Houston Calling

Ten Questions for Jonny Polonsky

April 14th, 2005 · No Comments

A few years ago, I hard about a musician from Chicago named Jonny Polonsky. I heard his early albums and saw him play live once with Local H at some sports bar on 1960 (awful place, good show).

Hybrid Magazine had this to say about the musician: “Whiz kid Jonny Polonsky has been relatively quiet for the past eight years, releasing only one six-song EP since his 1996 debut, Hi My Name Is Jonny. On September 21st, Polonsky released his long awaited follow-up, The Power Of Sound, to superlative reviews. Expectations are high for the 31 year old, but if the early evaluations of his new record are any indication, Jonny Polonsky will finally make his mark.”

I recently found out that Jonny’s coming back to Houston, this time opening for Audioslave at the Verizon Wireless Theater. The show is this Monday night (4.18.05). If you have tickets to the show, be sure to get there early to check out Jonny’s set. You won’t be sorry.

I asked Jonny a few questions this week about his background, his music, and the current tour. He was very kind to respond. Enjoy.

10 Questions for Jonny Polonsky

HC: How did you get started in music?

JP: There was always music around the house. My dad was a big jazz fan and my mom listened to a lot of folk, classical and Beatles. My older brother introduced me to the Who, Jethro Tull, Jeff Beck. I had a pretty good cross section from the time I was wee. I started playing baritone ukelele at age nine. So did Jimi Hendrix and Chrissie Hynde, so I’m in good company.

HC: What can you tell me about your latest album? Also, who plays on it besides yourself?

JP: The Power of Sound is a sonic tour de force, wherein it ain’t about the length, it’s the girth. Barely 34 minutes long, this record is FAT–its juices overflow with melody, scorching guitar leads and songs that won’t leave your head until you’re completely dead.

Joining me on this record is Solomon Snyder, Joe Dapier, Tim Dow and everyone’s All American, Josh Freese.

I once saw you play backup with Local H in Houston. I am a fan of Scott Lucas’ music, introduced to it through a friend in Fig Dish/Caviar. I have often thought that the Chicago music scene was quite incestuous, for lack of a better word, with musicians often playing on each other’s albums and playing Halloween shows together, etc. Are you still in touch with those guys and how did your experiences in the Chicago music scene shape your own albums?

JP: I still talk to the Local H guys, and Jason from Caviar is one of my best friends in the world. I think every town’s music scene is incestuous.

People float in and out of bands. Things change. People change. Hairstyles change.

HC: What is your take on the music industry? Are you for or against the MP3 “revolution”?

JP: Who am I to stand in the way of progress? These are exciting times, I’m all for new techmologies. As for my take on the music industry, I think they should release more Jonny Polonsky records.

HC: How did you get hooked up on the Audioslave tour? Seems like a pretty bold move — and an excellent chance to get your music in front of a lot of people.

JP: It’s an incredible opportunity, and I owe those guys big time. I have worked for Audioslave on and off for the last year. During that time we became friends, and they asked me to go out on tour with them.

HC: How do you approach the songwriting process? Is it a collaborative effort or do you mainly just work it out yourself?

JP: Generally I write the tunes and present them to the band. There is a song on The Power of Sound called Where the Signs End that was co-written by me and the bass player, Solomon Snyder. Whatever it takes to make the songs great.

I wrote Even the Oxen on my own, but the parts that the band came up with were so distinctive, it made the song better and more interesting than when I originally wrote it in my Skinner box while vacationing at my compound in Laos.

HC: I know a lot of what I term “the Chicago bands” (Caviar, Local H, Triple Fast Action, Fig Dish, etc.) incorporate(d) cover songs into their live shows (Cheap Trick, The Who, etc.) If you could have any band cover one of your songs, what song would it be and what band?

JP: I would like to hear Crispin Glover cover any one of my songs. I celebrate my entire catalog. I am a huge fan of his record from awhile back, The Problem Does Not=The Solution. The Solution=Let it Be. He does stellar versions of These Boots Were Made For Walking, and The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze.

HC: What is one thing you hate to hear about your music?

JP: I try not to think like that. Best to stay on the positive tip.

HC: What’s next for you? More touring?

JP: From your mouth to God’s ear!

HC: What’s in your CD player?

JP: No. 4 by Black Sabbath / Hot Fuss by the Killers / Tango Zero Hour by Astor Piazzolla

A big thanks to Jonny Polonsky for taking the time out to answer these questions. Good luck on the tour. Be sure to check him out live this Monday night at the Verizon when he opens for Audioslave (you know them, right? Former members of Rage Against The Machine and Soundgarden).

Also, Polonsky recorded the music for a short film called Sleeping Dogs Lie, which stars Brad Wilk (Audioslave), Maynard James Keenan (Tool), and Ed Asner (Mary Tyler Moore Show). Check it out when you get the chance.

Now Playing in My iPod: The Sun

Tags: Music