Interviews Music

Music Interview: Andrew Jackson Jihad

Words By: Laurent Shervington, Assisted by: Danyon Burge


Before Andrew Jackson Jihad took to the stage at Metro City, (playing in their tour with The Smith Street Band, The Sugarcanes and The Sidekicks) I had the pleasure of being able to hang out with frontman and songwriter Sean Bonnette to talk about how AJJ’s first ever Australian tour had been going.

So welcome to Perth! This is the first time you’ve been to Australia right? How has your time in Australia been so far?

So far it’s been wonderful, I can confidently say that Australia is my favourite country I’ve visited outside of my home, it’s been great so far.

We’re been skating a lot actually, I grew up watching skate videos where skaters would go to Australia and conquer the uncharted territory *laughs*.

I remember at Big Day Out a couple years ago Tony Hawk played a show, there were bands playing around him and he was just doing his thing.

*laughs* That’s cool.

I was at a festival recently and Tony Hawk was hanging out back stage, I saw him ask and successfully take a picture with Run the Jewels.

Nice!

Yeah it was awesome.

Has Australian been what you expected so far?

Something I found out that absolutely delighted me was that Australia eats their national animals.

*laughs* Yeah we do! Why do we do that?

I’ve had Kangaroo a few times and it hasn’t really been the best.

Yeah I guess there’s a lot of wild kangaroos here.

Yeah, they’re not at risk of being extinct.

Maybe we should make the Camel our national animal, because we’ve got so many of those *laughs*.

Really? Camels are a problem here?

Yeah they’ve become a bit of a pest.

Wow, I had no idea.

Do you know of many cool Australian bands?  Do you have a favourite?

Yeah, I really like Tame Impala, The Smith Street Band, Darren Hanlon – I saw him open up for Tim Kasher once, which was sweet.

I’ve got you some CDs of some cool Perth bands you might like.

Really? That’s awesome!

*Sean goes through CDs*

CDs Distributed
-Shit Narnia – Welcome to New LA
-Ermine Coat – Parking Lots
-Doctopus – Wobbegong
-Peter Bibby – Butcher/Hairstylist/Beautician

Shit Narnia? *laughs* What a great name. I think I’ve heard of Ermine Coat.

My favourite Australian band for the record will always be the Smith Street Band. Do you guys know Wolfpuppy? He’s an amazing twitter account and conceptual artist, he’s got like 123,000 twitter followers and he’s from Perth. He’s done designs for our band and we’re really excited to get to meet him for the first time.

On the topic of physical music releases, what do you guys think of this vinyl revival? Do you think its become more of a novelty hobby for many or is it a necessary evil for people to continue to support artists?

Well I think you can’t argue that its good for the market, I think its moved past the novelty. It’s how people support bands now, hopefully there will be more ways to support bands in the future but if you think of it like sports teams, you buy a jersey you’re supporting the team. Also the fact it sounds good is pretty cool. People seem to have forgotten that CDs sound good, like just as good if not better than vinyl, but I don’t care *laughs*.

As an art fan its just a bigger platform for art really.

Do you collect vinyl yourself?

Yeah!

Do you have any favourites in your collection?

I’ve got lots of favourites *laughs*. The one that popped into my head that I’d been looking for a while is Suicide’s first record.

Awesome! Great album.

Not an original pressing though.

Oh! I did find an original pressing of Neil Young’s ‘Tonight’s the Night’ though. I paid like $60 *laughs*.

I know  a friend of mine whose Dad had an original pressing of Abbey Road, and his Mum threw it out with council pickup.

Ooo bad call. *laughs*

Have you guys heard about the guys whose goal it is to collect every copy of the White Album?

*laughs* Yeah!

No matter how dog eared or beaten up it is, he’ll still take it. I’ve been meaning to send him one, I’ve got a shitty copy at home.

Yeah, you should do it *laughs*

So you guys played as a duo for a while, are you finding you’re enjoying playing with more members now?

Yeah it’s super fun, I’ve been a fan of Preston(guitar/keyboards) for a while, we’ve always called on Deacon (drums) and Preston to play on our records, so now it just makes sense to have them in our band.

Mark (cello), he’s been our merch guy for a while so we finally got to put his cello skills to use *laughs*.

Cello can be really awesome live.

Yeah he also plays it like a dickhead, he’s got lots of pedals and stuff. Heaps of overdrive, it’s basically just a third guitar. But he gets to play it sitting down *laughs*.

I’d love to see a effect maxed out flute, that would be awesome.

I like to think of folk punk as the most punk form of punk because its rebelling against punk itself (in terms of the actual music) do you think this is true?

I have a pretty long, weird relationship with folk punk. It’s kind of frustrating when making music.

Like it kind of boxes you in a bit?

Yeah like we’ll be making music that goes outside the realms of that, even into more kind of conventional rock n roll stuff. We can make the most clear and cut, two guitars, drum and bass record and they’ll still call it folk punk. We’re just known as that band.

But yeah the way you put it, it does kind of juke the convention of that kind of music. In that way I guess I should take it as a compliment, that we’re doing something different.

Do you think punk is a limiting term? Sometimes I feel like it can box you in with that sort of rebellious stance on stuff.

Yeah, I was listening to the Mike Watt from the Minutemen ‘WTF’ podcast, and he was talking about from back in the day there was a bunch of bands that were like ‘We’re punk bands, we  not punk in the sound, We’re punk in our heads!’.

That was super refreshing for him to say that again, to remind me – yeah you can be punk in your head- that’s the kind of punk I think we are, or what we want to be.

What do you think about Indie as a genre?

That was the genre that I identified with as a kid, like in high school and such. Yeah I’m totally into it. It is super contradictory because a lot of indie bands are on major labels, not really independent in the punk sense. To me it describes trying to do something different, sorta what punk should be.

Yeah, you’d have bands like Pavement, Dinosaur Jr and even Sonic Youth being called Indie.

But they were punk bands!

I know right! I guess it just goes with that kind of DIY aesthetic. Now you’ve got like two versions of Indie I guess, you’ve got those kind of breezy indie pop bands as well which people will call indie and it’s so separated from where the term originated.

Yeah, its strange. The genre name that excites me the most is Experimental.

After the tour what is next for AJJ? Would you ever see yourself doing a headline Australian tour?

Yeah! We’ve been talking about it and planting the seeds. We’ve got some stuff to do before that, we’ve got to do some touring over in the states and then release a new record, so we can’t comeback to Australia or really go anywhere else until we finish the new record.

We forgive you *laughs*.

Would you guys ever do an Australian festival tour?, I think you guys would dig the vibes.

It would depend on the dates and such but I love festivals, always so much fun. I get to see like a wide variety of bands I like, it’s awesome.

Is the offer on the inside of their first EP is still valid? (the offer was that they’d play any venue at any time in exchange for dancing and food).

Hell no! I’m struggling to remember what one that was, but the answer is definitely no. We’ll play where there’s fresh water and enough space for people.

Very mature response *laughs*.

Yeah *laughs*.