The career of Jason Collett has been a meandering affair. Though a carpenter by trade, his love of music saw him participating and pursuing quite a few musical projects in and around his home metropolis of Toronto. Critical success was varied-- the most notable was his work with Andrew Cash and Hawksley Workman in the short-lived alternative country group Bird-- but Collett's big break came when he was convinced to join Broken Social Scene by one of the bands founders, Kevin Drew. His work with BSS enabled him to ditch his day job as a carpenter and dive into music full time.
"I've been a carpenter for much of my adult life and [though] I've always enjoyed it, I haven't had to do it for about seven years now so I feel really, really privileged to be able to make a living as a musician," Collett says.
Though he's still an active participant in BSS, since 2005 Collett has focused on his solo career releasing three albums. The most recent-- this year's Rat a Tat Tat-- sees Collett draw influence from a variety of sources, though the most obvious is his use of a poem from the work of fellow BSS member Emily Haines' father, the renowned beat poet Paul Haines. While the title of the poem ended up being the title for the album, the influence of the beat generation goes deeper-- it's a thread that weaves its way throughout Collett's material.
"I have probably most of Jack Kerouac's stuff," he says. "The whole stream of consciousness writing that Kerouac pioneered is really useful in song writing because songs are a mystery and I really subscribe to the whole idea of them as if they were already written-- they kind of float by and a good songwriter is simply a good vehicle for that to come through. All the best songs happen quickly, ferociously fast. It's such a thrill because you don't really know what the hell you're doing."
Though Collett admires the young men that spent their lives traipsing across the North American continent, flying by the seat of their pants, his own life is a little more grounded.
"I had kids at an early age and I've been raising [them] for a long time now," he says. "I got a whole mess of them and it's always made touring really tricky, but I've always figured it out. I think the blessing in that I've always had a very hectic, busy life is that I never had the opportunity to become precious about the space I needed to write in, so I can write on the fly a lot as a result and I think that serves me well."
It's tough to say where Collett will meander next, but his fans can take solace in the fact that any journeys will be documented and shared in his distinctive musical style.