Hey Jon, thanks for making us a mini mix! Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Jon Lindsay?
Hey! Thanks for being sweethearts! About me? Sheesh, where to begin. Perhaps not the beginning. I started with my own solo records and tours in 2009. I’ve got 3 LPs out (the newest, third one Cities & Schools is out everywhere June 10th on File 13 Records!), 3 EPs, and a bunch of singles under my own name. I also produce my own records and records for other folks when I can find the time. Before the whole JL thing got rolling, I played keys in Benji Hughes for 3 years, and had some bands I sang and wrote songs in; The Young Sons, The Catch Fire, etc.
I love melody. I’m just way into songs. I’m also way into kicking a positive vibe, not suffering fools, and lifting up the ones I love. Community is important to me in my artistic life! And I’ve got a great community.
I know a lot of artists don’t like to tour, but I thrive on it. The stage is my zone. No place makes me happier, and I just love sharing the tunes with people, and cultivating an experience that’s really never quite the same night in and night out.
I was born in Portland, grew up in Whitefish, Montana and Charlotte, NC; went to Queens University of Charlotte and then grad school for an MFA in writing at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago…… and now I live in beautiful Raleigh. But SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED IN BETWEEN. LIFE!!!!!!!
You just released Cities & Schools, what was the inspiration behind the album?
I’ll just say this. I wanted to make a hit record (yeah I said it!) of singles that builds on where I’ve been of course, but that is totally singular in the catalog, in that it truly is stacked up to be just this intense, mostly relentless 36 minute ride thru some of the most intensely personal material I’ve ever mined in terms of lyrical and thematic content – but that was (hopefully) so anthemic and hook laden on the surface, you might not even catch what’s really going on until you’re 58 listens deep. I wanted it to be bold, daring, new, take huge chances and leave it all on the field, while somehow at the same time narrowing my parameters, tool kit, etc. So I was kinda working in this form, where I limited my palette (maybe in comparison to past records that have wider peaks and valleys). I LOVE the past records and their dynamics, and I’ll make records that kaleidoscopic again, I’d imagine. But this time out, the way to keep myself challenged and excite myself, was to sort of say, “alright, no slow songs, no odd time signatures, we’re gonna have huge drums, big, loud guitars, etc.” Just wanted to make this sort of epic record that adhered to its own rules and logic, and it just sort of established/revealed itself to me after I wrote the first song (All Them Houses), and I just kinda went from there, followed the muse where it took me. At the end of the day, I just wanted it to pull you in and never let you go until it’s thru, and I wanted to make you feel all your feelings, super mixed up and messy, with only one thing being reliable: melodies that will post up in your head and never, ever die!
Leading up to the release of Cities & Schools you premiered an album trailer on Paste Magazine (which we loved!). What was the idea behind that?
Just wanted to drop a short little visual tease of this great touring band I have, and get folks pumped for the LP! Prolly impossible that anybody would QUITE as stoked as me and the guys, and our label, friends and families; but yeah, I love album trailers that are short and sweet and leave you wanting more. Hopefully this one did that!
We both have North Carolina ties (our company is based in Durham). Tell us about the music scene and some of your favorite venues to play at.
Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill is back on top if ever it weren’t, that’s for sure. You’ve got one of the most loving, diverse, supportive communities of badass artists I’ve ever seen (and humbly, I’ve been around and seen some stuff). You’ve got some of the best labels, bands and artists anywhere in the world – a true world class scene, but it’s totally noncompetitive! My favorite bands in the area are all over the man in terms of genre/aesthetic/gender/you name it. But we all hang together, check out each other’s shows, and show love. Note to other scenes: this is the way to do it!
Kings, The Pour House, Lincoln Theater, Haw River Ball Room, Slim’s, Cats Cradle, The Cave, Motorco Music Hall, The Pinhook….. SO MANY GREAT ONES.
Who did you listen to when you were growing up and how have they influenced you?
60’s girl groups, Beach Boys, Breeders, Squeeze, Talking Heads, Joni, Nina, Marvin, Mozart, Wu-Tang (shit tons of mostly east coast early 90’s hip hop). How did it rub off? I guess you gotta listen to the tunes.
Name your all-time favorite artist.
Harry Nilsson tied with Randy Newman tied with Morrissey tied with Prince tied with McCartney tied with Big Star tied with Fleetwood Mac tied with Joni Mitchell tied with Nina Simone tied with Lauryn Hill tied with The Breeders, tied with GBV, tied with the Motel Beds tied with Magnetic Fields.
We always love to know what people are listening to, are there any rad Raleigh bands we should check out?
Rad Raleigh bands grow on trees in the Oak City. This is totally incomplete but here goes:
The Love Language, The Backsliders, Birds of Avalon, The Tender Fruit, Organos, Dirty Little Heaters, Shirlette Ammons, JSwiss, Pierce Freelon, Sylvan Esso, Kenny Roby/Six String Drag, Schooner, Eston & The Outs, SOON, American Aquarium, Wayhas, Daddy Issues, Pie Face Girls, Ghost Blonde, Skylar Gudasz, Caitlin Cary, Hiss Golden Messenger, NC Music Love Army, The Rosebuds, Valient Thor…. Too many!!! I’m barely just getting started here, so I’ll walk away!
Listen to Jon Lindsay here.