Saturday, March 2, 2024

Jack Johnson enjoying at Bluesfest, Byron Bay

Singer-songwriter Jack Johnson would possibly simply be the kind of artist all of us want proper now.

Self-deprecating, considerate and simply so … darned good, he looks like an antidote to a world getting darker by the day.

Even then, I’ve to ask, can the man who has given us the soundtrack to 1,000,000 seaside events and yard barbecues all the time be this mellow? For example, he should sometimes lose it with the children (he has three along with his spouse and school sweetheart, Kim Baker) like the remainder of us?

Jack Johnson: ‘I’m a normal guy. It’s not an act.’

Jack Johnson: ‘I’m a traditional man. It’s not an act.’Credit score: AAP Picture/ Morgan Maassen

“No – I’m all the time chill,” he says over Zoom from his house in Oahu, Hawaii. “I’m only a regular man. It’s not an act.”

It’s a modest sincerity that has resonated along with his tens of millions of followers – he’s bought a staggering 25 million albums since 2001, the yr he received his huge break at Bluesfest. Subsequent yr, he returns to headline the competition.

Johnson recollects that first Byron Bay gig. “We’d been on tour with Ben Harper all yr. We received fortunate sufficient to get the invite and I feel Ben put the great phrase in for us and received us a very good slot,” he says.

“As much as that time, I’d solely performed little golf equipment, typically half full. Then I’d opened for Ben Harper, so I used to be simply getting warmed as much as the thought of even enjoying in entrance of individuals. Swiftly, I received this gig that no person ought to be capable to play that early of their profession. However fortunately, it was a bunch of surfers and it felt like full help from my very own group.”

Johnson was browsing virtually earlier than he might stroll and that zeal for using waves has outlined his life ever since. Aged simply 17, he was the youngest board rider to compete within the finals of the Pipeline Masters. Shortly after that, a critical accident within the water put an finish to his ambitions to surf professionally.

“I used to be flirting with slightly skilled profession as quite a lot of youngsters in Hawaii do,” he says. “It was enjoyable however I used to be by no means a lot of a aggressive surfer. That was the height of my profession [the Masters] and it was all downhill from there.”

Regardless of that, browsing stays his No.1 ardour.

“If I needed to selected one factor I might solely do in a day, it could be browsing,” he says. “It’s only a pure love factor that I can all the time escape to.”

He describes music as his “second-favourite passion”.

“Once I say passion, I don’t imply to belittle it in any respect,” he says. “A passion could be actually stunning. It’s what I wished to spend all my time doing, however I by no means dreamt it could be a profession.”

His first album, Brushfire Fairytales, was launched in 2001 and, usually, his expectations had been fairly low.

‘As long as you’re having a good time that night, that’s all that really matters.’

‘So long as you’re having a great time that night time, that’s all that basically issues.’Credit score: Kizzy O’Neal

“Once I received to make that album, it was a dream come true,” he says. “I keep in mind saying to my spouse that I didn’t care whether or not lots of people heard it, I simply wished the album to be any individual’s favorite. Then when the album got here out and form of went past that [it has since sold more than 2 million copies], I couldn’t consider it.”

After twenty years and numerous gigs, Johnson has established himself as a supreme stage performer, which is a far cry from the early days when he would ask himself, “can I do that?“, each time he began a gig.

“It’s not a query you ask with any humility, it’s extra identical to, ‘can I actually do that? Am I going to move out up there? Am I going to only neglect all my phrases?’” he says.


“However over time, you get to the purpose the place you already know it’s going to be fantastic. When you be taught that something can occur and so long as you’re having a great time that night time, that’s all that basically issues. Some gigs will probably be higher than others. Some gigs, you’ll nail every little thing. Some gigs, you’ll play actually sloppy, however man, the power from the group is nice, and it saves the present.”

Whereas Johnson’s best-known songs – Banana Pancakes, Higher Collectively and Upside Down – all share an upbeat, optimistic vibe, it could be improper to characterise him as a relentless Pollyanna.

He has lengthy campaigned on environmental points and music training, donating generously to those and different causes. At every venue, he showcases native not-for-profit teams, encouraging followers to enroll. Voter registration in the USA is one other challenge near his coronary heart.

“We’ve all the time been lively with voter registration at our reveals and attempting to voice issues about being concerned within the political course of,” he says. “I feel that’s essential but it surely’s additionally actually essential to know that’s not the one reply. You may as well work in your personal group and hopefully encourage others to do the identical.”

Johnson is an everyday customer to Australia – he typically “sneaks” right here when he’s not enjoying – and is wanting ahead to hanging out with pals and catching some waves.

And, as regular, he’ll additionally do his share of breakfast responsibility on tour. Are banana pancakes nonetheless on the menu?

“After all they’re,” he says. “That lyric was actual – we made them on a regular basis and my youngsters nonetheless need them.”

Jack Johnson performs Bluesfest, Byron Bay, on March 29.

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