After playing lead guitar in latter-day incarnations of the New York Dolls and Drivin’ N Cryin’, East Nashville singer-songwriter Aaron Lee Tasjan set off on his own, recorded in the same studio where Elliott Smith made his final album, and emerged with one hell of a record of his own. A boisterous blast of American roots rock, In the Blazes will be released 6 October (pre-order here) but in the meantime you can listen to the Stones-meets-Mellencamp jam “Made in America” below.
“Made In America is a song I’d been working on for a long time,” Tasjan says. “It’s a tribute to the mid-level American musician—gas stations, terrible road food, losing money getting paid, pissing in a bottle… you’ve been doing this for 10 years? That’s great, you’re almost ready to start. These are the real trials and tribulations of knowing full well that you are doing something guaranteed to fall on deaf ears. You are going to fight the war where the chance of losing is 100 percent, and for the small victories you win along the way, there is nobody there to shake your hand. You will not get a trophy for this. If you’re looking for approval, you’ve gotten in the wrong van and are probably wearing an outfit.
“There are reasons to be out here. So many. Too many to count on all your fingers and toes—but they have little to do with gratification and everything to do with iron will and the concept that the single most important thing about playing music is giving back to it what it’s given you. Jeff Buckley said that. You don’t want to be there, you HAVE to be there—not being there will kill you. It’s all you have… the records, the bands, a T-shirt no one else even cares about—you wear it knowing the message is lost somewhere in another place in time, some place that hasn’t devalued the words written on it as a slogan for assholes who came to your bar from the white-collar side of town to get their kicks and slum it. This is real. This is life or death. It wasn’t built in a day and, for a select few, it lasts forever. It is the epitaph that was written for us before we were born.”