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Inteview with Jason Keyser of Origin

Jason Kayser Origin is performing at Summer Slaughter tour at Regency Ballroom in San Francisco
Jason Kayser Origin is performing at Summer Slaughter tour at Regency Ballroom in San Francisco
Miikka Skaffari

I had the opportunity to meet up with Jason Kayser or Origin before their set on the opening night of Summer Slaughter tour at Regency Ballroom in San Francisco. Check out the conversation below.

Jason Kayser of Origin is performing at Summer Slaughter tour in San Francisco
Miikka Skaffari

Miikka Skaffari: First night of Summer Slaughter, what are your expectations and what are your feelings?
Jason Keyser: We are really excited to play this tour. It’s obviously a great lineup but we are even more pumped up by the fact that we already know most of these bands. We toured with Dying Fetus we toured with The Faceless. We are all friends and we know there’s not going to be any ego problems, nobody is going to be battling with each others. Everyone is going to have fun and are bros already. That puts us in a better mood, we get more drunk, the shows get better, the fans are happier, it’s like a cycle of awesome. Our own goal is to be the band the audience talks about and remembers, or one of the bands they talk about when we leave.

MS: Do you like the beginning of the tour, the end of a tour and do you change as band or does your music change during a tour?
JK: Let’s say we have this song on new CD called "Thrall:Fulcrum:Apex" that is like minute and ten seconds. That’s how we play it now. At the end of the tour it’s about 55 seconds, maybe 50 seconds. Everything just speeds up the tighter we get. We love touring. Touring is our bread and butter. We are a touring band. After a while on the road there’s this thing that happens when you get a tour equilibrium. You are never tired, you are never really awake, you are never hungry, never full, never drunk and never sober. Just a hazy middle ground. You feel nothing. It doesn’t matter if it’s the beginning middle or end, you just float in nothingness of another day another show.

MS: How do you like the new album?
JK: I like it! I enjoy it. Other people might enjoy it. It’s definitely different from the Origin sound that they are known for. I don’t think that’s particularly a bad thing. I’m glad to sign an Origin CD and not have to pre-empt it with “you know I’m not on this”. Now I can say that I’m actually on this CD.

MS: How do you see Origin music changing over the years?
JK: I wouldn’t necessarily even think it as changing. Origin is not a band whose label tells us what to play or ask us to cover certain song and make a music video. We are lucky enough that we are writing what we want. We write what we want to play. Paul [Ryan, guitar] never wants to write same album twice so he’s just doing whatever he feels at the moment. Some of the weirder riffs on this album are from 15 - 20 years ago. It’s just a natural progression of things. It’s not that we sat down and decided this is the direction that we want to go.

MS: How long have you been with the band now?
JK: I joined in 2011. I wasn’t on ‘Entity’ but I joined the band when I was living overseas. I got an email when I was living in India from John [Longstreth, drums] that read, “We need a new vocalist, do you want to join?” I said, “Absolutely if you don’t mind waiting for eight months.” He said fine so Paul and Mike [Flores, bass] did the vocals for ‘Entity’. I should have been on it but I wasn’t home. As soon as I got home we started that touring cycle and I have been with the band ever since.

MS: Over the years there has been quite a bit of changes in the personnel in Origin. Do you hear it in the music? Does it come from a different place? Or is it just time and circumstances?
JK: Nowadays it’s so common to change personnel. Every band changes members all the time. When James [Lee, ex-vocals] left he took his signature vocal sound with him. But he wasn’t even the first vocalist. It’s good not to get stuck on things. Do whatever sounds awesome. I guess Paul is definitely the backbone of the group. As long as his riffs are there, that is Origin. Maybe without him it was a different story. If he’s leaving he’s taking Origin with him.

MS: You don’t live in the same city. How does that work for you as a band?
JK: We don’t get sick of each others. We don’t have to be around each others all the time. Me and John live in New York, Paul is in San Francisco and Mike lives in Kansas so physically we are about as far as we can possibly be from each others. We don’t jam all that much, but when we tour we have to fly to wherever the tour starts. I think it works out. It keeps it fresh. It keeps us from arguing and off each others faces about things. I think it’s actually kind of a benefit.

MS: How does it change the way you write music?
JK: I don’t think even that is so much different. I know bands that live next to each other and they don’t jam all that often. A guitar player writes a riff and pass it on to drummer who passes it on to me and I pass it on the bassist. We do it through Skype and files. We don’t write music in a studio so it doesn’t hurt us all that much.