” A lot of arsonists and people with assault charges …” Explains Jon. “Nothing serious though, no murderers or anything like that. Well – maybe not … ”
Jon’s band have been around for twenty years. Long enough for the band to be comfortable with not only themselves – their somewhat colorful audience. Spencer and his ‘dynamite’ mates are in the midst of a tour which saw them play at Le Festival D’Ete in Quebec City The band are touring in support of their new album; Meat and Bone.
” We wrote most of the tracks in 2011 and it was completed in 2012.” Explains Spencer. ” We were happy the way the album turned out but when you are making a baby – you never know what color hair it will have! We have toured all over for the album; Japan – all over Europe and watching the audience react is the true test to the new songs. When you see people bopping their heads and they have big smiles, you then realize you have done something good.”
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion consists of three members and are based in New York City. Judah Bauer is on bass guitar, backing vocals, harmonica and occasional lead vocals, Russell Simins batters the skins and Jon Spencer sings and plays guitar. They are a mixture of many things. Some say Alternative, others call them Punk. Truly those elements exist yet their roots are based in Rock n Roll and Blues. A definite trio that march to their own beat …
‘We are old men now …” Laughs Jon. ” Really we have not changed too much since the beginning. We love the Blues and try to stick with it. It’s all in the way you carry yourself. You cannot carry on like a teenager on stage or off. You grow up but remain young. The attitude remains the same.”
Spencer’s youth consisted of various musical and diverse acts. The Stooges, Otis Redding, Devo, Kraftwerk , The Velvet Underground, Captain Beefheart and James Brown The band has also recorded with Elliott Smith, Beck, Solomon Burke, Steve Albini, Martina Topley-Bird and Ad Rock of the Beastie Boys. Quite the melting pot for a stew which seems to have stood the test of time and remains tasteful.
“I really took all genres and implemented them into the Blues Explosion. After twenty years, I consider myself fortunate enough to to be able to do this and to have a following of people. Our audience consists of a lot of woman over forty and ex – cons. To come to our concerts, expect a lot of metal detectors and pat-downs. It certainly is not like Woodstock.”
Although Spencer and his mates tote a cast of unsavory characters around – the band itself cares very much of the world around them. The song; ‘Black Mold’ from the new album, is about Hurricane Irene and it’s devastating effects.
“The tune …” Explains Jon. “Was originally penned about records getting destroyed in cardboard boxes. Ironically, a year later, Hurricane Sandy hit which was far more devastating. The song also helped to raise funds for the victims of New York and the band has and continues to donate monies for the victims of tragedies such as Irene among many others.”
Spencer is also an advocate of ‘the tragedy of the music business’ and ensures people do not cheat the system by downloading stuff for free. He is very vocal when it comes to convincing people to buy CD’s at concerts and to support the ‘good’ acts that are not necessarily on the radio. Something which – according to Spencer, has not changed since his band commenced in 1991 and when he was a kid growing up …
” I come from New Hampshire and I listened to the local Fm station as well as any station I could get. There was a lot of crap on the radio back then as there is now. Money buys airplay and it has always been that way. It is the small guys who may get that one song on the radio, they are the ones who need support. The internet is good and bad. You can search for what you like but then again – a lot of new bands get recognition but do not make money. If you find something or someone you like – buy their stuff. Do not make the deejays of corporate stations rich along with the bands who are also rich. ‘Bag of Bones‘ , the title track from our new album is about that topic …”
All of the songs are written by the band and remain a joint effort. A universal feel between the members. They will listen to ‘the trends’ but if a song does not feel right, it is dismissed quite quickly. A common denominator throughout the band’s eight album discography.
Another common denominator is controversy including a ‘hoax’ where Tom Waits was said to have replaced Spencer in the band. A joke placed on the website just to see if the ‘mainstream’ media would ‘pick up’ the story.
A common denominator like the ‘not average’ audience that follow The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion around.
Jon likes it that way …
- Jon Spencer Blues Explosion Slags White Stripes, Black Keys, 1990s (huffingtonpost.ca)
- Blues Explosion! (tucsonweekly.com)
- Concert Review: Ottawa Bluesfest 2013 (Day 7) – The Tragically Hip, LP, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion + More (aestheticmagazinetoronto.com)
- Club scene: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion performs at Call the Office Saturday night. (lfpress.com)
- Jon Spencer brings his own kind of blues explosion to Bluesfest (blogs.ottawacitizen.com)
- Muddy Waters on Grooveshark (grooveshark.com)