Jason Achilles Mezilis is the guitarist of LA/NY-based rock band Owl, whose third album – the propulsive and powerful Things You Can’t See dropped July 28. Check out Owl’s Things You Can’t See album teaser. Here are some of Jason’s favorite places in the country…
My favorite place in the U.S. to visit is…Northern Michigan, where I used to live when I was a kid…it’s a secret paradise, so beautiful up there, and all the food is local-grown. I have lots of family there with whom I am very close. It’s a great place to escape to, and the polar opposite of my normal (and pretty crazy) life in LA, or of course the constant [welcome] insanity of traveling on tour with a band.
The first thing I do when I go to…Northern Michigan…is I go to…The lake. Straight in, doesn’t matter what time my flight arrives, if it’s mid-afternoon or 10pm. In the lake.
Everyone should visit…Yosemite National Park…at least once because it really, hands down is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful things you will ever see in nature. When you make the drive in to the valley, you come around that one corner where you first get the full look and you have to literally be dead inside not to have it lift your soul. Be sure to make reservations ahead, though! And don’t leave food out, they aren’t kidding about the bears.
Los Angeles…is a pleasant surprise…because it gets a bad rap for some of the personalities you might encounter. And to be fair it’s a stereotype which is not completely lacking in foundation. That being said, it’s an incredible city to visit, literally everything you can think of is there for the taking, or enjoyment thereof. And as a place to live, it’s fantastic for exactly that. I like to think of Los Angeles as this enormous toolbox with everything I might need inside it.
I’ve met, worked with, had amazing relationships with great people there. I met Owl frontman Chris Wyse there years ago through a mutual friend, and it eventually led to this band. I’ve been able to gather all the tools over the years to put together a great, fully functioning analog recording studio – Organic Audio Recorders -and some of those tools are not easy to find, these days! But it’s all there. It’s kind of like Yoda’s cave on Dagobah (haha) in that what you encounter there is directly proportional to what you take with you, in terms of attitude, work ethic, and expectations. It’s a magical place.
My favorite restaurant in the U.S. is…still up for grabs, I’ve been conducting a personal survey over the past few years of the best Greek restaurants around, but nothing has come out a clear winner yet. Best cheese steak however is a clear first with Amato’s Cheese Steaks in San Jose, CA (sorry, Philly)
The best place to find…avgolemono soup (egg lemon & chicken)…is at Ulysses Voyage at The Grove, in Los Angeles. My father is a fantastic cook, and this is the closest I’ve found Stateside to a genuine home-cooked version of this very tasty Greek dish. Anyone I’ve ever taken there (including my father) has agreed they’ve got this one down.
Some great towns people may not know about that they should visit are…a lot of the small coastal towns on the incredible drive up the Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay Area and hit spots like Carmel and Monterey. Monterey Bay is also home to the aptly-named Monterey Bay Aquarium (famously used as a film location for Star Trek IV, for you fellow sci-fi nerds out there) and it’s an amazing place, particularly if you have a family to entertain for a day. Also a great trip / drive for a couple, young or old – lots of great places to get a nice meal, shopping, beaches everywhere and that beautiful western coastline the whole way. You can easily spend a few days making that trek, stopping in all these little spots, and you’ll never get tired of it.
Pilot…is a great truck stop. It’s on the 5 freeway about halfway between SF and LA and I love this place because it’s the cheapest gas you can find for 100 miles. It’s as simple as that!
My favorite airport in the U.S. is…Chicago O’Hare because they have this cool little wine bar (which I can’t recall the name of) somewhere in the epicenter of all that crazy crisscross of foot traffic, that has a self-playing piano there. The last time I was through I had a few hours to kill and they were kind enough to let me sit in, unplug that thing, and entertain folks for a while with some ragtime fun. A great way to find yourself with a few glasses of wine gratis!