Richard Jaymes has been drawn to music since he got his first guitar at age 12. Though he’s been playing Southern rock with Soko and Prey for Green, Dollar and a Dream is his first solo effort. Not only did he write all the songs on the album, he handles all the vocals and most of the instruments. Inspired by a news report about the Wall Street meltdown that ended with the phrase “dollar and a dream” (NY residents know this lottery slogan), and seeing the affect it had on friends and family, the title song is one for our times. It’s getting good crossover radio play, as well as getting news media play, with Richard appearing on Fox’s Strategy Room and G Gordon Liddy’s LiddyShow. Though planning a summer tour and breaking in a new touring band, Richard took some time to talk with me about his music, so here’s Richard, in his own words.
Angela Thor: You started playing when you were 12 and wrote your first song at 17. When you first started playing, did you know then you wanted to make music your life?
Richard Jaymes: I had a pretty good idea. I always identified with songwriters more than the guitar itself; more Merle Haggard type artists, where it’s more about the song than playing a million notes or whatever.
AT: You wrote all the tunes on Dollar and a Dream, when you were playing with your bands, did you do the songwriting for them?
RJ: I pretty much did for a little way. A friend of mine, Wyatt Pauley, some of the songs on there he co-wrote with me. But other than that, I’ve been kind of always the one that brought the songs to the table, so to speak.
AT: Then it became a group effort; people threw in their bits?
RJ: Quite a few times the band, before I went solo, I actually joined the band really just wanting to play guitar and I guess things weren’t working out with the guy they had, the singer/songwriter. They ended up pushing him out for personal issues and they wanted me to kind of fill his place, you know what I mean, so I wrote the songs that they had. I’ve always been kind of pushed in that direction, whether I liked it or not.
AT: The guitar playing on this album is great, and I see played a number of the other instruments too.
RJ: I sure did. My drummer, Dale [Rock], he was in the band with me, the prior band as well. We kind of got a team thing going where he plays drums but I’m pretty much doing everything else.
AT: When you go out on tour, will it be with your old band or a new group?
RJ: Actually, I have a whole new band right now. Matter-of-fact it’s kind of finalized this past week and it’s a really great group of guys; really nice guys. Everything is looking good.
AT: Is it hard to break in a new band?
RJ: It is, especially here in Orlando. The kind of music that we’re playing, I don’t want to say there’s really not a scene here, but it’s just not… We’re kind of the roots-rock-Americana-country thing and it’s really big here. Hard to find players; not a lot of people play fiddle around here, peddle steel, so it does make it a little difficult.
AT: Some of the songs have a Lynyrd Skynyrd feel and I even felt a bit of James Taylor in there. Who do you think of as your influences?
RJ: Well, I definitely grew up on the Eagles, a lot of the early Eagles stuff, around the Gram Parsons era, that type of thing. But, even as I got older, believe it or not, a lot of the Black Crowes, Allman Brothers.
AT: Who do you see as your musical peers today?
RJ: Right now, I’m really listening to Ryan Adams and the Cardinals. I really like what he’s doing lately. I love Sheryl Crow, she’s really cool. Once again, the Black Crowes.
AT: I see on “Southern Comfort” that back-up vocals are by Justin Jaymes.
RJ: Yeah, that’s my eleven-year-old son. I had him come in and do the back-up vocals. It’s funny, he’s like “Dad, how come, you need to make my tracks louder.”
AT: Starting already! Anybody else musical in the family?
RJ: Not really. My dad was very, he listened to everything. I remember him taking me to everything, from a George Benson concert to Charlie Daniels to Spyro Gyra, you know what I mean. It was really across the board with different types of music.
AT: “Dollar and a Dream” is the first single off the album. Was that your first choice?
RJ: Yeah. Actually, the song was written in 2008 around February. I’ve had it around awhile; I wish we could have gotten it out sooner but you don’t have that luxury as a new artist. That’s kind of the only issue with that song right now.
AT: Do you have another favorite on the album?
RJ: Tell you the truth, I really like “That Was Yesterday,” last song on the record. It was just an important song for me when I wrote it. To me, it’s the most, just my opinion, it’s the most kind of vast and it’s got a lot of changes in it, a lot of depth, at least to me it does.
AT: You heard the phrase “dollar and a dream” at the end of a news broadcast and that inspired you to write the song. Is that how your songwriting usually goes?
RJ: Sometimes I’ll have a few chords kind of like tucked away or a progression. But lately, it’s weird, the older I get, the more the words come first, or a hook or catch phrase; that will really start the ball rolling. It’s a kind of change for me lately.
AT: “Dollar and a Dream” deals with current affairs. Is that an area you usually write about or do you tend towards other themes like relationships?
RJ: A lot of earlier stuff I did; I think a lot of people do, it’s easier to write. For a long time I made a rule for myself; I wouldn’t write a song and use the word “love” in it because I thought it was such, and it wasn’t anything I was against, it was just more, it’s such a go-to thing for writers. It’s kind of an easy way out a lot of times. I stopped doing that to kind of push myself to write in other areas; I think it really helped. I had a small amount of time where I went to junior college. I had an English teacher that taught me that when you’re writing a paper, a composition or anything, no matter how stupid you think it is, what you’re thinking, write it down because anything is better than just staring at a blank sheet of paper. You can get the ball rolling and before you know it, what was nonsense becomes something.
AT: You’re scheduled to be on Fox’s Strategy Room and G Gordon Liddy’s LiddyShow. What can you tell me about these?
RJ: I have my beliefs but I don’t like to get too deep into what I think and that. I think that people, if you like me, it should be left like that. I’m an entertainer, not a politician.
AT: Of all of the musical hats you wear, do you have a favorite?
RJ: I do like the writing and the recording. What’s cool about that is it’s something that’s tangible, you know what I mean? When you’re done with it it’s kind of like a photograph; once you’re done with it, it’s always there. Playing out live is great too but it’s more of an experience, a memory. When you have a song you write and record, it’s yours forever; nobody can take that away from you.