First we asked Jason to play his hit "Evening News" with this mini-piano-mike-combo we brought to the studio. As you can see above, he gamely tried to play the song on the shrunken instrument.
Then, during our interview, he shared with us an epic story about his treasured Fender guitar that was way too long for the magazine, but way too good to leave out. So here it is: the legendary Jason Lo Guitar Story.
“When my business partner left Fat Boys Records, I opened up the books and we were in the red to the tune of about RM300,000—with no business model. This was scary and daunting. Suppliers would call me every single day.
“I clearly remember that one day, Zaid (my only employee) called me and said, ‘The electricity got cut.’ S**t, man. I told him to look around the studio and to find something to sell. Zaid tells me he’ll call me back. I thought he’d say something like a computer, an extra amplifier or whatever. He calls and says, ‘Your guitar.’
“I had two guitars: a Fender Stratocaster, which is my baby, and a Fender Telecaster, which is a great guitar—American deluxe, beautiful, black. But this guitar was signed by Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Eric Johnson when I was backstage with them at Rentak Asia. It was also signed by Steve Morse, the guitarist for Deep Purple, when I opened for them in Sepang. I thought, okay, I spent about RM5,000 on this guitar; together with the signatures, I guess it’s worth about nine grand. So I told Zaid that we’ll sell it at Cash Convertors in Kelana Jaya—stupidest decision of my life. I didn’t think of eBay but I wanted the cash that badly.
“So we got there, but I couldn’t go in. I said, ‘Zaid, I’m a superstar. How can I go in? If I go in, people will see me. They’ll say, “Lo what are you doing here? Lo, what happened?”
“Anyway, Zaid walks in and then comes out with the guitar. He tells me to leave. I asked him what’s wrong. He tells me to go. ‘No, what’s wrong?’ He says they won’t give nine grand for it—they’ll give 900.
“I was pissed. I was in a rage. I yelled, ‘GO IN THERE AND SELL IT. I DON’T WANT TO SEE THAT GUITAR ANYMORE.’
“He went in and it rained. I swear it rained only on my car. I sat in the car and it rained, and I started crying. I cried my eyes off. I don’t know how I got to this position. Too proud to go to my dad. I had to make it on my own. Zaid came back, and I wiped my tears.
“I said to Zaid, ‘Here’s RM200 to pay the electricity; here’s RM200 to pay the phone, just in case it gets cut; RM300 is for you, Zaid, because you have not been paid (I didn’t know what he was doing with me. He wanted me to produce his album, that’s what it was).’ With the last RM200, I told him that we’re going to Subang Jaya for a buffet.
“We rock up to the Subang Sheraton hotel, and the guy there says, ‘Hi Lo.’ I reply, ‘Dude, it’s 5.45PM and I want to eat buffet. But he says the buffet doesn’t open until 6PM. I remember saying, ‘Don’t f**k with me today. I’ve had a bad day.’ He looks at the RM200 in my hand—the buffet actually cost RM99++—. I just said, ‘C’mon man.’ He could see tears in my eyes. He just took my money and said, ‘Okay. ’ Zaid and I went in and we whacked that buffet. We ate like kings.
“Somehow, after that experience, some other things happened. Things got better.”
Interviewed by Eugene Phua. Videographer: Julien Bernstein.