Kill the Band
-Jimmy Interview III-

 

 
Jimmy Gnecco Interview III
Conducted and written by
Mike Mastroianni

 

My third interview with Jimmy took place after Ours blew away some Wallflowers fans in Hartford, Ct on Dec 3rd, 2002. Thanks again to Jimmy for being so generous to me and granting me his time.
 

Mike: How did you come up with the title 'Precious' for the new album, and how does it differ from Distorted Lullabies to you?
Jimmy: The title comes from a few different angles. I worked on these songs so much, inside and out. We take everything really seriously. In one sense it was like they (the songs) were a precious baby to us. But on the other side, we kept saying lets not be too precious about it. Lets not spend a few more years working on it. Going into this record it was very apparent to me that if we took ourselves too seriously and we spent forever, we ran the risk of people saying that we disappeared up our own asses, that we were too self important. Thats why the songs had to have that physical element of being urgent and rocking. We haven't earned the right to make our OK Computer or Kid A. The first record was ambitious and not many singles on it. We didn't want to make the first record again. We wanted 2 guitars, bass, drums, vocals, done. Some of the same feeling exist on both records though. We just dressed them up different.

M: What I first noticed with this album was there was a lot of potential singles on it.
J: We thought so during making it. We didn't set out to make a really commercial record, but we felt there were a lot of good songs on it. We didn't approach the mixing of the album to what would make good radio songs. We really thought coming into this album that there were 7 potential singles on it. We wrote songs that we felt were well written songs, like ones that we grew up with. We didn't want to get caught up in anything beyond that.

M: When will Realize come out as a single? Any b-sides recorded?
J: February. Not really, but right after the album we recorded some things without a producer, more for us. God Only Wants You, things like that.

M: Have you thought about doing any duets with female singers? The live shows with Eve sounded great.
J: Actually I haven't. Singing with Ethan really opened me up to being excited about singing with people. Ethan and Zoe really opened up the side of being more at ease with it. We were gonna get Rufus Wainwright to sing on it, but he was in Canada. I love his work.

M: Any chance of going over to Europe next year?
J: Sure, hopefully. Thats in the hands of the record label though. We have an international record deal. Actually, its for the universe! Thats what it says on the contract. They don't even limit it to the world (laughs). We thought we made a record (Distorted) that would have great appeal to the entire world, but they didn't put it out (over there). That was a great disappointment to us. You can't just think that it begins and ends in the United States music wise. Its a big world. Its a frustrating thing to me. I wanna grab my guitar and go book shows myself, fly myself to England, France, and everywhere else. I'm confused by it personally. Its not something that definitely not gonna happen. They try to break things here first, and if they don't break, it seems, their not going to Europe. To me thats completely backwards to think like that. To base your success entirely on the United States is a huge oversight to me.

M: Do you have visions already of the next album?
J: We started to talk about that, and I made a list of some things the other day. I really want to record Dracula's Bride. There's a bunch of new songs that I've written since Precious, that I guess we'll start working on. No specific thoughts of going one route. The main thing is complete freedom again, and taking a lot of chances with things. I don't want to be safe with anything. I am really bored with that personally. I want to see what we can do as a unit now, pushing the envelope. A lot of the things we've begun to work on feel like "this is the first record," that feeling of excitement about them. We haven't had a lot of time to work on them, but a lot of the songs are fun and exciting to play.

M: How much control do you guys have on the official band website?
J: Thats something that is out of my hands. I talked to the person who the label wanted to get to run it, told them what I was into and what I wasn't. I don't look at it often. Every once in a while I will check it and see something that will aggravate me. A few months ago, they had an Ours survey, I read that and said, this isn't my survey. So I called them and said to take it down. Put the truth, that this is a Dreamworks survey. I don't give a f**k about half those things. That survey was all about money, had nothing to do with us.

M: Do you have a good relationship with the record label?
J: We have a good relationship with the label. You have to find the balance to where the relationship works. Everybody's learning how to best showcase what we can do, and everybody's intentions from the label seem to be good. Sometimes, things that mean a lot to us, don't mean a lot to them and vice versa.

M: Do you own the domain name (Ours2.net) in case things ever change?
J: Yes. I also have Ours.net and I want to set that up to where its completely about expression, no information. I want to get that going within the next couple of months to offset any corporate feeling that the official site has now.

M: Ok, fan questions... Steph asks "Does vulnerability ever hit at some point where you stop and think 'maybe I'm giving too much of myself? If so how do you deal with it?"
J: Every once in a while that happens when you feel like someone's taking advantage of how open we are and how giving we try to be. Sometimes you get stung by it, you feel hurt by it. Its not gonna change how I look at things though. If that was the case then we should stop everything because that's life, not only this, its everything. Yeah, every once in a while it gets a little discouraging the things people say or expect of you. The other side is not to put anything out there and not play music anymore. I'm not about to stop wearing my heart on my sleeve. If I close myself off to the point where I'm not open and not vulnerable, it becomes unemotional and paint by numbers and I'd rather do something else personally.

M: Lorinda wants to know if you have any special precautions or preparations for your voice on tour?
J: Sleep, as much as possible. This humidifier. This tea for my throat called Throat Coat. I do warm-ups now and then. I don't drink any juices or soda. I do have coffee everyday in the morning which is terrible for your voice. (laughs).

M: Mike C wants to know, since you are playing less guitar this tour is Dave allowed to drink before the shows?
J: (laughs). He's allowed to do what he wants to do. We have an understanding as a unit, to try and know yourself as far as your limitations and potential are. Try to respect that and each other, know that we are all in this together. Its not really an issue at this point.

M: Jen would like to know who you would love to tour with?
J: I'd actually like to do a tour with Interpol. Their at the top of my list. We love the guys from Loudermilk too, really good guys, good band. Citizen Cope, maybe. Clarence is amazing. As far as bigger bands, Coldplay, PJ Harvey, Doves, Elbow, Blonde Redhead, Nine Inch Nails (I know Jerome, the drummer), Stone Temple Pilots, even Pearl Jam. Suede would be amazing. Jellyfish if they ever reform. The strangest thing, about 5 months ago, a complete surreal moment. I haven't spoken much about them much, not sure why, but they were a huge part of inspiring the entire band, growing up. A few months ago, at somebody's house, I found myself jamming with the guitar player from the Jellyfish*, singing Jellyfish songs. That was a surreal moment. They were an amazing band, really big with musicians. Two amazing albums.
Note:  Jimmy is referring to the one and only Jason Falkner.

M: Lets talk about the songs on Precious now. Kill the Band and Realize sound to me like you were frustrated with the music business.
J: A lot of different frustrations. KTB is an aggressive song, but actually is a really sad song lyrically. Right from the opening line 'the sky was screaming I lost you,' I was basically saying a star was falling out of the sky, and you can hear all the other stars crying cause they lost their friend up there. The whole song is based upon that thought, basically losing a mentor, someone you looked up to, loved very much. I chose to talk about the relationship of a musician and a band in that song. Not so much a parent or a friend that you might have lost, but more about a lost relationship within a band. Its almost a tribute to people in a sense.

M: Was Realize really written in the studio?
J: Basically, very quickly. We were going nuts working on so many different things. Taking parts from this song and putting it into that song, and trying different rhythms. The guys left the room to play ping pong or something, and I started to do this rhythm thing, that felt really good to play. It felt really aggressive, not in a barbaric or bombastic way, but more of a sexual kind of thing. It gave me the feeling of good rock and roll, that's sexual like Zeppelin and The Doors. So the guys left, and within 20 minutes-the song. That was one of those gifts that came from working on all the other things until I wanted to pull my hair out. Lyrically, I'm saying "If you want a song on the radio, you want to be successful?" then you gotta do it this way. Then you do that and you succeed, but you've succeeded at something that has nothing to do with what you ever wanted to do. So the battle has just begun. It links back to 'Sometimes' "If I was to give in, the fight would soon begin." Its really about that line there.

M: How did the Femme Fatale cover come to be?
J: We were gonna put 12 songs on the record. Originally I wanted to put 2 of Dave's songs on it. I wanted Dracula's Bride and In A Minute. Ethan didn't like Dracula's Bride so we were left with a whole. I wanted a different perspective. I'm still not sure I want Femme on the record (laughs). Once I played it for the guys, and we worked on it, everybody said "we've got to put this on the record" Even Dave knowing that it would replace a song that he wrote. And that to me is a true team player. Hats off to Dave for that. That takes a big person. It actually came up a bunch of years ago after I went to see Bowie play. I was hanging out at some diner, nobody was around, a really dark and greasy diner, and this guy that must of came from the show pulls out a guitar and starts singing this Velvets song in this low voice. Then a few years later I heard it again.

M: What is Chapter 2 (Money) about?
J: Its about growing up to me. My life growing up. Being confused about the pressures of Catholicism. I've always questioned it because it felt like a lot of the people that were practicing Catholics that I looked at growing up didn't seem like very good people. A lot of the people that judged me, were not very good people. You would think with this religion that would be the first thing-don't judge people. Everybody seemed like hypocrites to me. So I wrote about it. In the end, its saying "whatever you do, its gonna come back to you." I don't feel hate towards anyone, its just my though that ultimately what you put into life is what you are gonna get out of it. If you put bad into it then eventually its gonna catch up with you and start to pull you down. Everything else to me is a mystery, I'm not a religious person, but a spiritual person.

M: Red Colored Stars seems like a song that could have fit on Distorted?
J: I started to write it then. That was the one song I where did a lot of overdubs on the guitar. Ethan wanted to keep things simple, but he left me to my own devices. Thats a product of a lot of things like the first record, tons of guitars and layers. It was a tricky thing, because its in similar feel to Fallen Souls. I'm drawn to all those tribalish drum patterns. The more tom tom grooves, I'm personally more affected by. Over the last few years I've been more intrigued by the beat, straight grooves as well.

M: Can you tell us a little about your first band 'Lost Child'?
J; We played for about a year and a half, two years, I sang and played guitar. We played songs that I was writing then. It was such a weird band, because again, I was always really serious about being on time, being responsible, disciplined and focused, and another member liked to drink a lot. We were young too. We stopped playing because I couldn't be around that element, and I didn't want it to affect what we were doing. I wanted to play music. I wasn't there for the drama of drinking until you fell flat on your face on stage. Towards the end, I met Dave and it was clear that was he was really disciplined as well, a step above everybody else I was playing with.

M: What kind of music? Was it along the same lines as now?
J: Same sort of stuff, but simpler. The first song I wrote had this rhythm like "Where The Streets Had No Name" and was about skipping school, spending a lot of time in the city hanging out and being effected by homeless people, the fact that they had to sleep out in the cold every night. It really freaked me out. From that point on, I've been writing about things that are real and dear to me, whether its my experience or someone else's or someone else's experience through me.
  

 
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