Former MUSHROOMHEAD frontman J. Mann (a.k.a. Jason Popson) recently spoke to DomainCleveland.com about his departure from the group, about his Fractured Transmitter record label and his other projects. Several excerpts from the interview follow:
DomainCleveland.com: I'll just cut right to the chase, First and foremost, many MUSHROOMHEAD fans have been asking, Why, J. Mann, why did you leave MUSHROOMHEAD?
Jason Popson: "Well, the reason I left actually had very little to do with the band. It was mostly personal stuff. My father got really sick, I started a company and they wanted to do a long tour that I just couldn't do at the time. I was trying to start a company; I was trying to get reacquainted with my father during his time of need. And that was mostly it; it wasn't like I was fed up with the band or anything like that. It was just timing and I couldn't do it. I couldn't do it and I understand that the band as a band needed to do it so it was like look I can't do this because you guys need to tour and I can't tour right now."
DomainCleveland.com: Tell us a bit about starting your label, who is involved, and the bands on your roster. Where do you see your label in a year? Five years?
Jason Popson: "Well, starting the label was honestly a fluke almost. It happened on Ozzfest 2002. I was obviously a big MESHUGGAH fan so I was really psyched that I was going to be touring with them and got to know the guys really well and we just started talking about the music business and everything. And they were telling me about their situation and I just kind of threw something out there kind of like left field and surprisingly enough they were excited about it and wanted to do it so I was like oh oh I think I better start a record label now that I can put out a MESHUGGAH record.
"So I mean that just kind of happened just by default it just fell into my lap and anyone that knows anything about MESHUGGAH knows that you don't pass on an opportunity like that. And then I got DISENGAGE after that and honestly because I had done the Dog Collar Records and the SMDC with Skinny. And it was all based on local stuff so when I started this label and did the first record being MESHUGGAH, I really, the last thing I wanted was a Cleveland band. And it was nothing against Cleveland bands, it's just that I've only prior to MESHUGGAH, dealt with Cleveland bands. And I was trying to this as a more international thing. But when Jason gave me the DISENGAGE record I was just blown away by it and they were just looking for someone to do it in America. And it was just too good to pass up; I mean I spent like days just trying to find something wrong with that record. Or trying to find a reason to not put it out and I couldn't come up with one so that's how the DISENGAGE record happened.
"And we just did THE ALTER BOYS record, which are me and my friends from UNIFIED CULTURE along with Todd and Jeff from DOG FASHION DISCO. Our friend Matt who is a horn player from Maryland and Ryan Dunn is in it as well. And Ryan is also a partner in my record label with me so he's a part of that. And other then that we are doing a tribute to the MELVINS which is going to have STRAPPING YOUNG LAD, THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, MESHUGGAH, MASTODON, Matt Pike from HIGH ON FIRE, Jess Margera from CKY did a song, I did a song on it under the name ABSENTEE. So that should be a pretty cool record, Derek Hess did the artwork, which I am very happy with."
DomainCleveland.com: It was quite a spectacle but moving on, what final words would you like to say to your fans from MUSHROOMHEAD days?
Jason Popson: I just hope that they know that I didn't abandon them or quit the band for some stupid reason. I mean there is a song called 'Never Let It Go' and it is about being true to your heart. I think that you just have to do what is in your heart and believe. And if they took anything away from those shows or those lyrics or anything, then they know that it is sincere and it's heartfelt. But actions speak louder then words and I can't just talk about it and not physically do it. I have to act on everything that I believe and I just couldn't do it at that point anymore as far as with the band. And like I said it's nothing personal with the band, I love those guys like brothers and I wish them the best. I'm a full throttled supporter of them; it was just after having done the band for 12 years and just where my life was going and what I personally needed to do. I just couldn't do it with them you know what I mean. I wish I could have because it was not something that I wanted to do. I didn't want to leave the band, I had to I knew I had to. Life is too short and you can't forget family and my Dad was a big thing because we had, well if people read the lyrics to 'Convictions', 'The Dream is Over', there is tons of songs about bitterness and 'Abandoned', you know that song. I had to fix that before it was too late to fix it because I wouldn't have been able to live with myself. And then also feeling immense responsibility with MESHUGGAH giving me such a wonderful record and having to do that justice and run it right. I knew that I couldn't run a company from a bus. And I knew that I couldn't lose my father while I was in some random state; you know what I'm saying? I guess at the end of the day you just got to break it down and be realistic and what counts. Family and friends and all that counts. You just have to do what you have to do. It's not like I was, 'I want to leave MUSHROOMHEAD.' No I didn't want to leave MUSHROOMHEAD. It was I couldn't do MUSHROOMHEAD. But I love all the fans, I have great memories. I'm proud of what we accomplished and I adore those guys like brothers. I've had some of my best experiences at those shows, talking to the kids, everything. And you know I'm still there in spirit, I still believe in everything we set out to do together. I still stand behind everything I ever wrote or said to them."
DomainCleveland.com: Any words of advice for [new MUSHROOMHEAD singer] Waylon?
Jason Popson: "Just be himself. I think Waylon is a great kid and you know when they were talking about people to look for I actually told Skinny to get Waylon, he is a great kid and they did and I'm very glad they did. I'm not saying they did because I suggested it, but it was cool that they got him because I knew that he understood the band. He was a fan of the band, he has a great voice, he is a REALLY nice guy with a great personality and I really think that he can open up a whole another door. He's got a very wide range musically and you know maybe this is just phase two. I think that they can accomplish a lot of cool things with him. I don't think that Waylon needs any advice other then just be himself and trust his heart and give it 110 percent."
Read Jason Popson's entire interview with DomainCleveland.com at this location.