by Lois McNulty
Usually, we don’t know much about a performer until he or she becomes fairly popular.
Well, this month, The Noise gives you the chance to get to know a musician on his way up. Jay Frye of Gloucester is only 20, and he’s making music a priority. You might even be able to say, someday, about Jay Frye: “Yeah, I knew him when….”
The Noise caught up with Frye recently in Gloucester during his winter break from UMass Amherst, where he studies communications.
Noise: So, why not study music in college?
Jay Frye: (smiling) Well, music IS communication, right? But seriously, I don’t see music as an academic thing, and I don’t see college as means to an end. Music is something that I will do no matter what else is going on in my life. I’ll get a degree and after that, I’ll find some kind of interesting work, but music is something that I will do all my life, I hope. Music is the one thing I can set aside from whatever else is going on, the one thing that makes me feel good.
Noise: What kind of music are you involved in now?
Jay: I’m mostly playing electric and acoustic guitar, singing and writing songs. I’m performing at school, with a band, at some campus events. When I’m here in Gloucester, I play for fundraisers and such. I did a solo gig this summer at Stage Fort Park. I have played at open mic nights at the Rhumb Line, even though I’m technically not legal to be in there. I’ve sat in with Allen Estes. I’d like to find some people to play with here and maybe record a song or two, but it’s hard to find people my age who want to try to take (the music) somewhere. I want to play for more than just fun. I want to expand from that, and playing with people always does that for me. There’s only so much you can do on your own. Playing with other people opens up possibilities, infinitely.
Noise: What would your dream band be like?
Jay: I’d be singing, and on lead guitar, and there would be another guitarist, a bass player, keyboardist, and drummer. That would be great. We’d do my songs, and also stuff like Queens of the Stone Age, alternative music – not heavy music but with heavy tones. I found out when I did my freshman year at URI (in Providence, RI) that I really just want to play loud with people. I got involved with a band there that really got me going—Northeast Traffic. They had a band house and you could go there any time of day or night and find music happening.
Noise: What drives you to play, write, find other musicians?
Jay: I’ve always been musical. Music just makes sense to me; it fits in my head. Also, I come from a pretty creative family, so trying different things—ways to express oneself—was kind of normal for me. My mom plays drums and paints, and is a kind of sculptor; my dad is a horseman—which is not your average kind of profession. My sister is an aerialist and a designer and printmaker.
Noise: What instruments do you play?
Jay: I started taking lessons on the guitar when I was just five, and I’ve studied guitar on and off. I learned how to play saxophone as a kid in school, and keyboard. I took all the music classes I could at St. John’s Prep (…High School, Danvers, MA) but I’m not into traditional kinds of music.
Noise: How would you define your musical taste?
Jay: Well, that goes way back. I always had my own taste in music. When I was a little kid, I walked around with my Sony Walkman all the time. I loved soundtracks of movies like Lord of the Rings—big, dramatic, cinematic music. It’s the emotions that it stirs up.
Now my influences are – besides Queens of the Stone Age – Arctic Monkeys, Sole Cat, a small band from California, Slash, and Richard Hawley, a British solo artist.
Noise: What’s next for you?
Jay: I’d love to record some stuff. I have about ten tracks on my Sound Cloud site, most of them I wrote.
I hope to make more music connections with that. When I turn 21 later this year, I’ll be able to play in bars. After I get out of school, I might see what’s going on on the West Coast, like maybe Seattle.
Noise: So, where can North-of-Boston-area fans catch you now?
Jay: I’ll play wherever I can. Check my Facebook page.