Rayanna: Mike, other then music what have you been up to?
Mike: Well, the friends that like to take the piss out of me would say at this point "Cycling", and it's accurate if I'm honest. I think in the run up to the last JJ album, "Already" and the period afterwards I got caught in this trap of always writing for an album that would maybe come out one day, maybe wouldn't. It didn't do much for my work ethic, despite starting work with another band, Yoshi, and it was only working on this new album, knowing it would definitely come out, that snapped me out of it. The cycling's still going on though !
Rayanna: Things have been pretty quiet as far as Jesus Jones goes for the last 4 years or so, what made you reform and what other projects have you been working on?
Mike: I'd been working on a solo album for Food / EMI that they'd ultimately not been interested in (even though I thought some of the songs had some good points) and on Yoshi stuff (I'm still doing that too). A number of things got me back to JJ stuff ; firstly, the idea of shaping those EMI songs into an album to maybe sell via the internet, then Gen, the original drummer who left in '96 indicated he was keen to work together again. Lastly, when Ted at MI5 got in touch and it seemed we felt the same way about the music industry now it all seemed as though it was the right time.
Rayanna: In JJ you are the front man, and in your other band Yoshi you play guitar, do you prefer one over the other?
Mike: Being a singer is ultimately more gratifying for the ego but it's hard work worrying about your voice all the time. One of the first things I felt about being in Yoshi was how great it was to concentrate on playing guitar - the way I started out.
Rayanna: Is Yoshi similar to JJ musically?
Mike: No. I'd say the primary difference is that in Jesus Jones elements from outside rock music get brought in to make the fusion, whereas in Yoshi those outside elements remain closer to the surface. We're currently working on an EP to release as soon as we can so I guess people will be able to judge for themselves soon enough.
Rayanna: I know that you produce as well as write for other musicians, who have been your favorite to work with?
Mike: Traci Lords was a dream to work with, very creative, fun to be around and had a strong idea of where she was going. I have fond memories of that album. The last thing I worked on with someone else was Manchild, a band that Arianne (Yoshi singer) just had a minor hit with here. That I enjoyed because of the two main guys excitement and enthusiasm at getting involved in all this - great music, too, mind you.
Rayanna: Over the years who has been your influences musically and have you ever had the chance to work with any of the musicians that you looked up to?
Mike: I think there have been different influences on different albums as well as a kind of bedrock that's always there. My parents record collection tended to be my babysitter when I was young so the likes of the Beatles, the Stones, Hendrix, Janis Joplin got mixed in with my own early record buying days involving Slade, the Sweet and moving on to the Sex Pistols and AC/DC. As I was starting to learn guitar U2, the Cure and the Police were coming up with those guitar styles that defined the 80s. But I think it all really kicked off with the Beastie Boys first album, Sonic Youth, Big Black / Rapeman, the Jesus and Mary Chain and then Acid House, without which there would have been no Jesus Jones. As for this latest album, Drum 'n' Bass, Soul Coughing, Stina Nordenstam, UK Garage, Slipknot - they're all in there.
Rayanna: How do you feel about where music is now and what bands do you enjoy?
Mike: Ah, I think I just answered some of that. I'm actually really enjoying music now, I think we've pulled out of that mid 90s slump into pure nostalgia. That said I love the Strokes album despite really not wanting to. I think R & B has some really creative minds at work but it takes its' roughneck London cousin Garage to make it rock. Drum 'n' Bass seems to be going the way of Techno (ie sideways, not forwards) which is a pity since it's the most heavy metal you can get without a guitar. Let's have a look at my current CD pile ; Tricky, Kid Galahad, Haven, Missy Elliot, Destiny's Child, the Strokes, Oxide and Neutrino, Nick Cave, Sia, Elbow, Deftones, Muse, Zero 7.
Rayanna: You recently wrote a book, "Death Threats From an Eight Year Old in the Seychelles." Where did the title from this book come from and could you tell us roughly what it is about?
Mike: Yes, it's about how it all goes wrong for a band, how it is that one year you're always hearing about a band and the next year...nothing. I used to meet people who think we did it out of choice ! This explains how it happens while giving an insight into how we became famous and what it was like when we were.
Rayanna: Where is the book available?
Mike: You can download it free from www.jesusjones.com
Rayanna: I understand that the new album London will be released on Ted Mason's label MI5, how did that come about?
Mike: Ted got in touch via the web site and invited me to come over to New York see what he was up to, play onstage a little and chat. It seemed had a lot of shared views about the chaning nature of the music industry and role that art and creativity have in it.
Rayanna: When will London be released? And when it is released will it be in just the UK or will it be released in the US as well?
Mike: It's a US release primarily, October 9th, but we're currently figuring out ways of getting sold around the world. Obviously the UK is important to us but there are plenty of fans around the world still that we need to look after.
Rayanna: What can we expect from the new album? And how does it compare to the old stuff?
Mike: I always maintain that you're asking entirely the wrong person that question! There are influences that didn't realy exist as I was writing the last album that are a central part of this album, like drum 'n' Bass and Garage. Those things make it sound very different, although saying that my signature hasn't changed in the last 10 years either so I think it's still clearly a Jesus Jones album.
Overall I think this album sounds a lot more relaxed and happy since it's been made in a far better atmosphere than the last two JJ albums.
Rayanna: Are you planning to tour with this album and if so when should we look for you here in the states?
Mike: As far as I know now we're due to tour in early December, just a few dates to start with but maybe a bigger tour next year. www.jesusjones.com and www.MI5recordings.com are the definitive places to look though.
Rayanna: Thank you so much for taking time out to talk to me, is there anything that you would like to add?
Mike: Just a big shout out to all our New York and Washington fans, friends and family.
Rayanna Barker is a Contributing Columnist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.