Idlewild guitarist Rod Jones has recently bridged out on his own with the release of his brilliant debut solo album, “A Sentimental Education” in April this year. Justboy57 caught up with him before his gig in Cafe Drummonds on Sunday night (6th June), to talk a little bit about what is next in line for his solo project.
Rod, welcome to Flares n Seagulls! It’s a pleasure to have you! How are you doing? Enjoying the glorious sunshine?
I’m doing well thanks. Just enjoying a few days off before the gig at the weekend. Always nice to make the most of the few sunny days we have in Scotland.
Your debut solo album, “A Sentimental Education”, came out on the 26th of April this year and please let me say congratulations on producing a brilliant album! Were you happy with the end results? A proud moment?
Thanks very much. Yeah I’m really pleased and relieved actually. It was a long time in the making. The only problem with working on your own and at home is that often you get sidetracked or uncertain about what you are doing. Having had some time with it now and playing the songs live I’m really happy with it.
What were your main musical influences shaping the album? Did your love for bands such as The Byrds and Crosby, Stills and Nash guide you towards an album that encompassed that sort of sound?
Yes, CSNY and alot of the laurel canyon music from the 60s and 70s really heavily influenced the sound. I’m a big fan of vocal harmonies and really wanted to push that to the forefront. Actually I was at Teenage Fanclub last night. Superb concert by a fantastic band who make harmonies seem so effortless. A big influence on my music.
Was working on your own something you always wanted to do throughout your time in Idlewild or was it something you decided to do completely out of the blue?
To be honest I just started writing my own songs as a sort of hobby when I as bored and it wasn’t really until I had a collection of them that I started to think maybe I could put out a record. A lot of encouragement from friends and family and a lot of biting my nails and procrastinating went on before I felt comfortable enough to release it.
Track, “Past Passes By”, features Aberdeen’s very own Amber Wilson who I have seen a couple of times now and I can honestly say her voice is something special. How did this collaboration come about?
I’ve known amber for a few years after she passed me a demo at an Idlewild show years ago and I always kept an eye on her music as there was clearly something special about her. When I was looking for someone to sing on that song it was an obvious choice. She has a lovely voice which just fitted the song perfectly.
Staying on the Aberdeen music scene, you toured with local boys and Flares n Seagulls favourites The Xcerts last year as part of Idlewild’s Post Electric Blue’s album tour. Were you impressed with Murray et al?
The Xcerts were a pleasure to have on tour. A truly wonderful bunch of people who put on a great show every night even with a broken arm. I’m looking forward to seeing them again soon. Hopefully at the gig in Aberdeen.
Could you tell us a bit about your live show? Is it very much you stripped back or are you accompanied by a band?
It depends really on where it is and what I’m doing at the time but for this tour its full band and a bit more upbeat. Jonny Scott (the unwinding hours) plays drums, my friend David Jack on bass and Jacqueline Irvine (who also plays and sings on the record) sings harmonies. Only having one solo record and a couple of new songs to play we also do a few covers, some stranger than others…..
I have been a fan of Idlewild for absolutely ages now and I think it is safe to say they are one of the most important bands to come out of this country. What’s next in line for the band? Are you all busy with your own projects at the moment?
We are taking some time to do our own things but still playing now and then. A possible US tour in November and then a break from touring until we have a new record to tour with. Not sure how long that will be but we will probably start writing again early next year.
Do you think the success of Idlewild aided you in your quest to go on and fulfil your desire to release your solo material?
It definitely didn’t hurt but also it really is a bit like starting out again. It’s so different from Idlewild and I just have to build up my own fanbase now. The experience I’ve gained over the years in songwriting and recording with Idlewild was obviously invaluable to making this record.
Any plans to take Rod Jones’ solo material to any festivals throughout the Summer? What are they plans after this tour concludes?
No festivals planned for the solo stuff. A couple as Idlewild. Will be looking to get another solo record finished and out within the year though and maybe look at some festivals next year.
As a man who has seen the world, played in a number of different cities and experienced a varying array of cultures, how does playing live in Scotland compare to those gigs further away from home?
Playing in Scotland is always up there with the best. Obviously its fun to go to New York and Paris and other places but playing in Scotland the crowds are always so special and we always leave those gigs feeling much more fulfilled.
You have been involved with Detour Scotland, playing at one of their launch nights in Glasgow. Are you an avid follower of new music in Scotland? Any picks that we should be looking out for?
I’m terrible with new music to be honest. I get so caught up in old records that I quite often am late to come to new music. Saying that, there are a few current bands I love such as Sparrow and The Workshop and I am really enjoying the new National record.
What does the future hold for Rod Jones? After achieving so much with Idlewild are there any goals in life you are still to achieve?
I always get bored very quickly so I don’t like to sit around much. There are plenty of things I want to achieve still, both on my own and with Idlewild. Working with the Scottish mental health foundation and curating the music side of their festival each year is something that is very close to my heart and one of my main interests these days.
Your five desert island tracks?
May you never – John Martyn
Candle – Sonic Youth
Thunder Road – Bruce Springsteen
Deja vu – Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
The Concept – Teenage fanclub
Anything else you would like to add?
Nothing much, just hope to see you at Cafe Drummond on Sunday night
And finally….your favourite flavour of crisps?
Salt and vinegar
Thanks for the interview Rod, and yeah, we’ll see you there.
Rod Jones MySpace