Mat Jones and the Jonestown Revival
By Amy Dalness
Monday, July 24, Harlow's on the Hill (21-and-over): Playing the bars in Los Angeles is tough enough without attracting crazies. For Mat Jones, crazies are just part of the deal.
It's hard to generate fans in the City of Angels, he says, because musicians are always performing for carousers or other musicians. Jones recalls one such night when, after playing his set, a drunken crazy started rambling off descriptions of Jones’ sound. The one Jones can remember the most distinctly is “Kurt Cobain and Johnny Cash in a drunken bar fight.”
The crazy might be right.
On his latest album, August, it's hard to miss the similarity in voice between Cobain and Jones and the country feel of Cash. It's not heavy handed or deliberate; it just is. “Brimstone” opens like a heartfelt country tune and masterfully blooms into a rock ballad, feedback and all. Listening to it is like looking for shapes in the clouds—you might not see the bunny at first, but as soon as someone points it out to you, it's as obvious as red paint on a white wall.
Jones says he doesn't worry much about being compared to these rock legends. “As long as you maintain your voice, you can do whatever you want,” he says--something, both artistically and literally, that can be difficult in the all-showbiz world of Los Angeles. Jones has written a few songs for the small screen, and the process has influenced his music.
"[Writing music for TV] reminded me that you have to make it interesting to the listener” he says. “It's opened up doors for amassing material that's in a slightly different direction than what I do." But as poppy and catchy as the music he writes for TV may be, he wants the music he plays with the Jonestown Revival to be anything but.
"As a song writer, as a performer, you have to write songs that aren't as silly and catchy but still smack people in the head."
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