For a number of years now I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with Jason Spooner, singer/songwriter/guitarist, out of Portland, and when I heard that he and his band were going to be the opening act in the 2018-19 Monday Night Concert Series on Oct. 1 at Slates in Hallowell, I knew that I had to touch bases with him once more to find out what’s been happening in his life recently.

Q: Now you’re kicking off the Slates’ Monday Night Concert Series this year. This is something you’ve done before, correct?

Spooner: I don’t think we did it last year but it’s been kind of a tradition where we’ve done the kickoff a few years in a row. It’s a great tradition and we love that room — it’s a special spot.

Q: Your latest CD “Chemical” came out a year or two ago. Are you working on something new at the moment?

Spooner: We are, actually. We have basic tracks done for a new record. I think the last time we spoke we had moved into a new studio and had been there just a couple of months. Well, we’ve been in there almost two years now and it’s been just incredible. We’re getting so much done in this dedicated space where we can leave all our stuff set up and all the settings are ready to go —it’s just literally plug and play, as they say.

Q: That must make for a much smoother creative process than working under time constraints elsewhere.

Spooner: Right, and like I said we’ve got basic tracks done for about 10 to 11 tracks. Our hope is to get maybe 15 of the basic tracks done then whittle it down to maybe a 10-song record. It’s been a really prolific time for us and we’re making a lot of progress just having that dedicated space. And, it’s right in Portland and right around the corner from where we all live.

Q: Any idea when the new album will be coming out?

Spooner: I would probably say early 2019 is a likely timeframe for a release, but stranger things have happened.

Q: What are some of the other perks of having this studio at your disposal?

Spooner: We’ve really been enjoying learning about the recording process — trying some things out and just getting into production more than we have in the past.

Q: How so?

Spooner: I sort of co-produced a lot of my records, and I learned a lot that way. But doing it this way has the whole band involved. We’re trying different things out and learning by trial and error which has been really cool. We’re having a blast with it.

Q: What’s the new material like?

Spooner: The sound of the new record just feels really cohesive and a big step forward musically. I’ve always liked records that dabble — not schizophrenic records where you’ve got too many genres happening in one where you might have a rocker followed by an acoustic track followed by something that has a little twang to it followed by something with some rhythmic stuff going on — that is not your average songwriter fare. I like music that kind of hoovers around that concentric concept of American roots music, but there’s a lot of leeway within that, and this record’s definitely right in that pocket. We’ve got all the time in the world and we’re just saying: “Hey, let’s put it down!” It could be something that we archive or something we play live. In some cases some of the best stuff we’ve been doing is scenarios where we’ve taken a little bit of a risk. So it’s been a blast.

Q: Now, your band is still Adam Frederick on bass and vocals; Warren McPherson on piano, keyboards and vocals; and Reed Chambers on drums and percussion, right?

Spooner: No, actually Dan Boyden is our current drummer and a big addition to the band. He’s a really creative guy and a multi-instrumentalist and a big asset like everyone in the band. Pretty much everybody on the team now is capable of doing internal demos themselves and bringing ideas in. It’s really opened up a lot of new directions for us.

Q: Will the folks at Slates get to hear some of the new material?

Spooner: Yeah, as a matter of fact I think they can expect to hear quite a bit of new material there at Slates.

Q: Is there anything that you’d like, Jason, to pass on to the folks reading this article about that upcoming gig in Hallowell?

Spooner: I would just say that the big thing is that we’ll be previewing a lot of new material that’s been coming out of our studio over the last few months. As I said before, people can expect new stuff from us and a new direction, so I think it’ll be a fun one.

Lucky Clark has spent 49 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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