Joan Jett and The Blackhearts Bad Reputation Nation

Volume 3 Issue 3

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Flashback -- Release Date: November 16th

An Exclusive Interview:
Joan Jett
The Queen of Rock 'N' Roll

Blackheart Records is releasing the album Flashback. What is the album's street date?
JJ: The album is set to be released on November 16th.

Flashback has been called an 'odds and sods' package. What is it?
JJ: It's material that we've done over the years that we've always believed were quality songs. It's not that we didn't think they weren't good enough to go on an album, but for some reason at the time, those songs didn't fit, or weren't completed, or we already had enough material. There are various reasons why we didn't put these songs out. Now it's really fun to release them especially for the hardcore fans who are really into our music. These songs show a lot of different sides to The Blackhearts. The songs go from '79 all the way up to '93. It really explains the career of The Blackhearts well. I think everybody will be really happy with the packaging. The album contains 22 songs which is the most music you can get on a compact disc while retaining the quality level. The package is pretty interesting because Kenny and I give our point of view why we did the songs. We also have a timeline that shows when Kenny and I met, The Runaways broke up, the start of The Blackhearts, and each point of my career. It gives a newer fan that may have come in around "I Hate Myself For Lovin' You" or later, a chance to look back and find out exactly what the career has been about.

It's hard to believe it's been 14 years since the formation of JJBH.
JJ: You're telling me!

What made you decide to release this material now?
JJ: We decided to release it because we had the opportunity, especially after reissuing Bad Reputation, I Love Rock 'N' Roll, Album, and Glorious Results Of A Misspent Youth. We got a great response to them. We've also put out a couple of other albums on Blackheart Records, Metal Church and a few others, so it's a real label. It's only fitting that we put out our own music on Blackheart. It's been a lot of hard work, but it's been fun too.

Do you think any fans will be surprised with the material included on Flashback?
JJ: Probably, because it encompasses so many different sides of my personality. It really depends on how much you know the band because some songs we've done live like "Hide & Seek." That's one of those really interesting songs that you might never associate with somebody like me. It doesn't necessarily sound like me except for my voice. It's kind of an old time rock 'n' roll song. There are all kinds of variations of rock 'n' roll, but it's basically straight up rock. We did different things like putting some demos on the record because we felt there were a couple of songs that were really good that we never released. One song called "Heartbeat" is a demo and "Black Leather" was an album cut but we liked the demo better. The demo has more personality. It's a fun record and is a way of showing our fans how we do things.

Is there any more excess material still stored away from previous recording sessions?
JJ: Oh yeah! There's even more stuff than what's on Flashback. We had to cut songs off the album, which was very difficult. We needed to get the time down because, as I said, you start losing the sound quality. I didn't want to put out a box set or two albums. I just wanted to release one album with tons of music on it. I thought that would be a lot of fun for people. We definitely have enough material to put out another album if we want to.

It's been rumored that you have signed a new recording contract with Warner Bros. Is it official that you have a new deal?
JJ: Have I put my name to paper? No . . . but everything has been discussed in good faith and hands have been shaken. Things are rolling as if we had -- things are full steam ahead!

Are you currently recording or working on material for a new full album?
JJ: Oh yeah! We've been working on material on and off for months. Actually I've been working all year between writing and all of it.

Have you been writing with anyone other than Kenny or the band?
JJ: Definitely -- it's good that we've gotten some band material in here this time -- more than before which is great. I wrote a song with Kat from Babes In Toyland, a few songs with Kathleen Hanna from the band Bikini Kill, one with Donita Sparks from L7, a song with one of the guitarists from Metal Church, Kurt Vanderhoff and I've written with Desmond Child. Desmond and I have written a few things that we haven't finished, so I need to get with him and finish that. There's still more to do. I would like to write even more songs.

When do you expect to finish the new album?
JJ: That's hard to say . . . I would hope by the end of the year.

Any plans to record any cover tunes?
JJ: Not really, but if for any reason we do decide to do something it will be really obscure. Everybody's covering songs and doing blatant hits. It's interesting to see how things turn around. Before, people wouldn't even think of covering songs, but now everybody's covering stuff and doing cover albums. It's real interesting. If we did a cover song it would be something extremely obscure.

Do you have any current road plans?
JJ: We're going to wait and see what the response to Flashback is, but I'm hoping that no matter what happens we're going to get out there and do some gigs. We still need time to be capable of doing the album that we're working on now.

Why was the compilation, Do You Wanna Touch Me? released in France only?
JJ: Things are different in France that here in the States. The music fans in France listen to a totally different thing. What we were doing is bringing the French up to date on me because when they heard "I Love Rock 'N' Roll" in the reissue, it became a hit and went to number 1 again in France. After that had happened in the early '80s, the people kind of lost touch with me and didn't know what I was all about. So what we are trying to do is reacquaint everybody with what I'm all about. We put an album together that contains songs from all the albums between Bad Reputation and Flashback. "Activity Grrrl" is also on that. We wanted to let the fans over there know what the band is all about. It's interesting because the French do have different tastes than Americans.

After listening to Flashback, the French compilation, the earlier reissues, viewing the home video, I don't believe you've reached the pinnacle of your career yet.
JJ: We're lucky that we've always been able to control our career because we've always owned the rights to our songs. In Japan we're on JVC and that's where the videos are coming from; in France, my career is different and we're on a label called Scorpio. We're lucky to be able to do that and have people do the right thing for us.

The music scene has really changed considerably since you started out. What do you think of the trends and do they affect you?

JJ: I try not to let trends affect me because if you get caught up in it then it gets stupid with everybody trying to copy everybody else.

Many bands are listing you as an influence in their careers. In some cases, the influence is very apparent. Does that affect you, especially now that you are collaborating with some bands that you've inspired?
JJ: Right, I know that because I'm friends with them. I know that they are fans of The Runaways and stuff like that because we've talked about it. That's really cool between all of us, but as far as writing stuff together, it was newer for all of them than me because I've collaborated with people before. I don't think any of them really have. It was more different for them, but it was something that was fun and a great exchange of energy. As far as it affecting me -- it affected the music if anything. It inspires me and invigorates me. I try to keep up on what's going on in the music scene so I don't get lost and I want to know what is happening, but I don't let it influence what I do or how I write music because that comes from inside me. If there has been any influence it's been for this album to be harder. The next album is going to be HARD, MORE BASIC, DIRECT, LOUD, NOISY, and AGGRESSIVE!

Recently you've mentioned an interest in art and painting as a new hobby.
JJ: I've started painting. I don't know what you'd call it . . . it's abstract, surrealist, impressionism, it's just painting to me. It's not good, meaning it's not classically trained by any means. I couldn't draw a body figure, as least not proportionally -- which could be art! I'm experimenting with different things. I need to get more supplies before I can continue. I've done eight paintings so far.

Message for the fans? JJ: I miss them a lot. I can't wait to get on the road so I can get back out there and see everybody and have things get back to MY NORMAL! That means being on the road and signing stuff for everybody.

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