The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion is back with their first album in eight years, Meat and Bone. The band is back on the road to promote the new album, and they are coming to Seattle on November 13th, with a show at the Crocodile. Tickets available here, $15 + fees.Â CultureMob had a chance to catch up with guitarist Judah Bauer via telephone from the road in-between between sound check and performance.
Tom Mohrman: How is it being in JSBX now, compared to the 90’s?
Judah Bauer: We’re all a bit more diplomatic. The cruelty level has been dialed down. You know how it is when brothers fight. Everyone kind of knows their role. A younger earlier band would have gone down some dead ends. Sometimes there are too many â€œotherâ€ people around. Not much else has changed.
TM: What about the music that inspires you? Has it been the same all along?
JB: Yeah pretty much. I think when — for me anyway — when you spend too much time on the road and you get blasted by music, it’s hard to â€œlistenâ€ to music. Then not doing the Blues Explosion for those years, I actually started listening to music. I kind of just went back to the old stuff that I always listened to — kind of to see if it held up. Some pretty good, some diidn’t, but I think going back and listening to stuff from the past had an influence on this record. That would be like Link Wray, and Black Flag… the Stooges. Kind of funny stuff too, you know, like Dead Kennedys. There’s something kind of cool and kind of funny about bands like that.
TM: Didn’t you guys do something with Weird Al Yankovic?
JB: Yeah we did that. He did a video for us called â€˜Wail’ — that was after we met him… I don’t know how we met him, I think he just came to a show. He came out for a song and did an accordion solo. It was the first time I saw people do a triple-take. Everyone was like, â€œthat’s fuckin’ Weird Al!â€ I don’t know if it worked or not. That’s more Russell’s thing. [Drummer Russell Simins] You only get one vote, so not everything’s up my alley.
TM: Has your songwriting process changed?
JB: That’s exactly the same… It’s just jamming. Anyone can start a song, everyone comes up with their parts. Maybe for a few songs here and there on the first record, or a song like â€˜Shirt Jac’ — otherwise everything else is written as a collective. It’s not always music. It could be conversations, talking about things. Like â€˜Sweat’ — it’s an opinion we had about current music. You know, how current bands don’t sweat, and that led into a theme for a song. It’s just Rock & Roll, or is it Art Punk? I can’t remember which band we were. Back in the day we were more Art Punk, now we’re more Rock & Roll, but there’s not much to it. You sort of throw shit at the wall and whatever’s sticking the next day…
TM: JSBX has worked with a number of different producers over the years. How was your experience with say, Dan the Automator as compared with DJ Shadow?
JB: Dan was kind of looking for a hit. He knew what kind of band we were… not my favorite M.O., but when you’ve been doing record after record you get this impulse to try things different. Some bands can do that, and do it well, and some bands can’t. But if I had to do that, he’d probably be the guy to do that with. He had good suggestions. DJ Shadow was fun, because he was so oblique all the time. And obscure — like he never wanted to be too clear about what it is he wanted you to do, and I think he had some theories. That was producing like Pollock would paint, whereas Dan the Automator was a kind of an indie world-building thing.
Meat and Bone is JSBX distilled to its pure form. This is three vetran rockers — or art punks, coming back to sneer at Jack White, the Black Keys, and the like. They are back to reclaim their turf, and proclaim the the Blues are number one. Check out the latest JSBX video, the first single from the new album, ‘Black Mold’, and then get your tickets for the show at the Croc.