Jeremy Morris is a musician, independent record label owner and a genuinely nice guy. He was kind enough to answer some questions about running a record label, the future of music and maintaining your faith in the sometimes amoral world of rock and roll.
The Rock and Roll Report: How did you get involved in the music field?
Jeremy Morris: I grew up in it. My father is a professional musician to this day. So I had my first band at age 13 and was playing out professionally at a very young age. My father really helped me alot to get the ball rolling.
RRR: Who are your musical heroes and inspirations
JM: For me it really started with the Beatles and Stones. I was totally into their music, but in the later years I would discover a love for a lot of progressive and electronic music too! Groups like Yes, Genesis, Kayak, Gentle Giant, Pink Floyd, Camel, Barclay James Harvest, Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Steve Hillage, Amazing Blondel, Gordon Giltrap, Anthony Phillips, Steve Hackett, Ashra, etc…These bands would carry on where the Beatles left off.
RRR: Tell me a bit about the label. How long its been going, what the mission of it is and what kind of music does Jam Recordings release?
JM: The label went public with official releases in 1984. We pressed up 6000 copies for my first album. A bit ambitious for the time when indie labels were not so common. The mission of the label has always been to put out good music and bring happiness to many people. The styles range from rock, progressive, power pop, electronic, Christian, instrumental, ambient, etc.. If it’s good and I love it, then I will probably release it. I don’t go by what is popular, I go by what I like.
RRR: What kind of distribution does Jam Recordings have? Are you playing in the digital space as well and how?
JM: Jam has world wide distribution with many small indie outlets all over the globe. I find the little guys to be more honest by experience, (While the big boys may move more units, they are less likely to pay you…sad but true) I am still a firm believer in the traditional cd and lp and will continue with that format as long as people want it. I have never downloaded a song. I am not into that at all. I want the full package, the artwork, the lyrics, the information. To me this whole downloading thing is the McDonalds land of fast food music! … and it really hurting the concept of “The album”—A collection of songs that is meant to be listened to as a complete experience.
RRR: With all the doom and gloom in the music industry these days about slumping sales, how do you compete or at least break even in this cut throat world?
JM: I carry on by faith. Of course, I think the industry has always been difficult from day one. I am on a mission to keep making and providing good music because I was made to do that. God has always taken care of me. Somehow it all works out, even though it defies logic, God will provide. The orders come in and I ship out the music. It’s in His hands.
RRR: Your faith is very important to you. I remember the first time I heard “What God Wants” (fantastic song by the way!) I thought it was some kind of metaphor for something else (hey, I’m not too swift!) but it didn’t take me long to realize that the song was about your faith. How do you reconcile your faith with the sometimes crazy, immoral world of rock and roll?
JM: I am glad you like the song! Thanks. I have been criticized for many years by the religious people for being a rock musician. Playing this music has never been a problem for me because I don’t associate it with immorality. People like to blame music for our cultures problems ( but the music is really a mirror of our culture) I have played rock music in bars since I was 15 years old. I never got into drugs, drinking, smoking , or any of that. To me that was of no interest at all. I was there for the music, not the party.
RRR: You have been referred to as one of the hardest working men in rock and roll and you even have a tribute album out dedicated to your music. Why do you do what you do?
JM: I have a conviction that I was born to do this. I have been passionate about music all my life. I would be forsaking my calling if I didn’t do music. One must be true to who they really are.
RRR: The music industry has evolved considerably in the last few years. All this Web 2.0 technology like MySpace and YouTube are giving indie artists better tools to get their music out there to potential fans. What are your thoughts on these developments? How are you as an artist and a record label owner taking advantage of these technologies?
JM: I am a big fan of both MySpace and YouTube. I think it’s a wonderful networking tool for both musicians and music fans. I am working strong on both of these fronts and find that these developments are helping truly independents reach a greater audience than ever before. I have alot of music videos up on YouTube for example. The response has been great!
RRR: What are your near term and long term plans for Jam Records and your music?
JM: I plan to continue releasing as much music on the label as I can. (Both my own and other artists as well) The label is about to release a 3 cd charity set for Hurricane Katrina victims called “Sweet Relief”. The cd has 74 bands from 12 countries around the world. The profits from the release will go to help the poor and the homeless. I am very excited about this project.
I also have a 5 cd career spanning Jeremy Box set coming soon…. 5 cds of original recordings from 1976–2005 called “SONLIGHT” They are also many other projects in the pipeline. I am certainly not bored. I will do as much as I can while I am still here. The best is yet to come.