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The Fillmore welcomes Jonny Lang this Wednesday

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Interview with Jonny Lang - Winter Tour 2014

Wendy:

This tour you're out on a new album, Fight for My Soul. It must be good to be out there touring on something new that you're really proud of.

Jonny:

It is. It's really wonderful especially after - it's been a while - having new material to play. We've got a new band member as well, a new bass player. Our other bass player kinda wanted to be home; life on the road and not being able to see his family so much wasn't part of the plan for him. So, our new bass player is awesome; we're having a really good time.

Wendy:

Who's your new bass player; what's his name?

Jonny:

His name is Sonny Thompson.

Wendy:

How did you guys meet?

Jonny:

I've known Sonny since I was a kid, growing up in Minneapolis watching the local musicians. Sonny played with Prince for a long time - still does on occasion. Sonny's just one of my favorite musicians ever, so quite an honor to be able to have him in the band.

Wendy:

Sonny's new but otherwise you've had the same touring band for a while, and this was also the band that recorded on the album, so I'm sure it's great for all of you to be out there together, playing it live.

Jonny:

Yeah, that's never happened to me. It's pretty cool having everybody who was on the record - except for Jim [Anton], the bass player.

Wendy:

You also worked with Tommy Sims [co-producer and co-songwriter] on the new album. I know you were really excited about working with him. What was your relationship to Tommy prior to working with him on Fight for My Soul?

Jonny:

I've known Tommy since I was a lot younger - probably 17, and written with him over the years and even gotten some performances, minor stuff around Nashville in the past. It was always a dream of mine to be able to do a record with him because I'm such a huge fan of his solo record. For whatever reason we never were able to make a record together; it never worked out until now. To be able to write most of these tunes with him and make this record with him was awesome.

Wendy:

I understand that you feel like the songs on this album are more a reflection of who you are than in albums past - not to say that those weren't also, but that this one is especially so.

Jonny:

Yeah, it's funny, I've looked at the last three records kind of like that and then things change in your life and the next one is most like who you are - like taking pictures. But this one may be the most satisfying creatively for me just because this time around I really let go of whatever my perception was of whatever I might be expected to do and just let it happen without trying to control it in that sense. It was great. Instead of thinking. "Ok, well we've got to center this around a guitar solo", or something like that, I just allowed the songs to dictate themselves, dictate the direction that we were gonna go and let the musicians interpret them the way they wanted to and not try to steer too much.

Wendy:

Finding the right people where you have that kind of connection and can do that is really wonderful. I mean, you can't really do that with everyone.

Jonny:

Yeah, you're so right about that. All it takes is one little tiny wrench like ego or them not really getting you - whatever. But Tommy is - I think if you talk to anybody that's worked with him on a project in this capacity, creatively, like writing lyrics - I think they would say that he completely understood them. It's just one of those great gifts; he can really zero in on where you're at and what you want to accomplish.

Wendy:

The connections that you make with the audience - how you're able to, through your own stories, connect with people and maybe help them or just make them happy - it seems that that's something that's really important to you when you're setting foot in the door of a venue.

Jonny:

If there is a goal in all of this, it's that. It's crazy what music is capable of. It sort of arrests the listener; when you're listening to it you're really open, if you're into it. I feel kinda responsible to be somebody wielding something like that, you know? Hopefully when it's over the folks will have gotten something good out of it, positive and a blessing to them somehow.

Wendy:

Everybody knows that you were recognized for your guitar playing from a very early age, and were out there playing and recording, but obviously you're also an incredible singer. When did you first start to sing?

Jonny:

My first memories are of singing, along to Motown records with my parents.

Wendy:

So you came from a musical family?

Jonny:

Definitely a family that really loves music, yeah. I always wanted to be a singer. That was always my dream. Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight and those types of people inspired me to want to do that. That's probably the most fundamental part of me, as far as remembering who I am, is that I wanted to be a singer.

Wendy:

Do you remember any pivotal songs from when you were a kid, where you heard a specific song and it just really resonated with you?

Jonny:

Yeah, I remember seeing Michael Jackson on Motown 25. I think I was three or four years old. That was the first biggie. That I remember was the first big, "Oh my goodness, I have got to do that!" Motown 25, I think, is where he debuted the moonwalk.

Wendy:

This time out in San Francisco you're playing The Fillmore. It's a fun venue to play isn't it, with all the history of the place, thinking of everything that's gone before?

Jonny:

Yeah, the [thing] for me is remembering how some of my favorite live records, which were recorded there - the memory of how those sound, and then we're in there, hearing the sound of that room. It's one of those venues that's kinda bigger than any of us so to speak. It's one of those places that has created a lot of artists, so, very special and an honor to play there.

Wendy:

For someone like yourself - you've played with all these incredible people and you've done all these incredible things from a very early age - you've already done what most people put on their goal list and get to after after a long period of time. Is there anything that you still have as a wish list kind of thing, or are you just happy to see what comes along at this point, since you've done so much?

Jonny:

A little bit of both. There's a couple people I've always wanted to write with and that remains my biggest bucket list item. One of those is write with Stevie Wonder and the other, write with James Taylor. If I could write with either one or both of those guys that would be a dream come true.

Jonny Lang plays The Fillmore on Wednesday, January 22nd. Doors at 7.

For more information please visit:

www.jonnylang.com

www.thefillmore.com

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