Strange-but-true real-life photo of John Jordan actually driving while asleep! I got to ride up to Aspen with Chris and John on 10/9. After awhile I suddenly saw that John was driving the van while sound asleep! Chris explained that John has driven so many miles, all over this big country of ours, for many years, that he literally knows every turn and distance from memory of any road anywhere! While asleep he uses his hands to feel the road through the steering wheel and his ears to determine the weather conditions ahead. Chris said sometimes the whole band will be asleep as they head towards their next gig! Unconcerned, we went on with the interview...
Well Chris, here we are doin
yet another pesky fan club interview! I would like to talk to you about
some of your influences and how theyve affected you and your playing.
Probably my biggest influence is John McLaughlin. He showed me theres many different ways to go from point A to Point B. Thats what Im trying to adhere to as my career goes on. Keep changing. Who knows what the third album is gonna sound like! Jazz gave me a sensitivity and a longing to really know my instrument, so I can play it with a type of command. Rock gave me my aggressive side. Especially punk when that came out. But then again, what really is punk anyway? It was punk to play some of the jazz stuff back in the 40s. Elvis, too. Its an attitude. Theres still punk today. Im just trying to take all these influences that I have and keep stretching the parameters of the blues. Trying to change blues. I feel that if blues is going to survive, its gotta change and evolve over time.
This album has a real city-blues feel to it, almost like it was
arranged for horns.
I was real happy to start experimenting with rhythm loops. Once we started doing it it was a whole lot of fun. I look forward to using more of it. The producer brought it in and John and I immediately embraced it. James Brown is a big influence in my life. All the different rhythms he messed with. Tailspin has that James Brown 6/4 rhythm. Theres also modern influences, too. Like Kurt Cobain. Walls is my homage to him. I also pay homage to Jimmie Vaughan on Catch The Next Line. The one on the album. The alternate version is more like Buddy Guy, that crazy style of playing that he does so well. Thats really a lot of what this album is about, playing our influences and changing up, showing people theres a lot more to us. All my real fans know what we do. We try to take em on a full-spectrum musical journey. Im also trying to reach people who dont know about us and turn them on.
Ive been getting mail from
Hendrix fans whove been getting hip to the band
and they are all impressed with your spirit, the emotion.
Thats how I always want to play. I dont want to be a copycat or a clone. Its all about spirit.
How about songwriting? Who are some
influences in that area?
I wish I could write like Steely Dan! I also like the Beatles and the Stones a lot.
In terms of crafting a good pop song? Exactly. Gettin a good little hook melody goin on. Thats one reason why I like Kurt Cobain. He wasnt a great player, he was a great composer. And Ella Fitzgerald, her phrasing and singing. Nobody sang quite like Ella. I still like James Brown a lot for songwriting. Im still trying to find my own niche. I used to write a lot of jazz tunes, but writing rock tunes, I still consider myself a novice at it, but, If anyones got any kind of snap, theyll learn from their mistakes. Learn as they go along.
Much of the material on Tailspin
was written in a fairly brief period of time. You wrote around 5 or 6 songs
in about a six-month period that I can think of.
Yeah, and there were another five songs that didnt get put on the album. I hope to turn out that kind of volume for the next album.
When you write songs, is it a disciplined
approach or how you feel at a given moment?
Still being new at it, its pretty much a hurt thats happened in my life. Or something that I feel strongly about. Ill hear a little hook in my head and try to retain it, then build on it. Sometimes I like the way some words phonetically have a rhythm. The flow of them. Other times I put the words to a riff.
Have you had any songs come to you
at 3:00 in the morning, where you jump out of bed and go write it down?
I did one time. It was for a song called The Pop Song. And thats the one I spent the least time on. I wrote that in just over an hour. The lyrics and the music. It has sort of a Green Day-pseudo Beatle influence to it.
Lets hit the rewind button
back to your first album in 86 with The Bad Boys.
Were those songs mainly instrumentals first or were they written out beforehand?
I was listening to a lot of Weather Report back then. I would come up with a little riff and then jam on that and add to it. A lot of little parts added together. Its an old album from a younger day! (Groan.) People still talk about it though! If they can find one! Yeah, only 1,100 were made. Ive got a couple. You can still find one now and then. Were they only distributed in Texas? No, I sold 35 once in Newton, Kansas, at a Bad Boys gig! Some in Abilene and Austin.
When you were first learning guitar,
teaching yourself, did you listen to a lot of jazz?
When I was teaching myself I was still listening to a lot of rock stuff like Black Sabbath or AC/DC. I was just starting to get heavy into jazz. Back then I thought no way would I ever recognize all these people in jazz. After listening to it for many years I am now very familiar with their styles. What drew you to jazz in the first place? I liked how pretty it was and how it made me feel emotionally, especially ballads. They still move me to this day. Did you recently sit in with Sandy Allen down in Austin and play some jazz? I was horrible! I sounded really bad! Jazz, if you dont keep up with it, practice it, is gonna make you sound really bad! Thanks Chris! Should we wake up John or just let him keep drivin?