By Nicholas Jason Lopez
If you never take it seriously, you never get hurt.
Yes, music journalism is more than just what Penny Lane and Lester Bangs say. It’s a grind to the end to want to cover every act possible, but know that you only have so many hours in the day.
Podcaster/publicist Jameson Ketchum has traveled the country while covering acts like Anberlin, MxPx, August Burns Red, Emery and Circa Survive, to name a few.
The Music Bugle had the opportunity to talk with Ketchum – known for his 2021 book “Name Dropping: Seeking Creative Truth Through Trendy Altruism And Punk Rock” – about his experiences within the industry and more, which you can check out below.
Music Bugle – What was your most memorable experience while on the road?
Jameson Ketchum – Getting caught in a 360 thunderstorm at 3am in the middle of nowhere Colorado will always stick out in my mind. Some stuff happened on tour where you just said, “Why or how would I ever experience this if I didn’t take the risk of leaving home?” I loved those types of moments. Additionally, seeing what were perceived to be straight-up supernatural occurrences of course will never leave me!
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Jameson Ketchum – Sounds like lip service, but I really never stop listening to Fallstar – the band I toured with the most. As far as newer bands go, Can’t Swim is doing some really cool stuff. I’m also really liking the new Halsey.
Music Bugle – What is today’s music journalism missing?
Jameson Ketchum – Originality. Interviewing someone in the public eye is a fickle situation. You’re given this privilege of speaking with someone that a lot of people look up to and want to know more about, so you’re given this great access. However, the bigger the star, the more rules are put in place to restrict you. You can end up getting the biggest name in the biz, but they tell you to “only ask about this, don’t bring that up” etc., so you end up getting the same vanilla interview that you just read in another publication. I’m not saying you shouldn’t respect the rules and the subject and their teams’ wishes, I just think that you can be creative with your risk-taking. Over time, if you walk that line, that person may grant you more interviews and share more. It’s delicate, but it can be done. I don’t need to know “what the recording process was like” or what the name of their band means anymore.
Music Bugle – How were you affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Jameson Ketchum – The last show I saw before COVID was Bayside in December of 2019. I did a few in-person interviews in the months following this before the shutdown, but clearly, I didn’t know what was coming and would just have to bail before watching the show. My last in-person interview at that point was with Bert McCracken in January of 2020. The next in-person show I saw was New Found Glory in September 2021. It was almost two years without seeing live music and that was something I did at least weekly. That hurt!
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break?
Jameson Ketchum – I have a really hard time making myself take a break. Feeling productive with my day makes me feel secure and happy at the end of the day, but of course, this is not always actually healthy! I go to shows to relax. During some of my favorite songs, I try to have a few moments where I lean against the wall and close my eyes to just listen and not take in all the extra stimuli. Outside of music, the gym is great too. If I can take a long drive, preferably to the coast, that will usually get me breathing easy. I certainly need to be much better at that particular area of self-care.
Music Bugle – What inspired you to want to write your book “Name Dropping”?
Jameson Ketchum – I had always wanted to write a book. I thought it seemed impossible, but as I started jotting down some silly stories from tour, I thought, “I may have something here.” If nothing else, I figured I would share them with the friends who were there or maybe post them as blogs here and there. After a while, a pattern emerged where I wanted to keep exploring the impact of music. We hear it every day and a lot of the time, it’s just in the background, but these are artists chasing their dreams day in and day out, working very hard to put this music into the world. I wanted to recognize that impact, if only in my own life.
Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?
Jameson Ketchum – I was reading a book about the life of Aaliyah, so I’ll go with one of hers; “I’m competing against myself to be the best.” I just like the idea that, for me at least, I need to stop looking at others’ accomplishments and measuring my own against theirs. I want to be able to keep writing and creating forever, but something that often holds me back is that competition piece, wondering if I’m “part of the club” or being talked about in rooms that don’t really exist. It’s very silly. I just want to keep making the things I believe I was meant to.
Music Bugle – What’s something that people might be surprised to know about you?
Jameson Ketchum – If you were to ever run into me at the gym, ask what I’m listening to. My gym playlist goes a little something like this – Oh Sleeper, Adele, August Burns Red, Lady Gaga, Underoath, “The Greatest Showman” Soundtrack, Thursday, Kesha, Bring Me The Horizon, Phoebe Bridgers, Fallstar, Halsey, The Fever333, then Dashboard Confessional. I’m all over the place.
Music Bugle – What has been your biggest obstacle to overcome?
Jameson Ketchum – I’d have to say it’s just wondering if I’m good enough and if anyone will care what I’m putting out there. You always want to make things and put art out there because it’s something you feel like you have to get out of your head. I feel that, but it’s impossible to also not wonder if people will even care, if your hard work is worth anything. I’m getting better at it, but it’s a daily conversation with myself!