Hiya Jon thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
Thank you, it’s a pleasure to be here.
Hiya Jon, how are you doing today?
I am doing well, I am keeping it together.
What have you been doing during lock down?
Well, staying safe, mainly. I still have my day job so that takes up a chunk of time but I have also had a flood of inspiration and things I wanted to write about and so I have probably produced and released more music in 2020 than I have in any previous year.
How has it effected your mental health?
Any change of routine is going to be weird at first and I have probably gone through all the stages of surprise, grief and acceptance that everyone else has gone through. Honestly, song writing has been a fantastic outlet. There has been a lot to write about in the last couple of years and I like to think that it’s healthier to put that stuff in a song, mask it with some poetry and release an album or an EP or something than either rant to your loved ones (who, let’s face it, are sick of your shit already) or spew it on to social media. What I find, listening back to them with a little distance, is that they end up being about fairly universal themes anyway and you can apply them to so much in life. That’s when I consider the lyric a success.
So tell me a little bit about you and what you like doing for fun?
I am a Brit living in the U.S. during, certainly, one of the strangest periods of existence in living memory but I think my British ability to harness the twin powers of cynicism and sarcasm help me immensely. For fun I love to watch movies, write songs and travel. Movies and song writing have been great hobbies to have in 2020.
So you are from the big apple? Talk us through how the music scene is over there during the pandemic
I live here, and have done for 11 years but I am from the U.K. originally. In fact, as I type this, it’s the 13thAnniversary of me moving to the States. The music scene over here, during the pandemic, has almost been entirely online. In my neighbourhood in Brooklyn there have been bars and restaurants who had some outside live music during the summer but once the cold weather rolled in, it gets harder and harder. I have enjoyed seeing performers and bands get inventive online and find ways to let their music travel. I know everyone misses the audience interaction you get from live performance but it’s been nice to see some musicians step up and find a way to keep going. That’s inspirational. Adopt, adapt, improve and all that…
How do you think the government have looked after the night time economy / live gig circuit in New York?
Unfortunately, like most things in America, it has seemingly been left up to either charities or private citizens. There are quite a few artist and venue support groups and charities around but navigating the bureaucracy of it all will drive a person insane.
What’s your favourite song right now from another band?
I have been pretty heavily obsessed with The Mountain Goats for a while now. Musically I tend to get stuck into a certain band or a certain sound and then live in that space for a while and only that space. The Mountain Goats put out a couple of albums this year and a great live set. Listening back to their latest, “Getting into Knives”, for the fifth or sixth time I became really drawn to the song “Harbor Me” – it’s impeccably produced, I mean everything is perfect on that song, the tune is just the right side of catchy and the lyrics are both playful but also profound. I dig it.
If your fans could remember one thing about you what would it be?
That I believed sharing positive creativity was really all that mattered. Love is a protest.
We are at a point right now where social media and musical distribution platforms give emerging artists more access and availability to get their stuff out there than ever before – and with a click of a button you can share someone’s song or book or film or whatever with everyone you know and all of them could share it with all the people they know. A few clicks of a button and a sizable chunk of people could know what you created.
And yet most of what we are bombarded with on social media is either angry, divisive politics from inadequate media outlets and loathsome, celebrity, politicians, that is commented on endlessly and with no result, mediocre memes which provide a passing chuckle but are forgotten as soon as they are found and adverts for stuff we don’t need.
Share one creative thing and you can quantifiably make the day better for the person who created that thing. Comment, like, stream or purchase and you can make their week. You can factually make things better for someone.
That’s what I love to do. Yes I love to create and hope people share and support my meagre offerings but I love to pay it forward, spread positive creativity and make people feel better. We can all do it, quickly and for free, I do wonder why we don’t. Love is a protest.
What useless talent do you have/ party trick?
I’m a pretty good storyteller and can do silly voices – not sure if that counts
Tell us something about each member that you think people would be surprised about?
I am mostly a solo artist, multi-instrumentalist, that records under the band name Miscellaneous Plumbing Fixtures. The last few albums I have done have included some amazing collaborators and we’ve formed this unofficial collective called “The Fixtures”. I think people would be surprised to learn that we haven’t all been in a room together before, ever and, even more surprising, there are even some I have never met in person.
Collaborating digitally and with people across the world is now easier than ever, so I strongly encourage artists to go out there, find a musician whose work you love and ask them to collaborate – surprisingly, they mostly say yes and it only ever makes the music better!
Best gig you’ve been to that you weren’t playing?
Oh this is such a hard question – my first time seeing The Tragically Hip at Shepherd’s Bush Empire was amazing, I saw Tom Waits at an old theatre in El Paso Texas which was a once in a lifetime kind of deal, The Mountain Goats at City Winery in New York is probably the most emotional experience I’ve ever had at a gig and We Were Promised Jetpacks played a blinder of a gig that was utterly transcendent, back in February, this year in New Jersey…
but best gig out of those? probably The Mountain Goats in City Winery – so emotional, so cathartic and I was with my favouritepeople.
Who would you like to work with on the circuit right now?
There’s a great group of indie recording artists that I know, Motern Media, J.E.A. Wallace, Trademark Issues, Jay Mayo AKA Chuck Wagon, Johnny Unicorn, Odilon Green, Jonny and the Kid and we have played together on various recordings, but I’d love, after the virus gets tamed and venues re-open, to play a gig with all those cats. That would be incredible.
What advice would you give someone going into the music industry?
Say yes. Say yes to collaborating. Say yes to putting out those songs and demos you’re not sure about. Say yes to letting others produce, mix or change your stuff. Be open and not precious about anything. Also realise that wherever you think you are right now, everything is an evolution and to evolve, you need to be open to change and development. Basically, just get out there, be bold, say yes, put your heart on the line and find success on your own terms.
What’s your biggest achievement as a band?
Our albums Where Our Hearts Can Be A Shambles, that we released in February, and then Truer Crime, that we put out in September are probably our biggest joint achievements. After years and years of writing, I finally felt whole as a songwriter and then the collaborators I brought on and the band we formed, all of them just got it and took what I had started and elevated it to heights I couldn’t imagine. Plus my wife wrote one of the songs “Crystals Missing” on Where Our Hearts, so that was a bucket list moment for me.
I hear you have a new album brewing, what can you tell us about it?
Well I am coming off the back of a year where I have released more music than ever before. Bandcamp’s First Friday initiative was great because it gave me deadlines throughout the second half of the year. Deadlines are great. Write write write, record record record, stand by whatever you achieve and just put it out into the world. It’s liberating! And the world will always want and need music. We put out two collaborative band albums, I put out one solo album, a couple of albums of stuff I had in the vaults – including some live demos from 2020 that was sort of like a solo live album – and then 2 EPs. So it’s been a busy year.
However, I am still finding things to write about and songs to sing, so I already have about 4 or 5 tracks written for the next album and the first 3 have gone out to some new collaborators and a producer friend of mine – so I am waiting to hear back what comes from that.
I am currently setting myself an arbitrary deadline of my Birthday in February, but who knows.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
Just that it’s ok to be imperfect, homemade stuff is great and indie creativity should be championed.