In this day and age where it seems every other song on the country mainstream radio dial is talking about backroads and gravel roads, there's something refreshing when there's an artist who utilizes their authenticity of being raised on the dusty plains of an Oklahoma family farm to influence their music, careful to highlight the positives and the negatives.
"In a community of 1,200 people, big dreams seem impossible. We're taught to manage expectations, put our nose down, and get to work. I was an (oil) roughneck - a worm hand, really - throwing back tongs on the drilling rig floor. Sure, it was tough, but so were we. I saw the sun set and rise each day; that kept me going."
When the recession hit that business, Jared unknowingly started his musical career with simply answering the classified ad of a small church in need of a pianist.
"I called the number, and the pastor asked if I'd ever played at a black church before. I told him, no, but I can play the blues. He said that would probably work. It felt like relearning the piano, so I applied that concept to my songwriting."
Deck's writing has evolved and now presents the maturity of a man who has learned the hard way.
"It rattles me, reflecting moments and things about myself I might rather forget. But it also inspires me to face myself and become the man I'd rather be writing about." That attitude is apparent in the writing of Jared's self-titled, solo debut.
His debut album tells 11 heartfelt stories of life on the road. Starting with "17 Miles," a tale of broken dreams, Jared shares his story. "As a teenager, all I wanted was to leave Oklahoma and never look back. The day I worked up the nerve to go, I had a flat tire just 17 miles down the road. Never got any further than that." All of the songs reflect a sense of wry understanding of life and an indomitable spirit, from the fractured family in "Wrong Side Of The Night," to the working-man's fight in "The American Dream;" from the crisis of faith in "Grace," to the torn heart of an oilfield father in "Unusually Blessed," Deck's songs illustrate life in the rural heartland. And because this is the life he knows only too well, these songs ring true - the honest voice of midland America.
That Nashville Sound had an opportunity to sit down with Jared and talk about his new project and the inspiration that sits behind it pushing him through his music.
That Nashville Sound: For someone who hasn't yet had the privileged of hearing your music, how would you describe it from the artist's perspective?
Jared Deck: A while back, I came up with the term, Midamericana: American music from the middle of nowhere, the heartland, where the work gets done. It's the story of our people, our triumphs and our failures, set to the sounds that originated here: rock-n-roll, country, and blues.
This project seems awfully autobiographical with extremely personal lyrics. Is that a true assessment?
Writing this album started out as telling the story of where I came from, but ended up telling my own. "Grace" was the first in the cycle and the most honest I'd ever been in a song, admitting how I've changed and that I wasn't who or where I thought I'd be. Most of the songs are about dealing with failure. I wouldn't say "overcoming" failure, more about the day-to-day drudge of falling down and learning your lesson. I've learned so much the hard way, and that struggle wove it's way into these songs.
How much has your home of western Oklahoma influenced your music?
Most folks have a love/hate relationship with their hometown. Those places shape us more than we often wish to admit. They seem to push us out, then suck us back in. That's what "17 Miles" is all about, coming to grips with your origins and the person you've become along the way.
You helmed a cowpunk band before this solo singer/songwriter venture- what impact did that experience have on your solo project?
In that band, I was working to create and arrange a sound that, too often, took priority to the writing. My goals as a solo artist are to focus on writing stories, not to get caught up in arranging the band, and allow the songs to stand on their own.
What is country music to Jared Deck?
To me, folk music is who we should be, rock-n-roll is who we wish we could be, and country music is who we really are. Country isn't merely the sound of twang, it's the sound of hard work and hard luck. Like the sawdust on a carpenter's floor, it's what's left of us when the day is done. I never set out to be Country, it's just who I found myself to be.