The Blues Is Always No. 1 for Jon Spencer

Jon Spencer at Warehouse Live in May 2011
Jon Spencer at Warehouse Live in May 2011
Photo by Groovehouse

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion has been back preaching the blues gospel and garage wail for over three years now, since reissuing their catalog to rave reviews and excitement from fans young and old.

The trio -- Jon Spencer, Judah Bauer and Russell Simins -- has become easily one of the most influential groups to emerge from the '90s, to say nothing of Spencer's work with Pussy Galore and Boss Hog. Seek both of those groups out if you haven't already, especially the Galore.

The JSBX broke down doors for the likes of the Mooney Suzuki, the Black Keys, Eagles of Death Metal and most anything Jack White has ever touched since MTV first aired the clip for "Wail" in 1996. That video, directed by "Weird Al" Yankovic, displayed a manic speed-freak energy that hasn't been reached since.

The band is touring this year behind their latest release, titled Meat+Bone, and they just slayed the Ed Sullivan Theater on a recent Letterman appearance.

They are playing Fitzgerald's on Monday night, with locals Weird Party providing the appropriate opening support. This week I reached out to Jon Spencer himself via e-mail to yak about the JSBX's current doings.

Rocks Off: The reissue series was a great revisit to the JSBX universe. How fun was it putting those together?

Jon Spencer: Seriously, it was a huge task that took over my life for nine months. I wanted to be as complete and thorough as possible, not just make the records available again but to tell the story of the band's first ten years.

We were a busy group, and there was a lot of non-LP material. I was not looking forward to the job, would've much rather been doing something new. But once I started, it did consume me.

I suppose one thing that made it easier was that so much time had passed and I had forgotten things. I was no longer so close to the material. At times it was as if I was working on another band's catalog.

RO: Did you find anything while compiling tracks for the reissues that was especially fun to hear again?

JS: I discovered a completely "lost" and forgotten song from the Orange sessions called "Haircut."

RO: What was the response like going on the road again?

JS: Kind of the same as always. We have good crowds anywhere and everywhere. We started playing again live in 2008 after a three-year break, so the 2010-2011 gigs were not so radically different. I was keen to see if there would be a shift in the audience after the release of the new studio album Meat+Bone in 2012. So far no big difference.

RO: Do you see JSBX and your earlier bands as pioneers, or does it not faze you? You did help kick in a lot of doors to garage getting a foothold among people who wouldn't otherwise have heard you.

JS: I guess so. I don't really think about it in those terms. After all, I started playing in a rock band because I was in love with certain bands and records.


The Blues Is Always No. 1 for Jon Spencer

RO: It seems like \the live energy went right into Meat+Bone.

JS: Since we began playing again, we certainly have enjoyed it. It feels good! Making Meat+Bone was relatively an easy affair because the mood has been so good.

RO: You said that the crowds were nuts on the last tour. How would you describe JSBX crowds? I saw maniacs here in Houston at Warehouse Live in 2011, and it was beautiful.

JS: All generally friendly and well-mannered. And good-looking, too! People looking to stomp and shout and shake something.

RO: What are the plans for the future? More albums and touring? Anything else brewing on your end?

JS: More touring. We got shows all over the world through the summer.

With Weird Party, 8 p.m. Monday, January 21, at Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak,

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2706 White Oak
Houston, TX 77007


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