El Paso Music Scene

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Jason Cavallaro (Me and Heath) Interview

9/20/11

EPMS: What did you do at the Jon Lovitz Comedy Club? What was that about?

Jason Cavallaro: Tj and I played a little acoustic set for our friend's short film premier called "Death to Snookie". Please check it out online. The title is pretty self-defining, and it features me cast in a challenging role as Hungover Guy #1. My line, spoken with unmatched depth and clarity, was "Nice!" We are also featured all over the soundtrack with songs, "Rock Tonight" and "Wise Crack," and other instrumental numbers peppered throughout the film.

EPMS: Is it just the five of you traveling together?

Jason Cavallaro: Just the five of us, crammed into a '92 DodgeRam van!

EPMS: What are your impressions of El Paso? How many times have you played here?

Jason Cavallaro: It's very hot, and very close to Mexico. Sounds a little like LA, huh? We have never played there before, but with the addition of Manny to our roster, the stop on I-10 is too good to pass up.

EPMS: Tell me about former UTEP student, Manny Castaneda, your drummer.

Jason Cavallaro: He was a drumline major at UTEP, and his family lives in El Paso, including his one-hundred-year-old grandparents!

We actually found Manny on Craiglist. He responded to our ad for a drummer, and promptly showed up to the audition with Raiders stickers on his car and a Celtics jersey on. We knew right then that he was a fit. We are a very sports-minded band. We all played sports to varying degrees growing up, and follow most major sports, including soccer (sorry Hockey). Most musicians are too single-minded in their art and don't allow themselves to get caught up in something as 'pedestrian' as sports. We do. The funny part is that two of the guys are Broncos fan, who hate the Raiders and two of us are Lakers fans who hate the Celtics, but the message was bigger than the team. Any hey, a little diversity and crap-talking is always fun!

EPMS: You guys actually have a pro baseball player in the band, right?

Jason Cavallaro: TJ was drafted by the Tigers, and played in single-A and independent ball for a couple of years. Once he decided to pursue music, he moved to LA and began teaching baseball lessons. His dad, Tom Runnells, was the manager of the Expos back in the day and is now a bench coach for the Rockies, so whenever they come to play the Dodgers we try to go to the games and root for Tom.

I almost forgot, TJ played at Big Spring at Howard Junior College back in the day, and it inspired him to write the song, West Texas Lovin'.

EPMS: Have you ever heard of "Me and Heath Bell?" When I was researching you, I ran across a web page about some guy who met baseball player, Heath Bell, a few years ago.

Jason Cavallaro: I have not heard of this but I will do more research on this as it is almost as cool as the time that Jake Gyllenhall accepted the MTV award for best kiss with Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain and began the speech with "This is an incredible honor for Me and Heath..." I can't find the video of this but trust me it was funny.

EPMS: Why did you pick that name?

Jason Cavallaro: The name originated from TJ and Heath growing up together as best friends, and then moving to LA to play music. When they started, it was just the two of them jamming open-mic nights. They didn't have a name, so when people asked, TJ would answer, "Well we don't have a name; it's just me and Heath."

EPMS: How old were TJ and Heath when they left Colorado? How long ago was this?

Jason Cavallaro: They were twenty-two, just deciding not to complete college. It was six or so years ago.

EPMS: How long have you been together? Always a five-piece band?

Jason Cavallaro: We've been together for four years but when we started we were actually a six-piece band with an MC who would rap on about half of tracks. The current five-piece has been together for two years when Manny started drumming for us.

EPMS: How long have you been with your label? Is it your first label?

Jason Cavallaro: Everything Independent has been representing us for only a few months and while we are still going to work with them in the future, this was just a short-term collaboration. Our goal is to be on a small label in the next six to eight months. We've had flirtations before with larger labels but for one reason or another it was not the right time for us. We are locked and loaded and ready to take the next steps as an upcoming band.

EPMS: So, Everything Independent isn't a label?

Jason Cavallaro: They are our management team who helps us with promotion and tour support. Kirby is the main engine of the group and is very easy to work with, and knows her stuff. She is a breath of fresh air in an industry that is a little too fake and self-serving sometimes.

EPMS: What do you consider to be the strength of your band?

Jason Cavallaro: It all starts with TJ's strong songwriting and faith in the rest of us to bring his ideas to fruition. We follow the ideas and ideals of bands like U2 and Coldplay, who have a few key songwriters but share songwriting with the entire band. It fosters a positive environment, whereas bands like Killers and the Strokes, who have a single songwriter but seem to always have internal issues.

EPMS: What are your two best songs?

Jason Cavallaro: Our two new songs, Wise Crack and 3x a Charm from our new album are our current faves. But you know our favorite is our newest, so that should change monthly.

EPMS: What do your fans think are your two best songs? Which two get the best crowd reaction?

Jason Cavallaro: A song called "Bitch" is one of our fan favorites, and it will be on our next album. It's about an anonymous guy and an anonymous girl who think very highly of themselves and are, in fact, 'bitches'. It's all good fun. 3x a Charm is our latest single from our latest album that gets the best reaction.

EPMS: Are you a beer connoisseur?

Jason Cavallaro: We do love the hops and the barley. We all have differing tastes but a cold beer before after and during a gig is the perfect complement to our good-time tunes.

EPMS: Did you read Revelations by Clive Barker ? I found a review you might have done about it on a web site about reading.

Jason Cavallaro: I did not. There are many Jason Cavallaros out there, so I use the stage name Jaxon Camaero. I do, however, love reading. Bukowski and Hemingway top the list.

EPMS: Why are TJ and Heath sometimes referred to as 'T-nut' and 'Mr. Cash'in?'

Jason Cavallaro: Really it was just time. The more they played the more interesting they tried to be. We once wrote a whole bio about us faking that it was from the desk of late MLB commissioner Bart Giamatti and that we were selected as a top notch baseball team sent to infiltrate the music scene. In the end, it's just Saturday-night music, and people (including us) want to have a good time.

EPMS: Why do you all use stage names instead of real names?

Jason Cavallaro: Just as a way to separate people who know us personally or only through the music. Also, it's fun to be someone else.

EPMS: You follow six hundred people on Twitter. Why is that?

Jason Cavallaro: Our number one challenge is to get our name and sound out to as many people as possible, and one way to get people to follow you is to see your name on someone else's Twitter feed. Its shameless I know and I am working on getting our number down to a healthy one hundred and fifty.

EPMS: Yeah, but how does following other people get you that? Are you hoping to convert some of the people you follow into your followers?

Jason Cavallaro: Totally. Sometimes the internet is a dark highway to nowhere, with a lot of people airing out their dirty laundry. You would hope that people would reciprocate interest, but alas, they don't, so we'll unfollow them ASAP and write nasty things on their Twitter feed.

EPMS: According to Twitter, similar pages to Me and Heath are: ClubWorkit, The Epicentre, Hosted San Diego. What is your reaction to that?

Jason Cavallaro: Hmmm... That can only be a function of choosing to follow too many questionable Twitter feeds!

EPMS: What instruments do you play, even if not well?

Jason Cavallaro: In order of skill: Guitar, Bass, Piano, Drums, Ukulele, Violin, Hand Bells, Trumpet. I suck at woodwinds. Music always spoke to me and I was fortunate to find it early on.

EPMS: What band have you seen live that was surprisingly awesome?

Jason Cavallaro: The boys just saw Phish and loved them. I saw Foster the People the day their new album came out, just before it went nutzo national. I knew right then that they were gonna score it B I G.

EPMS: How about at the club level? What unknown band have you seen that blew you away?

Jason Cavallaro: My recent favorites are Fitz and the Tantrums, Two Door Cinema Club and Foster the People. Honestly, I don't get to see other shows too much, but I do listen to a lot of XM radio's AltNation, which is new, alternative bands.

EPMS: Who was the funniest / weirdest crowd-member you've met on the road?

Jason Cavallaro: There was the guys who spent a hundred-plus dollars on a bottle of Jack Daniels and came up on stage and poured it in everyone's mouth. There was the bipolar Poet/MC who, after jumping onstage to freestyle with us (totally cool) got mad when we wouldn't let him recite a poem after our set. You know its a colorful world out there and sometimes booze and music bring out unsavory folks.