Jason Achilles Mezilis
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Jason Achilles Mezilis

Los Angeles, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2016 | SELF | AFM

Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF | AFM
Established on Jan, 2016
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"Exploration Of A Greek Genius With Jason Achilles Mezilis"

Jason Achilles Mezilis is a name that needs to be on your musical radar for 2016. With an impressive resume of music in tow, from playing in the likes of OWL with Chris Wyse (of Ace Frehley’s band), to recording Dizzy Reed of Guns n’ Roses at Mezilis’ acclaimed Organic Audio Recorders, he is the man of many, many hats. Gearing up to release his new record, “Comedown,” on June 28, his solo, instrumental endeavor will send chills down your spine.

Aside from his musical accomplishments, Mezilis also has a strong passion for all things geek. With an impressive comic book collection in the thousands, and a Star Wars enthusiast, Mezilis sparks interest from every direction. We sat down with Jason Achilles Mezilis, and got deep inside his brain for all things geeky and music; a combination as classic as can be.

1. Your favorite part of making the “Comedown” record:

One in particular I enjoyed was the day we did the recording for the horn section. Charting and recording brass was something I had never done before, and in this case a hired 3-piece horn section (4 mics total) had to be rehearsed, quadruple-tracked / layered, edited & re-recorded for performance, and all set to get mixed down (on tape) ultimately to a stereo channel…all within about two hours. Of course there are folks out there who do this sort of thing all the time, but for myself as a new experience it was pretty terrifying and as a result I was incredibly stoked when it all turned out as good as it did. Of course my horn players were all pros and great guys which helped immensely…and I even got some “polite but helpful” tips on how to better prepare my horn charts in the future…ha!

2. Your favorite comic book from your childhood and why:

Amazing Spider-Man #281. I bought this off a rack at the drugstore down the street…and it transformed me instantaneously into a life-long fan. I had never read a Spider-Man comic before, and of course this was during the black suit era, post Secret Wars alien symbiote but pre-Venom, so yeah it was just regular threading and he looked absolutely bad-ass. Prior to this my only exposure to the character was on the cartoon series, so this was obviously a pretty drastic improvement. Also this is long after the awkward, nerdy early Peter Parker years…so even though his life is still a personal disaster pretty much everyday, at least he’s a bit more grown-up, he’s got a fair share of responsibilities, and looks at least somewhat like a good-looking together sort of guy with a pretty hot girlfriend. I was definitely the awkward kid myself, so having a role model that seemed to overcome all that was pretty inspiring. And of course in this issue, like pretty much every other one but this one in particular, he’s completely overwhelmed by all the bad dudes crawling all over the place and working his way through it all with a combo of hard work, agility, and marginally good humor…so yeah, excellent intro into the character. Seemed damn cool to me.

3. Your favorite song on your upcoming record, and what it means to you:

I really, honestly do love the whole thing…I don’t think I could pick any one favorite song or track on the album, although there are a lot of special moments from each that stand out for me. But I will say my favorite thing about the record as a whole is the consistency of tone and overall presentation. It really worked out as something you can put on and listen to, front to back…there’s no weak spots, there’s no filler or moments where it loses the ear, or gets boring…all my favorite records have that one quality in common, and I’m very pleased to say that I think this one turned out that way, as well.

4. Your favorite character from Star Wars (any edition) and why:

Excellent question…ok so, when I first watched Star Wars as a kid, my favorite scene was (and still is) that moment of Luke looking out over the twin suns, and that amazing melody comes forward, and he’s dreaming off into the future…I really identified with that moment, so as a result I identified with the character. Later, of course, you get older and you realize Luke is a bit of a whiny bitch (sorry Luke) and on top of that he doesn’t actually get the girl, and you realize the guy you thought was kind of a dick to begin with is actually the coolest damn dude around…so yeah…Han Solo is the shit.

I almost wish I could give you guys some sort of less predictable, more hardcore fan-pleasing answer like “IG-88’s weapons tech” or “Lirin Car’n”, one of the butt-shape-headed backup Kloo Horn players of Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes fame, just for good musical reference…but sometimes the obvious answers are still the right ones. Han Solo is the right answer.

5. Your favorite part about recording artists in your studio, Organic Audio Recorders:

I suppose like any other self-employed small business owner, being your own boss and choosing who you get to work with is really liberating. Of course the downside to that is occasionally chasing after work, running out of money, desperately wondering how the hell to pay the bills after that last band mixed up which Wednesday you were doing pre-production…all of that fun stuff. But lately I’ve been very fortunate in that people / bands have been coming to me, or referred though friends; they like what I do and they are interested in capturing that for themselves…when you don’t have to fight that battle of production with an artist, when they’re already aware of your work and so forth, and they like your sensibility about things, you’re at least starting off in great shape. Also, with the way I like to work, there’s usually a good deal of preparation involved, so when you’ve worked through all the material and you’ve got the songs in a good place, tones are getting dialed in nicely and everyone is on the same page…that’s a great feeling, moving forward into the tracking phase. Then you become less a technician and more of a referee, calling the good and the bad plays and so forth…keeping the momentum going, and the troops inspired.

One final thing about the whole process, that’s kind of neat, is how when a band comes into the studio and they transform the room and environment into their own….everyone sets up their little “world” in their corner, their drinks and their snacks and music notes and weed, and I get to see the same room over and over become this new thing, this familiar place but with an entirely different energy and vibe…it keeps everything fresh and exciting. If you could imagine strangers coming in and redesigning your work space every couple weeks, that’s basically what mine is like. It’s certainly not boring…

6. Your favorite guitar that you have ever owned, and why:

My #1 guitar that is and will always be, is actually the one I used for most of this record…it’s a black 1991 lefty Japanese Strat, that my parents first bought me when I was a kid, after a good deal of research on my part. I tweaked on it a lot over the years, routed it out for different pickups and so forth, as well as a “custom” razor-blade hack job on the pickguard. But in the end, the tone that I fell in love with is the neck pickup that actually came stock with the guitar…so I ripped out all the others, just to make sure wouldn’t be tempted to go down any other path with it. The guitar is set up like hell, held together in various spots with tape, glue, and blind luck…and I absolutely love it. The sound of that guitar is “my” sound…there’s nothing quite like it.

7. Your favorite current day comic book, and why:

Tough one. I fell out of favor with comics once the whole “reboot” shenanigans reared their ugly consecutive heads. I’m a strong believer in cannon, that what you spend your money to read, experience, invest your time and heart into, should be honored. So that was a hard pill to swallow, and one that ultimately drove me away from comics pretty much altogether. Lately I’ll pick up a book now and again, but for me it was always about the art first and I have yet to see anything in quite a while where the art really speaks to me the way it did on, say, the Marc Silvestri run on Uncanny X-Men, or Arthur Adams’ Longshot mini-series, or Todd McFarlane’s re-invention of Spider-Man…plus I have to say, there was a magic for me that was lost when comics switched from that newsprint paper into the finer stock, with the more precise color-printing process and so forth. This outside-the-lines thing you would get with the old books was awesome, you could read the same comic a dozen times and the art seemed to come to life every time, precisely because it was so imprecise in its delivery. Sort of like Jimmy Page’s guitar playing on all the Led Zeppelin records haha

8. Your favorite venue and city to play live, and why:

I really love performing in the NYC area, it seems to me there’s a genuine love and appreciation for new music out there. I remember one particular show with my band Owl at the Gramercy Theater was a standout as a great crowd and fantastic venue. Also, performing at The Baked Potato in Los Angeles recently with the new solo material was a real highlight. That’s one of those spots where you’ve seen so many incredible, world-class performers on that stage, and really just having the name on the billboard almost seems like enough to feel like the night is a slam dunk. We’ve got a show coming up next month, July 2nd…our record release in fact, performing alongside Danny Carey’s band VOLTO at the Viper Room in Hollywood…I imagine that’s going to be a favorite as well.

9. Your favorite part about recording on analog:

Ok…this is going to sound weird haha…my favorite part about work with analog tape is…the smell. I love the smell of analog tape, particularly when you hit the FFwd or rewind…my tape transport remote hasn’t been working lately so I’ve had to operate the machine manually, and I’ve been right up on it. It’s similar to the smell of gasoline (though hopefully a bit less toxic) in that it’s a wonderful scent, but even more so it has this Pavlovian sort of response initiate wherein, all at once, I’m reminded in a very real way that I’m recording on a physical medium…that I need to be grateful and appreciative that I have all this great equipment and studio at my disposal, and that what I’m creating is real and tangible, more than just a transient (pun intended, yes) mass of sonic wonderment floating through the ether, being subject to careless manipulation and crass digital editing…that in fact the music and tones are being captured in a very physical way and that is a rare and beautiful thing, particularly nowadays.

I’ll tell you also, my least favorite part about recording on analog tape…is finding the damn tape. Seriously, are we just gonna run out of the stuff? I stocked up pretty heavy, years ago…but even that is starting to run thin, and no, that pun was NOT intended.

10. Your favorite part about being a musician:

You know, back in the day, being a musician was this really rare and cool thing…then came this period where the word “musician” became synonymous with “no job”…and for a while it seemed like the magic was sucked out of it. But lately, even just these last couple years, something is changing and being a musician seems damn cool again, there’s a mystique that’s returning. In this age of the quick and easy fix, the 30 second YouTube phenom and so forth, there’s I think even more of a new undercurrent appreciation for real art, for the genuine article…but of course the rub now is you have to be really clever or really good to get noticed. Or both. And that’s fine…it’s a new game, but that’s fine. The playing field has leveled a lot more, in terms of the power of the individual artist…take this record for example, it’s just me with my own label, my own music and artwork, and I get to oversee everything. It’s a lot of work, sure, but is it worth it? Hell yes.

Far as the current music landscape, even though there has been a vacuous commercialization that has artistically decimated a lot of what is now coming forward, I think for those folks that are out there that still genuinely believe in artistic expression and are willing to make those sacrifices and not to compromise on those inherent values…I really feel there is a real goldmine of opportunity for not only personal artistic gratification, but also decent financial success. It’s very important to remember, that just because people respond to the lowest common denominator doesn’t mean that’s all they’re willing to accept. That’s what keeps me going.

Jason Achilles Mezilis releases “Comedown” on June 28.

LINKS

jamezilis.bigcartel.com
jamezilis.com - BuzzFeed


"JASON ACHILLES MEZILIS’ “PANHANDLE” EXCLUSIVE"

According to Jason Achilles Mezilis...

“I was on an indie film shoot about a year ago playing a low rent gangster or something, alongside this guy who just looked absolutely crazy / awesome...we hit it off, and by the end of the day I looked at him and basically said “I don’t know how, when, or where...but I’m getting you in a music video of mine”. Fast-forward a few months and we drove out on a Saturday just past the Mojave Spaceport out here in California, pulled over to the dusty side of the road on a windy day, and our director David [Urbanic] did a brilliant job capturing Micah (the cowboy) doing what he does best, looking pensive and fantastic. Since then, Micah has been all over the place on film/tv, etc. As far as the video itself, yes there is a specific narrative in there...and no I’m not telling [ha!], one or two clues you gotta look closely...think Jim Jarmusch doing an episode of ‘The Twilight Zone.’” - Huffington Post


"Jason Achilles Mezilis Readies "Comedown" Release"

Jason Achilles Mezilis releases an impressive instrumental record that will stop you dead in your tracks. The charmingly titled Comedown contains elegant pieces of cohesive Rock n' Roll goodness, that will make you head over heels for Mezilis' brilliant and stunning playing. Everything and anything is fair game on the record; from the guitar blazin' new single, "Panhandle", to the softer sounds of "Tokyo Drift", Mezilis proves that he can do it all...and he does it without missing a beat.

Mezilis, also known for his work as an esteemed producer, owns the Los Angeles based Organic Audio Recorders. For Comedown, he recorded the album completely on analog. Especially in the age of digital, this is surely a big task; which also makes the album extra special.

The warm, elegant tones that are showcased throughout the record not only brings to life Mezilis as a songwriter, but as a producer as well. Each note is placed carefully, and the same can be said about the overall recording process. Think it's easy slicing tape to make an edit? No, no it is not.

Jason Achilles Mezilis' Comedown is a timeless classic, that will truly stand the test of time, and bring Mezilis to the spotlight.

Comedown hits online stores on June 28. - Paste Magazine


""Comedown" Shines with Jason Achilles Mezilis"

From the hills of Los Angeles comes a bit of sunshine today, with the upcoming release from Jason Achilles Mezilis. A name that one is possibly familiar with, he has been a mainstay in the music scene; from producing albums in his Organic Audio Recorders studio, to playing with the hard rock band OWL, to recording Dizzy Reed of Guns n' Roses, Mezilis offers a delightful endeavor into the Rock world.

June 28th we will see Mezilis releasing an instrumental effort named "COMEDOWN," in which he has not only written, but self-produced as well. To give you a bit of background on Mezilis and his studio work, "COMEDOWN" was fully recorded on analog tape. This more so than anything, examplifies the effort that he has put into the release.

An impressive batch of songs bring features of heavy rock and more melodic pieces, in which an array of intricacy is shown throughout. It's not easy to release an instrumental record, but Mezilis proves to be successful as each song portrays a different side of his musical abilities. Though instrumental records, especially guitar instrumental records can be very narrow in terms of diversity, yet "COMEDOWN," proves to be a classic record in its entirety as it sets itself apart from the rest. There is never a dull moment, as the songs interlock to craft a record that is intriguing upon each listen.

You can pre-order "COMEDOWN" via Bandcamp or Big Cartel. Be sure to also check out the Official Site.

Watch the first video for "Panhandle" via Youtube - ethnocloud


"Jason Achilles Mezilis Unleashes “Comedown”"

“Comedown” is the upcoming record from Los Angeles based Jason Achilles Mezilis. With a release date of June 28th, the critically acclaimed artist shares his newest endeavor with the world.

Also well known for playing in hard rock outfit, OWL with Chris Wyse, and being head chief at his very own Organic Audio Recorders, recording the likes of Dizzy Reed of Guns n’ Roses (Yowza!), it is time for Mezilis to step from behind the console and onto the stage.

“Comedown” is an epic record that is sonically alluring from start to finish. I’m not going to lie- I’m not usually a huge fan of instrumental records in any form, but there is something about Mezilis that captivated me from the very start.

Though that is quite easy as his musical passion bursts out of the record, showing off his talent and love for the music. His guitar playing is one of the best I have heard in a long time, and his songwriting skills make him a modern day Mozart of guitar.

Preorder now via jamezilis.bigcartel.com and visit jamezilis.com - BuzzFeed


"Talking Trek & Beyond with Rocker Jason Achilles Mezilis"

Jason Achilles Mezilis is a musical force that hails from California. His critically acclaimed new record, Comedown has been quickly gaining momentum, as it showcases his talent as an epic musician and producer. Though Mezilis goes beyond the call of duty, as he shows off his geeky side with us this afternoon. When he’s not behind the guitar or recording console, Mezilis is diving deep into this comic book collections, and a little cult-classic you may have heard of called “Star Trek.” Let’s go where no man has gone before…shall we?

At what age did you discover Star Trek and how?

I was really young, probably 4 or 5 years old. My neighbor’s kid and I were watching the first movie [Star Trek: The Motion Picture] in a dark basement, I still remember my first time seeing that opening scene where the Klingons get vaporized by that electrical discharge weapon from V’Ger…the musical score is ominous and amazing…it blew my mind. I was amazed and terrified and completely entranced.

You have an amazing comic book collection we hear. Do you have any Star Trek comic books on your shelves? If so, which ones stand out to you the most as favorites?

I actually never got much into the Star Trek comics, only because I was such a fan of the specific portrayal of the original cast. I think where comics [based on an existing screen franchise] really excel is in developing new characters, ancillary plot development and the like. Seeing Kirk on the page without Shatner’s uhhh…cadence…haha…is a bit difficult to absorb. And I really mean that in the best way possible…he’s fantastic.

What are your hopes for the new TV show, that is coming our way next year?

I gotta say, I don’t know too much about it yet, but I saw the same teaser as everyone else…what did you think of that? Is it supposed to be a CGI animated series? Because that’s what it looked like…at least I really hope that’s not their intro for a live-action series. I certainly don’t want to rain on the parade of the best sci-fi TV canon series of all time…but somebody’s gotta step it up if they want this one to win.

In your opinion, how will Star Trek survive for another 50 years? What stories should it tell?

Man that is a good question. Obviously the new films have picked their path, and that will roll on for a while at least. I don’t agree with the “alternate timeline” foil, that shit is a pretty cheap ploy for plot development…but now the damage is done, might as well take advantage of a bad idea with good follow through by bringing fresh faces into it. Taking a younger audience in hand, I think, would be a great way to develop a new series that exists within canon, but has an open-ended feel…it would be great to see new stories told, from that younger perspective. There’s a lot of starships out there, a lot of crazy tales to be told from a lot of strange worlds. The best thing they can do is focus on great new characters. If every character was a slam-dunk like Zachary Quinto’s portrayal of Spock, we’d be solid. As it is, new blood has to be found…I think, for example, introducing a new supporting character into the existing franchise but one strong enough to spin-out onto an entirely new series, would be a great building block for the next generation of storytelling.

Who is your favorite Star Trek Character of all time, and how do you relate to them on a personal level, if any?

When I was younger, Bones was always the one I related to, both in the original series and films. At the time, his middle-ground stance and yet power of ultimate authority (by virtue of overriding command prerogative) made for a really interesting character. I was very much the diplomat-type personality, particularly as a kid. Now that I’ve taken hold of my career many years later in a very first-person manner, as a studio owner, not to mention an independent solo-artist with the responsibilities of managing a band, a publicist, a booking agency and so forth…depictions of strong leadership roles tend to hold more familiarity. Kirk was kinda right…it’s lonely at the top…ha..

Are there any technologies from Star Trek that you would love to have in your recording studio?

Hell yeah, I’ll take that Transporter pad for LA traffic any day of the week. And while you’re at it, replicate me a beer.

What did you think of Star Trek Beyond? Was it comparable to prior works in the Star Trek series, or did it outdo itself in your opinion? Was there anything you would have like to see that was missing from the latest film?

It was pretty weak. I saw with a good friend who works quite high up in the computer graphics industry, equally a sci-fi movie buff (and equally knowledgeable)…we were both pretty disappointed. It’s funny, you have bizzarro futuristic technobabble, worlds populated by untold alien races with various amounts of limbs and eyestalks, technology that our best earth-bound physicists claim would expend more energy than currently existing within the known universe (wormhole, anyone?)…and yet the primary level of credibility in a film still comes down to believable characterization.

All three of these new Star Trek films have completely blown it with regards to a fantastic villain, an impetus for us to really get behind the lead characters…that’s my biggest critique. They could have had their chance with “Into Darkness” by going the Gary Mitchell route, but of course unwise and “play it safe” production decisions led elsewhere. Take a look at Wrath of Khan. Best villain, best movie…there you go. Nothing makes you feel for your lead characters like a good old-fashioned beat down.

That being said, on a positive note…the best thing this new series has offered thus far is that opening scene from the 2009 film, the birth of Kirk (and death of the father) still remains one of the best five minutes of the series’ history. Why Chris Hemsworth was not cast as Kirk for the entire new series is beyond me. He’s amazing.

If you had to write a new theme song for Star Trek, what would it be called, and what would it sound like?

Oh man…sign me up…that would be amazing. I couldn’t possibly say without knowing about the project (film or tv, etc)…but my main focus would be to convey that sense of wonder that captivated me from day one. There’s different ways to do it, and I’d probably lose sleep for a month…but yeah it would be great. One of the best things you can do with your art, is to inspire some kid out there with the same magic that got you going. That’s what I’d go for.

If you had to choose between Star Wars and Star Trek, which would you choose and why?

Well, if I HAD to choose, I’d have to pick Star Wars…Trek was always the idealized notion of humanity’s future, and SW is just straight-up hardcore sci-fi. There’s a rough-and-tumble feel to it, particularly some of the great moments in Empire Strikes Back, where you’ve got hi-tech mixed with your high school auto shop class…it’s nuts and bolts, and it “feels” real. At the end of the day, that’s what counts.

for a great (and entertaining) plot breakdown of Star Trek: The Motion Picture — http://scifiadventures.blogspot.com/2016/04/star-trek-motion-picture-directors.html

and get my tour dates and new album from my website at http://www.jamezilis.com/

also available on iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/album/comedown/id1121760272 - Medium.com


"INTERVIEW: Jason Achilles Mezilis"

Hi Jason, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hi! Thanks for having me. Things are great, yeah. Pretty excited about the new release.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Panhandle”?

Yeah man, I’d be happy to.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

Actually, funny enough it was the drum groove that did it. Brett my drummer / co-writer was laying down this improvised monster of a beat…and basically I hit record and said “play that until you get sick of it”. The length of time he played is exactly the length of the song, I sat down and wrote all the music to it after the fact.

How was the filming experience of the video?

Awesome & successful, but damn windy. Our director had in mind all these long aerial shots with his quad-copter, and we had to scrap those after it took a nose-dive on first launch. But it was fine…it actually worked out really well. Our “cowboy” Micah did a great job looking pensive and leathery and amazing, as he always does. And David our director did what he does best…capturing forlorn, pensive, leathery actors chewing scenery in the sun-drenched desolation of southern California desert-scape.

The single comes off your new album Comedown – what’s the story behind the title?

“The Comedown” was a silly name for a fictitious band on one of those joke flyers about the Coachella festival that float around the interwebs. I thought it actually had a nice ring to it, evoked something cool…I can’t remember if it became the name of the album first, or the actual song on the record of the same name. I think it bounced back and forth a bit.

What led you to do a fully instrumental album?

Well, besides the obvious answer of not having a lead singer…yeah, actually that’s basically it. I had just come out of a band situation and once again that hard realization that my main handicap for getting things done in a timely fashion, at the pace that I want, has always been a reliance on other people’s schedules, enthusiasm and so forth. When you have a genuine, real band situation…all your business dealings and so forth are compounded by everyone else’s…and that’s part of the joy, of course…but also part of the struggle. So this is something different now…completely different. It’s been terrifying, but also very damn cool.

How was the recording and writing process?

Fun…long…exciting…frustrating…ha…all of the above. Writing has never been much a problem for me, that tends to come quickly. It’s the process of capturing the ideas properly, that’s where things can sometimes get a bit difficult.

Why analog?

Because it’s harder… seriously, it’s more restrictive, and I find that really inspiring. I think some of the best creative people do their strongest work when they are deprived of assets and materials, so in this case I thought why not apply that to myself as well? As all turned out, it seemed to work really well I think… for this choice of material, in particular.

You are also known for your work in producing other bands – do you take a different approach when you are working with others than you are producing your own music?

Yeah, I tend to take a lot more time with my own stuff…and sometimes that can be a problem, you almost have to create deadlines for yourself or you can get lost in the creative swath. Clients are on an imposed deadline, either it’s money or time or both…and that’s a good thing. It keeps everyone focused.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs on this material?
Mostly from the drum grooves. I tried to really make something that didn’t sound like a “guitar” album or a “keyboard” album, ultimately I wanted it to be about closing your eyes and letting whatever imagery floats in getting conjured up in your head…like that kid at the end ofDazed and Confused cranking up Foghat in his headphones with a big goofy, super-stoned smile on his face. You can tell that kid is happy.

Any plans to hit the road?

Yes! I just had a good conversation with my booking agent today, we’re working out dates for the summer months now.
What else is happening next in Jason Achilles Mezilis’s world?
The album comes out on iTunes end of this month, Tues. June 28th…and the record release party is Saturday July 2nd at The Viper Room in Hollywood, we’re playing that night with Danny Carey’s band VOLTO! which should be amazing, as well as of course quite an honor and a pleasure. Their founding guitarist John Ziegler has been a strong encouraging voice for my new record, and I’m really excited to finally be sharing the stage with those guys.

Jason Achiles Mezilis’s Comedown is out June 28. Pre-order a copy via http://jamezilis.bigcartel.com/

You can also find Jason Achiles Mezilis via jamezilis.com - Vents Magazine


"Greek Rocker Jason Achilles Mezilis: on a High & won’t ‘Comedown’"

L.A. guitarist Jason Achilles Mezilis talks about his Greek roots, musical influences, and his new release, ‘Comedown’.

I first became acquainted with Jason Achilles Mezilis a few years ago, when his former publicist contacted me for an interview. Not only did I discover that he had Chicago roots, but we also had a mutual friend (shout out to George Adrian) in common! We’ve kept in touch ever since. This summer when I was in California, my family and I met up with this extraordinarily talented musician. We chatted about his newly released album, ‘Comedown‘. He also revealed one of his extra-curricular activities, which some may find pretty surprising for a rock musician. Read on!

MEET JASON ACHILLES MEZILIS

Born in Evanston, IL, Jason Achilles Mezilis and his family moved to Michigan for a few years before settling in Silicon Valley. During the early years of computer development, his father worked for several companies in the Bay Area. He traces his Greek roots to Elassona, in Thessaly. His grandfather was killed during the Greek Civil War, leaving a widow temporarily unable to care for her children. Consequently, Jason’s dad ended up in an orphanage for a short time before coming to the States in his early 20s. The rest of the family remains in Greece.

Jason’s mother is American, so they didn’t speak Greek at home. He attended Greek school but didn’t have any Greek friends. His Greek family calls him “Axilleas”, Greek for Achilles, but it would be years until he embraced it, and included it in his professional stage name.

“In my 20s that I began to realize the influence of my Greek heritage. Adding ‘Achilles’ to my stage name made it much more apparent to people that I was Greek, and brought my heritage into the forefront of what I do. It’s hard to ignore a guy with the name Achilles!”

LEARNING TO PLAY MUSIC

Piano was Jason’s first instrument, and it remains dear to his heart.

“My father was a classical guitarist. He was so good that I found it intimidating. It looked impossible to learn. So at 8, I started taking piano lessons.”

About that time, he was getting into rock music. He liked the guitar and began playing guitar parts on the piano. Then at 16, he heard Eddie Van Halen. It changed everything.

“It was really incredible what Eddie was doing. I fell in love with the guitar, and my grades plummeted as a result.”

He plays some baglama, a gift from his cousin Nikos in Greece. Incidentally, he plays it on the song “Rover”, from the album “The Right Thing”, by OWL.

“We needed a European, traditional, ethnic vibe. I thought it would be fun to bring a little Greek into an Irish-flavored song.”

MUSICAL INFLUENCES

Not surprisingly, Jason listens to a lot of rock music, because it “gets his blood moving”. Nevertheless, he loves listening to classical music, because it relaxes him and stimulates his brain. He finds influence in the sounds of many bands. In terms of guitar, he garners inspiration from players like Eddie Van Halen, Andy Summers, and the production style of Jimmy Page. Their work, he said, is a reinvention of the instrument, in which it’s thought about it in a new way.

His Greek heritage has an impact on his music.

“Especially in the rhythm. Traditional rock music is very straightforward, in 4 meter, 3, or 6. It’s simple, whereas traditional Greek music is in odd meters — 5s and 7s. At a young age, I took Greek dance lessons, and learned to dance to odd rhythms, moving in smaller increments than regular rhythm. Odd meter became my norm, and I try to bring that relaxed feel of complex rhythms to all my musical pursuits. Few guitar players are comfortable with that, but I think it gives the music added dimension.”

In addition to OWL, a project led by Chris Wyse, former bassist of the 80s rock band, The Cult, he’s played with many bands over his 15-year career.

COMPOSER AND PRODUCER

Jason not only composes music for his own projects, but also for other artists. Additionally, he composes music for film, TV, and video games.

“I don’t write lyrics. All I want to say I say through the music. I leave the words to someone else.”

He calls producing his “day job”. In addition to his solo instrumental work, he produces and mixes albums for many up-and-coming L.A. musicians, including recent tracks for Dizzy Reed, keyboardist of Guns n’ Roses.

CHOIR BOY

Jason revealed something that he has done since he was a teenager — sing in the church choir.

“When I lived up north in the Bay Area, I used to sing in the St. Nicholas choir with my family. There we had the pleasure for so many years to perform under the direction of our good friend and fearless leader ,Tikey Zes, or as my father calls him, ‘the maestro’.”

When he moved to LA, he didn’t attend church much, because he didn’t have any friends in the community, and felt shy. When his cousin moved to L.A. 1-½ years ago, he expressed interest in singing in the choir at St. Sophia Cathedral and encouraged Jason to come along.

“Immediately we were welcomed by the wonderful director, Jim Kollias, who has been so fun to sing for…and our phenomenal organist Chris, who is somewhat like a χταπόδι (octopus) — the guy seemingly has more limbs than a normal human. The engaging and open atmosphere of the choir at St. Sophia is oddly very similar to St. Nicholas, so much that at times we forget where we are!”

NEW MUSIC

Upon the dissolution of his former band, Black Belt KARATE, Jason began composing new music. Some musicians will tell you that when a band breaks up, there is an adjustment period, similar to mourning, to sort out what happened and decide which direction to head next. However, Jason felt a hiatus was the last thing he needed, quickly went back to work.

“I felt that, following that break-up, if I didn’t get busy soon with a new project that I would quickly go into a dark place…one I had been in before. The instrumental nature of the project was really born of necessity. It’s been somewhat strange in how well things have worked out in the last year or so…a nice surprise.”

COMEDOWN

His newest record, ‘Comedown’, was released on June 28, 2016. Jason described the music.

“It’s somewhat abstract in the approach, in the sense that it really is music for its own sake. So much music is being created these days as a soundtrack for something pre-existing, be it a film or a tv show, or a commercial product. I found as this recording progressed that I was, in essence, composing a soundtrack for something that didn’t exist yet. And if you listen all the way through, it kind of lends itself to that approach. There’s a pacing to the album that has an unexpectedly concise “arc” to it…mostly due to the ordering of the song placement, I think. And the gorgeous album art that my good friend Yoko Morimoto produced, really was the final element that brought it all together.”

REVIEW of ‘Comedown’

As a former singer, I tend to lean toward music with lyrics, however, I do have a penchant for guitar music — classical, flamenco, jazz, funk, or rock. This music obviously showcases Jason on guitar, but the other instruments don’t take a back seat.

Each song on this album has a unique personality. The dark and pondering “Panhandle” seems to contemplate the questions, “How did I get here and where am I going?” Dig the bluesy “Ascension”, with echoes of the music of another era; or the introspective sounds of the title track. The heart-pumping rhythm of “Sunrise” will get your day started; while “Tokyo Drift” takes you on a musical exploration. The thundering “Ghost Part 1” conjures images of ethereal beings. Perhaps my favorite song on the album is “Ghost Part 2”, with its driving rhythm — and a few unexpected, yet very welcome, surprises.

Some will think of rock-oriented guitar music as “80s-party-time” riffs, but these offerings are mature, thought-provoking, soulful, and honest. ‘Comedown’ by Jason Achilles Mezilis is a must for true music lovers. Pick up a copy on Amazon or iTunes.

Jason will be touring the U.S. in support of ‘Comedown’. Click for updated tour info, and be sure to check out a show when he comes to your town.

SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION copies (250) of “Comedown” on LP/vinyl pressing are available at http://jamezilis.bigcartel.com/

Follow Jason Achilles Mezilis on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to his YouTube channel. - Windy City Greek


Discography

"Comedown" debut 2016 LP / CD release [Organic Audio] OA001

Photos

Bio

Classically trained from a young age, producer, composer and
multi-instrumentalist Jason Achilles Mezilis discovered rock and roll,
grabbed a guitar and finally chose to devote his life to music at the
age of 17. He earned a Bachelors in Music at UC Berkeley,
relocating first to San Francisco, then Los Angeles. Internships in a
number of recording studios inlcuding Record Plant [LA] and Coast
Recorders [SF] led him ultimately to start his own boutique
analog-digital hybrid studio Organic Audio Recorders in downtown Los Angeles.

Jason has produced, recorded and performed with musicians both on a
local and national level far too numerous to list, including his own
original bands Your Horrible Smile, Black Belt KARATE, Owl and most recently his debut solo-instrumental LP "Comedown"
in 2016, which has been continuing to receive critical acclaim due to a
return to fully-analog recording and old-school emphasis on tonal
mastery and song craft.


Jason also continues to compose a large number of works for over 100
television programs, video games, and independent films, as well as
commercial and movie trailer submission work...standard fare for the
working LA composer. Additionally, in 2017 he began contracted work with
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA where
he joined a team of scientists investigating options for a microphone
to send to the surface of Mars in the next few years.



Most recently Jason recorded his first fully orchestral work "Schizmatique No. 2"
in Budapest, Hungary, followed by a 5-stage US tour supporting the
latest instrumental release culminating with back-to-back performances
at the 2017 SXSW Music Festival in Austin, TX.


He loves cooking for his friends, playing Greek backgammon, or "Tavli"...and will readily accept any challenge. And he appreciates you reading this, and suggests you purchase the new album. And a Tshirt.


Band Members