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Interview Jonny Kaplan, Rami Jaffee & Chris Stills
You are back in Spain, What are your first thoughts when they ask you to come back to such a city as Barcelona?
Jonny: I always love coming back to Spain. I used to live in Madrid, so coming to Spain is always like coming home. Coming to Barcelona means we get to eat lots and lots of navajas! (laughs).
Rami: I love Spain, north and south, east and west. Still many parts to discover but I am always happy when I am in Barcelona. I always stay at the Barcelonetta suites, the best rental by the beach. And since the city is pretty small, it’s so easy to just start walking into town from here.
Chris: I’ve been coming to Spain since I was a toddler, starting in Cal de Tass with my grandparents and then Ibiza for summers since I was about 9 years old. We would throw ourselves in a 70’s Peugeot 504 and drive to Barcelona for the ferry. Barcelona has a charm that is like no other city in the world. The people, the food, the streets and great vibes.
When were you were in Spain last? What are your memories of that last visit?
Jonny: We did a fantastic tour with The Lazy Stars about 3 years ago which was a ton of fun, but also, about 2 years ago, Rami and I finished tour dates in England and “snuck away” to Barcelona, where we just took over a few bars un-announced and rocked the house a little bit! (laughs).
Rami: I have been here so many times, with Foo Fighters, the Wallflowers, Jonny Kaplan and even other bands I joined for a few shows just because they were in Spain! My last visit was a few months ago; I went to Tarifa for my first time to visit my friend Ruben from Santisima. You can see Morocco across the water sitting on the beach! Very cool! I want to go back very soon!
Chris: Last time I was here (BCN) I was on my way to a show in the south of France and we stopped for tapas somewhere in the city. Best tapas!
What can each of you tell us about each other, the other tour mates?
Jonny: There is a lot of love here. I always feel very fortunate that I get to play music with people I love. We are more like a family than anything else. Rami and I have been playing music together for almost 30 years! Jokin Salaverría (bass guitarist) and I have been all over the world together as well. We are really all like brothers, with Jokin being our very tall baby brother (laughs).
Rami: I’ve known Jonny and Chris for about 25 years! We were kids taking over the Los Angeles music scene when it needed our help in the early 90’s! They are both great songwriters and people will be lucky to catch both of them on the same stage the same night!
Chris: I don’t even know these guys... Who are they? Kidding... I’ve know Jonny and Rami since longer than I can even remember! Always around a stage, playing music and doing what we love. And now, Jokin? Just met. I’m joking... But knowing the other two, I’m sure we’re gonna be fast friends.
Since when have you known each other?
Jonny: Chris, Rami and I have known each other since our early days playing in Hollywood. For me, it is always a blast to be in a different part of the world playing music with my friends. The older we all get... the more amazing history we have together.
Rami: We have known each other for 25 years!
Chris: Yup, feels like 10!
In your opinion, what parts of the globe are hosting the best musical scenes?
Jonny: Well, every place is special for different reasons. Japan is intense. The fans are so amazing and they listen to every word you sing. Spain and Argentina are tied for amazing, passionate crazy rock fans. It’s incredible!
Rami: I travel all the time. Almost everywhere has amazing musical scenes. Some might not blow up and get popular to the masses, but there is big talent and a groovy audience in almost every place on this globe. You just have to find it! Even with the internet as a helper, you may have to dig deeper!
Chris: What I love is that, first and foremost, no matter where you go, there is music. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. But it’s there. It has no borders; it has many dialects but always the same universal language.
How healthy is American rock?
Jonny: I would say that although America may not be very healthy right now, American Rock is quite possibly the greatest cultural gift that we have given the world. The music business may have its problems, but American Rock will never die.
Rami: America may be super sick, but the rock is super strong! So many times, even in America, I am asked why rock is dead. OK, so maybe the business is upside down and not many amazing rock bands are getting the recognition and the money, but there are so many great American rock bands!! Let me think of one... FOO FIGHTERS!
Chris: Foo fighters. If that doesn’t answer your question...
And the music industry in general with all the changes (Youtube, Spotify), What do you like best about its current status?
Jonny: Honestly, I don’t like too much of it. It’s all set up to make everyone rich… except the artist. But, I honestly don’t give it very much thought either. I am here to make and play music.
Rami: I feel like part of the problem since I look on Youtube and use Spotify too often! And since I was in a successful band (the Wallflowers) in the 90’s, I can see that artists are completely fucked in this new world where those companies are rich and we’re driving a van around Spain! But the silver lining is that it’s forcing us musicians to play more live and make money from their shows and their merchandise. Playing live has always been important to share and to serve the Earth; it’s just now that is the only way for an artist to survive, which really is sad since just a decade before there were many ways to earn a living with music.
Chris: Anyone ever see the movie Revenge of the Nerds? A great American contribution to world culture. As a metaphor for what happed to the music industry, just replace the ‘jocks’ with ‘musicians’ and there you go. The Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs etc. and all the Spotifys and YouTubes built a machine and exacted revenge for us getting all the girls for so long.
And one last thought from you:what would gigs be like without mobile phone?
Jonny: (Laughts) That would be wonderful! People should realize that they need to live in the present. How can you enjoy the show if you are too busy trying to be a cameraman?
Rami: For one, people would have to hold up an actual lighter instead of an app with one! Also, instead of going to the show in person, people rely on seeing some Youtube phone camera clips the next day. ¡No bueno!
Chris: What cell phones? (For Jonny only…)
What is new for your fans on Sparkle and Shine?
Jonny: I am very proud of the songs and performances on Sparkle and Shine. It took a long time to complete, because we wanted it to be perfect. There is an element of sophistication on this record that is not on the others.
Rami: It’s been said you captivated the critics; which critic or review has impressed you for good or bad.
Chris: The critics have almost always been very, very good to me. Receiving “American Album Of The Month” years ago from Mojo Magazine was a thrill as well as a “jumpstart” for my career.
Where would you love to play showcasing this album? Any place you have not been yet?
Jonny: Oh man! I want to play everywhere. We have been to a lot of places, but there are many more still. This year we will focus on playing the many parts of Europe and South America that we haven’t played yet. Cheers!Read more Close