Occasionally even best laid interview plans take a turn for the …. unplanned. We had full intentions of showcasing Justin Jones (and the Driving rain) and their unique folky americana rock before their show this Saturday at Velvet, Joel took some pictures and then, before we knew it it was Thursday. Thursday late at night, at that. So we sent Haley off to 9.30 club to see Justin (in his fully resplendant, new dreamboat image) and as things do in a bar, late at night, the conversation turned to everything from soul searching to writing “not sad songs” to…hopefully a drink or two.
Here goes: BY HALEY.
I was given the chance to interview the very talented Justin Jones, and he was very kind to answer some questions while he was at working at the 9:30 Club last night… Don’t miss him this Saturday, at the Velvet Lounge.
HH: I hear you have some new band members, and this weekend will be the first time playing a show together. How do you anticipate it will go?
JJ: I can’t say I have some new band members, but I have a couple guys playing with me that are totally capable musicians and its always nice to play with people like that. If they like the gigs maybe they’ll decide they want to play more, if that continues i will ask them to do the traditional membership blood handshake ceremony and we’ll make it official.
HH: This weekend is a trial period for both you and the two new band members?
JJ: Yeah, I mean they’re super good, everyone in the band is, so hopefully they’ll enjoy it and want to do more shows. That’s all I can ask for.
HH: You have some new songs coming out? How do you feel about them?
JJ Well they’re different. I’m just writing from a different place now, its not all about look at “poor old me”. I don’t know how i feel about them but I’m like that. I don’t know if i like any songs i write until everyone else says they’re alright.
HH: Country music has a continuous theme of sorrow, heat break, alcohol, and even most of the “up-beat” songs can’t get away from sadness. Can we expect that your new music will be as sad and dark like the songs you have always played?
JJ: I don’t see the old songs as “sad and dark”, toMe they’re all about hope, they talk about the hardships I’ve put myself through. I don’t write “sad songs”, I used to write hopeful songs from sad situations. Now I’m not in a sad situation, but life will deliver misery to your door at any given moment, how will you react?
HH: Why the change?
JJ: I’m not going to go into the details but I’ve had a spiritual awakening, and I’m trying to put God first and let him guide me through each day. So far I’ve enjoyed where he’s led me.
HH: Well, I also hear you will be recording these songs with an amazing local producer. Does this mean you will have a new album soon?
JJ: I will be recording a new record, with some people whose opinions I value greatly.
HH: Will we get a chance to hear these new songs this weekend?
JJ: I will play some new songs both nights. (Friday, March 16, in Baltimore and Saturday, March 17, in DC.) it’s not like I hate my old stuff, I’m just coming from a different place right now. The songs on Love verses Heroin are still very valid to me.
HH: Your music is hard to place in a category, some people might call it country, some people not. What has influenced your sound?
JJ: My goal when i started this whole thing was to sound like old stones records and definitely The Band. I wanted to be like an old school rootsy kind of rock band, but I write waltzes. My songs always end up as waltzes. So some people hearthat and think country. Plus I’m southern so people throw that out there too.
HH: What and who are your current influences?
JJ: I am listening to a lot of local stuff. There are some great people making music in this city that i admire.
HH: Who are some of your favorite DC Bands?
JJ: Chiam Rubenstien, and Laura Tsaggaris, who are both playing with me this Saturday. John Bustine is one of my favorite songwriters. Brandon Butler and Revival are making some increadible music as well. Army of Me is an amazing bunch of guys making great music too…
HH: You almost moved to Austin, where your music would have been more appreciated, but you decided to stay in DC. Why did you decided to stay?
JJ: I wanted to move to Austin because i was living in misery here. The answer for me was getting out of town. I ended up staying because the problem wasn’t Washington DC, it was more internal, once I addressed those issues I could be happy anywhere. Now in general I love Texas, Austin happens to be the one progressive place in Texas, so I wanted to live there. That doesn’t mean I can’t have a ball in Fort Worth, but in Austin I feel more at ease. If I lived in Houston or Dallas or whatever it would be hard to get used to the culture.
It’s just slower there. I’m adjusted to the east coast, DC does annoy me at times though. Like I often hear people say they like every type of music, but then tell me they hate country.
That isn’t liking “everything”. In reality, they don’t know what country music really is. I really wanted to go to Austin, but didn’t move because of money, my band, family, and my friends. I also thought if I left DC all my problems would be solved. I finally realized that those problems could not be resolved by simply moving away.
HH: Since you are staying in DC, can we expect a Justin Jones tour?
JJ: Going on tour is expensive. However, audiences in the southern cities seem to appreciate my music a lot more, but tours outside the Mid-Atlantic are hard. Here you can play a lot more cities in a shorter time. I’m gearing up to play a lot more shows this summer, and getting out of town to play in NY, Philly, Richmond, Charlottesville, and down to Nashville… Perhaps even Austin.
till then….catch Justin at: