You may recognize Jace Everett‘s name from 2005 when he released a self-titled country album, but now he’s back in the news for the theme song to HBO’s most watched series, True Blood. The song, “Bad Things,” appeared on his self-titled debut album released in 2005 on Sony Music Nashville’s Epic imprint, but it fell short at country radio. However, it fits in perfectly with the menacing opening sequence to True Blood, a drama/thriller about what the world would look like if vampires really did exist and decided to make their presence known. The sequence has been nominated for an Emmy and has resulted in around 10,000 hits per day on Everett’s MySpace page .
Spurred on by the new found success of “Bad Things,” Everett’s latest release, Red Revelations, came out on Weston Boys records in June and includes 11 brand new songs, along with the original recording of the True Blood theme. Everett recently talked to CMT.com about getting second chances in the music business, the True Blood phenomenon and how his new album was partially inspired by the show.
CMT: I remember seeing you three years ago at CMA fest and hearing “Bad Things” then, but now you’re back. What happened in between then and now?
Everett: Very little in some ways. … I got dropped by Sony about a month after my record came out. It was the Sony/BMG merger, and a lot of the Sony staff got blown out. Myself and about 12 other artists got dropped all in one day. So that was a little shocking and threw me off for a little while, but I just kept writing and wound up making a live-in-the-studio acoustic record that I went and toured the U.K. with in 2007. I got to tour with Guy Clark and with some other folks. It was kind of a bluesy, country blues record.
Then in 2008, I was still writing songs and playing bass in bands, and the True Blood thing came up on the radar. I was playing bass for Trent Willmon because he’s a buddy of mine and I play bass, and I was able to get some things worked out to where I could begin to go make a new record. So that’s what I’ve done with this Red Revelations record. It’s definitely been a game-changer, but you know, I was in the game the whole time.
What did you think the first time you saw the True Blood opening sequence with your song behind it?
Man, I freaked. They actually asked me to do a couple of different versions of the song that weren’t as country. Of course, country radio didn’t think there was anything country in that song [in 2005]. So I did a couple different versions of that song, but they kept going back to the old record. Digital Kitchen did those opening credits, and I thought it was great. They just got nominated for an Emmy, so it’s apparently not just my opinion. The song helps the images, but the images help the song just as much. I think they did a phenomenal job.
Since “Bad Things” has become more popular, has it led you to write more songs like that?
I’ve always written songs like that. In some ways, “Bad Things” is a little bit of a novelty song. People think of it as this dark, brooding thing, and it’s really not that melodramatic. It’s supposed to have some degree of humor in it. I think Alan Ball [True Blood‘s producer] picked up on that because if you watch True Blood, yeah, it’s about vampires, but it’s also funny as hell at times. He likes that black humor — that darkness mixed with funny — and so do I.
So I have always written that way. I write really country stuff, I write really pop stuff and I write really rock stuff. I’ve always written all kinds of songs. I write songs with my son these days that are kind of Queen-esque because he digs that. It’s like a chef. You don’t expect a chef to make only marinara sauce. It would be a pretty boring restaurant if you only make one thing, and that’s the way I feel about music, I like doing it all.
With Red Revelations, do you feel like a different kind of an artist than you were with Sony?
Yeah, I think I’m really being myself a lot more. When I came to town in 2001, I had just gone through a very difficult divorce and some different personal drama, and I came to town looking to have an Americana kind of career. That’s what I listen to and that’s what I naturally do, but then a major label came and offered me a deal, MCA. So I said ‘Well, OK, that sounds like a good idea.’ And then I wound up getting bounced over to Sony, so you know, I was just going with the flow and probably acquiesced a little too often and a little too deeply on a few things, but I’m still proud. I think we did good work with that record, and I enjoyed it for the most part, but I’m definitely able to have more freedom now. There’s not even any thought towards ‘How are we gonna get this on radio?’ That’s not even part of the equation.
I hear a lot of blues influence on the CD. What draws you to it?
I don’t know. I’ve just always dug that stuff. The things that I always liked were never the things that were on the radio necessarily. And I still love a good pop tune. I mean, I’ve written some, I’ve had a No. 1 radio hit as a songwriter [Josh Turner‘s “Your Man,” co-written with Chris DuBois and Chris Stapleton]. I still like popular music. But I also really like stuff that’s a little more out there — whether it’s country stuff, rock ‘n’ roll stuff or it’s rockabilly, there’s just something about it.
[The album is] kind of a film noir thing. It’s more cinematic music. And, heck, I’ve got the theme song to the most popular show on HBO since The Sopranos, and I figure … that I can maybe parlay that into something else in the film and TV world, so I just went with those instincts and made the record.
How much of the record was inspired by the show?
There are two songs that are directly inspired by the show. But you don’t have to know that to enjoy the songs. One is called “Burn for You,” which is actually the most popular song off the record so far, according to digital downloads. And for that song, the lyric got inspired by an episode in the first season where the vampire Bill actually walks out into the sunlight to try and save his human girl, Sookie, and he catches on fire. And I was just thinking about all the melodramatic pledges that you make to a lover, and I took it one step further. I mean, the guy is basically willing to die, go to hell and stay till the end of the world. The other song is “Damned If I Do,” which could be taken as a vampire-meets-human love song pretty easily, but again, you don’t have to know that for the song to work, I hope.
Do you think True Blood has given you a second chance?
Oh, there’s no question. The writing was on the wall. I was about to figure out another path and maybe still make music, but I wasn’t gonna be able to make a living at it. The business has gotten really tough. Even guys that have been stars at some point are struggling. The record companies are closing everywhere, publishers closing down. It’s tough right now. So this was absolutely … I’m born again, you know what I mean? The vampires brought me back from the dead.
And second chances don’t seem to happen that much anymore.
They don’t. That’s what this country has always been about — second, third and fourth chances. I still think you can have them, but the way the economy has been here lately, you’re lucky if you get a second chance. So I’m trying to take full advantage of it.