(October 17, 2007)
Q: Hey JJ, how have you been?
A: I have been everything. Today I’m great.
Q: Can you give a short introduction of yourself and your music?
A: I think I play rock and roll music. I like to write catchy songs and play them in front of people. My grandparents were communists.
Q: You released Uphill To Purgatory in the US & Someone Else’s Problem in the UK. How come you released two similar albums with two different album titles? Why not just release the same album in both places?
A: Seems silly doesn’t it?? Well, the label here in the UK wanted to take 3 songs from my first US release (500 moments) and put them on Uphill To Purgatory. Plus they didn’t like the title Uphill To Purgatory so we just called it Someone Else’s Problem. It’s basically just a UK release. I have a new EP that will be out (everywhere) in early 2008.
Q: When you are writing songs, do you usually start with the words or with the music?
A: I start with an idea. Usually right as I’m waking up because my thinking hasn’t been distracted, polluted or misdirected yet.
Q: Should people pay more attentions to lyrics, in general, or do you think people actually do pay a lot of attention to lyrics?
A: I wouldn’t want to tell people what to do. They have enough people telling them what they should do. I like lyrics.
Q: Who would you consider the biggest influences on your song writing & sound?
A: There is no one person. I tend to gravitate towards the songwriting masters of each musical era.
Q: How do you feel about cover songs? And are there songs that no one should cover?
A: I’m not against cover songs. If there is nothing interesting about a cover version, why bother? Cover songs make some audiences feel more comfortable. They like familiarity. Me personally, I like different takes on the same song. Listen to Etta James‘ live version of “Take it to the Limit” (listen: Etta James / Eagles) (The Eagles). That’s how a cover song should be played.
Q: Can you name certain moments in your career that are key moments for where you are now?
A: There are so many. Basically, the people I meet either inspire my writing, or lead me to another place on the planet.
Q: If you would not be a musician, what would you want to be doing for a living?
A: I like history. Or maybe a DJ on a free form radio station in Monaco. I’d like to help people acquire affordable alternative energy sources (solar panels, etc). Film producer?
Q: If you could perform anywhere in the world, where would you want to perform, and why?
A: Madison Square Garden, NYC. Because it’s THE classic concert arena. Boring answer, but it’s the truth.
Q: What is the best thing about being a musician and what is the worst thing about being a musician?
A: The best thing about being a musician is the moment where time gets suspended. For example, a performance connects with an audience and makes them forget about what happened earlier that day or what they have to do tomorrow. Or right when a song is being written…very fufilling.
The worst thing is the music business. For a detailed answer, see Jimi Hendrix.
Q: If you could pick any one band or artist that you could tour with, who would it be? And why?
A: Bob Dylan. Because he’s Bob Dylan.
Q: Okay a few random questions now.
Q: Day or night?
Q: Club venue or arena venue?
A: Just happy to be playing anywhere.
Q: CDs or digital music?
Thank you JJ for taking the time to do this interview!