The best singer-songwriter you (likely) haven't heard
Published: February 15, 2012
MT: So much darkness as a [still] young man ...
Jones: I don't know how much further I can go, but it's definitely time to go the opposite direction. So, last winter, I got things rolling. Got back into the studio, finished this new record, did a session at Daytrotter [a studio and online live music site based in Rock Island, Ill.]. Then, I started falling back into my patterns a bit. And then I got a D.U.I.
Jones: I could see it coming. I knew it was gonna happen. And, for a few weeks after, I thought: I think music did this to me, or the way I presumed I had to approach a musician's lifestyle. The way I'd been living the past 10 years culminated in this.
MT: What'd you take away from that?
Jones: Thinking you have to subscribe to a lifestyle that ultimately kills you, or, God-forbid, kills someone else. It's ludicrous. And thinking you have some sort of free artist's pass to do so is really fucked up. So, yeah, I needed to slow down. And I had to stop everything, it couldn't just be drinking or just stopping going out, it had to be the whole package. I chilled, laid low and got involved with projects [with fellow Ypsi-area songwriters Misty Lyn Bergeron and Chris Bathgate]. And I haven't had a drink in several months now and things are rocking. Not rocking, it's just ... that my brain is working now. The fog is gone.
MT: Sounds cleansing, with good friends in tow.
Jones: Definitely. The past paints everything you do, the way you see things. So, yeah, there was a dark side. But since I stopped drinking I can actually remember what things — music, writing, playing — were like before all that shit. I'd like to grab some of it back.
I think of [cellist] Colette and Misty. And I think of Bathgate — the guy is fucking driven, just constantly preoccupied with the things he wants, musically, professionally, creatively, that's why he's going to crush everyone on a musical and professional level.
MT: Colette Alexander's worked with you many times, same with Misty Bergeron, what makes it work for you three.
Jones: Really, with Colette on stage, I can do anything; I want her right there, she's my musical soul mate. And with her cello, she can tie in. And Misty's been responsible for saving my life more than a few times; I couldn't be more proud of her, she's shrugged more than a few demons from her back and has never told a lie, musically or personally. She doesn't get enough credit in my eyes.
MT: And you toured with Chris Bathgate behind his latest Salt Year LP, what was that like and how'd that come about?
Jones: I can't remember why I wasn't on the original April tour; I've drifted in and out of his band, like most people who've been in it. He was so broke after that first spring tour that he'd be chasing me down streets of Ann Arbor, hunting me down for the $6.50 I'd owed him for a pack of smokes. So, he started painting houses with me as a day job through the summer. And in August he invited me for the autumn tour. It was a good trip ... we won more than we lost.
MT: What'd you take away from that tour?
Jones: When I do tours on my own, I hate downtime. I could care less, actually, about going to the ocean, seeing things. Fuck it, if I could be out on a college radio station, doing anything, I'll do it. I will whore it out.
MT: That should be my lead for this piece.
Jones: Go for it! But, yeah, on tours, sometimes I thought I was a freak, 'cause I will not take days off. After the Bathgate tour, with its downtimes, I'm assured I'm not such a freak. What could be better than getting home and saying: Damn, I really worked that as hard as I could. Even if it fails, you know you did everything you could. I'm gonna kick it up even more this year. And I hope Bathgate never comes on tour with me 'cause I'm gonna work his ass off. [laughs]
MT: Record labels showed interest in Half Poison, but weren't fully committing; I'm sure you've talked to other bands about it — to just put it out yourself, whether you're Prussia or Danny Brown ...
Jones: Right. No point in holding back, I mean, if that's the last record you're ever gonna make in your life then that's a problem. Hopefully you'll keep going. Jamie Monger [of Great Lakes Myth Society] and I discussed this; the model of waiting for a label has become senseless. Just get shit out and make it free too, and do away with CD release parties, I'm against them — I have a job, I'm not going to be hurt. I can stroke my ego all day; I don't need my friends in one place paying to get in to do it for me.
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