Joan Jett and The Blackhearts Bad Reputation Nation

Joan Jett Interview

Info: This is a selected reprint of an interview Vermi did with Joan Jett in 1994 for a German radio station. All rights reserved.

Vermi: Is Joan Jett your real name or stagename?

Joan: It's my real name.

Vermi: You are always working with The Blackhearts. Who are The Blackhearts and how did you meet them?

Joan: The Blackhearts are Thommy Price on drums, Kenny Aaronson on bass and Tony Bruno on guitar. I met them on auditioning people. I looked for people with whom I got along and with whom I musically worked well with. These are the guys with whom I work really really well with. We really have a good time on stage.

Vermi: Why did you choose the name Blackhearts for the band?

Joan: It's a kind of silly reason. We looked for a name that you could put like a graffiti on a wall. You just write Blackhearts with a black magic marker and say that your band was there. Since then I've actually learned that Blackhearts has a meaning. In Jamaica a blackhearted person is a loner. I found that very interesting.

Vermi: Are you a blackheart?

Joan: Sometimes, yeah. I think everybody has moments when they prefer to be alone and not in a crowd of people. Especially since I've spent a lot of time in a crowd of people, I find it nice to be alone once in a while.

Vermi: In former times you were a member of The Runaways. What do you think about that time now?

Joan: It was a really really hard time. It was rough to be a teenager who was called all these horrible names for absolutely no reason, just because you played guitar, it just didn't make sense to me. It was very hurtful. I'm just trying to rock'n'roll and not doing anything bad. And I don't know why people reacted so negatively. I thought it was one of the coolest things in the world to see teenage girls play sweaty rock'n'roll. I don't know, I guess my expectations were completely off base.

Vermi: Have you got any contacts with the other Ex-Runaways like Lita Ford or Michael Steele?

Joan: I've seen all the other girls all the years, but not Lita Ford since a few years, and you know we all get along fine.

Vermi: Coming to your new album Pure and simple. In your song "Light Of Day" you sing 'I watch my generation die, I watch the heads of nations lie'. Are you rather pessimistic about the worlds future?

Joan: Sometimes very much. It's very scary when you look around and see what's going on. Most people in the world don't want war, don't wanna fight, don't want hate. They want to get along and want what's right and good, but there's so much basic corruption and things that are going on everywhere on any level. I wonder sometimes if we're gonna get it all together, if we can change things if we try, but people often think: we've got such big problems, how can we overcome them. We can make things better, if we just try. It's getting to a serious level and it's getting to a point where it's pushing in on my life. That may sound selfish, but it's getting to a point where you can't ignore it. The pollution, the crime, the hatred. It's about to make sure that you try to better yourself as a person. To try to fight with people and make a difference. It is just little things like that, which become bigger and that's a good karma.

Vermi: If you could change on thing in the world, what would that be?

Joan: That's a tough one. I could change one thing...that there was more love in the world than hate.

Vermi: Are you an "Activity Grrrl"?

Joan: Well, I'm becoming more and more one, yeah. I didn't have a rgular typical childhood, you know I didn't finish high-school. I took a special test to get out early. I didn't go to college and things like that. I was in a band. You know, I wouldn't do anything bad. The Runaways had such a bad reputation. Instead of listening to our music the people talked about sex and taking our clothes off in the show and stupid things like that. When you're seventeen, that of course sets you off. Everybody seems to have an image about what they think I am. What a mean person I am, like I'm gonna beat you up or something like that.

Vermi: On Pure And Simple you worked with L7 and Babes in Toyland. How did you come to work with them and how did you like the work?

Joan: By being a fan of them. We were hanging around and talking after we saw Bikini Kill. L7 performed afterwards and Babes In Toyland. It just happened that way. I produced three songs for Bikini Kill in March 1993 and we were in the middle of producing Pure And Simple. We just banged around and knocked a song out. It was really a lot of fun to work with women again. I had a really good time.

Vermi: Will you go to promote Pure and simple?

Joan: Oh yes, we've been on the road for seven months now. Officially it started more around May and June, when the album came out over here. We plan to tour around the world in 1995. When we're around to play in Germany, I hope that you all come around, because we know that you are a great audience. We've been to Germany before and I'm looking forward to it.

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