“I’ve always been a little bit crazy” is the first line from Letters From Jett’s song, "Never Get Lost", and basically how Heath Molton(Lead Vocals and Rhythm Guitar) describes his approach to the music industry. Heath in his career has been offered numerous management and record deals, yet he turned them all down to stay independent. Heath reasons, “We have worked hard to get here; why would I give the lion’s share to someone else?” Gone are the days where the record company is a critical part of a band’s success. With the internet being the record company these days, bands have a greater chance at keeping control over their music and monies made. “Don’t get me wrong,” Heath continues, “we would sign a deal today if the right one came along, They just don’t do those kind of deals”.
Letters From Jett is a southern band, One part Rock, and one part Country. The individual band members have quite a long history of musical endeavors. The band consists of singer Heath Molton, drummer(and Heath’s little brother) Gunnar Molton, bassist Lucas Peterson, and Trace Foster on lead guitar and keyboards. The story of how Letters From Jett came together begins in Nashville….
Heath began his career in music behind a drum kit. He played drums in a band in Nashville for a year and a half with Joe Don Rooney, who would later go on to form Rascal Flatts. Not feeling that the project had any legs to it, Heath moved to Eureka Springs, Arkansas where he played the drums in a theatre for a year. It was there where Heath finally decided to do his own thing, which meant stepping out from behind the drums and grabbing a microphone and guitar. Of his transition to the front man, Heath says, “I assumed it would have been a little scary going from anonymity behind the kit to being in the front leading the charge, but I found it was a natural progression.”
Upon returning home, Heath knew it was time to get serious and get a project that he had always envisioned off the ground. Heath recruited his then 14-year-old brother Gunnar, who had become quite the drummer himself, to join him, and the beginnings of the band was taking shape.
Other band members came onboard, and songs were learned, but there was a problem when the band decided to hit the road. Gunnar was too young to play at the bars and clubs where the band would be playing. Heath had to make the tough choice of letting his brother go and replacing him in the band. “I was devastated,” Gunnar recounts,
“I never considered myself young. This was my life, and now it was taken away.”
But Gunnar didn’t let it get him down. He just worked harder, and it began to pay off. Gunnar tried out and got a gig playing the drums in the band THC (Texas Hippie Coalition). Gunnar recalls, “We were touring with everyone from Motley Crue to Stone Temple Pilots. I was doing what I loved to do and seeing the world.”
Meanwhile, Heath’s band wasn’t fairing as well. Heath explains, “I just felt something was missing. We would replace band members left and right, and I never felt the connection with anyone like I did when Gunnar was in the band.” Eventually, Heath’s band found moderate success. Working with Bobby Capps (38 Special), Heath had a CD that did quite well, even placing a few songs on the charts. After a couple of hard years on the road, Heath called it a day and again returned home, where what would end up being the best thing to happen to him was about to take place.
Gunnar had just come home from finishing what he thought was the new THC album. He recalls, “We spent months in the studio and after I returned home I found out they scrapped it and were looking into doing it all over again. I was getting very frustrated and just wanted to play, and it just seemed to be getting harder and harder to do that. “Heath and I had talked about how much we enjoyed playing together, and we decided that we had to be in the same band.” It was 2014, and the band Letters From Jett was once again taking shape.
After some discussion about band members, the question of a bassist came up, and Gunnar spoke first and spoke loudest. Gunnar remembered doing a session back in 2012 with a bassist who he thought was terrific. “It was one of those things where it just clicked,” Gunnar recalls.
“It was as if we had played together for years. Luckily I had asked for his number.”
Enter Lucas Petersen.
Lucas Is from Michigan and his style is deep in the Motown feel. He was playing in a Jimmy Buffet cover band when he received a call to try out for the band. Lucas tells the story: “I had been playing in cover bands, actually mostly tribute bands. I was in Bob Seger, Willie Nelson, and Jimmy Buffet tribute bands. We were making good money, but it wasn’t musically satisfying. I remembered Gunnar from a few years back and I, too, really got on good playing with him. We seemed to lock right away, which is important for a rhythm section. It didn’t take much twisting of my arm to get me to come out and sit in with them and see what happened.” The chemistry was still there. Letters From Jett is almost a reality. Heath continues with the story, “I remember thinking, Wow! Gunnar and Lucas work great together, and I can play good enough rhythm, but I felt we still needed one more element.” Letters From Jett still needed a lead guitarist.
After trying out or wearing out most of the local guitarists in the limited local scene, the band was told about one guy who they hadn’t tried out. Gunnar recalls, “I remember hearing about this guy who works and tours with Aerosmith and AC/DC and, for whatever reason, he just lived over the border in Oklahoma. This guy had a studio and was producing acts and played lead guitar and keyboards.” Soon they would be introduced to Trace Foster.
Trace Foster grew up outside of Chicago and moved to Oklahoma In the late 90’s. Trace tells the story: “I had my recording studio and was working on my label at the time the guys were introduced to me. I had worked with a lot of the local acts but had never been blown away by anything until I heard these guys. I could hear the talent and the realness of the music. I was hired to produce a few songs, but once I heard the music I wanted in.” Lucas continues with the story: “I remember us thinking that it would be great if Trace would maybe produce a couple of songs and possibly play on it as well. But we weren’t sure what would happen.” Trace recalls, “I was a fan of the first song I heard. I didn’t know how to tell the guys that I wanted in. After I recorded the basic tracks on the first day, I decided to play the guitar on the songs when they left just to show them what I was hearing. The next thing I know they walked in saying we needed to talk. I thought they didn’t like what I was doing and were going to go elsewhere.”
Heath explains, “We asked Trace if he wanted to be a member of this band and I don’t think I finished my sentence before he said yes.” With the members of the band finally solidified they worked tirelessly for eight months on what would become Heartbreaks and Hangovers. Once it was finished, they set their sights on reproducing live what they had committed to disc.
After years of personal struggle and Heartbreaks and Hangovers of their own to deal with, the band can finally sit back and know the struggle was worth it because Letters From Jett was about to take flight.
In 2018 the Band released their first CD ”Heartbreaks and Hangovers” and Instantly hit the road to support what they call “the autobiography of Heath Molton.” Gunnar continues: “Every song on the first CD was written by Heath or co-written by him, and these songs are from his heart. I mean I can hear Heath’s soul in these songs.”
The band spent the better part of two years touring behind Heartbreaks and Hangovers and found themselves opening for many national acts, including The Outlaws, Artimus Pyle Band, Jefferson Starship, Melissa Etheridge, Sister Hazel, and the band America. Lucas tells us how this band is able to play alongside any band due to Letters From Jett’s diversity of styles: “We incorporated all of our personal influences that we grew up with and made it into one giant musical stew. We all come from different backgrounds and it shows in our music.” One reviewer of the first CD called the band “The Eagles without the coke”. Another went on to say “it’s just damn good music”.
February 2020 and the Band Releases its sophomore effort “Ghosts of the South”.
Heath says the title is in reference to our Southern Rock musical Heroes. There almost all gone now and once they are all we’ll have left is Ghosts of the South. Lucas states the band has a real affection for Southern music and it shows with how we approach our own version of Southern Rock, Country Rock. “On this CD we pushed the boundaries to the edges. We are hoping to always expand on what we do but try to keep it Letters From Jett. “
Fast forward to March of 2020 and the whole world takes a sharp left turn and the guys find themselves with cancellations of all their remaining shows for the year. Gunnar says “We hated that this happened but we know how important it is to be healthy and to keep everyone around us safe.”
According to Heath, the pandemic took the momentum from the band so we just figured it was best to be home with our families at this time and regroup when it’s safe. Lucas adds, "it’s tough when you release an album and 30 days later the world shuts down. We haven’t gotten a chance to play any of those songs live yet".
The guys are keeping busy, using their downtime to work on new material for a yet untitled 3rd album. They're thinking ahead to 2021 and beyond. The band’s future plans include a lengthy US tour to support "Ghosts of the South" and they have recently started working with 4W1 Agency to put together a UK/European tour in the not too distant future. Trace says it’s hard to sit back and wait but we’re planning on being ready when we’re able to hit the road and play.
So until then, be safe, kick back, turn up your favorite Letters From Jett songs, and we’ll see ya when we can.