SOUTHSIDE JOHNNY: Well, we made a live album of Steve Van Zandt’s MEN WITHOUT WOMEN, a great album that came out twenty-five or so years ago. That was one. And then I did a Poor Fools album which is a side project, and is kind of acoustic. So, there have been two albums since that album. But, I just wanted to make a Jukes album when I heard a Curtis Mayfield song in a giant superstore… “Superfly”. And everybody was really having a great time. So, I thought, if I’m making a record it’s got to have some fun music, and that’s what happened. I really was inspired by Curtis Mayfield, and he kind of inspired the tone of the album too.
SOUTHSIDE: No, you pretty much picked out everything we were listening to. PILLS AND AMMO, the last studio album, was an angry album. This album was more for fun and to take people’s minds off their worries and not try to express any anger or anything like that, but just the joy of music. But, you’re right. That whole landscape of late sixties and early seventies R&B and Soul, that’s what we were listening to. I mean, even if the song is about something down like a guy breaking up with his girlfriend or something like that, it still has that rhythm and that melody and that feeling that you want to dance to.
SOUTHSIDE: Well, Jeff Kazee and I wrote all the songs and we did most of the arranging. We let the horns arrange the horns. All three of my horn players are on it. These guys are great musicians. Glenn Alexander, my guitar player, came up with almost all of his own parts. We knew some of what we wanted to hear, but he would show us other stuff, and we took almost everything he brought. So, it really is a collaborative effort as far as arranging.
SOUTHSIDE: Yeah, it’s more than what I heard on the radio when I was eight, nine and ten years old. One of the very first records I ever bought was a Jimmy Reed album for seventy-nine cents. And, to this day, when Jimmy Reed comes on, it’s so good. That moping rhythm and that real relaxed vocal and great harmonica… and, there’s no denying that good, happy-feeling sense that Jimmy Reed’s guitar had.
SOUTHSIDE: Can it go back and take me to the right exit? (Laughs)
DAVE: We’re going to take you back even further than that. (Laughs) Envision the dawn of the 70s, and for this brief period you find yourself working within a couple particular bands. They were short-lived, but had impressive lineups including members who, along with yourself, would go on to make a splash within the Jersey Shore music scene and beyond. People like Bruce Springsteen (just after Steel Mill dissolved), David Sancious (Peter Gabriel, Sting), as well as E Street Band alumni Steve Van Zandt, Garry Tallent and Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez to name just a few. What can you tell me about the days of the fabled Sundance Blues Band and Dr. Zoom & the Sonic Boom?
SOUTHSIDE: Well, Dr. Zoom was an amalgamation of all the musicians on the Jersey shore that Bruce knew, and I was one of them. So, Sundance and Blackberry Booze Band and all those other bands… everybody passed through them. But they were blues bands. And everybody wanted to play that. It’s the kind of music that you didn’t really have to study a lot to know how to play, but you had to put your heart into it. And there were lots of bands like that. We had Funky Dusty & the Soul Broom. Bruce was a guitar player in that. So, what would happen, you would go talk to a club owner and he would have a Top 40 band. We didn’t do Top 40, but you go in and say, “Hey, can my band audition one night?” We’d learn two Rolling Stones songs. I think it was “Jumping Jack Flash”… and I can’t remember the other one, but we’d go on and audition and blast these songs out. The guy would hire you and then you’d put together your band—whoever was around—and then go in and do R&B and Blues like Sam & Dave and Elmore James. So, we all played in a lot of bands together. It was really just musicians playing off of each other, learning each other’s styles and hearing each other’s records and just being very open to other influences, you know. We all learned from each other. And that was a great period.
SOUTHSIDE: No, I never thought I’d have a career in music. But, I met Garry Tallent when we were 15 years old in high school, and he said, “I’m going to be a musician.” And then I met Steve Van Zandt, Bruce and a couple of other people that all said the same thing, that they were going to be musicians. I thought, well, if they’re going to do it, I’m going to try to do it too. My heroes, or people I really looked up to back then, were Big Joe Turner, Ray Charles, B.B. King… people who played until almost the day they died. I thought that’s what you did. Once you became a musician, that’s what you were. And, I’m just grateful that I’ve had this career this long.
DAVE: Are there any plans to take the Jukes out on the road in support of the new album through the rest of 2015 and into 2016?
SOUTHSIDE: I think it’s a very healthy scene. There are a lot of places to play. Really cool places. Some bands, like Gaslight Anthem, have made some noise. But, there are places to play and there are lots of bands. And, it’s the same process. You learn how to play. You write some songs and put together a band. You put that band in front of people, and if it works, then you are committed to at least giving it as long a shot as you can. I mean, I’ve been lucky that I’ve had a career. All of us have worked hard to get that. Some of these guys will too. But, you’ve got to be good. You’ve got to have something to say. And, you’ve got to put your heart and soul into it. If you do that, you’ve got a shot.