For the past 30 years, Jason Herring has lived up to his ears in the music of Charlotte: the founder of the North Carolina label Omega 10mm recordings (home of rocker Benji Hughes and Brazilian jazz artist Micah Gough) to perform in over a dozen musical groups and lead the avant-garde group The mystery plan (which recently celebrated its sixth studio release You also have eyes). Needless to say, the herring shows no signs of stopping.
“My philosophy is that if one of us is successful then we’ll all get there. Like in Seattle, where you had Nirvana, Soundgarden and all those bands. I want this to be the way people think of Charlotte and Omega 10mm recordings. “
– Jason Herring, musician from Charlotte and founder of 10mm Omega Recordings
On his musical education:
I was born in Columbia, South Carolina, in a little town just outside called Blythewood, and we lived there until 1987 when we moved to Charlotte. I was 16 and did my last two years of high school here. My family moved back to Columbia, but I decided to stay here in Charlotte.
I was brought up in a family of musicians. My dad, Hunter Herring, was a radio DJ for years at Columbia until he moved here to Charlotte to work for Easy 104.7. I grew up around Steely Dan, Marvin Gaye, beach music and soul music. I rebelled when I was a teenager and listened to The Smiths, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure, Dream Academy and stuff like that.
On his first musical experiences in Charlotte:
I love Charlotte’s music scene. There are Charlotte bands that I’ve been in love with since I was a teenager. It has been very important for me to help and be a part of spreading their sound and music to the world. I decided in the late 90s that this was what I wanted to do: let people outside our region know about the beauty and talent that we have here. I spent many hours, many tears, and a lot of money making this happen.
I remember the first gig I went to when I was 18, and it was at Milestone with Mo Tucker from Velvet Underground. And the second show I saw was I hope Nicholls and his band Fetchin Bones, and I was just amazed at how amazing they were. I was so stunned that I decided I wanted to do what she did.
Hope used to work at a place called Superior Feet here in Charlotte, and I remember going to her office and introducing myself and asking her, “How can I do what you do? She looked at me unmoved and said, “I don’t know… maybe play an instrument?” Or sing something? And I said, “Cool, cool, cool. I’m going to get there !
I decided with some high school friends that we were going to put together a band called The Groovy Disco Bunnies. We found the name of the band before I could even do anything. After trying to play drums and bass, they thought it would be better for me to be the singer. And I wasn’t very good at it either, but we did it anyway. Fast forward 10 years, and my band (The Interstellars) was approached by an Atlanta record label to be on a Pixie tribute compilation with big bands like Jarboe and Underwater. This was going to be our first national release, and I asked Hope Nicholls to sing the Kim Deal parts with me and play the saxophone on the song “River Euphrates”.
On the creation of the local 10mm Omega Recordings label:
Every time I saw musicians from Charlotte I felt so inspired. Their music was so good, and it was killing me that no one outside our area knew them! I decided this was going to be my job. I didn’t care if I was making money or not. I just wanted a good representation of our beautiful musical city.
It was important for me that this label could make musicians work together, do things together and offer a different sound. I’ve always asked people, “What is Carolina sound? Because on this label we have everyone from Benji Hughes rock to Katskillz Project hip-hop to Micah Gaugh Brazilian jazz.
On the creation of The Mystery Plan and their 2021 record “You also have eyes“:
I had taken a break from a band because me and Amy Herring (wife and music partner) got married and had a baby. My daughter was maybe 2 years old and we were driving home from my parents’ place in Colombia, and I was a little depressed. We were listening to college radio station 90.5, and I was telling Amy that I wanted to make music again, but I needed a sign. I swear to you, as soon as I said that my voice came on the radio, “Hey everyone, this is Jason Herring from The Interstellars, and you’re totally down to WUSC 90.5 in Colombia! So I decided to go back to writing songs. It’s been about five years now that The Mystery Plan was formed.
Our 2021 record “You Also Have Eyes” isn’t really a “greatest hits” album, but during COVID last year we released an album in 2020 called “Zsa Zsa”. Since the venues and concerts were closed, we have not been able to promote this album properly. So we took a few songs from that record, a few songs from our last two records and a few new songs and put them on this new Mystery Plan album called “You Also Have Eyes”.
Music presented in this chat #WFAEAmplifier:
The Mystery Plan – “Al Gore Rhythms”
The mystery plan – “silver lining”
Fetchin Bones – “Sons of Dinosaurs”
The Interstellars – “River Euphrate” (cover of The Pixies)
The Stoners – “(don’t ban) plants” feat. Benji Hugues
Katskillz Project – “Discovery”
Micah Gaugh – “Cera de Vela”
The Mystery Plan – “The Golden Moon and the Silver Sea”
The Mystery Plan – “I wonder why”
The mystery plan – “Long road to heaven”
The Mystery Plan – “Strange Things Humans Do”
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