Friday, August 20, 2010


Hi, Fidelity!

JP, Chrissie and The Fairground Boys are coming to town

An EXCLUSIVE Interview with Chrissie Hynde and JP Jones

By Stephen SPAZ Schnee

If you are even remotely interested in Rock music’s history over the past few decades, you’re already familiar with Chrissie Hynde. As leader of The Pretenders, she’s had her fair share of hits dating back three decades. There’s also hit collaborations with UB40 and Moodswings that introduced her unique and glorious voice to new audiences. Hynde is not just a music icon, she’s a role model for hundreds (if not thousands) of self-reliant successful female rockers that have followed in her wake. She may not have been the first female rocker, but she continues to inspire and influence legions of fans, male and female.

Since The Pretenders’ 2008 album, Breaking Up The Concrete, was released, a lot has happened in Chrissie’s world. It all started when she met JP Jones, a talented Welsh singer/songwriter, in a London bar. JP recognized her, started up a conversation and the next thing they knew, they were involved as a couple, in and out of the spotlight. Although JP was born the same year The Pretenders released their debut single, the age difference meant nothing to them.

If there are two constants in life that should never be measured by age or time, they are love and music. And both of them are here in great abundance on Chrissie and JP’s debut collaboration, the glorious and timeless musical love letter called Fidelity! Now that she has a strong musical foil to work off of again, Chrissie has not sounded this fresh and invigorated since 1984’s Learning To Crawl. In fact, this might be the best full length she’s put her name on since Pretenders II and that is saying a lot.

While JP Jones may not be a household name yet, his talents shine bright on Fidelity!, sometimes overshadowing Hynde’s undeniable talents. Most of the time, though, they compliment each other splendidly. On Fidelity!, Chrissie graciously takes second billing in the band’s name and splits the spotlight with JP throughout the album. If there is one dominant force on this platter, it is their chemistry. With guitars in hand, this Rock ‘n’ Roll couple have created a passionate musical child that they have named Fidelity!

I was able to catch up with Chrissie and JP and discuss a bit about the album and their music in general…

SPAZ: How did you two meet?
CHRISSIE HYNDE: Drunk in a London bar.

SPAZ: Instead of just having JP open for a Pretenders tour or maybe collaborating on a song or two, what inspired you to form a full fledged band?
CH: We wrote a bunch of songs inspired by each other which had nothing to do with our previous music endeavors.

SPAZ: When writing the songs for Fidelity!, were you wanting to write songs that were different from your full-time careers?
CH: We had no idea we were writing an album at the time. The songs were just pouring out of us. They weren't planned so there was no musical style decisions made.

SPAZ: Is there a certain commonality between your songwriting styles that you each fed off of or did you have to purposely change the way you worked for the good of the whole project?
CH: No. We both love melody, hooks and choruses and are pretty traditional really. We both feel that songs need to come from a very personal place, from the heart. We are on the same page with everything.

SPAZ: There are so many different styles integrated into your sound (Pop, Gospel, Folk, Country, Rock ‘n’ Roll). Did you purposely try to touch on all of these influences, or was it all done by instinct?
CH: Completely by instinct. We have different musical backgrounds and tastes and constantly surprise each other with (things) the other one hadn't thought of, hence the album sounding so diverse.

SPAZ: Press for the band compares JP’s voice to “Ian Dury swallowing sandpaper”, yet there is so much more emotion in his delivery than that description will lead people to believe. Do you think that Dury comparison is a fair assessment?
CH: A fair comparison but one which only touches on a small part of JP's uniquely versatile voice. I think he is still discovering how much variety he has. His voice and delivery amazes me every time he steps up to the microphone.

SPAZ: Chrissie’s voice is one of the most distinctive in Rock ‘n’ Roll. JP, do you ever have any of those “Christ, I’m in a band with THE Chrissie Hynde!” moments?
JP JONES: Yes. Every day! I think Chrissie's voice is the most distinctive voice on radio. Every time you hear her sing, you know exactly who it is and it melts my heart.

SPAZ: JP is a relatively new voice on the music scene, commercially. Chrissie, do you feel pride in introducing his talents to the public at large?
CH: I'm thrilled beyond words to introduce him to a new public. I feel its my chance to redeem myself for any previous crimes against rock I may have committed.

SPAZ: Both of you are strong singer/songwriters and performers in your own right. Is it difficult to share the spotlight with someone else?
CH: Not at all. It’s a joy to be able to look at each other on stage and sing these songs to each other every night. Our voices are so different. One male, one female. But people tell us how well our voices blend together. Its almost like one voice completes the other.

SPAZ: Both of you sound invigorated by this collaboration. Are you happy with the way it turned out?
CH: I think its the best stuff I have ever done and its come like a bolt out of the blue. Makes me feel like I am just starting.
JP: Its the most honest and most rocking music I have made. I feel like I have found myself with Chrissie.

SPAZ: You’ve avoided all the trappings of ‘modern’ production (i.e.: auto-tune) and created a timeless sounding album. Was this your intention?
CH: Yes it was. We recorded it as live and raw as possible. It’s not about perfection. It’s about personality.

SPAZ: Do you see JP, Chrissie & The Fairground Boys as a one-off, part-time or full-time project?
CH: We're living and breathing this. We have a lot more music in us together. If we had the time we'd go in and record another album tomorrow. But first things first......

SPAZ: What’s next for JP and Chrissie?
CH: LA for West Coast acoustic shows with Lucinda Williams and a show at The Grammy Museum. Then the rest of The Fairground Boys will join us in early/mid September for a full national tour of the States.

SPAZ: What do you have currently spinning on your CD and DVD players?
JP: Kate Bush, Bon Iver, Peter Gabriel.
CH: Moby Grape, American Bang, and a little known English artist, Kunt And The Gang. Would like to hear what music Viggo Mortenson, Paddy Consadine and Johnny Depp are making.

Thanks to Chrissie Hynde and JP Jones.
Special thanks to Michelle Gayhart, Kevin Farrell and Paul Reitz

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