JOAN JETT FAQ (Most Frequently Asked Questions)

 

1.    Who are your musical influences and why?

“Philadelphia born Jett picked up guitar in Baltimore at age 13, inspired by Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, then by the sexually ambiguous Glitter scene, especially leather clad pioneer Suzi Quatro.  Joan’s ambitions accelerated when her family moved to Southern California, and the fifteen year old became a fixture at L.A. rock clubs.” (Seconds, page 14)

From rolling Stone, April 1999

“The first concert I ever saw was the New York Dolls, when I was 12.  I was in the front row, between where Johnny Thunder and David Johansen were standing.  It was sensory assault on every level.  I remember taking  David Johansen’s beer can off the stage.  That was right when I was becoming a rock fan, coming into being a teenager and getting turned on to music.  Once I saw that, there was no question what I wanted to pursue.

Initially, I leaned to play guitar from records – T. Rex’s “Bang a Gong” and Chuck Berry…I focused on the way rhythm  guitar sounds, the way it feels against the drums…I was totally unconcerned with the lead guitar.”

Another one of my influences is Liza Minnelli.

 

2.       How old are you?

Never ask a woman her age, but I am younger than you think.

 

3.       How have you sustained your career for 20 years?

Attributes her longevity to “writing and performing songs that they can relate to and keeping my ear to the ground to stay abreast of what’s going on.”

“Because I love it.  I don’t think like, ‘I could make money doing this, because there are no guarantees in this business.  It’s such a difficult business that if you’re not doing what you love then what’s the point.”

“I love to sweat like Patrick Ewing, and play guitar and swing my hair.  You feel free.”

 

4.       How and when did you start your own label?

After being turned down by 23 record labels she created an independent label, and released a self titled album, “JOAN JETT”. Released in 1980, it was the most successful indie rock and roll record of all time.  In 1981, it was picked up by Boardwalk Records, and named “Bad Reputation”.  It spawned two hits: “Do You Want To Touch Me?” and “Bad Reputation.”

 

5.How did you get involved with the Runaways, is there a reunion in the works? 

I had this idea that girls could play in an all rock band, and one day I told this idea to Kin Fowley, who introduced me to Sandy West, the drummer.  Sandy and I created  The Runaways in 1976.  We were very young.  We broke up New Years Eve in 1979.

In 1976 we had Lita Ford on guitars, Micki Steele on bass, drummer Sandy West and lead vocalist Cherie Currie.  Joan and Sandy chose the name, The Runaways.

Jett says that she has no desire to be part of a Runaway’s reunion.  “I tell you, I’m not too keen on it.”  Part of the big reason is, not only the fact hat we were girls, but we were teenage girls was a big thing, a part of our essence.  And that’s not the way it is anymore.  So, in a way, you wouldn’t ever really be seeing the Runaways, even if you saw everybody  in it.”

We are now compiling a Runaways retrospective  for Mercury Records, and we may even do one more song with the original band.  We will see, but right now the plans are still forming.

 

6.How did the Blackhearts form?

In 1980, we put an ad in the calendar section of the LA Times and LA weekly that said: “Joan Jett looking for three good men”.  I did not want to repeat the female thing to avoid comparisons.

Jett began playing with the Blackhearts in 1980 in Los Angeles at the Whiskey A GO GO.  Then they went to Holland for their first tour, and returned for a triumphant  appearance at the Ritz with Klaus Nomi, The Police, and many others for the Miles Copeland movie Urrgh-A Rock War, this appearance was heralded by the New York Times, and proved to be a springboard for her solo career in the USA.

 

7. Evil Stig?

Evil Stig is a fabulous punk side project from Jett.  She formed the band with members of Seattle  punk band the Gits to raise money to help find the killer of Gits lead singer Mia Zapata.  “I didn’t know her, but I know people in Seattle who did, and this freaked them out.”  These efforts were assisted by Nirvana, The Posies, The Presidents of  the United States,  Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and many other Seattle and grunge luminaries.

 

8. How does it feel to be female in a mostly male dominated business and genre of music?

At first it was hard to be both sexual and still play hard rock.  “You couldn’t have both.”  When I was playing in the Runaways people called us “whores, sluts” and “dykes.”  “People said why don’t you get off the stage? You’re going to get hurt.”

 

9. How do you feel knowing that you broke down the gender barrier of punk rock? 

I am “proud” to break down any gender barriers in the Runaways.  “For women to have a good sense of self now about playing music, it makes me feel so good.   If I had anything to do with it, then that just makes me feel so good.  When girls come up to me and say , ‘Because of you I did this’ that’s a really good feeling to know you gave somebody strength>”

 

10. What do you say to people who declare you are too hard, too sexual, too angry?

“I like being dirty and sexual, I like making people’s faces red and I like making them squirm.” If you don’t like it, don’t watch- don’t listen.!!!”

 

11. How do you feel knowing that you influenced so many people?
It is humbling, and I don’t believe it most of the time.

 

12. How much input do you have in the running of your record company?

It is only me and Ken Laguna who have the last  word on what we do.  I am very active and I have total control of these activities.

 

13.   How did you meet Kenny Laguna?

This alliance came about as a necessity.  Jett’s manager was friends with Laguna and set up the meeting.  The pair met in 1979  to collaborate on songwriting  for a movie soundtrack, and found synchronicity in a songwriting/producer/artists context.

The more Joan was rejected by the mainstream industry, the closer and more resolved they became.

 

14.   You acted in a few movies and shows, any interest in returning to the screen, silver or small?

Acted in “Boogie Boy”

Acted in Paul Schrader’s “Light of Day” with  Michael J. Fox in 1987.

Acted in an episode of  the television show  “Walker Texas Ranger”

Acted in an episode of the television show “Highlander.”

I love acting and would love to do it again.”

 

15.   What is your favorite movie?

Cabaret. 

Liza Minnelli is one of my favorite people and has been a huge influence.

 

16.   If you were stranded on a desert island, what record would you want and why?

Tommy James and the Shondells.

 

17.    How many albums have you recorded?

Twenty one albums.

 

18.   How much longer do you wish to make music?

Until I am in my box.

 

19.   When you eventually retire from music what would you like to be remembered for?

“It is such a privilege to think that you did something in your life that touched people in a certain way, that reminds them of a certain time…It’s a great feeling to be able to have that, to be able to share that with people and know that you’ll always have that bond.”  However, I don’t ever think I want to retire.

 

20.   Do you consider yourself a role model?

No, I don’t think in those terms.

 

21. Why did you dye your hair blonde, and cut it so short?

I got bored and evolved to this point over the 90’s.  I was going blonde on the way to purple and red from the dark natural color, and one day I stopped at blonde for the night and it kind of stayed there.

 

22.What is life on the road like for you and do you like it? Has it changed in the last twenty years?

I live to be on the road, and thing’s have not changed with regard to that.

 

23. If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be, and why?

Has collaborated with members of L7, Babes in Toyland and bikini Kill.

 

24. How are you going to celebrate the millennium?

I hope to be at home with my cats.

 

25. Were you wearing leather before the Runaways, or was that a result of being in the Runways?

Part of the image was enhanced and promoted by Kim Fowley.  He played up to each girl’s personality.  “I was the tough girl.”  I always wore leather.

 

26. Will we, the public, ever see a softer side of Joan?

You always see it.  The question is, can you tell when you do?

 

27.   After recording a successful single for the Women’s Final Four do you have any plans to do anymore “soundtrack” type songs, specifically done to promote a show, movie or tournament?

We did the X-Games theme for 2 out of the last three years.  Three years ago we recorded “Real Wild Child” and this year a speed rock version of “I Left My Heart In San Francisco.”   “Bad Reputation” was in “Ten Reasons I Hate You” and was also used as the theme for the TV series “Freaks and Geeks.”  “Love is All Around” is in “drop Dead Gorgeous.”  We just recorded a new song for the Nora Ephron film “Lucky Numbers” and “Light of Day” will be on that soundtrack as well.  This stuff id going on all the time.

 

28.   What tends to be the inspiration for your lyrics?  Is there any one thing that seems to come up over and over again throughout your writings?

My life experiences are the inspiration for my lyrics.  The themes of independence and being yourself are always there.  There are other things, but I’m not taking you there.  Like my fans, everyone has to figure that out for themselves.

 

29.   If you could or had to donate all of your money to one charity what would it be, and why?

I have a lot of charities, but children’s health issues are very important to me.

 

30.  What kind of guitar and amp do you use?

Plays a white Melody Maker.

Started using it in 1978.  “Because my first guitar was a blonde Les Paul and it was getting really heavy, so I saw the Melody Maker, it was Eric Carmen’s.  I bought it off one of his roadies.”

“It’s a really unique guitar, a California style, so it’s got two pick-ups, which  Melody Makers usually don’t.”

The special pick-ups are custom made by Red Rhodes and are called  “Velvet Hammers”.  

The amp is a music man 4 by 10 with supped E.V. speakers ( 4 ten inch epeakers)

 

31.   What have your greatest hits been?

I Love Rock N Roll

Crimson & Clover – cover of Tommy James song

Do You Wanna' Touch Me – (Oh Yeah)

I Hate Myself For Loving You

Little Liar

Bad Reputation

Light Of Day

 

32. Is there anything you would like us to know about you that has not been asked here or before?

I am not mean.

 

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