Joan Jett and The Blackhearts Bad Reputation Nation

Volume 6 Issue 3

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Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Summer 1999

It's going to be a busy spring and summer for Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, with one, and possibly two new album releases, a live video, nationwide touring, and plenty of other activities. Blackheart mentor Kenny Laguna took some time to sit down and tell fans about the new material, and an update on the one we've all been waiting for.


So, what's happening with the new album?
Well, now there's two new albums: there's the new album that never comes out, because every time Warner Brothers goes through a change of management, they're all excited about Joan, and they stick their nose in it, and we're still trying to cooperate with these guys...they've got a really good guy in there now, so we'll see how it is.

Tell us about that album first, then we want to hear about the OTHER new one. Does the Warners album have a release date yet?
It's hard to say. They're talking a good game, so let's see if they walk it like they talk it. We've still be unable to get somebody at the very head of this company to make the kind of phone call that would get us the kind of collaborators that would make it worth everything we're doing. I think, maybe these two head guys at the company now really get it. Russ and Phil. We got a lot of hope.

Will you re-record the stuff Bob Rock and Ted Templeman did? Will you produce it yourself?
Well my hope is that we use the very best of what those two guys did with us. And it's probably more likely Teddy's stuff over Bob Rock's. But we're gonna look at the 25 sides that we have in the can, and what ever the maybe six or seven more sides we're working on now, and just pick the very best of it. If we're lucky, we'll have a record that's a classic.


So what's this other new album we have to look forward to?
We've put together an album called "Fetish," which is the very best songs that are sexually adventurous, that Joan's done: we have Handyman, The French Song, Baby Blue, Starfucker on it. It's going to be a really cool album. and it flows well. Initially, we expect to do an exclusive at one of the store chains...the major store chains. I know like the Wall, Camelot, Trans World. We're going to an exclusive for a couple of weeks like that, then we're going to see how far this record will go.

Why this particular album, and why now?
Because of the song "Fetish". It was a unique idea and I just had a feeling that somebody was going to steal the idea. It had been sitting around too long, people were talking about it, we'd been getting hundreds of letters about the song live, we had it on the internet for awhile, and it was getting a reaction, we were getting a lot of requests from clubs all over the country for copies of it. And I thought, you know what, we sit around long enough, somebody's going to copy this song, copy the idea, and why be saying why didn't we do it? So that's why we did it.

To stake Joan's claim on that particular kind of song or music?
We've done a couple of things for Warners Records that have shown up in other acts. So I just thought hey, let's get this thing out. Let there be some record of the fact that Joan had written this very clever song. Just like I said, to protect the idea, but it's taken on a life. So who knows how far this record goes?

As part of this project, you've also released Fetish as a CD single on the CMJ label. How is that doing?

It's made its way onto the specialty charts on alternative radio, it went to 13 the first week on the rock and roll alternative specialty show chart, it went from 23 to 19 on the top chart, and we seem to be doing great. Now we're going to go mainstream alternative, there are a couple of stations that are actually playing it fulltime. It's just gone a lot further that I was expecting.

So people are hearing Joan on alternative and college radio these days?
This is a very difficult time for rock and roll stations. Not a lot of radio stations have people like Joan. We're very lucky right now that the alternative radio is still embracing her. There's a lot of really big acts that are struggling, because of the way the demographics are looked at by the radio stations, the advertisers. So a lot of people put out records that are great, and can't get on the radio. There's a lot of acts there that are running into this wall. If you're not like everything else, you have a little trouble with the mainstream in this ment. But I needed to get the Fetish idea out there. But we did disagree a little bit about how limited this is going to be. So we haven't resolved that yet. But so far there's only going to be about maybe between 5 and 10,000 units, which is very little for a Joan record. We'll see if we go further. I'm very happy with this record. If people have all the songs that's one thing, but the people who don't, I think they're going to be amazed at the greatness of these songs. We put in all songs which we thought were absolutely incredible.


Now you are also working with Mercury to put out the VH1 Concert (from Telluride, Colorado in 1998).
Yes, we're going to do that. We're going to include the outtakes, which were very good.

When is that scheduled for release?
In two months. We've never put out a video before [except for the Jett Age compilations] but this is a mainstream release on video. And it requires a lot of different templates and all kinds of tracks.

What will it be called?
At one point we were gonna call it Fetish, but now we have the album called Fetish, so we're gonna have to have another name. (Webmaster note: The VH1 concert was released on DVD as Joan Jett and the Blackhearts Live!)

One of the things Joan always said over the years is that she didn't want to release a live album. What made you change your mind?
Well, this isn't an album, it's a video. There was some talk about putting out a companion live album, but I don't know if we're ready for that either. First of all there were bootlegs. Bootlegs usually drive us to the marketplace. That's why we put out I Love Rock and Roll again on CD. We left it off the market awhile, but were forced back by bootleggers. Same thing here. We're gonna make sure we get it out there, and give them high quality.

What, then would you say is the difference between a live album and a live video?
Well seeing somebody play live on video, is a different kind of experience than a live album. Joan is one of the great live acts, and we'd like to see it on video. There were a lot of requests for it, so we're answering the call.


Now you also made some vinyl Joan Jett albums available through Mercury in some stores. Are these the actual albums you used to sell at the shows before you were signed to Boardwalk?
Yes. We had a few of them that we warehoused them years ago. I guess when we released it on Boardwalk, we didn't want to flood the market, so we took the Joan Jett record and put it in storage. We rediscovered them awhile back, and were talking about it with these people at Mercury who specialize in that kind of release and they thought it was really viable. Vinyl is very popular now among a certain cult, so I thought we'd make it available. This is only a limited thing. They won't be around for long. We're not making new ones.

So this is not a repressing?
No repressing. As a matter of fact, it's in the original shrink wrap. Mercury wanted to take the original shrink wrap off, sticker the album, then reshrink them. But we didn't do that. We put the sticker on the original shrink wrap, so as a collectible, it's totally mint.


And is Mercury still talking about doing a Runaways compilation disc?
That's definitely happening. You know it's been a little hard for us, because we have different concepts; we thought we'd get more involved with the other band members and maybe try to do a new recording, and that led to a lot of discussions, and a little bit of difference of direction, and now we're not sure how we're going to handle it. But there will be something on there that has never been out before. We have some unreleased Runaways live stuff, we have some other possibilities. We're not really sure how we're gonna end up with that. Whether or not we can actually go and record and agree on it and what not. There's obviously some control issues. But I believe Joan should to be in control. If they can't deal with it, then we'll find other ways. Everyone is cooperating, so it's not about that. It's just about recording. We're gonna be carefully handling this.

Will you be using Mercury/Polygram to release anything else? Some fans have noticed that the Evil Stig CD is out of print.
Yes, so we'll probably try to rerelease it on Blackheart. We will put it through our Polygram system if Warners give us permission. I think that'd be good. That was a great record.

Yes it was, and it's important for people to be able to have, because it's very indicative of the direction Joan has been moving in since Pure and Simple.


As far as other new material, what else are you planning on with, or instead of, the Warners album?
We're working hard. After Fetish, we'll put out another thing. And we'll keep putting out things until somehow we click, and the album will come, hopefully before the summer, so that we can tour behind new product. As for the rest of it, we'll come out with another single. We haven't put out Androgynous yet, I still think that's a great song, but we couldn't convince anybody at Warner Brothers it was viable, so they were telling us no no no, that usually means they'll stop it, they'll stop it within their own structure, because they didn't want Joan to put that out, they wanted her to do something that was harder. We'll just see what the new guys think. But that's a good one, we'd like to get that one out there. Maybe include it in the next record.

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