Jonathan Tiersten (born August 11, 1965) is an American actor and singer, who is mostly known for his role as Ricky in the 1983 cult classic Sleepaway Camp. He reprised the role in the 2008 sequel Return to Sleepaway Camp. Tiersten also starred in the 2012 film The Perfect House in which he played a serial killer named John Doesy and the upcoming (as of May 2014) thriller film Redemption which co-stars George Loros (Buffalo Ray Curto from The Sopranos) and Meredith Ostrom (Love Actually). In between acting Jonathan took to music, fronting a number of bands, mostly based out of the Boulder, Colorado area. Tiersten is currently the lead singer of his own band, Ten Tiers. Tiersten also composed the theme song for The Perfect House and contributed to the soundtrack of Redemption. Tiersten’s 2011 EP We’ll See, released by Edward Records, is his most critically acclaimed album to date, finishing third in Magnet magazine’s most anticipated albums list.
Interview with Jonathan Tiersten
CHRISTA: When you made the movie Sleepaway Camp, did you ever think that the movie would become as immortalized as it was?
JONATHAN: We knew something special was going on. There was a vibe there. I think Felissa and I had a lot to do with that. We have very infectious personalities. Did I think it would be this big? I never guess right on anything about the future so this is probably as close as I have ever gotten.
CHRISTA: What kind of reactions from people have you gotten from having been one of the stars of a cult classic?
JONATHAN: 100% love and admiration. People are so incredibly nice and cool. I have become great friends with people who started out as fans.
CHRISTA: How close have you remained to your costars in not only Sleepaway Camp but other films you have done as well?
JONATHAN: Felissa and I are family. We fight, we love, we hurt each other but in the end we are stuck with each other. She is the one I am close to. The only one.
CHRISTA: You have always had a passion for music from a young age. Who would you say that your musical influences are?
JONATHAN: My original musical influences were all over the place. The one thing I really gravitated towards is singing. I just was amazed and enthralled by vocalists from Liza Minelli to Robert Plant. I also grew up playing classical French Horn. I saw many concerts and operas in NYC growing up. My main influences are still classic rock bands. Yes, Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, The Beatles.
CHRISTA: Do you have more of a passion for music or acting or is it about equal and if you could only pick one career to continue, which one do you feel you would choose to do for the rest of your life?
JONATHAN: Music is something that is part of the core of my being. Acting is something I am really good at and love, but it is no contest.
CHRISTA: What type of style would you say that your band has and how do you feel you are different from other artists or bands in your genre?
JONATHAN: I think my music is hard to define. It hearkens back to a time when bands didn’t have to be classified. I like to play acoustic solo guitar and then rock hard in the same show.
CHRISTA: What kind of preparation do you do before playing a show or acting in a part?
JONATHAN: Playing a show I will, generally, try and find some time for a little quiet meditation. Acting is a whole other ball of wax. It is a ton of work. Every role is different. For John Doesy (The Perfect House) I did a lot of physical warm ups. I was swinging sledge hammers and doing pull ups off of basement girders. I needed to be in touch with my body for that role and that was the method I used. So much of John Doesy was how he moved. I also embodied a mosquito to have the fluidity of flying but also the quick strike of a killer.
CHRISTA: What do you hope to contribute to the musical world?
JONATHAN: As much as I can. I just want people to be listening to my songs long after I am tits up.
CHRISTA: What are the hardest obstacles you’ve had to overcome in the world of acting as well as music?
JONATHAN: People who lie to you and my own insecurities.
CHRISTA: Do you find that having both an acting career and a musical career is hard to juggle and how to you manage mixing both into your life?
JONATHAN: It can be. I often feel like I am neglecting one or the other, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. What is really fun, now, is that I am starting to do more soundtrack work so the two careers can work in harmony, if you will.
CHRISTA: Which musical acts (past or present) do you think would make a great concert for fans if you teamed up with?
JONATHAN: CSN, Van Morrison, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie.
CHRISTA: Amongst the many costars in films you’ve worked with, which of them have you felt you’ve had the best on screen chemistry with?
JONATHAN: Felissa and Mike Kellin, Frank Whaley and Holly Greene.
CHRISTA: Besides acting and music, what are some of your other passions or interests in life?
JONATHAN: I exercise like a fanatic. I like to compete against people half my age and beat them. I play tennis against a pro at my club. I have run several marathons (my best is 3:05). My other favorites are beer and food. I love good beer and I love to cook! Mostly I like to spend time hanging out with my family and friends barbecuing and listening to or playing music. My son and wife are my best friends!
CHRISTA: What do you think that people should know about you as not only a professional in your careers but as a person in general?
JONATHAN: I try very hard to say what I mean and mean what I say and I am not afraid to admit I am wrong. It isn’t easy but I am trying.
CHRISTA: What projects do you have coming up where your fans can see or hear you in?
JONATHAN: The Perfect House comes out on Blu-Ray on July 22nd. I shoot ‘Reservoir’ (with Felissa and Frank Sorrentino) in August. I am also doing ‘Sugar’ (with Alice Ripley) in August. I did two songs for the soundtrack of the new ‘Plan 9’ remake which is about to go into full distribution. I did five songs in the upcoming feature ‘Sickle’. I am finishing a new album, ‘Family’ with my songwriting partner Mitch Dezwarte I am doing Fantom Fest in Penn. in October and between now and then some live shows.