Five Questions for Jason Page — Pokemon Theme Song Singer

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2024/02/07/five-questions-for-jason-page-pokemon-theme-song-singer/

You’ve probably heard Jason Paige sing before, even though you may not know his name.

Paige, 55, has sung background vocals for Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, and many other artists on The Art of McCartney (a Paul McCartney tribute album), plus the band Aerosmith, among others. He has also sung jingles on television commercials for products like Coca-Cola, Mountain Dew, Pepto-Bismol, and LEGO.

However, the Ron Paul-supporting singer is best known for singing the English version of the first theme song for the Pokemon anime series (Pokemon Theme).

Pokemon is the world’s largest media franchise. It has a television series that has aired since 1997 (1998 in the United States), plus video games, movies, apps, trading cards, manga (Japanese comic books and graphic novels), toys, and other merchandise.

In its first 25 seasons, the anime series focused on a 10-year-old Pokemon trainer named Ash Ketchum, who, along with his Pikachu, sets off to become a Pokemon Master. Pokemon are animals with special powers, often owned by trainers that have them battle with one another. The show’s central theme is friendship — including friendship between trainers and their Pokemon and friendship among trainers.

NewBostonPost interviewed Paige by telephone last month about his career, including Pokemon.

 

1.  One of the things you’re best known for is singing the original theme song for the English version of the Pokemon anime series. What was your first impression of Pokemon when you were introduced to it before it was brought to the States from Japan in 1998, and could you ever have envisioned the media franchise becoming as popular as it has?

The first impression of the Pokemon show when it came to the States was in a news article outlining the epileptic seizures it caused when it was rebroadcast on a news channel reporting on the first round of seizures (from the Dennō Senshi Porygon episode which never aired in the United States). So then the second news broadcast reported on that without rebroadcasting the harmful footage.

Then it was just a job that I got for Paradise Music with two writers and producers John Loeffler and John Siegler, who I had worked for before doing Domino’s Pizza delivery jingles and other jingles I had sung for them. As with most of the jobs and productions that came through these houses, we are envisioning the greatest possible success for everything that comes in. The manifestation is there for everything I do to give it my best like no one ever would.  [Laughter]

At the time, I was deep into a super success with the LEGOMania theme song that I wrote and performed on for New York Jam, another jingle house, that was associated with the Pokemon ‘2. B.A Master’ record as they produced the Viridian City song that I did. So LEGOMania was on multiple commercials on major advertising campaigns and one of the most successful jingles I’ve done to this day, and for a product that is still rivaled in terms of popularity only by Pokemon. So the imagination imagines great success, and it manifests, but it sometimes takes 25 years [laughter] or 90 years in the case of LEGO.

 

2.  The theme song you sang for Pokemon, which first was televised in the United States in 1998, talks about wanting to be the best Pokemon trainer ever (it opens with “I wanna be the very best like no one ever was”). It took 25 years, but in 2023, Ash, the show’s longtime protagonist, finally became a world champion in the anime series. Now, the series focuses on two new characters (Liko and Roy). What do you think of Ash and his Pikachu finally becoming world champs and the show shifting its focus to new characters?

I think it’s about time for Ash to get off the hormone blockers and grow up.  [Laughter]  He’s a 37-year-old man trapped in a 10-year-old’s body. I think it’s time for him to grow a beard and get a girlfriend, or boyfriend, or theyfriend, or whatever he identifies as, and go to Burning Man and have a drink, have a pint.

I think that there’s going to be a lot of interesting fan takes on his continued journey and his stunted journey. Some will imagine him staying him 10 or 11 years old forever, while others will imagine him growing up and discovering more Pokemon magic in yet-to-be-created Pokemon worlds. I believe that there’s a strong amount of fan creations that will take over this journey as our ability to create with AI and our own imagination the art and music and media and cartoons and voiceover and story, there won’t be as much of a reliance on centralized corporations like Pokemon to do the creating. There’s a massive world of original cards and a Pokemon game that takes the original card game and makes its own rules. There’s Pokemon events, Pokemon cosplay, Pokemon music, of which I’ve created quite a few songs, one of which I commemorate Ash’s last episode where I sing about how this will never be our last goodbye. It’s on YouTube, it’s getting a ton of hits, and people are leaving the most incredible comments, so I have created music outside of the Pokemon Company to reflect the series many times.

One such creation was done by a company called Nerd Out that put out a ‘rap up’ of seven different rappers that told the story of Ash and, then at the end, there’s a clip of me with a remade, reworked, and re-lyriced version of the theme song in a ballad sad version and it has millions of views. Once again, a testament to the fans and people’s unique individual love that allows them to create their own Pokemon journeys, and this is a great opportunity, Ash coming to an end, for people to do that.

 

3.  What’s the most memorable piece of Pokemon memorabilia that you’ve come across?

I love the Pokemon room greeter that was sold in Blockbuster Video in the heyday around 1999 and 2000. When you walk by it the first time, it goes “Pika!” When you walk by it a second time, it goes “Pikachu!” and the third time it goes “Gotta catch ’em all! Pokemon!” — which is incredible. There’s a Pikachu, Charmander, Squirtle, and Bulbasaur. They lined the stores of Blockbuster video, annoying everyone that walked in every single time. It’s a great item.

The song also appears on a C Watch, a plastic watch, which is really cool, and a couple of alarm clocks I just found. I had imagined there were more toys, and there are toys to be discovered that are now old, vintage items.

 

4.  You’ve attended many events, including fan conventions, where you’ve interacted with fans of your work, including Pokemon fans. What’s been your most memorable fan interaction or moment over the years?

I was just in the U.K.. A DJ named DJ Oblig got the Jason Paige autograph (tattooed) on his leg — gotta catch ’em all, Jason Paige. What an amazing lifelong commitment to fandom of the franchise and me specifically and directly, as it’s my autograph on his leg.

He was recently playing at an underground club, and he invited me to come sing the song, and although I thought it was such an alternative environment compared to where I normally perform the song — like Comic Cons and Pokemon card shows and stores — this underground club in very gritty Peckham, London had an enthusiastic response to the theme song. I felt like I was a drum and bass DJ star in this environment where I felt like I’d be quite an anomaly but it was right up the middle for these people who were between the ages of 20 and 40, loving the drum and bass music and then just singing along to the Pokemon theme song. It was really just incredible. I found out that this song has affected people in a much more profound way — not just Pokemon fans that go to Comic Con, and card shows, and watch cartoons — but drum and bass underground music lovers in a small little town near London are just as enthusiastic.

 

5.  We’re a Massachusetts-based publication, which means some of our readers are fans of Aerosmith. You sang background vocals for Aerosmith on the band’s Nine Lives Tour in the late 1990s. What was your favorite memory of working with lead singer Steven Tyler (who I lived a street over from growing up)?

He’s a great dude.

I think the most vivid memory is the first concert I went to in Hartford. I met him a couple of times before. My partner in jingles Russ Irwin, a keyboard player, was there, and he introduced me to them during his audition, actually. When I got to the event, he said, “Come on backstage. Steven and I are warming up.”

We basically warmed up together doing vocal exercises and I beatboxed during the vocal exercises, and Steven in 1998 had not really been exposed to much in the way of beatboxing. He was just mesmerized by my beatboxing ability, which wasn’t even that advanced. He said, “You gotta come on stage! You gotta do that!”

He ran into the dressing room and got the band together and told them “Here’s how it’s gonna go down, Jason is gonna come out,” and he’s telling them that I’m gonna beatbox with them. And he was just so excited about it.

I thought he was just spinning, and he wasn’t gonna do that. I can’t go out there in front of 20,000 people right now. This isn’t happening. And sure enough, I was over there on the side of the stage, and he had organized it, the sound guys knew, someone gave me a microphone, he came over, he pulled me out on stage right before that section in “Pink,” and we did it. It was incredible. It was the first time I was in front of 20,000 people in a live venue beatboxing through a massive sound system. It was great.

I subsequently did that and some other background appearances here and there over the next 10 years, wherever they were if I was in town. Sometimes they’d bring me in for recording sessions to beatbox. They did the Howard Stern Show, and that just resurfaced a couple of years ago, and Howard had the video and put it out. It was also put on a CD of “Pink” remixes.

A lot of the work I’ve done has been out for a while, but people don’t know about it because I’m not credited. I’m the most famous person you’ve never heard of.

 

Editor’s Note:  More information on Jason Paige is available on his web site www.jasonpaige.com.

 

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