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Sunday, October 22, 2006

PoPINIONS: DAN JONES

As you will no doubt discover, Dan Jones certainly says all the rights things and makes all the right noises. His influences are pretty much all the right ones and that's why he makes indie rock music that is relevant and vibrant. Dan cracked that my questions opened the gates - heh - that's what it's all about, boys and girls...
If pressed, how would you describe the music of Dan Jones?

Melodic, cathartic rock/pop songs inspired by all kinds of postpunk rock and its antecedents. Songs that are smart, narrative, conversational, weird, confessional, non-confessional, full of hooks. Hell, I don't know. Awesome driving music, people tell me. Steve Wynn said Dan Jones and the Squids live sounded like solo Pete Townshend and '69 VU. That sounds pretty good to me, too. That was a hot lineup, lucky times.

Who would you say have had the biggest influences on your music & why?

Friends who encouraged me (esp Tom Jessen and Ed Cole, both singer-songwriters). Earth-school circumstances that roughed me up, gave me something to sing about. Also, music has always been one of my best friends, whether it was the Jackson Browne record I bought for my sister as a "birthday present" in 1977 or the first hardcore records in the 80's. Seeing SST bands on the tour circuit, up close, in the 80's, seeing bands load their own stuff out of the van, on the street. The spiritual and intellectual side of The Who, yoked to masterly song craft, dog-fight musicality, and powerful arrangements, still inspires; D. Boon still sets the standard for cutting out the crap. and fighting personal and cultural fascism. 80's Lou Reed has always seemed totally underrated to me--the stuff with Robert Quine and Fernando Saunders, to me, sets the standard for aging gracefully and creatively after getting your heavy destructo freak on. A song like "legendary hearts" is americana to me, not some faux-rural crap about straw hats and hanging out drunk on the porch. Meat Puppets are my favorite band of all time. In the best sense of it, they did not care. Every record came from a different angle. And I lived and breathed Husker Du for a long time. The Silo's Cuba is a favorite, the first "less is more" rock record to come my way. For fiction writing 101 in song, I like Tom T. Hall and Freedy Johnston. For brutal force focused through amps I never quit listening to The Stooges and Black Flag. Neil Young continues to open different channels according to how he's feeling and that's really inspiring. Robert Pollard's flow is pretty inspiring. If you really show up and just let stuff start to happen, there's no such thing as creative block.

What inspired you to pick up a guitar and write songs?

Originally I just wanted to be like the people on the records I liked, who played in the bands I was seeing, and do what they were doing. It was also something tactile to do with my hands while I fretted about how to become a writer or a poet. Also self-medication and later, poverty. Tacking my boombox recordings at the end of mix tapes was also a start. "Oh, and check THIS out, too." I like how guitars smell. I liked seeing the pictures colored by the music, working with my hands, the shapes of chords and how they fit together, the fiddling with word choices. The need to express yourself is rooted in all sorts of things but passing the time with enjoyment is one of the most important motivations. Impressing people and getting a reaction is great too but won't necessarily keep ya goin.

What is the biggest obstacle to being creative?

Cynicism, perfectionism, and yoking self worth to someone else's standards. Fatigue. Burnout. Credit card debt. Worry. Addiction--whatever it might be. Thinking it's magic and not showing up. Hoping someone will do things on the "business" side that you can actually do yourself.

Can we expect a new album soon from Dan Jones and what will sound like?

The first proper Dan Jones and The Squids album (my fourth overall) is due in 2007. It's the first album I've made where tracking happened in a productive caffeinated three day blast, with a seasoned, consolidated lineup: me, Mike Last on drums, Dave Snider on bass, Patrick Hayden on guitar. The three albums I had in mind going in were Sonic Youth's Evol, Who's Next, and Lou Reed's The Blue Mask. This sounds grandiose but hey, those were just the things I was thinking about at the time. Two-guitar rock jangle, saturated drone, with some martial psychedelic aspects. Unlike past albums there aren't a handful of depressive ballads that set up the punky sucker punches. This record clips along fast. What's new about it is a few songs that are through-written without alot of A/B/A/B/Bridge format. Kind of artier, heavier, and faster than anything I've done before. There's a couple straight up pop songs on there and ballad too. I'm psyched. We're working at a studio called Big Timbre in Eugene, with an engineer named Jason Robbins. I finished the vocals this week.
Where you goin' - www.powerofpop.com is where you wanna be!

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