Wicked Channel Interview-Jason Bieler ( Saigon Kick, Bieler Bros Records)

1. What is the biggest misconception of Jason Bieler?

Good question, I am not really sure about that because people are usually pretty nice to me in person. I, at no point worked with or for Hitler, I have never kicked a puppy and believe that starving kids in Africa is a bad thing.

2. What is the mission statement at Bieler Bros Records?

We really just want to work with great bands and artists and do the best we can to help them develop and reach a larger audience. Pretty simple at the heart of it, we just love music and try to spread the word.

3. How did you go from being the guitarist for Saigon Kick to being part of Bieler Bros Records? Was this always a goal for you?

It all fell into to place rather naturally. I think I gained a lot of experience and contacts while in Saigon, then developed some bands that people were interested in which led to producing and working with some amazing bands, and that led to the opportunity to start and imprint with MCA and so on and so on etc. My goal has always been to be involved in the creation of music in some way or another, so far so good!

4. This is called project association. I am going to give you a project, and you just tell us what you feel. You have no limits or boundaries and can be as open as you want. This time we can call this. A brief history lesson with Jason Bieler..

A.Matt Kramer-War and Peas and if you want to we can also add An American Profit-his book or poems

I have to be honest; I never heard it or read the book of poems. Not for any reason other than I simply never had a copy. Matt is a talented guy and I am sure there are some great moments on it.

B.Phil.Verone-Waking up Dead

Again, never saw it. I was told what it was about, but all that stuff happened with Phil long after Saigon Kick. When he was in Saigon he would drink a beer or two and pass out. I was sad to hear about how things went for him for a while, never want to see stuff like that happen to anyone. That being said we have spoken a few times over the last year or so and he seems to be doing great and very happy. So it turned out well for him.

C.Prunella Scales-Dressing up the Idiot

Never heard it, sorry. I am making this a miserably boring segment, sorry. I like Rachel, Phil is a good drummer so I assume it’s good and the reference to Faulty Towers…well you can’t go wrong!

D. Saigon Kick-Dizzy’s Vine

This sounds familiar! I thought this was a really cool track, Matt and I did one song together and this was it. I think it pointed to a cool direction that could have been…but the SS Kick-tanic hit the proverbial iceberg once again.

( James note. I tried, if I never did ask these questions, people would have been mad. So, I will take Jason’s answers. I tried)

5. Saigon Kick was signed to Atlantic Records, during the big Jane’s Addiction alternative boom. Do you think you were unfairly lumped into this genre of music?

I don’t look at it as fair or unfair; it just is the way it worked out. We were a very diverse band with one foot in the alt world and one foot on the rock metal world. We managed to alienate almost everyone! We toured with everyone from The Ramones, The Godfathers, Faith No More, Soundgarden and then Ratt, Cheap Trick and Extreme. But as far as it being someone else’s fault or the labels, I just don’t buy it or live my life that way.

6. Matt has been very outspoken, as you know about Love is on the way. Looking back now almost 20 years do you view this as a mistake or was it a good career move?

I view it as a song that became a hit and meant a lot to a lot of people. How can you regret that or call it a mistake? We had a ballad or two on the first CD as well it was just how it happened. I feel like you make music and release it, the rest is out of your control. I really could care less about being a cool band or a cred band or any of that bullshit…I just want to make music.

7. You know Saigon Kick has a huge fan base, as I have told you several times, I am a huge fan as well. Why can’t you, Matt and Phil seem to get along long enough for fans to get a comeback tour and cd that would be more than a few scattered shows and a proper release, rather than Moments from the Fringe?

I am not sure that we can’t. We have all been talking and seem to be getting along. For me it is all about doing it right and for the right reasons. I am only interested if the goal is to be better than ever and write and perform at a higher level. I am not much for ripping off the fans with a half assed shows thrown together to make a quick buck. Nor am I saying the other guys are, who knows what the future will bring

8. When Matt left the band after the Lizard cd, and you guys did Water with you taking over all the vocals. Do you think it was a good idea to still call this a Saigon Kick cd? I mean at that time there was no internet, and fans did not know about the drama and Matt leaving, and they go to the store and see a Saigon Kick cd and think oh man, this is Matt, Jason, Phil and Defile.

I wish I could tell you it was part of a thought out plan, or we sat down and weighed the pros and cons but it wasn’t. We had tension building; he left for what he felt were valid reasons at the time and the rest of us made the Water record. My goal always has been to make music and in that sense I was probably not thinking about how fans would perceive it, I was just moving forward making music.

9. Do you really think fans were fair to the Jason Bieler fronted Saigon Kick?

I don’t think fans are supposed to be fair to anyone, they are there to escape life via the music or the show, if you deliver they are fair, if you don’t, they should say so. People work hard for their money, and they want what they buy to be great…fair doesn’t enter into it.

10. I just most recently went back and watched a few Saigon Kick videos to be ready for this interview. Who in the hell told Matt those dances and poses he did were a good idea? He looks like a spastic child or a homeless man wanting to scare the mall crowd.

That is Matt being Matt there is no one to blame for any of our moves unfortunately…or the clothes. For better or for worse we did what we felt like and sometimes that could have disastrous visual ramifications!

11. Earlier I asked you about Phil Verone’s Waking up Dead. Are you shocked that he took off on these reality shows, so much so he made a film about himself? Any thoughts on him on the Dr Drew show?

I really have not paid much attention to that kind of stuff in general I don’t get entertained by other peoples lives and or anyone’s personal train wrecks…nor do I look down on people who love those shows. I know Phil as a person he seems to have it all worked out now and I hope he continues to find success.

12. Knowing what you know today, and being the same age you were when Saigon Kick first got signed. Would you do it all again with Matt? If not, what would you change?

I don’t wallow in what ifs, we sold a few million records, toured the world multiple times, got to meet and share the stage with some of our heroes. Even without Matt we got to do some amazing things. It all turned out the way it was supposed to, I guess

13. This is called Rate the Vocalist…I will give you some names and you give them a A for being amazing, or a F for being a complete fuck up. And please by all means explain your grade…

a. .Matt Kramer ex Saigon Kick. You just knew that name would be first

Rather than grade, I will give you my thoughts. Matt is a very talented singer and has a coolness about what he does when he is on, that is really impressive. Always felt like he could have reached greater heights in terms of his talent.

b.Ryan McCombs of Soil

To be honest I am not that familiar with most of his previous work. We signed Soil after Ryan had left and they had a new singer, so when they wanted to reunite with Ryan they came to us about releasing the new DVD, so my experience with him is really based around the live DVD. The guy lives and breathes what he does so you just have to respect someone like that.

c.Grady Avernell-Will Haven

Grady isn’t about traditional vocal technique, he is about conveying passion and emotion through his delivery. He does that better than almost anyone.

d.Perry Farrell-Jane’s Addiction

One of my personal favs, just the vibe and the energy in those early Jane’s records is amazing. SK wouldn’t have happened without seeing Jane’s Addiction, not sure they would want to hear that, but it’s true!

14.What advice would you give a band just getting started and trying to be signed to a label?

I don’t think being signed should enter into the equation early on, focus on being great and making amazing music. The rest will fall into place, once your music and show are unreal.

15. What is your favorite Saigon Kick cd? And why?

I don’t listen to them that often to be honest, they all have their moments I guess. Water was a fun record to make, we were in Stockholm which is one of my favorite cities and all alone making and recording music on the spot. Everything was mic’d up and we wrote and recorded as it was being written.

16.Again back to 1990. Saigon Kick’s debut comes out. I will be honest Jason, I love this cd a lot. And I was not alone, every rock magazine and alternative magazine gave this cd the highest praise and claimed that your band was the future of music. Were you shocked by the lack of record sales for this cd?

I mean I only think of sales in the sense that they allow you to continue making music…I always focused on making music, the rest is really out of your control. Would I like the music more if it sold? Or less if it doesn’t?

17.When Extreme’s record label released More than Words, it started a flood of unplugged metal ballads. I mean, Love is on the Way was thrown in this mix, as was a lot of other bands. Whose idea was this video, the band or the studio? And again, The Lizard was not selling really major until this video came out, so do you think without this video, that you would have went platinum and been afforded the chance to do Water?

We went to Mexico and shot a semi-cool video for Hostile Youth, but at the same time a station in Florida started playing LIOTW, it simply exploded and the the song became a hit. Without a degree of success who knows how long we would have been signed for…hard to say.

18.How do you describe your time in Saigon Kick? You have to pick one and explain…

a.I was hanging out with my friends and making music.

b.this is a business move, and I will make money and do my thing and keep people around who agree with my vision

c.Why does a lead singer like Matt need all the spotlight and attention, my guitar playing and background vocals are just as good if not better

Really it is A, I was always doing the same thing, writing songs and we were friends. Not slagging the other guys but I wrote 90% of the music and a good portion of the lyrics and vocals…when it became a business others then wanted to write more because it meant money…so I honestly think that probably caused some friction.

19.So you have a new music project, you want to share what is going on Jason?

Owl Stretching is really just going back to what it was all about for me, making music with cool collaborators. Not worried about anything else and I have been really thrilled to see people digging it. It is a no rules kind of thing, we will probably look to release new music every 4-6 weeks and see where it leads.

20. At this point of your career, why do you still want to make music and will there be any videos?

I have loved music since I was born and I will die loving music, all styles and all shapes…so whether 2 people or 2 million people like it, it is all good. Really not worried about the rest.

21.Where do you think this project fits in with a music movement that is not too fair to anything that is not geared towards people our parents age, or goth kids that hang out at the local hot topic or rap?

Like I said I am not concerned with fitting in, but that being said in general there has never been a more open time for music. I really believe anything can happen from anywhere…look at Adele, or Skrillex or Gotye I see kids listening to AC/DC and Mac Miller. Deadmau5 and Metallica…rules are pretty much gone…people just want great songs.

22.Now I am going to put you on the spot, finally. Besides anything your record label has put out or you and your friends have been involved with. What is the greatest cd of all time to you?

Ouch, that is so hard to answer…really impossible. I can only say The Beatles, Queen, XTC, Elvis Costello, Jane’s Addiction , and so many more

23. Again same build up as last question. What was the last cd you went out and just had to have?
I bought the FUN. Record which I thought was really great had so many Queen elements and interesting songs with cool production.

24.Do you view itunes and wal mart as record stores? Best Buy?

I don’t think the traditional music store exist anymore, these are more like places to buy music. There are still few great indie stores like Newbury Comics, ZIA, etc but unfortunately not many. On the upside music is now available anywhere at anytime and that was impossible when I started. A kid who wakes up at 4 in the morning in Korea can get my music, and that is really cool.

25.What do you think hurt music more? Downloading or MTV original programming?

I think radio consolidation really hurt, their unwillingness to focus on breaking new music because of their new structures has hurt a lot. MTV is what it is, a business that is trying to make money, they are no longer really in the music business. Downloading happened because the majors were too slow to see the trend, how Apple beat Sony in digital portable music will be studied in business schools for hundreds of year to come!

26.I want to thank you for releasing the new Will Haven cd. I am a major fan of Will Haven, and glad to see Grady back. And on the same note, cause I know he would be pissed at me for not mentioning him. But also Ryan McCombs and Soil’s latest. Amazing stuff. And the comeback cd from a band that I am also a fan of called Nonpoint. Are you signing bands that you are a fan of, or are these bands reaching out to you?

No thanks needed we love these bands too. This seems like a repeating theme in my answers but we just sign bands we love, music that we are moved by and are fans of. We probably have one of the most diverse indie label rosters on the planet, because we’re fans of greatness not just a genre or trend.

27. This is my favorite part of the interview, thank you so much Jason. I hope I was not too hard on you. So this is your chance to plug, promote and shout out all you need too. Thank you so much…

Thanks for taking the time to ask the questions, really nice of you! …for anyone who is interested in checking out our many endeavors:


– Bieler Bros Team

This interview was interesting. Us music fans praise Bieler Bros records so much, just for the diverse bands they seem to be signing. If I did not ask the Saigon Kick questions, I would have hated myself. I give props to Jason, he could have told me many times in this interview to fuck off. But, he answered the questions the way that gives a lot of fans hope that Matt Kramer, Defile, Phil and him can get along and give us the proper follow up to The Lizard.