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'a very remote town in the middle of nowhere in a town called Middlebury, Vermont.' We've learned in these past few years the power of the internet and it's ability for truly talented people to get their music in the hands of kids everywhere, and it's helped Jer get to where he's gotten today. It's been a commonly talked about topic in my interviews over this past year, and Jer has one of the biggest success stories.
He's released his debut full length record 'Speak' to great acclaim and has brought these songs all over the country on multiple tours including headline dates and touring with reggae artist Trevor Hall to name a few. I recently got the chance to sit down with Jer prior to his recent stop in Allston and we talked about everything from his start in music to what kids can look forward to at his live shows. Be ready for awkward hand claps, out of line jokes and a possible cover of both Party In The USA and Tik tok. If you have the chance to see this talented boy, take it and let me know what you think. It's a treat!
Random question to start but if you were to collaborate with another artist, who would they be and why?
Because he's the man. Seriously, we got to sing together man at some point! Um, honestly it's a privilege to open for Trevor and it is very cool to be sharing the stage with him. One of my biggest idols and I think because I love the idea of being completely humbled by virtuosos. There is this guy who's name is Chris Thile, not to be confused with Chris Steele which sounds similar. He played with this band Nickle Creek, he was a mandolin player. He's insane, I mean absolutely crazy and the best musician of all time so I would love to just, I don't know if collaborating is the right word but I would just kind of want to watch his work process and see what someone like that works like.
And how did you first got started in music?
My dad played music and my mother sings and plays piano and my dad played guitar and um, I was lucky enough just to grow up in a very musical environment and had guitars hanging around the house and I listened to a lot of early Beatles when I was a little kid in my formative years. So I think the whole pop three and a half minute song structure was deeply ingrained in my head and I liked the aesthetics of the guitar. I liked the idea and I begged for one when I was six and my dad got me a little short scale guitar. I didn't have the attention span because when you're six, you sort of forget about everything. I'm more concerned with building things out of cardboard at this point but yeah so I got the guitar when I was six and I didn't really have the ability to play it for about six more years after that point when I was in middle school and got a little more serious about it.
And how do you go about the writing process for your songs?
I can't really manufacture it. A lot of people can, you know a lot of professional song writers or whoever have the ability to conjure up artificial subject matter for songs but I can only write about something if it just sort of lands in my consciousness, it sort of happens.
Recently, your full length came out 'Speak'. How has that been doing for you so far?
It's been cool! It's been an independent release so it's all about gradual momentum and the very grassroots effort of trying to get as many people to know about it as possible. So, I've been going around and preaching the Jer Coons gospel so hopefully people will listen. Doing a lot of support stuff, playing a lot of new markets and just in general being unabashedly you know, self promoting and telling as many people about what I'm doing as possible. It's just been doing very well and definitely it's something that I encourage people to tell their friends about and really just feel the music. Like I said, it's independent so anything helps so it's cool if you can support it . Really just getting the word out to as many people as possible and the internet has been a big help with that for sure.
So I know you started out with your big single as 'Legs' I believe. That became insanely popular.Through being played in Hollister, through social media. How do you feel that has affected you today?
It's the only way I could do what I'm able to do every day because I come from a very remote town in the middle of nowhere in a town called Middlebury, Vermont. It's very small and with out the internet, I wouldn't be able to reach the people that I'm able to and especially keeping in touch too. I have a lot of face book friends and twitter and tumblr and all those silly, geeky things. If it's an internet thing where you can make an account, I probably have one so I just try my best to keep in touch with people and I recognize that in this digital age, it's a matter of you know just keeping in touch with everyone and making them know that you appreciate that they're listening to your music and sort of blows my mind when someone the other day friend requested me from the Phillipines. Like 'How did you find me?' So certainly, I'm able to live in a place that is very beautiful and humble and very remote and definitely not a musical Mecca by any means in terms of the business but I'm still able to keep in touch with as many people as I hope to.
Good. What would you say is your favorite part of touring? I know you did a national tour before this one on your own.
I really enjoy meeting people and also singing songs especially but there's just something really cool about touring because you meet a lot of people in generally very brief circumstances. One thing that's a very interesting phenomena is as you get to know some one over a period of time, you obviously will know minor details about someone, all the little things that make up their quirks, etcetera. The first like ten minutes with any person are generally very indicative of what their entire thing is. Like you could find out that skiing is a huge thing for them in the first ten minutes of meeting them so that's one thing about touring that makes it remarkable, something interesting even when you're playing the same songs and it gets sort of tedious, I suppose. It's definitely interesting to meet people and everyone has a very unique story.
Who would you say are some of your bigger musical influences?
I mentioned the Beatles before, definitely earlier Beatles. It was when I was younger, I was only exposed to the early Beatles stuff and so for me, when I listened to the older Beatles stuff, it opened up to a lot of different things and it's funny because even if a band doesn't cite the Beatles as an influence, it's really through osmosis. Every single band and every person has been influenced by them. You know so something like that or something like Michael Jackson. He was a really really huge influence like I did a cover of a Jackson 5 song 'I Want You Back' which is very difficult to do because I recognize that Michael Jackson at age eight is better then I will ever be in my entire life vocally. So, I really wanted to sort of pay tribute to him and do it in a way that in a perfect world was a song that I would have written you know! A genre that I could have worked in or recognized that I could potentially you know do a cover song of my own idiom, a pop idiom, the acoustic folk world and R&b. Definitely Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix. I'd be lying if I said John Mayer wasn't a big influence as much as people want to discredit what he's doing as not being authentic, I think he brings a lot to the table. He's very talented. Obviously, Chris Thile from Nicklecreek.
Absolutely. Underline, double underline.
If you were to tour with any three bands, well you may have already named them but I mean alive doing the music thing now?
I'm going to have to limit it to bands that tour now because it's way too difficult. I would love to tour with John Mayer for sure. Let's see..who could be cool. That's a very good question, no one's ever asked me that before. I would love to tour with Chris Thile! He's in a group called The Punch Brothers, they're like a blue grass ensemble that plays everything from jazz to pop to rock to reggae with the most authenticity and their whole thing is playing entirely live with two microphones. Like with a banjo, acoustic guitar, mandolin, fiddle and double bass and live they play in front of these two microphones and it's like the most unreal thing you could ever imagine because they're all virtuosos so I'd love to open for a band like that and then walk on stage and feel sort of good about myself and then have them blow me out of the water. There's nothing like a group of total virtuosos that make you want to learn your instrument better.
For sure, and then what can fans look forward to when they go to a Jer Coons show?
What can they look forward to? A lot of awkward humor. I'm a very awkward guy and I think that I am probably more comfortable on stage then off but I like to laugh a couple times so typically from the reaction of the people, I'll make an out of line comment at some point of some sort during the show and I'll have to address it. Every show is a little different from the last even if I play similar songs. I like to switch it up every night, pretty much end up saying something that is so embarrassing that people feel bad for me and then in turn they get sort of motivated by it like a Tony Robbins motivational cassette tape so you can leave the show feeling really invigorated about yourself and glad that you're not me.
Aw! If a fan was to take away one message after listening to your music, what would you want it to be?
Well, thank god that you aren't me, that's horribly pessimistic. Uh, have a good time all the time. Just sort of do what makes you happy, I guess. Coming back to the fourth grade class that I just spoke to. That was sort of the whole message of my thing. Value people over products and value and humble over the opposite. There's a whole world out there so meet them and say hi!
Just a goofy question now, you used to have a bio where you go artist to artist?
What made you decide to do your bio that way?
I'm just in a world that is very over populated, the singer/songwriter world, especially in the straight pop acoustic niche where comparisons are very easy. I started to get some press and I started to get some CD reviews when I first started out. It almost seems like lazy journalism but at the same time, it could be warranted certainly but people make a lot of comparisons to people like John Mayer, Jason Mraz, Jack Johnson, Howie Day, that sort of world of things and it was my attempt at separating myself from the immediate comparisons. I mean, I definitely do have a lot of similarities, and really it's very tongue in cheek. I'm sort of laughing with them about things but the biggest reason is just I don't take myself seriously. A lot of people think it's really easy, especially when you're just starting out to write a bio that has a lot of fluff in it. A lot of accolades that aren't necessarily true and starting out, I didn't have much to brag about and I still don't but I don't really feel the need to so I just decided to make fun of myself. Hopefully some people will think it's funny and some people will come see a show.