Joan Jett and The Blackhearts Bad Reputation Nation

Volume 5 Issue 4

Click to enlarge
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Winter 1997

Joan Jett: "I think I'm gonna be a really energetic older woman"

Joan Jett was in my home city for one day to do promotional work for the Sony release Great Hits. She was in Germany for about 8 days and did some radio interviews, press interviews and a one hour TV show for the channel VH1 called "360 with Alan Bangs." Joan stayed at a hotel called Hyatt with a beautiful view of the Cologne Cathedral. Kenny Laguna was with her as ever. He was real nice and funny. Before I did the interview with Joan in Kenny's hotel room, I talked with him and showed him The Runaways book I released last April. He hadn't seen it before but seemed really interested in it. Joan was also impressed about some pictures she saw when she looked through it. This was the first time I saw Joan with her new look, and let me tell you, she looks great! I was one of the people who said before, "I don't like the way she looks now", but see her in person and everything fits! She was just as nice as two years ago in Frankfurt. We had a lot of time to talk with each other and she told me some interesting things....

Q: When will the new album come out?

A: We're not finished recording yet. We're trying to write up around 30 or so songs and pick maybe the best 11 or 14 songs out of that and that's what we'll use. We don't have an album title yet, but we're so close to be finished with it. I would say maybe in late March or so. It's hard to give the exact day, but I'd just say early summer.

Q: What about the songs you recorded with Bob Rock?

A: We did some recording with Bob, actually eight or nine songs. Bob's a great guy. He's a very good producer and a really nice guy, but for some reason things didn't sound right. I don't think it had to do necessarily with him, it's just everything sounded a bit soft. It just wasn't coming across the way we wanted it to sound. It didn't sound raw or aggressive enough, so we decided to change producers. Bob also got involved with the Metallica project and couldn't work with us. First he was gonna do Metallica and then when he finished with that we're going to continue recording, but we couldn't wait anymore. It sort of slowed us down a bit, but now we're back in the flow.

Q: I got a live tape from the US with some of your new songs on it. Will they all be on the new album?

A: "Watersign" - I don't see why that wouldn't be on the record. "Androgynous" - It's great - it's a lot of fun! I'm not sure that everybody understands quite what it means, sometimes, but some of the audience, when we're playing it live, gets it and some of the people - it goes right over their head. I kinda like that. It's funny, it's like an inside joke. Especially cause it sounds like a country song, a different style. "Five" - I'm sure that may be on the record, that's one of our more popular ones, of the new songs. "Ball And Chain" - We don't do anymore. That just didn't feel right to me. It never had the right energy. It's a great song. It's a Social Distortion song that we covered and it just didn't seem to work. "Naked" - Definitely should be on the record. No reason that shouldn't be. "Friend To Friend" - Definitely - it's one of my favorites! It's fun. I know a lot of fans, at least the hardcore fans in the States, must be passing these tapes around because I see them singing the words. Even the people that come quite often to the shows know the words. They're not hearing them enough to memorize it, and that's because they've got a tape.

Q: Back to Pure and Simple I think it was definitely your best album until now. How was the situation in the US, in Europe, there was hardly any promotion. Do you think it could have been more successful.

A: I'll tell you Pure and Simple is my favorite, too, of all the records that we've done. I'm probably most proud of that album for several reasons - I'm proud of the fact that we wrote all the songs, I just think it sounds closest to what I am a fan of. When I listen to other bands, like Fugazi or Bikini Kill and L7 -- it's got that sort of rawness that I admire. It's really a live sounding record. That's what I like about it. It sounds like we sound on stage. The production is really well done, and I think the songs are great! I can't explain what happened in the States. Warner Brothers are a very powerful company. When they put out the album they were really excited. It could have been timing, it could have been the fact that maybe we picked the wrong song to focus on first, which was "Go Home". This was a couple of years prior to the O.J. Simpson stuff. People were still a little bit uncomfortable talking about violence against women. Now it's so much in the press that I think if it were the same circumstances today and we released that album it could be a whole different thing. People might jump on it because of that fact. I thought we did a great video for "Go Home," but MTV wouldn't play it. They said "We don't do dedications". That it was too violent, and the mood was too dark for the summer. That's all bullshit excuses. They didn't want to play it. I think that was part of it, because we never got our foot in the door. Once that happens it's hard to keep it up. I guess for whatever reasons it just wasn't pushed to the degree we would like to have seen it pushed. Warner Brothers is great, they have been really behind me, so it's hard to say exactly what happened. I don't know what happened here in Germany. I'm not so sure that anybody was into it enough to really make the effort. If we had a lot of hits in Germany before that, it would have been easy to work that record. The fact is that nobody had heard anything from me for quite a while. It was easier for SPV to put it out and not think about it. If it did well, good for them, if it didn't do well, it didn't bother them. It's very frustrating - I would like to see the record do well, because I'm very proud of it. In America it was a critic's favorite. It got reviewed in all the music papers and even regular newspapers. The critics loved it. Even the critics that have never given me a good review gave me great reviews, not just good, but great reviews! Also there wasn't any action from the radio, and when there's no action from the radio, the audience with exception to the hardcore crowd, doesn't know it's out, or they don't care. You can't blame it on the music. I know it's not because the album wasn't good; it was because it wasn't given a chance.

Q: Do you still have dreams come true?

A: Yeah, I think that to other people they might not sound very grand, they may sound sort of boring, the sort of dreams that people didn't think that I would have. Since you're a fan, you know what I've been doing for the past 20 years -- how hard that we worked, how we go out, make an album and go on tour, make an album, go on tour and there's no time in between. I finally took my first vacation, that was more than a couple of days. I went to India for three weeks. I think one of my dreams is just try to be healthier and have more balance in my life. That incorporates so much. I started practicing yoga and meditating. I dream of a time when that's gonna be second nature to me. When I don't have to work at practicing yoga or work at meditating. Yoga and meditating gives me calmness, it help me realize that music isn't everything. That my family includes my friends and animals. Besides my blood I need that. For too many years I didn't even think about it. All I thought about was music, music, music. I didn't think about my spirit and about my soul and about keeping that part healthy. That is one of my goals. I've always thought about myself as a regular person, even when people called me a "star". I still think I'm a regular person. Now I wanna start acting like a regular person in a sense that I take the time out to take care of myself. Whatever that means - taking a vacation and going back to India to just see the countryside or painting. I like to paint, it's sort of very abstract. Just do things like that. I haven't had enough time in my life where I've sat down and really thought about what do I wanna do with my life, what are my dreams? I've been so consumed with music. Maybe I'll do some of the things I wanted to do when I was a little kid, like be an astronomer -- look at the moon and the stars and do that for a job. Or be an archeologist - really strange things, that people go "What Joan Jett - and archeologist?" These are things I'm interested in. I'm interested about details and history, past history and possible future history over the world and of people. So many things interest me that I don't quiet know what my dreams are, but I know that there's many things I wanna do and experience.

Q: Your roots are Irish, Scottish and English. Are you interested in your history?

A: Yes. I would like to see where I come from. I know to a certain degree what areas of Ireland my father's side comes from. I'd like to trace those roots and see how far back it goes. I'm interested in things like past lives. I don't know, some people don't believe in that but to me it doesn't make sense that we would just have this one life. If we believe that everyone has a soul, and that's energy, and a soul doesn't die; but if we all die and we don't come back, there are billions and billions of all these souls banging around. What would be the point of having a soul? You learn things in life to take into another life. That's why people find themselves interested in certain things they can't explain. I love Egyptian things, and I wonder why do I love. Or it's like knowing certain things, because you know it. I find that really intriguing and I'd like to learn more about it. I've done things like getting hypnotized a couple of times and tried to do a past life regression to see what it would tell me. I want to study that kind of thing.

Q: Something like people who talk another language when their hypnotized. . .

A: How do they explain that? If somebody doesn't believe in past lives, but how do they explain when somebody can speak fluently another language. There's got to be something behind that, so just those sorts of things interest me very much.

Q: What do you think you'll be doing when you're 60?

A: It could be many things. I think I'm gonna be a really energetic older woman. I think I might get more radical as I get older, in a sense that maybe I'll get more into certain causes -- women's rights and various organizations. Obviously people called me an inadvertent feminist, which means that you're a feminist, but you try to be. . .I would rather say I'm a humanist. I think that you should take every person at face value. Not, "She's a good woman," or "He's a good man." You just take them for good human beings. I do have to take issue at some point with standing behind and trying to educate people who just believe me to be a feminist or man hater and things like that. I believe, yes, there are women like that, that hate men and don't want anything to do with them, but I don't believe the majority of feminists are like that. There are too many unequal things that happen like women doing the same job as a man, but not getting the same pay. Things like that obviously are wrong. I mean to stand up for thing like that, or choice and abortions, which is a big problem in the States. Why is that?

Q: I think the wrong people decide what you can do or not do. We also have that same problem with abortion in Germany.

A: Right, who knows, maybe someday I'll get more involved in politics, but the more I learn about politics, the more I realize that sometimes the politicians don't really have the power. There's not much some of them can do. Not to mention your private life gets destroyed, you know, they find out every little thing that you ever did, and I've done a lot of crazy things. So I can just see what they'd write about me. I would just like to in my life, to continue to try to do good things for people. Whatever that means. If that's mending my way to feminist issues, or helping raise money for cancer or kids with leukemia or helping to work with AIDS patients. Just to educate certain people, who are so afraid of people with AIDS. Some people still believe if they breath the same air, or if they touch them then they're gonna catch AIDS. If you go and fuck someone without a condom, that's the way you are gonna get AIDS, not by touching somebody with AIDS.
This Week:

No shows scheduled this week.

Click on the LIVE DATES link for upcoming shows

Item Of The Month:
 Click To Order

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional
© Blackheart Records and All Rights Reserved.