Singer-songwriter Jack Johnson, who performed at Bonnaroo this past weekend in lieu of Mumford & Sons after the band was forced to pull out following bassist Ted Dwanes’ hospitalization, spoke with Chicago station WXRT (a Radio.com station) before taking the stage Saturday night (June 15) for a hit-filled performance that came together in less than 48 hours. The exclusive interview, which you can hear the on-air audio from here, covered a wide range of topics including Johnson’s upcoming new album, From Here to Now to You, due for release September 17.
Related: Bonnaroo 2013 Photo Gallery
“I go for months without writing, and then I’ll write a bunch of songs in a few weeks sometimes. Once I have enough songs around, that’s usually when we kind of make a few phone calls and say let’s try to do one of these again,” Johnson explained to WXRT’s Marty Lennartz regarding his songwriting process leading up to the recording of a new album.
“My wife is kind of the one who tells me — that’s her job, to tell me what to do,” Johnson deadpanned about his latest batch of songs. “She’s always part of the writing process. We met when we were 18 years old. The first songs I ever tried to write, she was my first ear that I would play them to. She always had better taste and was smarter than I was, so I’ve always trusted her. If she told me she liked a song, it was cool.”
Recording the new album in his own Mango Tree Studio in Hawaii (“When you’re there, it’s just a two-car garage. The photos probably do it more justice. The outside is really nice…My brother and I built it”), Johnson explained how From Here to Now to You is a much mellower affair than his last album, To the Sea, which was powered by the decided presence of electric guitars in the mix.
“I had to get my rock out before I turned 40,” Johnson laughed in regards to the plugged-in aspect of To the Sea. “I used to be in a punk rock cover band in high school. We did all Minor Threat, Fugazi, and Bad Religion covers.
“There’s actually one song on this record called ‘Tape Deck,’ and it’s all about our first band, Limber Chicken,” Johnson elaborated. “It’s the story of that band, how we got our instruments, practicing and stuff. It’s funny, because we recorded it on a nylon string acoustic (guitar) and an upright bass and a little hand drum. It’s the most un-punk thing you’ve ever heard. It’s pretty funny. As an 18-year-old, I would’ve just hated me for doing it. The lamest 38-year-old thing to do.”