Joan Jett and The Blackhearts Bad Reputation Nation

Volume 2 Issue 1

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Notorious - In Stores August 20th!!!!

What's been going on with the band the last few months?

JJ: We went in the studio once we returned from Malaysia in January and we worked on the album until it was completed at the end of June. We were in the studio everyday - all day long. Before we went to the Far East, I started writing with Paul Westerberg of The Replacements. We wrote one song together called "Backlash." It's the first song on the record. I also wrote several songs with Desmond Child, the band and Kenny Laguna. We really grooved in the studio this time. I think it's a great record. Everybody always says that their new album is the best thing they've ever done. I really believe this is the best one we've ever done. The reason I feel that way is because a lot of times when we finish a record, even though I've always loved all the songs, there were always one or two that I wasn't as crazy about like I was about the others. I don't feel that way about this record. I really love every song and every note on the album. I also think that I've sung better that I ever have before. I don't know why, maybe it's because of all the vocal exercises that I've been doing. That really helped. I think that the band played to new levels. Thommy Price and Ricky Byrd really fucking played their asses off. It's really incredible. They always play incredible, but this time they did everything exactly the way it was called for in each song without even thinking about it. It really sounds great. We did it all ourselves and I'm really proud of it. I'm proud that all the background vocals are ours and that all the music except for the Uptown Horns is us. I really think that it's a great record.

You mentioned that you used the Uptown Horns on the album. Did you use them on one song or several?

JJ: No, there are several songs that have them in it. We've done this on every album since I Love Rock And Roll. You have to listen carefully or otherwise you can't really tell. Sometimes when we feature the horns you can hear them, but what we usually do is have them play the same parts as my guitar, like in the "I Hate Myself For Loving You" track. That guitar riff on the track that you hear has the horns playing the same thing. It's like a big sound that goes underneath the guitars that you really don't hear, it just fattens it. We don't have any horn solos on this record, but there are a couple of spots where you can really hear them. The horns aren't something new for us. On the record, Album there are some real obvious horn pieces and violin pieces like in the song "Secret Love."

Is this the longest period of time you have spent in the studio to record an album?

JJ: I wouldn't say so. It seems like it but we were only in the studio for five months. It's hard to say if this is the longest we've spent in the studio because some of the records we've done were spaced out over a period of time. I guess we did spend a lot of time in the studio with this record, but we're real proud of the results.

Do you feel it's to your advantage to spend a longer period of time in the studio, or do you work better when you only have a few weeks to record?

JJ: We'll see what the fans think of the album. Spending an extended period in a studio can ultimately make you go a little more crazy. We weren't just sitting around this time, we were doing things. There are times when you wind up over-focusing on some things and at some point you don't know what you're doing anymore. When you've been listening to the same song for a long period it can get tough. You always want it so bad to be the right thing without it sounding contrived at all. Sometimes you get it without sounding contrived at all. Sometimes you get lost and you have to step back away from it and not listen to it. I don't think we had any real problems with the time we spent in the studio. We worked our asses off!!!

Have you come up with a title for the album?

JJ: The album is called Notorious. The title is one of Meryl's brainstorms. We came up with that after looking at the album cover. I just knew that was the name. It's a strong word that really goes along with the record.

Do you have an expected release date?

JJ: Late August. I believe the release date is August 20th.

How many songs did the band record?

JJ: I'm not sure how many we recorded, but there are ten tracks on the record, plus we have some extra songs for B-sides of singles. We didn't record any cover songs this time - they are all originals. The albums tracks are: "Backlash," "Ashes In The Wind," "The Only Good Thing..," "Lie To Me," "Don't Surrender," "Machismo," "Goodbye," "Treadin' Water," "I Want You" and "Wait For Me."

You just mentioned that there are no cover songs on the album, are any of the tracks you may include as B-sides to singles cover songs?

JJ: No, we didn't do any covers at all in the studio. After doing The Hit List and having so much time between Up Your Alley and this record, I just didn't feel right putting a cover song on the record. I didn't feel it was necessary to record a cover, because we've always just done it because it was fun. This time we had enough songs that I didn't even want to think about covers. I want people to know that we have plenty of material of our own especially after doing The Hit List. Maybe we'll go back to doing one cover on the next record, but we'll just wait and see. It's become the in thing to do covers on a record. Everybody is doing it and I've never like to follow the pack.

Do you feel the absence of original material between Up Your Alley and Notorious has helped or hurt the band?

JJ: It's hard to say, I don't know of anything that has hurt the band as of yet. We'll just have to wait and see how people react to the record and when we get out and play live. We did a show not too long ago in Virginia and the crowd reaction was great. As far as I could tell from that show, there really isn't a difference. I can only hope that it's helped. Without trying to sound conceited, pompous, or anything like that, I really thing that we've always been one of the most consistent live bands around. We're the real deal and I don't think there is much of that out there. I think people have a great time at our shows. We might not be the biggest band in the world, but I believe we draw good crowds who are great audiences. The fans have a good time and they help us to have a good time. We'll just wait and see what happens. Business-wise it looks like people are having a rough summer on the road. It's not necessarily the best summer to be out touring.

How does this album compare to your previous efforts?

JJ: It's along the same lines. I don't really hear any difference. There's one ballad on the album called, "Ashes in The Wind." There's one other 'slow' song called, "Lie To Me" but I don't consider it to be a ballad. The rest of the songs are real guitar oriented and sound like us. I don't hear any real difference from what we've done before. I'd have to ask other people that knew all our records what they thought. So far everybody that I know, that has heard the record, thinks it's the best one we've done. They haven't said it's different or that it's going in different directions, they just think that we've hit the next level. The songs are really great. Every note and every word really says something. A lot of the songs are about emotions and relationships. You can get that feeling just from some of the song titles. Hopefully the songs will be something people can relate to in their lives. I would imagine the could. Again I'm not trying to sound pompous, I'm just proud of it. We make a great album. That's not to take away from any of our other albums. I'm not saying the other stuff we've done is shit, I just think this album is great.

Desmond Child has a real good track record for writing hit songs, how many songs did you write with him? JJ: I wrote five songs with him - "Ashes In The Wind," "Lie To Me," "The Only Good Thing...," "Don't Surrender" and "Goodbye." "Lie To Me" has kind of an a acoustical moody vibe to it. Originally we did it live with electric guitars - real loud and sort of mid-tempo. I thought it sounded great live, but Desmond suggested we give it a shot acoustically. We were already in the studio by this time, so we hadn't had a chance to try it live. Ricky played electric guitar and I played a Doboro guitar in open G tuning. Thommy Price played the timbales and bongos along with his regular drums on the track. It's a very sexy song that's about a relationship that's not working. The one person singing the song doesn't want the relationship to end, or at least they want to be lied to. They don't want to admit it's not working. The chorus is:

'Lie to me even if it's just for tonight. Make it feel like it used to be. Lie to me you don't have to look into my eyes. When you're lying next to me, I'll try to believe you when you lie to me.'

I know a lot of people go through that in their relationships. You want it to work so bad but you know it's not going to work. You know that other person is fucking around on you and they don't give a shit anymore, but you just don't want to admit that anymore. Basically in the heat of passion, when you're having sex, you want to hear they love you even though you know it's not true. I know people go through that.

By performing the songs live, did that help you to make songs better than just writing them in the studio?

JJ: I can't say it always makes it better, but it does make the band more comfortable playing in the studio. When we do a track live, we know what the problem is. It's not like we have to figure it out in the studio, so half the battle is won. We get to weed out a lot of stuff when we do it live. We definitely feel a bit more comfortable when we know our parts. We did about half the album live because I've been writing for a long time. It really gave us the chance to perfect some of them. Because we had a chance to do most of these songs live, we were able to go back and really work it to make sure they were really perfect. I don't think it hinders the band by not playing the songs live. The songs we didn't get a chance to perform live sound just as good as the ones we did do live.

Were there any tracks that were particularly hard to record or get right in the studio?

JJ: No, we pretty much went in the studio and went right through it. We didn't have any real problems. We did a couple of takes on each song and we knew we had it. I didn't have a real rough time with singing the songs, but I am a real perfectionist and I kept going back and trying to make everything just right.

Recently you changed your hair style, are you trying to change your image?

JJ: I did change my hair style this time, but it isn't an image change. I felt like a parody of myself and I was bored.

Have you made any definite tour plans yet? Will the band be headlining or a special guest on another band's bill?

JJ: I don't think we'll be out on tour until September. We could either headline or be on another bill. Obviously I prefer to headline, but I'll do what I have to do just to get out and play. We'll have to wait and see what happens. I would think that we'll probably do some smaller gigs before September.

Earlier you mentioned the poor touring situation that bands are having this summer. Does it concern you or have a heavy impact on the band's touring plans?

JJ: It's scary, but it doesn't concern me in the sense that I'm worried. I just can't wait to go out and play. I would be content to play bars every night just for the chance to play. A lot of bands think they should be at a certain level and play that level. If they can't do it as that level then they don't want to play at all. I don't believe in that. I believe you should be out touring, no matter what. Who knows what's going to happen? Things might be different in a couple of months when we go out. It got shitty real quick and it can get better real quick too.

What are the bands plans for the next few months?

JJ: We're getting ready for the release of the album. We've been doing interviews, some publicity, radio stations and things like that. I plan on doing every-thing in my power to do my job and get ready to go on tour. That's the most important thing to me.
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