From the instant he heard the opening riff for the Kinks “You Really Got Me” burning off his parents' turntable, RJ (aka “Rory Jason”) knew he wanted to play in a rock and roll band. “I used to lie on the living room floor with my head between our two massive, vintage Pioneer speakers, and blast Beatles, Zeppelin and Hendrix records all day long. I was literally transported by the melodies and sheer size of the sound coming out of the stereo.”
Never forgetting that first rush of excitement, RJ forayed into the music scene immediately after high school, first as a guitar player and songwriter in September Child with his brother, (which, on the verge of signing a record deal, exploded in fireworks that would do Oasis proud) and later in the popular Canadian pop/rock group Hennessey. Luckily, Hennessey had a much more enduring career, attracting such diverse fans as Hockey Night In Canada’s Ron MacLean and author Daniel Richler as well as receiving commercial airplay, video spins and playing on television shows such as “Canada AM” and the late night CTV show “Open Mike with Mike Bullard”.
Having crisscrossed Canada and the U.S. several times with well-known artists such as 54-40, Big Sugar, The Grapes of Wrath, Tegan and Sara, The Skydiggers, Tea Party and Third Eye Blind, RJ ultimately decided to take some time off to explore other interests. His life has taken several twists and turns since then (including traveling Asia, some TV acting and successfully graduating from law school) and has since come full circle to find him teamed up with his now Juno award-winning producer brother (Blue Rodeo) and Matt Wallace (Maroon 5/Faith No More) to record a new collection of songs.
Newly incarnated as “RJ Phoenix”, this marks the first time RJ has fully seized the mic and put his own voice front and centre. RJ's influences, including The Beatles, Cake, Crowded House and Weezer, are on display in his melodic, in-your-face yet sometimes melancholic pop, which combines modern elements with vintage guitar and key sounds and an often Lennon-esque vocal delivery. RJ’s lyrics, whether bittersweet or bemused, are both propelled by, and crash against, the crunch of Gibson guitars, warm acoustic and a crisp rhythm section, creating a sound that is at once distantly familiar yet somehow completely new.
“When it comes down to it, I figure my music is fueled by equal parts love and fear. Love of good songs and fear (to paraphrase Paul Simon) of having my life come back to haunt me in shades of mediocrity. Ultimately, if I can make someone feel the way I feel when I hear a great song, that is all I need.”