—It Ain't Easy Being A Saint
It Ain’t Easy Being A Saint by Jon Saint.
It ain’t easy being a saint. Long Island privileged youth with no guidance too much intelligence and a lack of serotonin. Only refugee was vinyl on the table then later a guitar in my hands.
At 16 Thrown out of school, drugged out, thugged up. Hated being white. Black was power. Made Mix tapes before there were mix tapes. Record and pause. Mr. Magic. Red Alert. Hand drawn cassette covers - It’s a JS MIX! Got me some props but didn’t get me laid so I had to keep working it.
Then my best friend died. We were 17. I Never wasted another second getting wasted. Cleaned up my act. No drugs. Just rhymes. Dad said go to college or get out. Tried college. 2 weeks later I was in the music business. Got out. On my own. Hustle.
Made lame demos but could sell myself. Got the attention of Ron Skoler. Attorney for Public Enemy and Red Alert. Next thing you know I’m eating Chinese food with Public Enemy and Red Alert.
Made lots of four track scratch and riff demos.
Vanilla Ice had a hit. Suddenly white rappers were in style. Super producer Steve Leber signed me. His countless gold records on his walls started to confuse my vision. He managed Aerosmith, AC DC. Joan Jett, Nugent. Called Teller at MCA. Got me a 100g deal over the phone.
I was a glorified minstrel. Steve Leber didn’t have me in a studio he had performing at his daughter’s birthday party. I played the game then made a move. Called friend of a friend named Zach Indursky, son of super attorney Arthur Indursky. Flew down to Washington. Told Zach my tale. Next thing I knew I was meeting with Arthur Indursky. Madonna walked past me in the waiting room. Indursky pushed the deal along. In the end I was a pawn. Leber tried to parlay my deal into his own label. Had to start new.
Lucky for me Clive Davis’ daughter had just graduated law school. She signed me up and shopped me around. But I need to get a new demo. Something hot. She got me some free time at a small studio in Tribeca… Brielle Music. There I met Kash Monet. A former drummer, current avant garde painter and musical mastermind who was too talented to become famous.
He made me reach into who i was. I was white. Don’t fight it. Just meld it with the hip hop music that was my heart. Words started to flow… the rapper met the rocker. Formed a band… Universal Poet Society.
We hit the stage. CBGBs, Don Hills, Mercury Lounge, Webster Hall. Played sold out shows and run down clubs.
Found out something about myself. I like the light. I like the bash. I like the crash.
I got to work with the greatest studio musicians in New York. From Larry Saltzman. Lincoln Schleiffer, Frank Vilardi. The music we made was amazing. But the band was old men and the record companies wanted me surrounded by my peers.
So we enlisted Julian Coryell, son of the great guitarist Larry Coryell. He along with a band of young guns started to rewrite the sound. It was Nirvana, the Doors. It was cool. But it wasn’t Jon Saint.
Somewhere along the way I lost myself. I forgot hip hop. It was long hair and leather pants. We wrote and recorded sappy alt rock songs and I spun around on stage. 2 years past.
When you think your a rock star you act like a rock star. And when you go to far you end up divorced or in major therapy. I lost a year dealing with the issues I had never faced. Prozac saved my life. Buspar gave me hope.
Managers, lawyers, producers all had there share of my insanity and wanted no more. So I would have to come back on my own.
My first step with connecting with hip hop legend MC Serch. As the founding member of 3rd Bass he understood the challenges that a white emcee faces. We connected based on our love of hip hop. I was a student, like himself. Studying every facet of the genre for years. We talked for hours about KRS, Rakim, Kool G Rap, LL. The DJs, the culture. What it meant to the world. MC Serch was more than a successful rapper. He discovered Nas. He lived and died for the music. Serch was just starting up his own label Serchlite and I came on board as the media director. As a RED/Sony label we had good distribution but no real money to spend. So everyone at the label did everything. It was amazing but heart breaking. I was working so hard on these Serchlite artist projects when all I wanted was to be working on my own. So I made a choice. I bounced.
Called Kash. Kash saw I had changed. Recommitted. Refocused. We went back into the studio. Hip Hop legend Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie joined the production team. The music was hip hop, rock, pop. It was me. We made incredible songs. I knew I was going to be all the things I was told by everyone I could never be. Rich. Famous. Loved. The music blasted from the speakers and I felt I won.
But timing is everything. The industry was falling apart. CD sales were free falling. Itunes was new. Napster made everything free. Labels folded into other labels. Every A&R guy who loved my record was fired a week after we met.
Finally RCA said they would sign me. But hit the road first and develop the audience. Come back in a year and we’ll put out the album if you build the buzz. But no money from the label to do it. I was 30. Tired.
I had met every celebrity on the planet. All my heroes. From hip hop to rock. I had been to the grammys and countless industry parties. Rehearsed at SIR. Sat on a thousand studio couches. I met everyone from Springsteen to Eminem. Jay Z to Pete Townsend. But the novelty had worn off. I wasn’t star struck anymore. I was pissed i wasn’t a star.
So I put my tracks away. Went into a different business. Retail. Clothing. I was successful.
Thanks to the Internet I have a new place to share what I couldn’t before.
It ain’t easy being a saint.
Members Through the years… Kash Monet, Larry Saltzman, Julian Coryell, Keith Golden, Tom Curiano, Frank Vilardi, Cindi Mizelle, Jon Brielle, Ronnie Lawson, Greg K, DJ J Finesse to name a few…
Influences: Beatles, KRS ONE, David Bowie, Public Enemy, Elton John, Nirvana, Big Daddy Kane, Billy Joel, Rakim, XTC, Kool G Rap, Bob Marley, Sting, Nas, Liz Phair, MC Serch.
RocketMan by Jon Saint.