Jayce Hein is a singer / songwriter who grew up right here in Geauga County, in Middlefield, listening to his father, Gary Hein, play music. He knew one day he would do the same. At age 12, Jayce began playing the guitar, and by the age of 15 he was playing in clubs. He soon caught the attention of a major record label, Warner Bros. Though that road would eventually lead to a dead end, Jayce never gave up.
At age 20, Jayce met Warner Bros. recording artist Jessica Miller and soon after started playing guitar and singing back up in her band. Over the next several years, Jayce would share the stage with acts including Andy Griggs, Ronnis Milsap, Ty Herndon, Chris Cagle, Darryl Worley, Joe Diffie, and rock superstar Meat Loaf.
Finally, after several years of playing on the road, Jayce packed his bags and moved to Nashville, TN in January 2007 with nothing but a dream of landing a song publishing deal. Jayce is currently writing with some of country music’s most respected writers.
I went to High School with Jayce, and I was very excited to learn of his success. Jayce was gracious enough to allow me to interview him about his most recent success as a writer for Country Music Artist Jason Aldean.
Q: Where in Geauga County did you grow up?
I grew up on Nauvoo Rd in Middlefield township.
Q: What did you enjoy the most about growing up here?
I loved growing up in Middlefield. I loved the simplicity, the fact that everyone knew each other.
Q: When did you start playing music and how long have you been writing now?
I started playing guitar the summer before going into the 8th grade. I wrote my 1st song in Miss Black’s 8th grade science class. She asked me to do it for extra credit. Lord knows I needed that extra credit! Guess that means I have been writing for 20 years now.
Q: Who were your original musical influences?
My dad, Gary, my brother, Jim, My Uncle Butch and Aunt Mary, Garth Brooks, Vince Gill, Buddy Holly, The Beach Boys, and my junior high and high school choir teacher, Dave Thomas.
Q: What were your original musical goals?
I wanted to be a country singer. I dreamed about being on a big stage singing for tens of thousands of people. You see how that’s turned out! LOL!
Q: When did you move to Nashville?
I moved to Nashville in January of 2007.
Q: Did you have a contract when you moved there?
I had no contract. I moved to town with nothing, just a dream.
Q: When did you do your first recording? Who was it with?
In Ohio, I first recorded at Ron Duncan’s house in his basement studio in 1997. In Nashville, I first recorded in early 2007 with Gregg Fulkerson, who has since passed away. He was incredible.
Q: What was the first song you wrote that got radio air time?
A song I wrote for my son called “Please.” It was played on country radio in many states.
Q: How have you seen the music business change over the past 10 years?
The industry has lost millions over the last 10 yrs. Illegal downloading has gotten out of hand. It’s killing our profession. I see great writers who can’t get deals and see great artists losing deals.
Q: Do writers typically just write for one artist or multiple?
When I go to a writing session, I usually just go in to write the best song I can. Sometimes though, we do write for a specific artist if they happen to be looking for a song at that time.
Q: When you write a song, how much is it transformed by the time it gets to being recorded?
It all depends. When Jason Aldean recorded our song, he changed one line in the second verse. When Jared Blake from The Voice recorded my song, he kept it the exact same. I guess it just depends on the artist.
Q: Do you think you’ll ever record your own album and try to promote it directly, or do you enjoy being a writer more?
I have been approached a couple of times by some very well known producers about recording an album. To date, I have turned down those offers, but I may do it one day. I really enjoy writing the songs the most.
Q: Recently on your Facebook fan page your status said, “Just watched my wedding video backwards… Loved the part where I took off the ring, left the church, and got wasted with the guys!!” Can we expect a song with these lyrics soon?
Haha! I don’t know. I love writing funny stuff every now and then, so it’s always possible!
Q: How did you meet Jason Aldean?
I have known Jason’s band for a while now. I met Jason at a party.
Q: How and when did he hire you?
A couple guys in Jason’s band took him our demo of “Country Boy’s World” and played it for him on the tour bus. He played it 7 times in a row and decided to record it.
Q: Tell us more about Jason Aldean’s most recent success and how you are involved in that?
Jason recently won a CMA and an ACA award for Album of The Year. He also won iTunes Album of The Year and is nominated for a Grammy for Country Album of The Year. All for the “My Kinda Party” album, which my song is on. We also recently all celebrated double-Platinum success together on the “My Kinda Party” album. Jason treated all the writers to a great lunch and gave out plaques with the songs lyrics hand written and signed by Jason.
Q: What advice would you give to other up and coming artists who are trying to make it in the music business?
Just keep honing your craft, whether it’s writing or performing. The more you practice, the better you get. Network with everyone you can. Be patient.
Q: Are you coming home for the holidays? Any shout outs to your local Geauga County people, friends, and family?
I am! I will be spending a week in Middlefield with my family. Hi to all my family, friends, and Roadhouse Music in Middlefield. I love that place!!
Q: Although you officially live in Nashville, how can Geauga County, as a community, continue to support you?