Blount native brings new band Temper Through Tears to Two Doors on Friday
By Steve Wildsmith (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Blount County native Jason Williams is living proof of the lyncanthropic effects of rock ‘n’ roll — once bitten, there’s really never any going back.
He knows. Now living in Knoxville with his wife and three children, the 1991 Maryville High School graduate thought his days fronting a local rock band were behind him. After all, he’d done it for years, playing in groups like See Through Human and Lotus, which later became Contrast Gray.
But family and a 9-to-5 job with Team Health weren’t enough to make him forget about his first love.
“If you love music and you’re a musician by heart, you cant ever really give it up,” said Williams, the son of Blount County resident and Faded Blues guitarist Steve Williams. “I have a friend who owns The Orangery (a Knoxville restaurant), and he asked me to come out and play some acoustic shows, after I had given it up for a while. It was just me playing for a small group of people, and it took just one of those for me to say, ‘I’d really like to do one for a whole band.’”
One thing his absence and subsequent re-entry in the local music scene made clear to him, however, is that a good band wouldn’t be one that would land a record deal; a good band that would have the most fun and make the biggest impact would be regular guys like himself, doing it for the simple love of rock ‘n’ roll.
“I started looking around for people in a particular mindset that wanted to just play — not to chase the elusive record deal, and not to play sold-out arenas, but for the simple love of playing music,” he said.
His first recruit was old friend and former Perfect Mercy bandmate Justin Parker; the lineup is rounded out by drummer Matt Sharon and bass player Matt Bushell. And while the guys do plenty of covers — and get a groundswell of positive reinforcement when they whip out faithful renditions of “Rebel Yell” or “Comfortably Numb” to more obscure covers like Finger 11’s “Paralyzer” — they still consider themselves an original band, Williams said.
“We have our own songs, and we write our own stuff — we have one, ‘LoveHate,’ that’s about the typical love/hate relationship that people get into, and that one seems to go over well with the audiences,” Williams said. “We always have people singing that one at shows. But we kind of got in the mindset that we want to write, but we want to entertain a crowd rather than just playing songs to people who haven’t heard of our stuff. Because if you play songs they know and sing along to and then throw an original in there, they’ll go, ‘Hey, I like that one, too!’”
Shortly after forming, Temper Through Tears — named at the suggest of Williams’ wife (“It’s like how you temper metal, about how your life is shaped by the stuff you went through in the past,” Williams said) — entered a battle of the cover bands contest at a West Knoxville bar; to the surprise of the guys, they won. That was in late 2010, and they’ve continued to establish themselves locally. The band will make its first entry into Two Doors Down in Maryville on Friday night, and while Williams is ecstatic to be playing his old hometown, he’s even more satisfied at the response Temper Through Tears has received.
“In my opinion, you know you’re doing pretty good when the bartenders and waitresses are coming up after a show and telling you that you’re awesome or that you’re the best band they’ve had there,” he said. “They’re the ones who see every band that comes through, so that makes me feel good and lets me know we must be doing something right.”