Oklahoma-based Jason Scott & The High Heat dropped their debut album earlier this month. Castle Rock is a collection of songs about life, love, pain, and hard work. Sonically, the band draws from honky tonk, 90s country, some classic rock, and features a touch of the Red Dirt sound that many expect from Oklahoma artists. In short, they’re carving out their own sonic niche inside the larger scene.
Check out “Quittin’ Time” the lead single from Castle Rock to get a good sample of their sound.
Beyond the music, Jason Scott’s story is fascinating. He grew up in a strict religious home. When he got old enough he became a youth pastor, worship leader, and wrote worship songs. Later, he became a Pentecostal minister. After some soul-searching, he walked away from it all and released his musical talent on the secular world.
Recently, I talked to Jason Scott about the major change that led him to his musical career, Castle Rock, and the future of the band.
A Major Change of Direction
Jason Scott: My first son was born while I was still in church. I think that had a lot to do with it. Just after much questioning and research I kind of just decided that this wasn’t for me. People’s faith is for them to decide and what’s real or not to someone may or may not be real to somebody else. Over a year or so, I kind of realized that wasn’t going to be the direction I wanted my life to go in. I stepped down from a few positions and left.
I’ve got a lot of family that is still very involved in church. They want what’s best for me. But, their idea of what’s best for me maybe isn’t my idea of what’s best for me. I still have many friends and family members in those areas. I feel like the people that I don’t talk to anymore aren’t people that mattered all that much anyway.
Making Money with Music
Jason Scott: String and Sound is a little side business I started right out of church. It’s not any of the guys in my band that do that. It’s some of my other buddies. We kind of do duo things at weddings. It’s not like a big cover band or anything. But I’ve been able to build a little bit of a business across the Midwest. One of the things we do is couples will give us a little bit of backstory and we’ll write some songs for them. “Ft. Worth” is one of those songs. The band and everybody just liked it so much that we put it on the album.
The High Heat: An Influential Band
Jason Scott: My influences are my band, mostly. I grew up super religious and wasn’t exposed to a lot of secular music. For the sound of this record, it’s stuff that they had recommended I listen to for us to get kind of a sonic idea. None of us wanted to do a Red Dirt record with a solo following every second chorus. I’m not knocking Red Dirt at all. We just wanted to make the record a little different structurally and sonically.
So, I was listening to all sorts of things. Taylor [Johnson (guitar, keys)] had me listening to [The Kinks’ 1971 album] Muswell Hillbillies and Wreckless Eric and a bunch of Chuck Berry and, of course, the Stones and stuff like that. Jerry Reed. Wilco is another one that I had never listened to ever that definitely influenced the sound on this record.
COVID Forced Jason Scott & The High Heat to Chill
Jason Scott: That was a furious time. The whole world stopped. It was rough, dude. We were going to release Castle Rock right before COVID. We played Magnolia Motor Lounge on March 12th – when the whole world stopped -to two bartenders.
I definitely wrote through that period. This next collection of songs has that feel to it. I wouldn’t call it a happy record. I think it’ll be relatable to a lot of people.
It sucked during the time obviously, but if we wouldn’t have had to wait we wouldn’t have been able to roll it out like this at all. I’m glad we waited.
Listen to Castle Rock
If you haven’t listened to Jason Scott & The High Heat’s debut record yet, do yourself a favor and check it out. I suggest listening to “Me and Marryanne,” “Cleveland County Line,” and “So It Goes.” But, there are no skips on this record.