Interview: Jonathan Jackson + Enation
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 13:04:49
Jonathan Jackson + Enation get epic on Radio Cinematic. It’s the kind of sweeping and soaring indie rock that’s immediately irresistible and invigorating. That comes across loud and clear on the album’s uplifting first single “Everything Is Possible”. It allows listeners to step into the marvelous and majestic musical realm of Radio Cinematic, which is worth visiting again and again.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Jonathan Jackson talks Radio Cinematic and so much more.
What's the story behind "Everything Is Possible"?
It's a song I wrote quite a while ago with my brother Richard who is the drummer in our band. I wrote it in 2006 actually. It was during the early stages of some of the musical projects we had been doing. Some other circumstances were going on in our lives that were a little trying. For me, "Everything Is Possible" is a song of defiance against despondency. It's about rising up and saying, "No matter how discouraging life gets, you can wake up every day and feel brand new". It's a song of overcoming.
Does it open the doorway to Radio Cinematic for you?
In some ways...there are some themes throughout the record. The opening track on the album is called "Young World's Riot". There's a connection between "Everything Is Possible" and "Young World's Riot" in the sense that they're both trying to push back against the entropy—the forces that try to get us to back off and give up in terms of whatever it is whether it's a relationship or an artistic thing. I think Radio Cinematic definitely has a tension and a battle between the voice that says "Everything Is Possible" and the voices that come against that. There's tension between those things.
Did the music dictate that theme?
I would say the music did sort of dictate that. We had around forty songs we were looking at to record the album. It wasn't too difficult to narrow down to what we felt this album was supposed to be. Once that happened, we saw the story in the album. Richard and I are screenwriters, and we've been in the movie business for a long time. We tend to think of things in terms of stories and themes. At the point we saw the story, it wasn't too difficult to find the songs. Another song is called "The Future Is Ours". That had a similar theme to "Everything Is Possible". It's a midnight prayer saying, "No matter what things look like in the present, the future is ours". We've always got that belief to keep pressing on.
Is it important for you to tell stories with the songs?
Yeah, it's a combination between things that are autobiographical, and songs that are written from characters' perspectives. A lot of songwriters do that. R.E.M. was big on that. Michael Stipe would talk about how he didn't write autobiographically all that often. Bono would talk about writing for characters. As an actor, that's actually a very natural thing for me. I have to give in to the psychology of characters a lot so that bleeds into the songwriting. I'll pick up a character and write from their perspective. The album has a lot of elements that are biographical and others that are rooted in characters. For me, that opens up the creative space a little bit to explore. When you have some kind of theme going on and some story being told and it doesn't have to be linear, that helps. There are boundaries as to what the album is about.
If you were to compare the record to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
Wow, that's a great question. I haven't thought of a specific film to compare it to. I would hope that it would be somewhere between a Cameron Crowe film and maybe a Jim Sheridan film. It'd be hard to hard to pick actually one movie.
What artists shaped you?
U2 definitely had a big impact on me and Richard as well. That's for a few reasons. One is the depth and variety of music they've undertaken throughout the course of their career. When you say U2, you have to wonder, "Which era?" The U2 of the eighties is different from the U2 of the nineties and so on. I was really inspired by their musical journey and how they were constantly searching and reinventing themselves. There was always a musical integrity to what they were doing even if they were changing things. R.E.M. is a huge influence as well. Then, I'd say Radiohead. I love Leonard Cohen as a lyricist as well as Bob Dylan. I was massively influenced by him. Peter Gabriel was a huge influence in addition to Van Morrison.
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