“I’ve always been a little bit crazy” is the first line of the Letters from Jett song Never Get Lost and how Heath Molton (Lead Vocals and Rhythm Guitar) describes his approach to the music industry. Heath is offered numerous management and record deals, yet turns them 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, we’re not that worried about it.”
Letters from Jett is a southern rock band that emerged from the ashes of other bands left along the roadside. The individual band members have quite a long history of musical endeavors. The band consists of singer Molton, drummer (and Heath’s 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. Heath 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 almost 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 were 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 still in school and 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 faring 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. Gunnar recalls, “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.” Gunnar continues, “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 Luke Peterson.
Luke was playing in a Jimmy Buffet cover band when he received a call to try out for the band. Luke tells the story: “I had been playing in cover bands, actually mostly tribute bands. I was in a Bob Seger, Willie Nelson, and Jimmy Buffet tribute band. 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 happens.” 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 in 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 there sights on reproducing live what they have committed to Disc.
After years of personal struggle and Heartbreaks and Hangovers of there 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.
The Band plans on spending the end of 2018 and all of 2019 on the road promoting the CD so be sure to catch them when they come to your town!!!!