Volume 1 Issue 2
Joan Jett Fan Club
How did the tour go with Aerosmith?
JJ: It was great. It was probably one of the easiest tours I've ever been on because we got along so well with Aerosmith and their crew. The traveling was easy because they have such a big show that we didn't have to travel more than a few hundred miles a night. As tours go, it was probably one of the easiest tours I've done. I had a blast.
How did your show with Aerosmith differ from the headlining gigs you did?
JJ: The opening show has a time limit of 45 minutes. I thought it was a good idea for the band and the fans to hear songs they might know. We basically did all our hits like "I Love Rock 'N' Roll," "I Hate Myself For Loving You," "Little Liar," "Love Hurts," "Dirty Deeds," "Do You Wanna Touch Me," "Crimson And Clover," and a few others. We did ten songs and that worked out to about 45 minutes. When we did the headlining show we put in various album cuts besides those ten hits from the opening show.
On the movie soundtrack, Days Of Thunder, there's a Joan Jett and the Blackhearts song called "Long Live The Night." How did you get involved with that project?
JJ: Some people approached us about wanting the band to be included in the soundtrack. They had this song that they were really interested in us doing. I took a listen to it and I thought it sounded really cool. We worked on it during the tour, because we were out with Aerosmith at the time. We rewrote some of the song and just did it. It was all done in Nashville and Memphis. It was a lot of fun.
Will You be playing any more shows this summer?
JJ: We've got a few shows in July, August and September. A lot of them are state fairs like Kansas, Montana, Wyoming and California. We'll be going to Sweden and Denmark for a week or two in August to do a couple of festivals there.
What are you doing right now?
JJ: Relaxing, and not much of anything except seeing a couple of Orioles' games and getting a bit of a tan. I'm getting myself all worked up for the next album - writing songs and putting down my ideas, both musical and lyrical.
Are you writing new material with anyone?
JJ: I'll be writing with Desmond Child again, and with Kenny and the band. I'll write with anyone who want to write rock and roll songs; ballsy rock and roll songs which narrows it down.
Who will be producing the new record?
JJ: Kenny will produce it.
Kenny's produced quite a bit of your material, does he have a great effect on your performance in the studio?
JJ: Yeah, in the sense that he makes me very comfortable. I've been working with Kenny for ten years now. When I go into the studio, even if I'm nervous about a certain song or expressing my feelings, I'm not as uptight as I would be with some guy or girl that I don't know. Because I know Kenny and he's my best friend, I don't always think of him as my producer. He's my friend, therefore if I'm mentally and physically comfortable in the studio, I can get through just about anything.
Since Kenny knows you so well, do you feel his producing may stagnate you?
JJ: No, because I don't think anybody else does what we do. To stagnate you've got to stay in the same place and I don't see us staying in the same place. Basically it's the same kind of music - three chord rock and roll. I feel we're one of the few bands that still do that and if that's stagnation, let me stagnate.
Do you feel heavy pressure to sell as many copies with your next album as your previous ones?
JJ: When it comes down to it, no - not at all. Most people would say, 'Joan what are you talking about?' You can't approach making a record like that. Of course I want songs that I think could be hits, but I want songs that I can feel and believe in. Songs that I can believe in the lyrics and the music. If the album becomes a hit or we have a hit single form the album, that's great, but I have to write the music for myself, and for my fans. It's important to go out and perform live because that's the main thing. I know I've said this before, but there's no real ulterior motive to me. I'd like to sell as many records as before and it would be great to have a platinum record, but I'm not going to die if it doesn't happen. It's not an ego thing to me.
Does the business end of rock and roll ever interfere with your creative attitude?
JJ: No. I know a lot about the business aspect, but I try not to get too involved because it makes me crazy. That's why I have Kenny and business people around me so they can deal with the aggravation. A lot of stuff I really don't need to know about. On a gossip level I like to know everything, but a lot of that stuff would upset me. I'd get really pissed and I'm sure it would interfere with my creative flow. Sometimes it helps, but I prefer not to know it all. The stuff I need to know, I know and nobody keeps anything from me.
Is there any lesson you've learned that you wish you knew a few years ago?
JJ: I'm sure I've learned many lessons. One thing that I haven't learned is to have patience. I'm still really impatient, and very reactionary. Over the years I've learned to take everything with a grain of salt or count to ten before I freak out. I wasn't like that a few years ago. If I felt something, I said it right away or screamed it. Now, I've gotten a little - and when I say a little, I do mean a little - bit more patient. I really wish I had more patience than I do.
Do you consider yourself a rock star?
JJ: I don't consider myself a rock star. People recognize me and I'm in a band, but I don't consider myself a star in the Hollywood tradition of going to parties or waving to people. I don't really try to analyze it. I feel normal and I don't feel anymore special than anyone else. I just play guitar. I'm a bit taken back when people approach me like a rock star. I mean if I come off as a complete human being, why don't people come back to me the same way? I think about that quite a bit.
What would be the best way for a fan to approach you?
JJ: Just come up and say 'Hi Joan, I love your music. If it's not too much of a hassle, could I have an autograph.' Some people are so cool and will come up and ask for an autograph if it's not too much trouble. It's those people I want to do anything for. I'll sign as many things as they want, but when they come expecting, like it's my job because I'm in a band, then they're way off base. Then they try to sell me guilt and ask if I'm a rock star, I'm just a human being who deserves to be treated like a human being. It's amazing to me. I'm not trying to be rude, but after 15 years of people being rude to me, eventually I have to say, 'Give me a break.' I'm not saying fuck off, just don't go peeking in my hotel room windows, don't go calling all the hotel rooms, and don't go hanging out in my yard at my house waiting for me to walk the dog. All I'm asking is that people be human to a human being.
Is there anything you take for granted now that you didn't when you first became a musician?
JJ: I used to take for granted being unrecognizable. You take it for granted and then suddenly you realize there's a point where you can't. There's always people who are cool and who respect your privacy. I'm not trying to be like a stuck up rock star, asshole or anything like that, but everybody needs their privacy. I don't appreciate it when people come banging on my hotel room door at 3:00 AM and asking if there's a party going on. I don't like people coming out to my house. This is my house and I'm on vacation. It's not fair. I really am starting to take big time offense to being hassled because of people who don't seem to understand. They get offended, and pissed at me. They say, 'What are you a rock star?' Hey, wait one second, I signed 750 autographs for them and they're going to call me a rock star? I don't need that kind of attitude. I really feel that way.
When you're successful and comfortable, how do you keep that on the edge hunger you had in the beginning?
JJ: Basically by looking around at my "peers." I use that term very loosely. So much of the music industry, the bands, and what's so called rock and roll today is bullshit to me. Ninety nine percent of everything is so corporate. Everybody had a leather jacket - soul artists, pop artists, jazz artists and everyone has their leather jackets for their cool rock and roll night out. To me that's very offensive. I don't like that. It's sacred to me. There are so many bands out their that are successful that wear leather jackets. They pose in Circus, Creem, RIP and all the magazines with the attitude of 'hey, look at us.' It's so full of shit. They just want the adulation, the money and to get laid. They don't want to go out and work their asses off in clubs throughout the country. It really bugs me and that's what keeps me fired up. I see so many bands claiming to be real when they're not. I just hope that the fans realize that. That's what keeps me fired up to come up with another album. Even now, I know what people are saying. The don't have to say it to my face. After The Hit List, people were saying, 'Oh Joan must not be able to write songs anymore.' So I can't wait to show them with the next record. It's little things like that where people are trying to keep me in a certain place and think they've heard enough from Joan Jett. I want people who feel like that to know that they haven't heard enough from me.
What's ahead? What's left to accomplish?
JJ: That's a good question. I could sit here and say that I want to sell as many records and be as rich as Madonna or Prince, but that's not the truth. I just want to be happy at what I'm doing now. I'm trying to live in the present and not think too much about the future. I don't want to think about what I'm going to do when I stop playing the guitar. There's no reason for me to think about that now. That would make me crazy. I'm just thinking about the next couple of months with the new record and tour. That keeps me happy.
Any parting message to the fans from you and the band?
JJ: I love the fans and I can't wait to get back on the road to see them.
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