Fraser drummer snares the spotlight

By: Maria Allard | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published June 18, 2012

 Seventeen-year-old Jason Hartless of Fraser has been touring with bands since 
he was11 years old. He put on a drum clinic June 14 for several dozen people at the Guitar Center in Roseville.

Seventeen-year-old Jason Hartless of Fraser has been touring with bands since he was11 years old. He put on a drum clinic June 14 for several dozen people at the Guitar Center in Roseville.

Photo by David Schreiber

ROSEVILLE — Though many kids begin to discover their favorite rock ‘n’ roll bands around age 11, at that age Fraser resident Jason Hartless had already began touring with some of his.

In recent years, the 17-year-old session drummer with the red tennis shoes has been the backbeat for the opening bands of Motley Crue, Godsmack, Theory of a Deadman, Drowning Pool, Rev Theory, 3 Days Grace, Seether, Mountain, Warrior Soul and Cavo.

With dad Jason Hartless Sr. as the tour manager, attacking his drums throughout North America surrounded by seasoned musicians proved an eye-opening experience.

“When you’re out on the road, it’s not partying all the time,” said Hartless, who just finished out his junior year at Fraser High School. “It’s a very business-oriented business these days.”

On June 14, Hartless brought his talent home when he kicked off a Midwest region Guitar Center Clinic Tour at the Guitar Center on Gratiot Avenue in Roseville.

“Let’s bring out the noise for Jason,” Guitar Center assistant manager Josh Raynard said as the clinic began. About 40 people had arrived by the 7 p.m. showtime. More people filtered in during the evening.

The sound was cranked on high as Hartless — on a Pearl Masters drum kit — demonstrated many musical styles: rock, funk, metal, jazz, hip hop and country.

“I’m very adamant all musicians play different genres of music. It’s not about sticking to one genre of music,” said Hartless, who ventured inside his first recording studio at age 8. “I just love doing it. It’s what I’ll be doing my whole life.”

The skilled musician offered advice for anyone thinking about picking up an instrument.

“The kids need to have their heart and soul into it,” Hartless said. “Stick to your heart. Get your parents behind it. If you love to play drums, stick to that. Listen to different drummers. Try to pick up stuff from drummers here and there.

“My actual drum mentor is Corky Laing from Mountain,” Hartless said. “He showed me the ways to be a session musician. He would come to Detroit from Toronto.”

Hartless also honed his technique as a member of the FHS marching band.

“It’s a great environment to be in,” he said.

While on tour, Hartless became pretty tight with Cavo.

“They’re one of my dearest friends,” he said. “They’re touring with Chevelle and Daughtry all the time now.”

Hartless also got to know the four guys in Motley Crue. And while the Crue will go down in history as one of rock’s hard-core party bands, Hartless saw them in a different light.

“Great guys. It was one of the mellowest tours,” the teen said. “We would play the show and hang out. Very humble people. Very cool.”

Tim Gietzen was one of the fans that attended the guitar clinic. Gietzen knows Hartless from FHS marching band, as his daughter Emily who just graduated, was a member.

“He’s very good. A very talented kid,” said Gietzen, who served as Band Boosters president for two years and vice president for one year. “I worked closely with all the kids, so I’m just over here to support Jason. He’s come a long way. He was always really good, but this year his playing increased tremendously. He’s really quite the drummer now.”

“He’s an awesome guy,” Raynard said. “He’s a great drummer.”

While the skins remain Hartless’ passion, there is something else close to his heart: a drug-free life. He doesn’t shy away from the subject.

“Doing drugs, people getting wasted are wasting their lives away,” he said.

At press time, Hartless was scheduled to attend Boston’s Berklee College of Music’s percussion festival June 17-23.

For more information on Jason Hartless, visit www.jasonhartless.com. The drummer also can be found on Facebook.