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Jason Scott & the High Heat: A former Pentecostal worship pastor puts spin on traditional sounds

Jason Scott and the High Heat
Jason Scott and the High Heat

This is Songwriters & Tour Riders, a music podcast from KOSU and Oklahoma State University and hosted by Matthew Viriyapah.

Jason Scott & the High Heat are an Oklahoma band fronted by singer-songwriter, Jason Scott. Jason grew up Pentecostal and was once a youth and worship pastor. Now as a musician, he is writing songs while his bandmates joke about him once never having heard songs like "Stairway to Heaven."

Their latest album, Castle Rock, is named after the Colorado town Jason moved to after his parent's divorce. Naming the album after a time and place he said was important in shaping who he was, he hopes he will look back on the album the same. The landscape of the album spans from its namesake in Colorado to mentions of Cleveland County and Fort Worth, with sounds equally as expansive.

Listen to hear Jason as well as other members of the High Heat, Gabriel Mor and Ryan Magnani, discuss showing Jason new songs and putting a spin on traditional sounds.

On leaving church and getting laid off

Jason: I was raised Pentecostal. After a few years, I got back into the church where my dad was at a new place.

And from there just kind of grew in the church — youth pastor, I was the worship pastor for several years and was doing a little preaching and evangelizing. I sort of saw myself... that was going to be my career or lifestyle or my calling. I met my wife there, we got married there, had a couple of kids there.

And then I was no longer there. I left church just altogether when I was 27 right after my son was born.

I had worked at a desk job for like eight years and I got laid off. I finally got laid off, if I can say it that way. The money was good enough that I couldn't quit. It was kind of a blessing in disguise.

On growing up not listening to secular music

Ryan: We make fun of Jason when he doesn’t know a very common song or band. Like, you haven’t heard of this Springsteen guy?

Literally Stairway to Heaven. Like a song like that, he had never heard.
Gabriel Mor

Jason: I’ve heard it! I have the vinyl. I had a period of time too when my parents got divorced, I was listening to secular music. But from birth till when that happened, I was pretty restricted. No TV. All that stuff.

Going back and watching The Goonies as a 20-year-old, you’re like, 'this is kind of corny.' I don’t really get it, but for everybody else, this was their childhood.

We lived with my grandma and my uncle lived with us growing up. And I used to sneak into my uncle's Bronco with him, and he was kind of always the rebel — still is. And he'd let me listen to old country and whatever was on the radio.

Gabriel: And I remember that was kind of part of recording the album. Taylor, our other guitar player who helped produce it with Jason, he would give him old reference tracks of like Led Zeppelin songs.

Ryan: It could be an advantage, too. You hear people that are so heavily influenced by their favorite bands, and they’re kind of a carbon copy. But I think it’s kind of cool for Jason. He’s pulling inspiration from other things, not songs he’s heard for twenty years.

On worship music

Jason: Part of me misses that. With leading worship, everybody is coming into that room— they didn't pay to get in there. They come with the same single purpose. It's not even about you. You just get to be part of this sort of organism. And I do miss that. There's nothing like a big group of people all singing the same thing.

From a critical point of view, I've been looking at why those songs are so powerful and maybe how to translate that into what the Heat and myself are doing. I'm not trying to get 'hands up' like that, but I do want people to remember and leave singing the songs.

Music featured in this episode:

  1. Jason Scott and the High Heat - When I'm Good and Ready
  2. Jason Scott and the High Heat - So It Goes
  3. Led Zeppelin - Tangerine
  4. The Kinks - 20th Century Man
  5. Jason Scott and the High Heat - Quittin' Time
  6. Jason Scott and the High Heat - Fort Worth
  7. Jason Scott and the High Heat - The Stone
  8. Jason Scott and the High Heat - Suffering Eyes
  9. Jason Scott and the High Heat - Another Comforter
  10. Jason Scott and the High Heat - Sleepin' Easy
  11. Jason Scott and the High Heat - Me and Maryanne
  12. Jason Scott and the High Heat - A Little Good Music
  13. George Benson - Give Me The Night
  14. Jason Scott and the High Heat - In The Offing
  15. Jason Scott and the High Heat - Cleveland County Line

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Matthew Viriyapah is KOSU's production assistant and host of the music podcast Songwriters & Tour Riders.
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