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Jonathan Tiersten
(Actor/Musician/Composer, Sleepaway Camp)
 
Horror fans know Jonathan Tiersten as Ricky Baker from the Horror film from 1983's, SLEEPAWAY CAMP. In SLEEPAWAY CAMP, he was the foul-mouthed, protective cousin of Angela, but in real life, Tiersten is a very versatile individual. Not only is he a man with a passion for the craft of acting, he also shares an equal passion for music. I passed along a few questions in hopes to get a little insight on the upcoming album, as well as what the future holds for Mr. TIersten. It is through these questions, that we get to know a humble man, and an artist whom is very passionate about what he does, and is very aware of what goes on around him. It was an absolute pleasure to have him answer the questions that you will find below.





- You have a brand new album to be released in March, entitled, "We'll See", with your band TEN TIERS. Many people know you as "Ricky Baker" from the cult Horror film, SLEEPAWAY CAMP, and as Johnathan Tiersten "The Actor", but a lot of people are unaware of Jonathan Tiersten, "The Musician". How long have you been pursuing music, which do you prefer, and what is the most rewarding thing that you get out of writing, and performing your music?

Well I guess I will go from back to front. I don't have a preference, per se, but I cannot imagine my life without music. I have spent my whole adult life doing this. It never mattered how much money I made or how many compliments or criticisms I had gotten. It is just what I do. Some people are lawyers or firemen or health workers or whatever and are equally as passionate.

I have been playing music professionally since 1988. The reward I get from music is that I never know what it will be. Every show is a totally different experience, and you actually learn more from the bad shows than the good ones. I think performing and life run parallel in this respect. Your failures and your struggles and your reaction to them define you as both a human being and an artist. I said to someone recently, "When humility is lost, art dies." I try and remain true to that credo.

- With the now, abundance of Actors/Actresses that have turned musician, one might perceive you as just another "Actor, who is trying out music" I for one, am convinced that you are of a different breed when it comes to such a sentiment, but for our readers, could you please explain what it is sets you apart from the rest?

Well it is not for me to say what sets me apart. That is up to the listener. I have told so many people who say, "Well, I don't know anything about music..." But actually they do. Everyone does. We are inundated with it from a very young age. At some point I don't think people will care so long as the song evokes an emotion from them.

And I hope they will still watch my movies! I can't speak for those other actors except to say I have met people who make a lot more money than me who wish they could do what I do. I get that. It is a blast to have that connection with a big crowd. Instant gratification.

- Browsing through your catalog of songs, each song seems to come from a very personal place, having very passionate and personal lyrics. Is there a certain thing, or place which you draw you inspiration?

Ah, the age old question.

I walked into a gas station today to buy a soda. The girl behind the counter was giving me a hard time just to lighten the mood. I played along and it was a wonderful moment. She said, "What... am I supposed to be miserable all day?" That is what inspires me -- a person who lives among all this misery and finds hope and humor inside of it. Without that what do we have? I write because no one else can write from my perspective. It is the one thing in my life that I know I can do better than anyone else.

- As for the Actor in you, a few years ago, you returned to your "roots so to speak, when you made a cameo, reprising your role as "Ricky" in RETURN TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP. Since then you have taken on a few Horror roles, one in particular is titled THE PERFECT HOUSE, in which you once again star alongside Felissa Rose. What was it like returning to SLEEPAWAY CAMP(pun intended), and teaming up with Felissa Rose again on screen and with Robert Hiltzik behind the camera?. The second question is, can you tell us a little about THE PERFECT HOUSE? What are your character's details, and when can Horror fans expect to see it?

First, let me say that Felissa Rose is an angel on this earth. That woman has the strength and integrity of 10 men.

Robert and I had the same relationship that we had 20 years earlier -- at times very loving, and at times very contentious. It is his way of keeping Ricky's edge. In reality, I think he might resemble Ricky more than I do.

The only reason I got the role in The Perfect House was because Felissa lobbied for me to be in it. According to the director (Kris Hulbert), they were having a hard time finding an actor with enough charisma to carry the role. He and I got on the phone together and it was instant chemistry. We discussed the script for three months before I even arrived on set.

I play a serial killer named John Doesy. He keeps people locked in his basement. One girl he has held for five years. He believes that she is his muse. Without her, what he does would just be boring. She is his audience and co-star in his little passion play.

- In the film, your new single, "In the Air" is featured. Was this a song that was specifically written for the film, or was it simply a song that was planned for the album, that just fit the mood of the film? Personally, I love the song, and it has been stuck in my head for days!

The song was written for the movie. In fact I was on the set of Redemption while we were putting it together. I wrote it with my cousin, Peter Kuperschmid, after I gave him a description of the movie and my character and sent him the trailer. We bounced back lyrics for days but were never in the same studio. The cinematographer (Simon Hayes) from Redemption drove me to a studio in upstate New York. Oddly, I had bronchitis and was terrified that I wouldn't be able to sing. I think that fear added to the performance.

- "In the Air" is sort of a departure from your normal, all acoustic vibe, consisting of electronic and techno backing. Can we expect more of the same on "We'll See", or was "In the Air" merely an experiment of sorts?

"In The Air" IS a departure from my more recent stuff, but it doesn't mean I don't love to rock. My cousin Peter always has been a rocker, and we have declared a solemn oath to continue writing together. There is another song called "Theodore" which is a little different from my current writing. I have written songs in many styles for years. I love to collaborate with other musicians from time to time. You never know what might come from it.

"We'll See" is an album that, I hope, people will go to when they need to remember something that takes them out of their day-to-day drudgery. At its essence, that is what great music can do.

That said, there are always going to be songs that I write from soup to nuts which are at the crux of my truth.

- I have also read that you have now ventured into the realm of composing music for film, which starts with your participation with the short film, COMMITMENT, which deals with the subject of racial profiling. Is composing something that you've always wished to do, and do you hope to explore it further in the future?

Actually I was supposed to do the score for Commitment but it didn't come to fruition. I did, however, score the short film Demption, which stars David Krumholtz from the TV show “NUMB3RS.”

I grew up studying French horn. And my father plays bassoon. So the idea of composing is very, very intriguing to me. I love music theory and being able to manipulate sounds and rhythms to evoke emotion without any words. Some of the greatest movies I have ever seen would have been mediocre without their soundtracks/scores.

- With the title of composer under your belt, you are essentially what they call a "triple threat" now. Will there ever be a time that you concentrate solely on one avenue of entertainment, or will you always try to continue in each of these fields? Will there be even more acting roles in the future for Jonathan Teirsten?

There will be a lot more acting roles. I think that is a way I can still make a huge impact. I am totally excited about acting again because I think it has awakened the creative juices in every aspect of my life. I really loved the two films I did this summer and I wrote a lot of songs during and after those shoots.

- In Knowing this, would Directing, or maybe producing be something that you'd also be intersted in pursuing sometime down the road?

Is there such a thing as a quadruple threat? I already am working with a company called Brittany House Pictures with Anjul Nigam (Grey's Anatomy, Terminator Salvation) to start producing and acting and writing music for several upcoming feature films.

- Going back to SLEEPAWAY CAMP for a second, I have always wanted to ask. How did SLEEPAWAY CAMP come about, all those years ago? Was there some sort of casting call? Were you discovered by someone involved with the film?How did you come to be involved with the film? Also what is your fondest memory that you have from being on that particular set?

I remember going in to the audition and seeing Jane (now famous for 30 Rock) and thinking, "Oh shit! I am out of my league!" Then, when I went into the audition, Robert asked me to tell him off and I said, "Are you serious?" The rest is history.

My fondest memories are both now and then of the time I got to spend with my dearest friend Felissa Rose. We will be friends until one of us is no longer here.

- This is a question that I ask to everyone, seeing as the majority of the films that we review on the site are Horror. What is your favorite Horror film, and why?

My favorite horror film is The Exorcist. Ellen Burstyn playing a stressed out actress post divorce is just amazing. Lee J. Cobb, Jason Miller (who also won a Pulitzer that year), Max Von Sydow. It is still incomparable.

- Last question. To touch on your new album once again. For those who have yet to hear your music, please describe your new album in a few words, so that they might get an idea as to what to expect.

I said to someone recently that honest emotion does not have a half life and neither should great songwriting. I think, at the end of the day, all we can do is try and be true to ourselves. I think that translates to audiences in music and poetry and literature or any art. Not everyone is going to like what you do, but what a joy it is to be able to write from your own perspective and share your observations, and to be able to portray your truth of the events that shaped your life and have other people interpret those truths in their own ways. That is what makes me love music, and especially songwriting.

Thank You so much for taking the time to answers these questions for us, Jonathan. We look forward to seeing, and hearing more of your work in the very near future!




Jonathan Tiersten and Ten Tiers' new album will be available on iTunes, on April 26, 2011.




Find out more about Jonathan Tiersten at the following links:
Jonathan Tiersten.com
ReverbNation
Ten Tiers @Myspace (TenTiers.com)


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