Interview with Janet Gardner20th January 2020
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to me, I want to start by asking what are your thoughts with how the new album has been received?
So far so good, we’re really happy with the reaction.
Did you have any specific plan behind the album any overarching aim any theme?
No, not at all. Justin and I sat down and we just started writing and whatever came out, came out. Towards the end of course we tried to figure out how we’re going to make everything make sense together, but in these days and these times you don’t have to worry that much about it. It’s not like someone has to fast forward through a whole bunch of tape, you listen to what you want when you want. It doesn’t have to make sense from the first song to the last, you want it to have some pacing and a nice flow to it but at the end of the day everybody is going to listen to what they want anyway.
Do you like that approach to music these days?
Yes I do, very much. I like to do things without restrictions. And whatever your feeling at the moment you just want to capture that and it’s not always going to make sense, but it’s true and it’s honest and it’s creative. So that’s kinda what we do and how we do it nowadays.
In terms of your recording style, Justin helped produce the album is that right?
Yes, we co-produced and co-wrote it.
And do you prefer the modern studio with all the gadgets and gizmo’s? Or would you rather go back to a simpler time?
No I love it now. I would not go back for anything. For one thing the expense. Once you get set up, you need a decent computer, a good interface and make some initial investment, not millions of dollars and you can then make great sounding records right there at home. Anytime you want, you’re not paying for studio time looking at the clock going there goes another 150 bucks just for sitting her for 10 minutes. It’s very freeing just having less bodies around, less people hearing what you’re doing, hearing you experiment and fail and be embarrassed. It’s nice to be able to go in there by yourself and do whatever you want. The dog might hear it, but that’s okay cause she doesn’t judge. Other than that you can mess around, and experiment without going “Oh my god he just heard that and probably thinks I’m an idiot”. You can wail away and I can try to hit notes that I don’t necessarily normally do and try stuff I always prefer this, I wish it had been like this 20 years ago.
There are 2 stand out tracks for me on the album for me, the title track and then ‘You Said’. I don’t know what it is about the track but I listened to it 4 or 5 times in a row.
I love that you love that song cause that was for us one of those kinda throw away the rule book, don’t really think much about what the formula is or is this a verse, or a chorus what is this? And just kinda put together something that is making the point we want to make without going by a formula. To me that’s one of the songs I’m most proud of because I like what it says, there’s a message in there obviously and musically we didn’t pick at it a lot. We let it flow and we were kinda like “Is this section too much, there’s post chorus and pre chorus, what is this?” We like it, let’s go with it. It’s cool that you like it as it’s one of the ones I’m most proud of and I think Justin is too.
Is the album very auto-biographical?
For the most part, but some of it is fiction. On this album this is the first time that I’ve really written anything from the third person. Usually it’s I, you and we, but this time there was he and she and we told a couple of stories that were based on our own experiences but fairly made-up. So that was something new for us that I really enjoyed actually pulling myself away from it and just telling a story about somebody else, another couple another girl, people that I admire. The song Unconditionally is about married couples that have been married for 40years, like how do you do that? I haven’t experienced that so that was definitely not from my own experience that was just the people around me, my brother has been married to his wife forever, since I was a kid. Justin has a brother that has been married to the same woman for many many years and I admire that and it was nice to write a song about something other than what I’ve personally experienced and something I admire in other people so that was new and I enjoyed it.
In terms of your recording process, coming up with the ideas of the music itself, do you and Justin tell the band what to play, do you give them boundaries?
We have yet to experience that. Justin and I have done everything on the last 2 albums. We haven’t involved the band members cause they are all over the place, busy doing other shows and other things. And for times sake and because we would probably do that anyway just throw some drums and bass on there, scratch stuff anyway, and say do something like this which eventually is something we might do. For these two albums we would start doing it ourselves and we would perfect it and perfect it and perfect it to the point where actually I don’t want to change any of this as we kinda like it the way it is. At some point we definitely want to bring the guys in and have them play on some stuff because they do bring a different element to it when we play it live, that I like a lot and Justin does too. So we’ll probably do that on the next record, try to get more of them playing on it get everybody in a room and get some energy together and do this.
You have a gig coming up at the Whiskey in LA in about a month, Do you like small intimate rooms? Or do you prefer the massive festivals and playing to 20, 30, 40 thousand people?
I like them both equally, It’s a big thrill to go up on a big stage in front of a whole ton of people like we did the festivals last summer we did grasspop metal meeting we did Sweden Rock we did Barcelona rock fest, we did a whole bunch of festivals. That’s just an amazing feeling to just look out there and see all of these rock fans going crazy and having such a good time. But it does lose some of the intimacy and I do like that in smaller places, I like talking about a funny story on the way to the show and relate to the crowd on a different level, I really do enjoy that. It’s been nice to be able to both of those.
It’s good that you have the ability to do that, I’ve seen several bands that do really well in small venues that don’t translate to a big festival.
Right, there is a different art to it, you’ve got to realise that there’s this mass of people and small gestures are not going work, telling jokes usually doesn’t work. You’ve got to keep the music rolling you got to keep them fired up, you’ve got to be big, you’ve got to be loud and in their face with tons of energy. In a smaller venue subtlety works cause they can see your face. It helps now that there are giant screens at festivals so people can see your face. I remember the first few times going on at a really big stage at an arena full of thousands of people and being a little over whelmed and going, “Uhhh what do I do? I’m not used to this.” You learn what works and what doesn’t work and you stick to it.
Are you planning to come back to the UK with the album?
We would love to, as of now there are no plans to do that, we are going to stay pretty busy through the fall in the states. Then of course, we’re writing again, we can’t help ourselves. We would love to come back but as of now there’s no immediate plans, so I’m thinking if it happens maybe next year.
I’ve got a couple of weirder questions now. Gene Simmons famously said that rock music is dead. What are your thoughts.
No, that’ll never happen. You know it’s not in the mainstream granted, it’s not as popular as it has been in the past but it never goes away. There are always fans, it may not be massive like it has been in the past. I know that at some point it will make a resurgence into the mainstream, mark my words it will happen.
Rock has never been the most popular form of music.
There was a time in the 80’s, you know Vixen, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi that it was really popular. Top 40 radio stations, mainstream pop stations were playing our music and that was one of the few times that was the case. But I think there are always rock fans and rock fans are die hard. You know I have a 16 year old son and he has a group of friends that are metal heads. He has a vest with a bunch of patches and they are totally into it. So I don’t see it going away.
Neither do I. I like the underground nature of it, it feels illicit if that’s the word, it’s exciting.
Haha. Yeah, it does. Exactly, it’s still got that rebellious nature, if its mainstream, if too many people like it you’re not doing it right.
If I wanted to know more about what inspires you to be you, what films should I watch, what music should I listen too?
Oh my gosh. Hmmm. Of course I’m a sucker for anything that has a powerful female. I find that very empowering. Even something as silly as Wonder Woman, female super hero movies. Anything like that. Musically I like anything and everything, depending on what mood I’m in. Once again I like badass women, I’ve always loved Heart, these days I really like Pink.
Pink recently played a gig here and a few friends went to see her and she was flying through the air.
Yeah and not missing a note. Wrapping herself in a scarf and twirling down and doesn’t miss a note sings like she’s standing there doing nothing. Unbelievable. And I do like a lot of the classic stuff that I grew up on, I still listen to Aerosmith I still listen to Zeppelin, that’s my stuff that’s my home. At work you have to put on stuff that’s palatable for anyone that walks in, and I like singer songwriter guys. Guys who write really good lyrics, it’s not loud it’s not brash, but there’s meaning in the song. I just don’t like fluffy pop that means nothing, I cannot stand that. But I like pop, I like John Mayer, I like people who say something who are doing what they’re doing.
Something with meaning, who take a bit of their soul and put it out there for people to see.
Exactly. I mean the other day I was at the gym, I was there for 45 minutes and I forgot my headphones so I was forced to listen to this music going on in the gym. And it was this nothing pop and I’m not kidding you, I listened for 45 minutes and I took away not one lyric from 45 minutes of music. It was just awful I just don’t get it, I don’t get the popularity of music that says nothing I don’t get it. But, you know, to each their own, to a lot of people that’s not what they listen to music for, it’s for background.
I don’t think people really listen to music much these days, it seems to be very much image driven. You’ve got to look pretty, have your hair perfect wear the right clothes the right sunglasses.
Take a band like Boston I started listening to them when I was young. All you had was the picture on the album and I had no idea what they looked like I didn’t care. I just put the album on and felt the music. The good old days.
One last question Janet. What’s next for you?
We are going to play some shows to support this album, we’re definitely going to make some more music. I have no idea what kind, I don’t know what we’ll feel like when we sit down and start to write, but there’s definitely more music it’s in me, it’s in my blood I can’t stop. As long as there’s a handful of people who say that song moved me in some way or you helped me through a hard time with that song or I got a speeding ticket because I was jamming to one of your songs. As long as I get any of that I won’t stop, I can’t stop. Neither can Justin, he feels the same way and doing it together makes it that much better. We love to perform and tour and go different places, we had a great time on the last UK tour even though I was the one that did the driving and scared the crap the guys.
Is there anything else you want to say to everyone out there?
I’d just like to say thank you to everyone for the support. It’s been a great few years coming back, having music back in our lives. We can’t wait to see all you guys out at a show.