20 Questions for Jason Whelan

Staying connected with his day job and his night job

Published on February 22, 2016
Josh Pennell/The Telegram
Jason Whelan is a musician in St. John’s. He can often be found playing at the session at Erin’s Pub. He  just released his second album.

Jason Whelan has been playing music for 25 years and 13 years after releasing his first album, his second called “Connections” has just been released.

I just found all these connections between the music, ideas in the songs, people who played on them, genres of music. There could be melodic connections, there could be geographical connections, cultural connections. Then there’s kind of like ‘What do I do for a living? I work in telecommunications’. So I connect things, right?”

Thirteen years between albums might seem like an unlucky hiatus but Whelan has been anything but inactive. Music keeps him very busy. The multi-instrumentalist says he’s primarily a drummer and guitar player but he knows his away around a lot of things with strings like the mandolin and bouzouki. He’s also a songwriter and his new album is largely made up of his own material.

“All the things seemed to align. The time to do it and the studio was available,” he says of making his new record.

“You get more knowledgeable and more experienced so I wanted to play better, sing better, write stronger material, record and mix it better, and produce it better. In every way I wanted to just improve on it.”

That’s part of what Whelan has been up to musically for the past 13 years and essentially for the full 25 that music has been a big part of his life.

“You never master it. If you give up trying to get better you may as well just stop doing it,” he says.

“I guess that’s the difference too between music as art and music as income.”


1. What is your full name?

Jason Alan Whelan


2. Where and when were you born?

St. John’s. July  1973. St. Clare’s.


3. What is your profession?

Musician/telecom guy. I got kind of a day job — night job thing on the go.


4. What do you like about your job?

The creativity. I love the creativity of the music stuff and believe it or not there’s a fair bit of creativity in the sort of network design world, too, because there’s different ways to accomplish things. We do have a fair bit of creativity. We’re allowed to come up with ways to solve problems or solutions for customers.


5. How did you get started as a musician?

Just from listening to records. Dad’s record collection. Everyone had an uncle or a father or a brother or someone that exposed them to a bunch of music that they otherwise never would have heard. That’s a how I got into it. Dad’s record collection. Dad was listening to everything. Jethro Tull, Makem and Clancy, classical stuff, folk stuff, rock stuff, jazz stuff. I was eight (when he passed away). So dad’s record collection was one of the few things I had of him.


6. What is your favourite type of music?

I love everything. I’ve been really into world music for the last couple of years, like cultural music from different countries. African music, Brazilian music. All kinds of different music. Especially contemporary versions of that. Sort of modernized folk music from different countries.


7. What is your favourite meal?

Beef bourguignon.


8. If you were an animal, which animal would you be?

Pine marten. No doubt. Pine martens are awesome. They’re vicious. They’re saucy. They look like they’re having a ball.


9. If you could spend one day with someone, alive or dead, who would it be?

Peter Cashin. Just to pick his brain. The guy lived a pretty interesting life. What do you think of the place (now)? What do you think of the state of it? Did you foresee this?


10. What’s your biggest fear?

Complacency. People stop thinking. They stop challenging themselves. They become drones.


11. What’s one place you’d like to visit?

I’d love to go Tasmania. From all accounts it’s the Newfoundland of Australia. They’re geographically tucked away and they’re kind of the butt of Aussie jokes. It’s a fishing culture and it’s kind of rugged. It’s kind of the fringe of the south instead of the fringe of the north. I bet it would be an interesting place to go.


12. What was one act of rebellion you committed?

I’m pretty sure we cut off our ties in Grade 4 or 5. I’m sure that pissed off a few Christian brothers.


13. What is one regret you have?

No regrets. I don’t regret anything. I guess not regretting things.


14. What other job would you like to try?

I’d like to be a pilot. That would be awesome.


15. What do you do with your spare time?

I don’t have any. I’d get snaky if I had any spare time. I don’t even know what I’d do. Music never stops. And I’m always thinking up projects and stuff. I just went back to school and finished a Masters degree in business.


16. What’s your most treasured possession?

Things that belonged to my grandfathers. My grandfather’s medals on one side and my grandfather’s books on the other side.


17. Where do you find inspiration for songwriting?

People. History.


18. Who is your favourite songwriter?

I’m gonna go with Warren Zevon. There’s a lot, really.


19. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

I have no patience. I’ve got to work on it.  


20. Who is the best performer you’ve ever seen live?

That’s hard to say but one of the best bands that I’ve seen in the past 10 years was Devo, believe it or not. You wouldn’t think some obscure electro-punk band from the ’80s but they were awesome.