An Americana songwriter with punk bonafides, Jade Jackson casts a dark, swooning spell with next week's Gilded. It's her debut album, produced by Social Distortion frontman Mike Ness and imbued with a rough-edged resilience.
Ness figures heavily in Jackson's conversation with Chris Shiflett during today's episode of Walking the Floor. Recorded one month after the two musicians shared a show in Seattle, the podcast finds them talking California childhoods, punk influences and country songwriting. Below, we've rounded up some highlights from the conversation, followed by the official premiere of Walking the Floor's newest installment.
Raised in small-town California, Jackson once sought shelter from a pissed-off pig.
"My mother and I got chased by a wild boar," says the West Coast native, who was raised outside of San Luis Obispo in the pint-sized town of Santa Margarita. "People were chasing it down with a truck and screaming, and we were walking to work. It was literally charging toward us, and then it went by us, thank god. These sorts of things happen. It's part of the upbringing."
Raised without the corrupting conveniences of modern technology, she turned to music at an early age.
"We didn't have a microwave," Jackson remembers of her childhood home. "We didn't have a television. We didn't have a computer. It went as far as my mom would sign papers in elementary school to keep me out of the computer lab." What they did have, however, was music, with Jackson's parents introducing her to artists like Hank Williams, the Damned and Echo and the Bunnymen.
A childhood pianist, she turned to songwriting after attending a Social Distortion concert during her teens.
At 13 years old, Jackson bought tickets to her first proper concert: a local gig by punk-rock lifers Social Distortion. There, transfixed by the onstage charisma of Mike Ness, she finally felt things click into place. "I said, 'I want to be on stage,'" she remembers of her inner monologue. "'Maybe that's where I can find my peace. Maybe there's where I can have a voice.' And honestly, I've had tunnel vision ever since." Several weeks later, she was writing her own songs.
Coincidentally, Mike Ness gave Jackson her first big break.
While playing a hometown gig during a break between her college semesters, Jackson caught the attention of Ness' wife, Christina, who wound up shooting some video footage of the show. The clips made their way to Ness, who saw potential in Jackson's music. He called her once she was back in school and offered to produce her album. Jackson still remembers driving to his studio for the first time. "I was terrified," she admits, "because I grew up listening to his music, and he's this punk rocker who eats nails for breakfast."
During the months leading up to Gilded's release, Jackson has been sharing the road with her childhood idol.
"It's the closest thing I've ever had to a dream coming true," she says of her tour with Social Distortion, which kicked off earlier this year. Her first time hitting the road, the tour provided more opportunities for Jackson to collaborate with Ness. "He was like a father to me," she says. "If he thought I could improve on something, he'd tell me and I'd try it."