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Interview: Jack Jones

If you grew up in the 1990’s you no doubt knew Southern Sons and enjoyed singing along to their hits when you heard them come on the radio or see them on “Video Hits” on a Saturday morning. 

The band produced hits such as “Heart In Danger”, “Hold me in your Arms” and “You were There” which have now become Aussie classics and favourites. Now fast forward three decades and the guys are reforming for a reunion tour. Simone Tyrrell was very excited and honoured to speak to front man Jack Jones about the reunion of the band, the upcoming One Electric Day tour and how the music industry has changed over the past three decades. 

Simone:  I just want to say thank you for taking the time to talk to me today. It’s actually such a privilege and an honour for me to talk to you. 

Jack: Awww thank you. 

Simone: I’ve actually been a big fan of Southern Son’s since the 90’s. 

Jack: Oh fantastic. 

Simone:  So I’m quite old as well!! 

Jack laughs 

Simone: But I do have to say, sadly in my late teens when Southern Sons hit the music scene, I never got the opportunity to see you guys play live, but I have to say I’m one of the many fans that are excited to hear the announcement that you’re reforming and getting the opportunity to see you play live. So now, how does it feel for you, almost three decades on, knowing that the fans are still there and are still wanting to come along and see you play live again? 

Jack: It’s an amazing feeling and I didn’t think I would ever have the opportunity to have that feeling again, and definitely experience it in a different way. I think it just makes you realise how lucky we were to have been a part of people’s lives, and that those people are still out there. I’m a music fan myself, so when I say it, “it seems pretty obvious mate you love music”, but really I think you don’t want to take it for granted because there’s a lot of music out there and it’s easy to possibly get lost in it all. I think we were fortunate by the virtue of the time we came out and we just struck a chord and I’m so excited about playing with my mates again. Going out and doing these songs it’s something I feel very fortunate that I’m able to do again and that it’s worked out that everyone’s available and everyone wants to do it. With the exception of Phil, he’s not doing it but everyone else is doing it. So it’s very exciting for me and to be out playing these songs with my band over the last year and just seeing the response has really made me quite nostalgic. 

Simone: Yeah yeah I actually went along to your solo gig at The Publican. 

Jack: Oh you would have seen me quite emotional at that gig. I was crying at that show! 

Simone: Yes you did. I actually, so sorry, recorded that and put that on social media! 

Jack: Amazing! Thank you I’m glad. 

Simone: But you did actually share it. 

Jack: Ohhhh that was your clip! That was your clip! 

Simone: Yes that was me! 

Jack: Fantastic. Amazing. 

Simone: For me, even as you were saying, being a music fan, and seeing someone that you’ve followed their music for a while and coming back and playing, and as you saw with the reaction, just watching the whole crowd just all of a sudden just burst into song and join in it was amazing. It was really beautiful to see how touched you were by that and it was amazing. It was a lovely experience. 

Jack: Oh that’s awesome. I was really moved that night. That’s such a coveted experience for me. To start singing a song and have people singing along with you. I mean it’s not like singing Jessie’s Girl; even though I’m sure for Rick Springfield it is! It really is a special and unique experience. I think there’s something very meaningful about being able to be a little part of people’s lives. There’s something really special about that and I definitely don’t take it for granted. It’s great and I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to go and share that with the boys and we get to do that together. It’s great to be able to go back and do it again. I’m so excited. 

Simone: With all of the hits you had in the 90s like “Heart In Danger”, “Hold Me in Your Arms”, “Always and Ever”, and “You Were There”; they’re actually known now as great Aussie classics and they still get the radio play, and people still love singing along to them. So as you just said with your experience of how you’ve had the opportunity to experience it live doing them solo; how do you think the guys will take it when you are doing the reunion tour and everyone’s screaming back the songs to you and joining in? Do you think they will be just as moved? 

Jack: I think so. I think we’re all a bit older and we’re all a bit more nostalgic and we’re all ready to do it and have that experience together. I’m really excited about us all sharing that experience. It’s been a long time since we played this music together. I’ve done stuff with Virgil since the band parted ways. I’ve done stuff with Reggie, so it’s not like we haven’t seen each other but we haven’t played this stuff since the last time we played which was a long time ago. So I’m really really excited about getting in a room with these guys and us all banging out these songs again. It’s going to be really fun. I haven’t seen Geoff in 30 years. 

Simone: Wow that’s amazing. 

Jack: Well maybe 25 years!! I haven’t seen him. Like have NOT seen him. As a matter of fact, until a few months ago I literally hadn’t seen him. I didn’t know what he looked like; I mean I know what he looked like; but I didn’t know what he looked like! So even calling everyone and having this conversation about going back and playing has been really exciting and inspiring so I’m pumped about it. I think we’re going to have a great time. I really do. 

Simone: It’s going to be so exciting I can’t wait to see the show myself. 

Jack: We’re looking forward to having you there. 

Simone: Other than the reunion tour, we’re also going to be seeing Southern Sons play at One Electric Day, which for the first time ever they’re branching out of Victoria and going to Tasmania, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia as well. Are you guys looking forward to being back on the gig circuit and playing a festival with a line-up of other Aussie artists that are also celebrating long running careers in the music industry. 

Jack: Yeah I am. I’m very excited about that. Dwayne’s a great guy he really pushed and was very encouraging when it came to putting the band back together and seeing if we could make that possible. He really was a big force in that. I think it’s going to be great and it’s the perfect audience to be sharing that with. And of course, it has to be mentioned, that I would be lying if I said I wasn’t excited about seeing John again. I haven’t seen him for a while. That’s going to be great fun. And in a way it’s kind of like a full circle almost. It just feels right. 

Simone: I was actually going to ask next; John Farnham and Jon Stevens will both be performing on the One Electric Day tour line up and you’ve worked with both before on collaborations and obviously with John Farnham way back in your early days as well. So other than what you just said that it’s going to be exciting and it’s come full circle again; what will it be like for you to be working with them again and being back on the road touring with them again? 

Jack: Look I don’t know. I’m looking forward to having that experience as a wiser man than I was when I did it the first time. And not that I think I did anything wrong, I think I’ll be able to actually enjoy the experience more, because I think I’ll be a bit more present than the first time around. Not so much with Jon Stevens because we’ve done stuff over the years, but with old mate, for the most part that first tour I spent being pretty much overwhelmed. John is truly one of the greatest singers ever to have graced the planet. He really is. When that guy sings you just have to take notice. He’s fierce. He’s absolutely fierce. A lot of people thought I had issues with being compared to him, and I did. The issue I had; was I didn’t want to be compared to such greatness. There was huge pressure for me with that. So, if it ever seemed like I had a problem with it, that was probably what it was. It wasn’t “I don’t want to be John Farnham”. There’s only enough room for one John Farnham. He’s got the market cornered. He’s a phenomenal force. So, I just never wanted to be compared to that kind of greatness because with that came all of this pressure that I just didn’t want. So consequently, most of the time I wasn’t really enjoying myself. I think now I’m much more comfortable in my skin then I was. I’m really really excited to be embarking on that experience in the current version of myself. 

Simone: That’s really great, because you did start when you were very very young. What was it? Late teens, early 20s? 

Jack: Yeah I was 18 when I got the Sons gig and I started playing with John and when we went on tour, I think I was 19. I was very young. I look at people that age now and think Oh My God.  

Simone: (laughs) Millennials! They’re a lot more clueless now then what we were back in our day, I think! 

Jack: (laughs) It’s funny isn’t it with all this technology. I think possibly too there is so much stuff going on for younger people now, you know like social media and all this stuff. I was just practicing guitar trying to write a good song! And to be honest with you, I participate minimally in social media these days, I prefer to not really participate. Only because it can be such a distraction. As for someone like me I can easily get distracted. I’d rather be distracted by music. I think I crossed over this plane of wanting to be liked. “Likes” probably not a good word because everybody is now looking for “likes” but really it’s good to know that things get a good response. It’s good to know that people want to come out and hear the music. Before; you had a marketing department with the record company and they got all this data in and they filtered it all out and you got to see – yeah we sold 50,000 singles in Germany, maybe we should go there and play. Whereas now it’s like “I noticed that we got such & such plays in Denmark”. Back in the day you didn’t pay attention to that stuff until it was important until you needed to. Whereas now I think it’s like – I just posted a photo how many people liked it? It’s like; really who cares! Shouldn’t I be writing a song now? Shouldn’t I be practicing guitar? Or shouldn’t I be trying to pull a new sound? It’s just a completely different experience. Even with the experience of music. God I used to hear a song on the radio, go down to my local record store and talk to the person that works behind the counter; order it, if it was an import you couldn’t get it for 6 weeks you had to wait for it! When you got it you coveted it. You took your time. You couldn’t wait to read the liner notes. You couldn’t wait to pull out the inner sleeve and read all the lyrics and see who played on it, see who produced it, see who recorded it, see who mixed it, see who mastered it, see where it was recorded, who guested on what song or whatever it was. You couldn’t wait for that experience. Now; you’re sitting in a café, you hear a song, you Shazam it, you’ve got it on your phone. You’re listening to the song before it’s even finished playing in the cafe with headphones in. And by next week you’re kind of ready for the next song. Just the sheer volume because of the way we live our lives with technology and being connected to everything you are just bombarded. You’ve got YouTube, Vimeo, it just goes on and on and on. SoundCloud, Facebook, Instagram. It’s an assault on the senses. For me; I love the cities don’t get me wrong. I love the museums, I love the cafes, I love it in a heartbeat. I lived in New York for a decade, so no one loves the energy and the access to culture more than I do. But I tell you what; there’s something calling me to spend a bit of time with some more trees. 

Simone: Yeah that makes sense. 

Jack: And get back into that real creative space that I absolutely love.  So I’m very excited about this new phase. But playing with the boys is something that really has been niggling at me for the last year and now that we’re actually going to do it and go out there and celebrate that with a whole bunch of people that were kind of there when we did it the first time and maybe some of them will bring their kids! 

Simone: Absolutely I’ll be bringing mine! 

Jack: That’s fantastic! That’s what you want. I just feel very thankful that we’re actually going to get the opportunity do this. It’s very exciting. 

Simone: Do you think now that you guys are back together playing and touring, do you think they’ll be any plans to stay together and release some new music after the reunion tour? 

Jack: You know what? You’re not the first person who’s asked me that and I’d love to say I hadn’t really considered it because everyone is so busy. But you know what? You know what, I think it could happen. I think it could happen. 

Simone: Oh lovely! I think that sounds great! 

Jack: Once we get in a room and start playing together, I think it will make sense to do something I really do. So I hope that it happens. Nobody wants to put the cart before the horse, but no one’s ruling that possibility out at all. I think it could be great. 

Simone: Yes just putting it out there to the universe so that way it happens!! 

Jack: laughs Yes that’s great. 

Simone: That way we can keep you touring for another 30 years! 

Jack: laughs Yayyyyy! 

Simone: I just thought I’d end the interview on something a little bit fun and learn a little something about yourself just like a little bit of a quick quiz 

Jack: Mmmm hmmm 

Simone: What’s your favourite colour? 

Jack: Well black isn’t a colour so I guess it’s red! 

Simone: So black or red! And favourite food? 

Jack: Favourite food? I’m pretty big on Japanese food. 

Simone: Nice one. Nice one. And favourite band or artist? 

Jack: Very difficult. I can’t really just nail it down to one. Although I absolutely love Aldo. Aldo and Aqualung are two bands I just can’t seem to get away from. And I don’t really want to. I never really tire of them. But there’s so many other genres and styles of music that I love. But I have to say every time I go and see Aldo or Guy Harvey, there’s a real beautiful and emotional experience that I have. And I had that experience when I went and saw Aqualung as well. There’s something very deep and deliciously English or British. There’s a certain melancholy and a level of Guys lyrics. Same with Aqualung. The albums are so complete for me and untainted. There’s something so beautiful about hearing music that just does that. 

Simone: That’s awesome. And finally, the biggest most important question -vinyl or cassette tape? 

Jack: oooo Vinyl for sure. 

Simone:  Vinyl of course 

Jack: Just don’t leave it in the sun! 

Simone: No! Did that a lot in my teens! And yes! 

Jack: Yeah of course you just leave it on the coffee table with the sun coming in on it and you come back and you’ve got an ashtray. 

Simone: Yeah exactly! 

Jack: I never went away from vinyl. I still love that experience. Vinyl for sure for me. Because especially for the artwork as well. 

Simone: Oh yeah absolutely! And pulling out that sleeve, seeing all the lyrics and playing it and then holding it in your hand and singing along. 

Jack: Yeah and you know what the other thing with a record; the vinyl you put it on – so when you make a CD it’s kind of like one arc. 10 songs beginning to end. With an album it’s 10 songs but it’s two groups of 5, or 4 and 6 or whatever. Because you have to think how that album, that side, is going to begin and end and how the next side is going to begin and end. 

Simone: Definitely. Yes. Those were the days! 

Jack: Yes, those were the days. And you know what? They’re still here. The vinyl revolution is in full flight. I think they sold more vinyl than CDs last year. 

Simone: Yeah that’s fantastic that all these great things; particularly back from our era are coming back! Because obviously we knew we were on a good thing! 

Jack: That’s right we knew we were on to something. And it all seemed like a great idea at the time to come up with CD’s, but we all know now that perhaps it wasn’t the greatest idea to make music data. Perhaps that wasn’t a great move. Although I guess if you’re a company that makes CD burners and blank CD’s it wasn’t such a bad idea because you’re still selling those, but if you’re a person who still makes music? Look, it’s really weird. I find myself conflicted within a lot of cognitive business when it comes to these conversations. I enjoy all the benefits of technology. I enjoy the ability to make my own music and I don’t have to ask permission from anyone to do it. I enjoy the benefits of that. And I’m very very grateful for technology having provide that for me. Not that it has provided it “to” me, but I’m reaping the rewards of being able to do that because creatively I don’t have to answer to anybody. Conversely music became this thing that people have a different relationship with, particularly monetarily, because a lot of people expect to get it for free. They don’t realise. I think there’s an expectation that if people can make their records at home why should we pay for it. Well because you spend your whole life trying to create something that you want to share with people and in order to share it. It may not seem so altruistic to work in a factory and put pickles in a jar. But a person who does that gets paid to do that for their time so when someone’s eating that pickle someone’s getting paid for that. I always used to liken it to, if you say to people well why don’t you just go to the supermarket – not that I’m advocating stealing or anything, but just take all your groceries and go home if you really think that that’s ok. And I don’t want to get all uppity about it, because like I said I do get the benefits of technology as well, but it’s definitely changed the playing field for a lot of artists. People say, “but now they can go out and tour”. And that’s great, but you don’t want to be Leonard Cohen and having to go out on tour, and having to go on tour because you‘ve  been getting ripped off by people and you’re broke. There’s no residual income from music anymore. Look without ending on a dark note I think it’s fantastic it’s given us, in a way, a second lease of life because people can go and stream music and other people can experience the music. But I love the old vinyl and I love going and buying music. I don’t want to lease it. I want to own it. I want to pull that record out and I want to sniff it. 

Simone: You want something tangible. 

Jack: Yeah I love that that. To me that is really important. And I get that it isn’t like that and that’s ok too. But for me I love being able put that record on whenever I want and not having to pay $9.99 a month for the privilege. I like to pay for it once and own it forever. But that’s probably just my generation and where I come from. 

Simone: Yes I totally agree. Well thank you so much for your time today. I really really appreciate it and I look forward to seeing you at one of your shows soon. 

Jack: It’s an absolute pleasure. I look forward to seeing you at one of these shows coming up 

Simone: No worries. Thank you so much again and talk to you soon.  

Jack: Take care. Thank you. Byeeee.  

You can catch Southern Sons on their 2019 Reunion Tour. Venues and dates below. Southern Sons are also playing One Electric Day. visit http://www.oneelectricday.com.au/ for venue and dates

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