Sju kjappe: Jonny Polonsky

Polonsky today

“Sju kjappe” has turned English this weekend, because we’ve been in contact with the one and only Jonny Polonsky, our powerpop hero from the 90s. His debut, Hi My Name Is Jonny, was a kind of hit record in Tromsø when I was a student, but you can read about that in “Ukas Klassiker” here in our blog. This interview is about Jonny and the music he loves. I wasn’t very surprised that he has a very sophisticated taste for music, or the fact that his picks are as eclectic as you’ll soon see. And his “all time-band”.. I would love to check out that bunch on a stage.

But, the really good news when it comes to Mr. Polonsky is that he’ got a brand new album more or less ready for us. Jonny sent the files to me the other day, and after listening to the nine songs I’m sure this will be a record to consider when we’re ready for the “Best of”-lists at the end of the year. The synthersizers are not the main thing here, and the guitars are raw and delicious. For those of you who thought Polonsky was finished.. You’re wrong. You’re dead wrong. He’s more alive and kicking than ever, the pop is still filled up with power, and the rock’n’roll is there. God, the rock’n’roll is there. 

Hopefully this record will be available on vinyl here in Norway, people will run to their local record shop to buy it, and we’ll see Jonny on a stage or five over here. I think Tromsø would suit him perfectly.

 

What is, according to Jonny Polonsky, the top five albums of all time?

Hi Johnny! Thanks a lot for your interest in my record, it’s much appreciated man. I knew there was some interest in Norway back in the day, but it’s nice to hear your perspective, that’s real cool.

 
The top five albums of all time for me…hmm…that’s pretty impossible, but I’ll list five records that really affected me profoundly. There are hundreds of records I could list. I love so many different artists who make so many different kinds of music, but here’s a pretty good cross section:
 
1. Jimi Hendrix- Are You Experienced?
2. King Crimson-Discipline
3. Butthole Surfers-Hairway to Steven
4. Cheap Trick-In Color
5. Julee Cruise-Floating Into the Night

 

This is by far the most eclectic list we’ve seen so far here in “Sju Kjappe”. Hendrix goes without saying, and King Crimson and Cheap Trick are two bands I could have guessed. But Butthole Surfers? That’s a big, and very nice, surprise. And Julee Cruise, the “Twin Peaks”-singer? I didn’t see that one coming! I know what I need to check out now..
Could you do us the favor and put together the coolest band in your imaginations? It shall consist of a drummer, a bass player, a guitarist, one keyboardist and a vocalist. You cannot pick more than one member from a group, but you decide whether they are alive or dead, meaning that Elvis Presley could be our singer, and if you fancy John Bonham, he could do the drumming in your band.

Dream band? 
Marc Bolan-guitar and vocals
Diamanda Galas-co lead vocals and piano
Steve Vai-lead guitar
Bootsy Collins-bass
Mac McNeilly of the Jesus Lizard-drums
Daniel Lopatin/Oneotrix Point Never-synthesizers and soundscapes
Keiji Haino-glockenspiel, hurdy gurdy, percussion, screaming, gong
Fred Schneider of the B52’s-atmosphere negotiator

 

Hah! In our faces! We’re so old-fashioned that we never thought of synthersizers, soundscapes and “atmosphere negotiators” in a band. When I look at your band I see that we shoud have. I just read that Steve Vai is a big, big Tom Waits fan, and that his favorite album of all times is Mule Variations, so he’s got to be a nice guy. And both me and my brother listened to him back in the days. Diamanda Galas is a lady I’ve got to check out. Never heard a second of her, I think. Bootsy Collins and Mac McNeilly as the “comp bros” would be something!
From your dream band to a more trivial question: What was the first record you bought, and where did you buy it?

The first record I ever bought was The Essential Jimi Hendrix Vol. 2. when I was ten.  I got it from Off the Record, the only record store in the town I grew up in. It came with a 7″ of the Experience doing Gloria, the Them/Van Morrison song, but with dirty lyrics. This compilation totally blew me away. I would stare at his photo and read the liner notes over and over again for hours.

 

Ahh, nice to see someone that didn’t buy a KISS-record as their first. I guess “your” pressing is worth a shit load of money today, if you still have it, which I suppose you do.
If you could pick one song you’d wish you wrote, what would that be? And, is there a song you are really happy you didn’t make?

There are countless songs I’m glad I didn’t write, but the one I would have loved to have written is All The Young Dudes by David Bowie and made famous by Mott The Hoople, of course. This song never gets old to me. It is wistful, heroic and just fills you with a big, beautiful feeling.

The Thin White Duke made some songs half the world love, and almost every singer/songwriter would’ve given an arm to say they made. I first heard Mott the Hoople’s version, and I’m not sure which version I love the most. They’re both extremely cool.
Back to music nowadays; which album do you have the highest expectations for in 2016?

I’m excited for the Iggy Pop record that Josh Homme produced. I saw them play the other night in Los Angeles and it was incredible. I’ve seen Iggy so many times over the years, and this was the best he’s ever sounded. The band was really great, too. They did a beautiful job recreating the sounds and parts for the songs off of The Idiot and Lust For Life, two of my all time favorite records. 
 
I’m also really looking forward to the new PJ Harvey record. I love her music so much. Her voice is so beautiful and her imagination is totally unique. 

 

I knew it! You love Iggy, and you probably love The Stooges as well. Iggy is a hero for The Wilhelmsens, and #1 for my oldest son. I envy you all the concerts you can go to in LA, and the fact that you’ve seen Iggy twice lately makes me green. But, Robert Dyrnes and Buktafestivalen in Tromsø have signed him for the summer, and that’ll be something. When I here you namedropping The Idiot and Lust For Life, I’m looking even more forward to Buktafestivalen. PJ made the best album of 2011, Let England Shake, so we really follow you here.
Do you know about any Norwegian band or musicians? If so, what/who is your favorite?

I like Burzum a lot. I’m really not familiar with Norwegian music, to be honest. Maybe now I’ll do some investigating. 

 

Let me give you a couple of tips. If you really like to check out some bands, do so with Helldorado, Atlanter, Gringo Bandido or Motorpsycho. I think you’ll find something you’d like. And, if you like what you hear, I’ve got plenty of other bands/artists to tell you about.
Both me and my brother are nerds when it comes to Tom Waits, and have to ask everybody about their Tom Waits “moment”. Which song do you think is the highlight of his career?

I am a massive Tom Waits fan. Frank’s Wild Years is the record I initially got obsessed with. Hang On St. Christopher, Innocent When You Dream….I love Small Change–Invitation to the Blues…Alice and Blood Money are incredible records. Bone Machine is a masterpiece. So is Mule Variations. I saw him twice in Chicago on the Mule Variations tour. It was a mind blower. I love the live version of Dirt in the Ground that appeared on Glitter and Doom. I also really love his acting. Down By Law I’ve seen dozens of times. Coffee and Cigarettes was great. So was Rumblefish. I liked him in Coppolla’s Dracula and  Domino.

 
That’s the way it’s supposed to be. A genious knows a genious. Of course you love Tom Waits. Bone Machine got the same treatment a couple of weeks ago as Hi My Name Is Jonny gets this weekend. It’s a classic. Nothing more to say about that. You heard his 1987 masterpiece first, so I’ll pick “Innocent When You Dream” for you. And, yes, he’s a great actor as well..
Thanks a lot for the answers, Jonny. Hopefully I’ll see you here in Norway some beautiful day, and we cross our fingers hoping you’ll sell a million albums. At least, me and my brother recomend people check out your records.

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