Taking Top Honors
Jason Rosen of Honor Society
Even before their first full album was released, rock & soul band Honor Society was already gaining wide acclaim for two soundtrack contributions, "Where Are You Now" from the movie Bandslam, and a cover of The Cars "Magic" from The Wizards of Waverly Place. More recently, Honor Society tore up the Kinks' classic "You Really Got Me" with Alvin and the Chipmunks on the soundtrack album to The Squeakquel. Some of you have even caught their version of "White Christmas" on the Target / iTunes exclusive All Wrapped Up Volume 2 last Christmas.
Honor Society was created when the club band Airborne – comprised of Jason Rosen, Michael Bruno, and Andrew Lee – were joined by former Jonas Brothers' drummer Alexander Noyes. Released in September of 2009, Honor Society's first full-length album – Fashionably Late – debuted at #18 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart. The band worked with producer John Fields, well known for his work with Switchfoot and Jimmy Eat World. Despite the catchy pop melodies, there is a musical maturity behind the band's sound.
Keyboardist/guitarist Jason Rosen – himself a graduate of the Berklee College of Music – recently spent time with us to discuss the band, music, and his Korg keyboards.
KORG: Hi Jason. You play both guitar and keyboards in the band. What was your first instrument?
JR: I started playing keyboards when I was 6 years old. My grandmother bought my family an upright piano that sat in our living room. I immediately began playing on it every day. I eventually took more formal piano lessons. I got my first synthesizer soon after. I used to make up songs with the pre-set drum patterns and arpeggios. I would spend hours jamming out and playing on these battery operated synths.
KORG: Honor Society seems to have some roots in both pop and soul music. Who are some of your favorite bands?
JR: My all time favorite band is the Beatles. Their songwriting and vocal harmonies are a huge influence on me. Michael Jackson and Prince are also big influences on me – and also Honor Society.
KORG: As a keyboard player, who would you cite as your keyboard heroes?
JR: My all time favorite keyboard player is Stevie Wonder. He played almost orchestral arrangements on the keyboard, many times with busy left hand patterns, unlike anyone else out there. Other keyboard player influences are Rick Wakeman from Yes, [the late] Richard Wright from Pink Floyd, and Keith Emerson from Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
KORG: When we talked, you were still on the road in support of Fashionably Late; what keyboards are you playing live?
JR: My touring rig consists of the M50 and a microKORG XL. These two keyboards are all I need to get the variety of sounds and textures for the set. The M50 I program with all the songs in sequence, and I have tweaked the sounds to my exact specifications, so they sound just as I want them too.
KORG: What drew you to the M50?
JR: I knew the M50 could deliver the wide range of sounds needed for the Honor Society material. We have songs that require hard edged, punchy synth lead lines. There are also songs that employ lush, full sounding synth pads. There are also a few ballads that require a superb, real sounding piano. For all these songs in our live set I knew the M50 was the only way to go. So I chose the M50, and it's been delivering the sonic goods every time!
KORG: Was it difficult to get the sounds you wanted from the M50?
JR: Editing sounds is simple; I often will tweak and edit the factory sounds, which on some keyboards is complex and time consuming. On the M50 you can easily affect all parameters of the sound and save it to the memory by pushing a few buttons. It's so easy to program your own signature sounds, and you can even save them to an SD card to take with you.
KORG: Anything else that you enjoy about the M50?
JR: The physical layout. Performing live you need to be able to see what's on the screen at all times. It's easy to see the M50's display, it is curved towards your eye level, and the touch screen makes it easy to be able to find what you're looking for without much effort. Lit-up buttons also make it easy to see what sound is on at all times.
Well, Jason, thanks so much for your time, and for your kind words about your Korgs. We look forward to hearing more from Honor Society.