like the idea it's not just me. There are a lot of moving parts that make the songs work, in my opinion.
I think that makes sense. It also lifts a little burden off of you, so it's not 100% focused on Jason.
I hope it does. I hope I get a group of guys that want to do it as Gaston Light. That would be a dream of mine.
I think it's a cool story and I think it's really fascinating you're building this a studio and taking that part of your life into your own hands.
I'm so excited. I'm so stoked. [Laughs] Just to be able to like, "I have this song! I'm going to go in my garage right now and track it." It's really exciting.
Yeah, that's not a bad thing.
The cool thing is, I was telling one of my best friends the other day who also plays music, the cool thing for me is, I really think I'm not even close to making my best work yet, so that's probably the most exciting thing in my life, creatively. I really feel like I haven't hit any type of peak, I guess, if you want to call it that. That's at least internally satisfying.
As a musician or an artist, I would assume that's a powerful feeling to have.
Yeah, I'd be scared if that went away.
You can stay up-to-date with everything happening in Gaston Light's world at the band's official website. As we anxiously await new music from Corcoran, feel free to pick up "Wake Up and Fight" via iTunes.