Joan Jett and The Blackhearts Bad Reputation Nation

March 2007 News

Page updated on March 31, 2007
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JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS perform at The Canyons Resort: producer recalls performer's past

Click to enlarge Though BLACKHEARTS band member and JOAN JETT's producer KENNY LAGUNA claims the music industry and radio stations refuse to give punk the credit it deserves, he has continued to dedicate himself to the genre for nearly three decades.

And even though Laguna no longer believes a rock song can change the world, he helped Jett pen the lyrics to politically-charged "Riddle" and "Change The World" songs listed on the band's latest album, "SINNER."

Laguna enjoys a challenge, it seems.


A Quickie With JOAN JETT

low resolution image Not Enlargeable JOAN JETT has been called the original riot grrl, the godmother of punk and the hottest woman in rock and roll. She took time out of her busy schedule to talk to about music, cars and Carmen Electra. You were the first woman in rock and roll to own her own record label, BLACKHEART RECORDS. How involved are you in finding new bands?
JOAN JETT: I'm pretty involved in it, but I don't actually find the band. The people that work for Blackheart have great ears. [But] I certainly hear what it is before we make a move. [New] bands like the Vacancies and the Eyeliners are bands I got turned onto because we played with them.

AE: Blackheart has one band, Girl in a Coma, that's comprised of three young women. Do girl rockers remind you of your RUNAWAYS days?
JJ: Yeah, definitely. [Girl in a Coma] are very sweet and seemingly innocent. That reminds me of the RUNAWAYS vibe — being really intense rock-and-roll girls but also having this level of innocence, and I mean this only in the best way, this naiveté.


JOAN JETT Rocks Staten Island

College of Staten Island Center for the Arts

JOAN JETT may be the nicest punk of all time. Despite the tattoos, leather clothing, Goth eye makeup and aggressive poses, there is an inherent warmth and positivity to her raspy, Lawng Island-tinged vocals, one of the signature, immediately recognizable voices in rock music. She always introduces the band as "The BLACKHEARTS" (not, "JOAN JETT and ..."), and her between-songs patter, a mix of encouraging and praising her fans, left her sounding as much like a tough-chick cheerleader as the leader of one of the longest-lasting punk rock bands around.

The setting for her sold-out Saturday show at the College of Staten Island Center for the Arts aptly set off this contradiction, as she rocked the house, even though the house wasn't a dingy club, but an upholstered-seat-filled, college auditorium more appropriate for a student production of "Fiddler on the Roof."

At 48, Jett has settled into a comfortable groove. In her leather pants and midriff-bearing tank top, she looks to be in fighting shape (although, when you see her live, you are reminded at how small she really is), and, as she repeatedly told the crowd, her goal was to put on a fun show that kept the audience singing and dancing throughout. She succeeded, despite fighting a flu bug that sent her into coughing fits several times between songs. Leading her band through a 70-minute, 17-song set, Jett showed that few can challenge her ability to put on a great, garagey rock show.


Grrls of Rock

JOAN JETT serves as my personal barometer of cool when it comes to women playing rock and roll.

Jett owns a record label. She's had monster pop hits like "I Love Rock and Roll," and slogged through tours of dingy rock clubs leading her band, The BLACKHEARTS. She's an activist, for women's rights and against the war on Iraq, and makes regular trips to play for soldiers in the Middle East. And her most recent album, last year's "SINNER," is a potent blast of old-school, straight-up (no pun intended) rock and roll - no small feat considering she started putting out records with The RUNAWAYS more than 30 years ago.

When my editor recently asked "where are all the girl rockers?" I immediately thought of two things. The first was that Jett and the BLACKHEARTS are playing a free show at The Canyons in Park City on March 31. And the second was a conversation I had with Jett last summer about the state of women in rock music.

from: JOAN JETT Rehearses at the Gibson Austin Showroom

Click to enlarge Iconic American rock guitarist, singer, producer, and actress JOAN JETT held a private rehearsal for the bands on her BLACKHEART RECORDS label at the Gibson Austin Showroom last week. Jett, who established Blackheart more than 25 years ago, had an entourage of newly signed acts with her, including the Dollyrots, the Vacancies, and Girl in a Coma, all there to prepare for their recent performances at SXSW. Per usual, Jett had her hands all over her be-stickered, beloved Melody Maker.

JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS will be touring the U.S. throughout the spring and summer.

SXSW Day 3: Third Time's A Charm

Click to enlarge This J.I.'s Friday in Austin got off to a slow start, with some sleep and business obligations delaying our first taste of music until an afternoon set by the Ponys at Emo's; good garage rock with Tom Verlaine-ish singing. We also enjoyed a few songs from Marnie Stern, who sounded like a one-woman Don Caballero with bad-ass guitar licks and drum machine accompaniment.

JOAN JETT came to this year's SXSW as a label executive rather than a performer, but that couldn't keep the woman who loves rock'n'roll off stage. Jett hosted a showcase at Emo's for the three bands on her BLACKHEART RECORDS label -- San Antonio's Girl In A Coma, the Dollyrots from Los Angeles and the Vacancies from Cleveland. Jett herself introduced each act, then came on stage at the end of the Vacancies' set to perform "Bad Reputation" and "Change the World," a song from her latest album, 2006's "SINNER," that was co-written with Vacancies frontman Billy Crooked. The other musicians then came on stage for renditions of Gary Glitter's "Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)" and "I Love Rock and Roll."

Danish band Mew was impressive over at Stubbs BBQ, blending the layered guitar work of the Cure and My Bloody Valentine into easily digestible songs. Indiana eight-piece Margot & the Nuclear So and So's played a couple of new tunes at the Jane magazine party at Fox & Hound, as at least one major-label A&R rep looked on (the group recently parted ways with Artemis). Other highlights: the orchestral rock of "Skeleton Key" and "Quiet As a Mouse."


Joan of rock

Attention children of the 1990s. If you think, even for one second, about writing off JOAN JETT as "that leather mommy who sang 'I Love Rock N' Roll," consider this: Almost every female rocker who has come since " and hundreds of male rock stars as well " list Jett as a major influence in making music and copping an attitude.

The godmother of punk, as she's often called, has been playing raw three-chord songs since she was 14, and is an inspiration to anyone who believes there's a difference between music that's manufactured and music that is wrought from bloody fingertips.

More specifically, Jett has been one of the best examples of how girls can rock just as good -- or better -- than guys.


It's SRO for punk band at music fest

Austin, Texas- Leave it to JOAN JETT to get a crowd's attention. "All right!" she shouted. "From Cleveland, Ohio, please give a warm welcome to . . . THE VACANCIES!"

The punk quintet's high-octane set Friday night at Emo's, a Lone Star State institution with poster-plastered walls, rushed past in a blur of heart-attack drums, locomotive bass and chugging guitars, while frontman Billy Crooked split the difference between crooning and caterwauling. No wonder Jett signed these guys to her BLACKHEART RECORDS label a few years ago.

She proudly showed them off at the 21st annual South by Southwest (SXSW) music conference and festival, on a bill with two other Blackheart groups: Girl in a Coma (from San Antonio) and the Dollyrots (from Los Angeles).


SXSW Concert Review: The Dollyrots and Girl In A Comma

After an entire week of hearing earnest, melodic Brit-pop, twangy country rock and solo acoustic acts, it was finally time to get a sampling of the alternative acts rolling through South By Southwest (SXSW). My first musical love will always be punk rock, as it's raw, dirty, honest style has always appealed to me, and so it was good to be able to get back to my roots.

In order to accomplish my goal, I made my way down a crowded 6th street, filled with pirates, men wearing pickle suits and as many shades of hair color as there are types of Skittles. Strolling up to Emo's, the premiere punk-rock venue in Austin, several extremely long lines were beginning to form around the back entrance. The posted flyers told me that tonight would be the big BLACKHEART RECORDS showcase featuring well-known punk bands The Dollyrots, Girl In A Coma and the Vacancies.

BLACKHEART RECORDS was founded by legendary rocker JOAN JETT, and is set up as a sort of punk rock talent farm that harvests up and coming bands and places them in the spotlight for the general public to gobble up. The label recently brought on the L.A. Trio The Dollyrots, made up of bassist and lead singer Kelly Ogden, guitarist Luis Cabezas and drummer Chris Black. The Dollyrots' infectious melodies, lyrics and music take a bit of the seriousness out of the punk rock world, but add a lot of fun and attitude to make up for it.


SXSW DAY III: Cleveland's Vacancies light up festival

The Vacancies did us proud Friday night, making their South by Southwest debut at the venerable Austin, Texas, institution Emo's.

The punk quintet from Cleveland performed as part of a showcase for BLACKHEART RECORDS, a label run by JOAN JETT. Singer Billy Crooked and his bandmates tore through a high-octane set, previewing a handful of selections from their upcoming album "Tantrum," out May 29.

Jett took the stage, too. She was backed by members of the Vacancies and other Blackheart groups, including Girl in a Coma and the Dollyrots, on a handful of her hits. The inevitable "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" turned into one big singalong.


A tiny pantheon for all-female rock bands

low resolution image Not Enlargeable The number of popular all-female rock bands could probably be counted on one hand — with a few fingers left over. And most of them had their heyday 20 or more years ago.

Although that probably says as much about the music and radio industry as it does about the musicians — why, when I type the names Sleater-Kinney and Bikini Kill, will most readers have to Google them? — it’s a fact that women, as bands, haven’t put their stamp on rock the way they have as solo performers or front women.

In the 20th century’s big- band and swing eras, the first all-female bands began to emerge, such as the International Sweethearts of Rhythm. Blues and jazz’s relative freedom swung the doors open, not just for female singers, but for female instrumentalists as well.


Alice Cooper, Motörhead and JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS announce UK tour

The Coop, the 'Head and leather-lovin’ Joan will team up for 10-date UK tour this November.

Of the tour Alice said: "Having toured with both Motörhead and JOAN JETT before, and had a great time, we're really looking forward to an all-out high energy show every night. They just don't do tours like this anymore, but we're going to do it. This is like a 'No Mercy' tour, we're not showing any mercy to anyone."

JOAN JETT's latest album, SINNER, was released in the US last year on her own BLACKHEART RECORDS label, and is set for release in the UK soon. JOAN JETT said: "I am looking forward to returning to England, where my post-RUNAWAYS solo career started, and where I have unfortunately not performed for a very long time. Alice and Lemmy are singularly unique and talented artists, who I count amongst my friends. Lemmy, in fact, was one of the very few people to help me when I started recording and touring in England, long ago."


Alice Cooper, Motorhead & JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS Team up for UK tour

Rock fans are in for a unique treat this November when shock rock guru Alice Cooper teams up with legendary British rock’n’roll hellraisers Motorhead & loud leather lovin’ JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS for a value-packed 10-date UK tour which promises a relentless, ear-splintering, deliciously dirty rock’n’roll experience. Each legendary artist is a leader in their rock genre.

Alice Cooper, the original shock rocker, has entertained, surprised and disturbed audiences for over 30 years, fusing Detroit glam metal with theatrical performances. With over 30 albums-worth of material to draw from, these shows promise classic Cooper at his menacing best. Of the tour Cooper said, "Having toured with both Motörhead and JOAN JETT before, and had a great time, we're really looking forward to an all-out high energy show every night. They just don't do tours like this anymore, but we're going to do it. This is like a 'No Mercy' tour, we're not showing any mercy to anyone."

Motörhead, one of rock history’s most pivotal bands, have spent the last few decades bringing the house down with their blistering, blitzkrieg punk-metal juggernaut of a live show. The powerhouse trio of Lemmy Kilmister (Bass and Vox), Phil Campbell (guitar) and Mikkey Dee (drums) received rave reviews across the board for their 18th studio album, ‘Kiss Of Death’, released on SPV Records in August 2006; "Back to their remorseless best" said Uncut, "The Sound of a band at the very top of their game" - Classic Rock, and The Telegraph "It’s enjoyably visceral entertainment, particularly the epic anthem ‘God Was Never On Your Side’."


M&C Exclusive Interview: Kelly O. talks Dollyrots, SXSW, and why the Dollyrots are "Awesome"

M&C had the great pleasure of chatting with Kelly Ogden, also known as "Kelly O", the lead singer and bassist for the pop punk trio The Dollyrots. Hailing from L.A. and proud of it, The Dollyrots are a pop punk band with a fun, spunky attitude that lends itself to late night sugar rushes and midnight horror movies. Ogden’s syrupy sweet vocals are often backed up with punchy lyrics that kick you in the face while tickling the ears.

Refusing to fall in with the typical crowd of the genre, Ogden and her bandmates (Luis Cabezas, Chris Black) have created a sound that puts a fresh spin on a familiar style. The band recently made the jump from Lookout Records to JOAN JETT’s BLACKHEART RECORDS, and will be releasing a new album entitled ‘Because I’m Awesome’ on March 13. They will also be appearing on stage during South By Southwest in Austin at Emo’s as a part of the BLACKHEART RECORDS performance.

M&C: You guys played at SXSW last year. How was that?
Kelly O: It was so much fun! We got to meet a bunch of's kind of like summer camp for bands. Like, you get to go out and watch other bands and hang out and get too drunk on St. Patrick's Day all together. It's a pretty awesome thing. We didn't get to go to many of the panels last year and we want to try and do that this year. It's just really neat to have all those bands in one place and you can just wander in and out of shows all the time.



low resolution image Not Enlargeable I love rock and roll, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. THOMMY PRICE drums on JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS’ classic song "I Love Rock and Roll" a couple hundred nights every year. Although Thommy jokes throughout this interview that he’s a "frustrated guitar player," he is best known for his work since 1986 as The BLACKHEARTS’ drummer. Thommy has also drummed in Scandal and Mink DeVille, and on albums by Billy Idol, Blue Oyster Cult, Roger Daltrey, and countless others. On his upcoming solo CD, "That’s Amore," as he did on his 2005 record "Sex, Drums and Rock N’ Roll," Thommy drums, sings, and plays guitar. I was thrilled when Thommy took the time to chat with me about his solo records, JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS, and his drumming career.

Dave: Hey Thommy. Thanks for letting me do this interview. JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS have a late March 2007 show booked on Staten Island. Is it too early in the year to tell or do you already have a feel for how much touring The BLACKHEARTS will do in 2007?
THOMMY: Yeah, it’s too early. I’m only getting bits and pieces from the office on what the spring and summer touring schedule will be like. It’s ironic that we’re starting on Staten Island because I grew up there. Like always, it should be a heavy touring year. In 2006, it was especially heavy because we did two full-fledged tours. Back to back, we did the Vans Warped Tour and our own tour. Both were bus tours, which we normally don’t do. We do a lot of fly-dates, where we’re out for a few days and then come back.

Dave: What about your solo project, Sex, Drums and Rock N’ Roll? Any gigs planned for 2007?
THOMMY: I book my solo gigs around the JOAN JETT tour dates, and I’ve only been home for two weeks. I really haven’t planned any for 2007 yet because I’m just getting ready to release a new solo record called "That’s Amore." It’s mastered, as of a few days ago, and I’m working on the packaging and finalizing the artwork.


One totally godhead celebration to honor Rodney on the Roq

Hollywood is the place where "it's all happening" on Friday.

Legendary radio personality Rodney on the Roq (known for the famous catchphrase above, among others) gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 11:30 a.m. in front of the Knitting Factory (7021 Hollywood Blvd.).

For more than 30 years, Rodney Bingenheimer has exposed Southern California radio listeners to new rock music via his late Sunday night show on KROQ-FM (106.7).


Praiser still rockin' and rollin'

SUSAN BLOND celebrated 20 years of nudging, promoting and raising her eyebrows to say, "It's not true." Or, "I promise you, this is the greatest thing I've ever seen." The PR empress took over Michael's recently to celebrate her rock'n'roll music promo career. Susan, in a vintage Chanel suit, was impulsively draped with a sash reading "Miss Universe, Zuleyka Rivera" by the beauty queen herself. Susan wore it all night. Charles Koppelman, John Riggins, JOAN JETT and Ronnie Spector were all on hand. ... There is excellent buzz for Disney/Pixar's animated feature, "Ratatouille," which the powers that be showed around the other day in New York. Story concerns an ambitious rat who dreams of being a chef in a gourmet restaurant kitchen. Brad Bird of "The Incredibles" directed. ... Billy Crystal currently in Australia with "700 Sundays," is looking for theater space in London.


low resolution image Not Enlargeable

Androgynous Video
from: Morgan Night

The video for "Androgynous" was shot Sunday March 4th in Santa Monica California. It was directed by Morgan Higby Night(Shortbus) and should be completed sometime in April. Go to the Devil's Night blog for some trivia about the video...

For more information click here

"Androgynous" Video trivia...
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

• Guest star cameos include John Doe and Duane Peters

• Androgynous was originally performed by The Replacements

JOAN JETT and John Doe have known each other since Joan was 15 yet have never appeared on film together

• Morgan Higby Night the director asked Tim Curry, Lydia Lunch, Mary Woronov, Poison Ivy, and Lee Ving to do cameos as well. He never got past Tim Curry's agent; Lydia and Mary both said yes but both were out of town; Ivy and Lee never called him back.

• John Fante College, where Dick and Jane go to school, is a fictional college named after one of Morgan's favorite authors. He was also Charles Bukowski's favorite author.

• Jean Spinosa who plays Mrs. Ribbon in the video also played the yellow ribbon in Morgan's last video for "Stick Magnetic Ribbons on your S.U.V."

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