You’ve undoubtedly heard him. His catchy melodies, sweet sounding tenor vocals and music that can make a person just get up and dance while singing along. He’s Jason Mraz, and he’ll be playing tonight at the Alliant Energy Center at 7:30 p.m. with special guests the Plain White T’s.
The Badger Herald recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jason’s saxophonist Carlos Sosa. Sosa knows Jason very well after playing with him off and on for four years, and he told us a little bit about him.
“Jason is one of the best people I’ve ever worked with. We had a meeting one day, I don’t remember where we were, maybe Paris, but, you know, I told him that he was such an inspiration. If I walked (into) rehearsal and I was having a bad day, or I was tired or grumpy and I didn’t really want to talk to anybody…Well, [Jason’s] never that way. When he shows up to sound check he’s so happy, and he’s always a pleasure to be around, and goes out of his way to make people comfortable and, you know, just to be nice and giving and loving other people. And his schedule is ten times worse than ours.” Sosa said.
“We work like three hours a day and this guy works eight or nine hours a day. He’s an inspiration because I don’t know how he keeps it together. He’s always willing to try anything new. I’ve been with artists that are huge divas and there’s a huge separation between the band and the artist and it’s not like that with Jason. He’s like family.”
Sosa also discussed how he started playing and got involved in music.
“I think I started playing in middle school. Yeah, I was about ten years old. When I was in high school I started playing in a funk band playing saxophone. When I was a freshman, I started playing clubs with that band, and I loved it. So, I started performing when I was about 15, and then I kind of decided that I wanted to do that, so that’s my life (laughs). Then I went to college for saxophone performance, and it was about a year until I decided that I didn’t need a piece of paper to tell me that I could play the saxophone. So I went to school for audio engineering. Then I kept playing in bands until college, and then I moved to Austin, where, at the time, there were tons of bands there.”
Sosa said that he can also play guitar, but saxophone is what really took him to where he is now. He told the Herald about how he got there as well as who else he has played with.
“Yeah, I started playing in college with a guy named Bob Schneider, from Austin, and then just being around Austin and playing with a bunch of different people. The trumpet player that I’m still playing with (from) college and we started playing together and with a lot of cover bands around Austin.” Sosa said. “Then one thing lead to another and we played with Don Henley and we played with a huge list of people. Suicidal Tendencies, which is a punk band from Los Angeles, and actually the bass player from Metallica was in that band at the time. We played with Kelly Clarkson for a while. We started a horn section and decided that we were going to be the horn section that, if anyone needed horns on their record, they would come to us, and if they needed horns to tour with them, which a lot of the bigger acts do, then we would be the horn section to do it, and it worked out.”
When asked what he enjoys about being a musicain, Sosa said that it comes down to making people happy.
“Changing people’s emotions. It’s making people happy. Just spreading joy, you know, it might sound cheesy but when you’re on stage and the reactions you get from people is pretty overwhelming. Writing in the studio too, making recordings. When you start it’s like a blank slate, but when you finish it’s a wonderful, artful piece of music that lives on forever.”
Being a musician, a person is likely to run into a few crazy fans. Sosa shared about one experience that came to mind.
“One that sticks out in my mind was in London and we played a show last year at some point last summer, and we were having an after party. The horn section came outside, to go out, sign autographs and talk with fans and stuff. There were these two girls that were very unassuming and really nice and sweet and whatever, and I was talking to them for a little bit, and singing autographs. (Then) this guy apparently that was with them and was standing about five feet away from them came up and he said ‘So, what do we need to do to get these girls into the after party?’ And I said ‘I can’t help you, there’s nothing I can do.’ Really, the after party was for, you know, label people and maybe friends of the band and stuff like that. You really don’t want to bring just anybody in there because they may be fanatical fans or whatever, you know, and freak out (laughs), or whatever, you know be real star struck. You don’t know [how] they’re going to be, you don’t know these people” Sosa said. “It was no big deal, just a bunch of people hanging out, and talking and stuff. It was really not that fancy. People have this idea of what it’s like, and it’s really no big deal. Just a bunch of dorks having coffee, we could be drinking wine, you know, so it’s pretty funny. So, [the guy] said ‘Well, I’ll give you a thousand dollars to go to the party’ and I was like ‘That’s fine (laughs), but there’s really nothing I can do’ and he’s like ‘We’ll give you more, just tell us how much it’s gonna be and we’ll pay for it, even if it’s ten thousand.” I was shocked that they were actually serious (laughs). So it was pretty funny.”
Crazy fans aside, Sosa also shared what it’s like being on the road on tour.
“There’s a lot of good points about it. You know, meeting different people, getting to see the world, you know, traveling, and you develop friendships with people all over the world and it’s really cool. Seeing the way different people live, other cultures and stuff. It’s funny, because the United States gets really small when you start touring the world. You know, making people happy, that’s the big part.” Sosa said. “The bad part, I guess, the schedule can get kind of rough sometimes. When we were in Australia and we did like four shows in a row, and one day we were in Sydney and we played a show the next morning we woke up at about five o’clock in the morning, went to the airport at six, flew to the other side of Australia which is like an four and a half hour flight and played a TV show, and then got back on a plane and flew back to the other side of Australia, another four and a half hour flight. So, it was pretty brutal (laughs), and then we went to sleep exhausted, woke up, played a show the next day, and we had, four shows right after that and they were all getting on an airplane and flying to the next place. It’s pretty brutal sometimes, so you have to try to give yourself some sort of normalcy or some sort of schedule, you know. We try to do what we can to keep ourselves sane. But then you also develop really great relationships with people, it’s like you’re family. So it’s really cool.”
A lot of things obviously go on for a musician on tour, may they be good or bad, but Sosa still enjoys going to new places, and Madison is one of those.
“Am I excited about coming to Madison? I’ve never been to Madison, I don’t think, and, I’m looking forward to playing another place and checking it out. And listening to the Wisconsin accent (laughs). But yeah, we’re definitely looking forward to it,” Sosa said.
So what should people expect from Jason Mraz, Carlos Sosa and company at the concert?
“It’s hard to say, they should just expect to have a really good time, and I think [Jason] is one of the most talented vocalists I’ve ever worked with, and all of his songs have a lot of emotion, and he’s really good at portraying, you know, if it’s a ballad he’s really good at getting that emotion across. If it’s a high energy song everybody has a good time, they start dancing, and he’s very interactive with the audience. It’s a very musical show. So, I guess it should be a good concert (laughs).”
**Jason Mraz is performing tonight at the Alliant Energy Center.