Jon Fuller didn’t go into 2021 expecting to record a full-length album. Long-hauling from a covid-19 infection that started in March 2020 (he jokes, “I was on the vanguard for the first and last time in my life”) and trying to stay busy, he reached out to his friend Dan Kleederman (Grand Kid, Bartees Strange) to see if he’d be interested in working together on a few songs.
Those “few songs” quickly became When Did You Get So Damn Scared, Jon’s most ambitious and honest work to date.The 12 songs that comprise the album run the gamut from the personal (“Stepping Stone,” which chronicles an early adolescent same-sex crush and the dizzying heights and overwhelming lows it entailed) to the political (“Burn It Down,” a searing indictment of the rise of authoritarian strongmen around the world over the past decade), and each song is buoyed by the musical contributions of Dan Kleederman (guitar, production), Derek Swink (drums) and Dillon Garrett (bass). Though the album was recorded fully virtually, with each musician sending in their parts from their various homes, the result is still a warm, live sound.
Lyrically, these songs pull no punches. “I wouldn’t say it’s a divisive record, but I definitely had a tendency in past albums — though I still stand fully behind them — to go maybe 80% of the way to the full truth I was hoping to express,” Jon shares. No trace of that reticence is to be found on Scared, which contains lines like “Do you remember when we roomed together that one summer/it was the only perk of being in the closet in 2003” (Stepping Stone) and “Keep the fundies entertained while you get another NDA signed for your mistress’s abortion” (Burn It Down). “To be honest, the nice Midwestern boy in me was a little nervous getting these songs ready to be put out into the world, but that’s a sign that they’re songs worth hearing.”
Jon’s previous two albums, The Art of Denial and Skipping Away from Dissonance, received airplay on independent and college radio stations and were both featured on WVIA-FM’s end-of-year Best Of lists. Jon also was a 2020 Just Plain Folks first prize winner in the “Best Modern Rock Song” category for the song “Gathering Tide,” and his music was licensed for promotional materials for the Broadway show Peter and the Starcatcher.