‘Don’t steal my chips’: YSU student growing in the music industry

Jarrett Walters jamming out with his music. Photo courtesy of Jarrett Walters

By Kyle Wills

Jarrett Walters first became interested in music at the age of 4 while watching and listening to his dad play. Growing up, the communication and media studies major looked up to his father, who also is a musician.

When the junior isn’t focusing on studies at Youngstown State University, he’s playing and creating music for himself and his bands, JW & The Convenience Band and East 9th.

“My dad was sitting in the living room playing bass and I saw him playing. I was like, ‘Oh, that I feel like I could do. Let me give it a try.’ He jokingly was like, ‘Yeah, sure, let’s see,’ and then I played exactly what he played back at him at 4 years old. From that point on he was like ‘Oh we have something going on here,’” Walters said.

His father, Jerry, was able to recollect his son’s memory and believes his family’s musical background made it easy for Jarrett to learn quickly.

“We were more or less just playing around and he just picked it up. I thought since I played and my wife’s brother played — there was something there within his bloodline,” he said.

Walters started playing bass. When he was seven, he received his first drum set. His dad bought the drums at a neighbor’s garage sale for $50. Walters said his love for drumming only grew by being a percussionist in the concert and marching bands at Mineral Ridge.

“[In] middle school band, I initially wanted to play tuba, but we had enough people in the tuba section. They put me in percussion, which was my second choice, and that just further instilled a life of drumming for me,” he said. “Now, I freelance to play drum set for musicals and things like that. 

“[It’s] to the point where I’ve started directing other high school age, middle school age drummers and high school marching band drum lines.”

Walters first started gigging for his band East 9th when he was 14. Now that he’s 21, the band is still going strong.

“We play all over Youngstown, we’ve gone to Cleveland, we’ve gone to Akron, we’ve gone to Columbus, we’ve branched into Pittsburgh a little bit,” he said. 

Walters also enjoys writing music. He writes music for both his bands, as well as for his solo projects.

“I’ve been one of the creative minds behind [East 9th] for the last five, six years, and it’s just been a really fun outlet for me.”

What gave him the creative outlet to write music was the first song he wrote about barbeque chips when he was young.

“The first song I ever wrote, I wrote it when I was about 8 or 9 years old, is a song called ‘Don’t steal my chips,’’’ said Walters. “I wrote it as I was just sitting there eating a bowl of barbecue chips and I was just worried about someone stealing my chips.”

In the future, he’d like to release an extended play, EP, that’s different from the rock his band produces.

“I want to do a stripped down more Jason Mraz style, acoustic like EP almost, because the days of the full album are well behind the music industry. Everyone’s relied on these singles being released now to get quick attention,” said Walters. 

Despite the stories of ego issues within bands, Walters is grateful that he has yet to experience those situations in his young music career.

“There’s never been an ego issue. There’s never been someone who’s been a problem. We’ve always had a collective mindset, which is rare,” he said. “I’m grateful for the people that I’m around and the people that I get to play music with.”

To listen to Jarrett Walters, JW & The Convenience Band and East 9th, search for them on Spotify or iTunes.