How They Stay Grounded – an Interview with Ayron Jones and The Way

AJ & The Way

After Ayron Jones and The Way blew the minds of a whole lot of people while opening up the mainstage at Sasquatch, I had the chance to catch up with Ayron, DeAndre and Kai from the hot Seattle band. They’d just finished their energetic and highly entertaining  set and it was great to corral them while that energy was still fresh and after such a big moment in their career. That was their first and definitely not their last time of  playing Sasquatch and it marked their fifth festival already this year with them starting in March at SXSW.

S: How did it feel being on the main stage opening the festival?

Ayron: It’s surreal, at that moment you just want to go out there and do great and when Kai stood up and hit his drum sticks looking at the audience, that’s when it hits you.

S: The energy must be amazing, seeing the audience from the stage what a great feeling.

A: It’s going to hit us more later, we’ve never done anything this big but we’ve had the opportunity to open for BB King and Sir Mix-a-Lot but when it happens you don’t realize how big it is until a couple of weeks later that you’re still talking about it.

S: Once you have the chance to reflect on it because when you’re in it the moment is so big you can’t even realize what is going on.

A: I was trying not to think about it for weeks before and my biggest thing was get up there, do your thing and focus on what you have to do and then worry about the rest. Today is your opportunity, show up and go big for all these people, the festival, and show that you belong here.

S: Did you do anything specific to get ready?

DeAndre: We played a show last night at in Seattle, so that was good.

A: We have been touring so much that our set is pretty packed and we’ve got it down. If we’re trying to learn some new stuff it takes us about an hour or two rehearsal, and maybe a show or two before it’s ready for the big stage.

S: So Ayron and DeAndre live in Seattle while Kai lives in Portland.

D: Technically I live in Shoreline now.

S: How do things work with having the drummer in Portland? Skype?

D: He drives a lot and a lot of emails.

K: I don’t read them all, it’s hard.

S: I completely agree and if they are long you’ve lost me at the first sentence.

D: I worked in corporate IT for almost 10 years and you get so much mail and the one thing you’re required to try to keep up is your mail. So I can’t understand how it’s possible.

S: I just delete mine so I don’t have to worry about them.

D: That’s another thing, I have never deleted an email.

S: I have a delete folder just in case (laugh).

S: So how does the recording process work then with the distance?

A: We try to have everything laid out before-hand so we go in and record 4-5 songs each time, but it’s not difficult at all really.

S: Tell me a little more about the collaboration with Sir Mix-a-Lot, how did that happen?

A: We were in the 2012 battle of the bands, I get so pumped talking about this, we did a whole bunch of shows after and in doing that he heard about us from a few sources and decided to come check us out, and decided to produce our first album. I learned a lot from him, he’s teaching me how to be an artist and embrace who I am. After working with him that’s when we really became a band and we started to change the way we present ourselves.

S: I have to ask because you’re also wearing a hat with the word, what’s going on with #filthy?

A: Are you from Seattle? Born and raised?

S: Yes, yes and I remember saying filthy a lot when I was in middle school 20 years ago now

A: I grew up in the inner city and filthy is everything, we used it for to describe things, same reason Macklemore says “My city is filthy”, we use it when something is cool so I use my hat to represent my town.

S: I’m happy it’s coming back because it was out for a minute.

D: I didn’t realize it was a Seattle thing but it is

S: What are the plans for the future, what is the prize?

A: The plan is to keep doing what we do, take care of our families, sharing what we do and keep getting better.

S: Any planned collaborations?

D: I would love to kick it with Taylor Swift.

A: Kendrick Lamar would be cool.

S: He’s going to be here on Monday, are you staying the whole time?

A: We don’t know yet we really would like to.

D: It’s hard with kids, but I do want to see Kendrick if I can.

S: Four days is a lot for a festival so I understand.

D: He’s really good live.

S: How is your connection with the fans?

A: We have great fans and it’s great to get to know a lot of them.

S: So now that you’re getting bigger will that change direction? I know you play a lot of acoustic sets in Seattle.

A: For me I want to share that and learn from it, it’s my side project and hobby but I like sharing the stage with these guys.

D: The thing with the acoustic shows is that they are really good in a different way, I think it’s cool because it gives people a different perspective of Ayron in a more intimate setting.

A: It’s completely different because it’s just me solo something very different from a show with the band.

D: I think it’s always funny to go to them and boo him as a joke and yell things like “you’re horrible”, “that sucked”, and watch people get offended because they don’t know it’s a joke.

A: It’s funny because my family that has seen the progression in my career plays around with me as well. It helps me stay grounded though, my real friends tease me.

S: I was going to ask what helps you stay grounded.

A: You see us here now at the Gorge, playing the main stage, having fun sharing it with so many people and it’s easy to get caught up in that life. It’s important to keep a good group of people that really know you to the core, know your conscious mind and soul and can reflect that back to you. That’s why I appreciate people like DeAndre and Kai, my manager, our wives, girlfriends and our kids, it keeps us real and ultimately keeps us going.

I had a great discussion with them and it was really cool how grounded they were and nice. It’s always good to see a Seattle band at the beginning of taking off to bigger things and make no mistake, the sky is the limit for this band.

Sophia Barkalakis

Music is probably the most important part of her life. Sophia is constantly searching for new material, old and new. Always looking forward to the next live show she can attend, ready to immerse herself in the sound. "There is something so magical about attending a live show that you cannot possibly feel from a recording itself that makes it worth going to", she says. She also says she's lucky to be able to combine her passion for music with her obsession of capturing moments. She finds that being able to look at a photograph and be transported to that second of your life is indescribable and she's so grateful for all those great moments.

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