Amplify Nights: The Boy Jones
Back in August 2015 we had the pleasure of hosting The Boy Jones as our first Amplify Night since the spring. We packed into a house in Edgehill, moved furniture around, and somehow managed to fit a sound system in the living room. August in Nashville is hot and humid, but a little bit of sweat didn't keep us from having an amazing show. After the show, one of our producers, Forrest Brown (FB), got the chance to sit down with The Boy Jones (BJ) himself to talk a little bit more about saying things you shouldn't say, super hero names, and honesty.
FB: Who is the Boy Jones? Is that just a moniker, or is it more of a character or a persona that you sort of invented to accompany your music?
BJ: I just like the name, I stole it. Edward Jones, who was an orphan in London, he was what they call a mudlark, that’s what they called those back then, and he is the first recorded celebrity stalker. I think at 13 or 14 years old he used to sneak into Buckingham Palace and sit at the foot of the queen’s bed and raid her panty drawer, and he continued to do this for a couple years until, I’m pretty sure, he died before he was 20 years old because he was a terrible alcoholic and he like fell off a bridge. So I just like the aspect of sneaking into the queen’s bedroom and just f---ing around y’know…that’s why I like that, that’s why I was drawn to it…I thought it was funny, and I just like to stir the pot.
FB: Gotcha. So do you think that’s evolved into more of a persona or is it just kind of a catchy name?
BJ: Totally, it’s totally evolved into a persona. It’s definitely given me more confidence. I’ve always said things that I shouldn’t say that are really inappropriate, but now it’s even easier to say things that are inappropriate.
FB: Cause it’s not you, it’s The Boy Jones?
BJ: Right. Well I mean, it is me. It’s just an embellishment, a form of me.
FB: Gotcha. So going off of that, a lot of your songs seem to have this personal narrative running through them, kind of like in “10 Days After the 4th of July,” that one comes to mind…so is that you talking or is that The Boy Jones talking, or is there really that much of a difference between them?
BJ: I am The Boy Jones. That’s me, that’s me. That EP in particular is like…that’s all true, that’s my life, that’s like who I am, and I’m sappy and emotional and goofy at the same time. So yes it is my personal narrative that The Boy Jones tells, that make sense? The Boy Jones allows me to be me. It’s like Batman and Bruce Wayne; Bruce Wayne’s really just Batman. Y’know what I mean? *laughs*
FB: Yeah but Batman allows Bruce Wayne to do the things he can’t do as Bruce Wayne, right? So in that sense The Boy Jones allows you to say the things he couldn’t say as you.
BJ: Yeah, I’ve just never used my real name. I never have.
FB: Also a big thing I pick up on in your music is your emphasis on honesty in all your songs. Why do you think that’s so important to be honest with your music, with your art?
BJ: For me, I can’t speak for anybody else, but music for me, it gets me through s---. That’s how I process…that’s how I get over a girl, that’s how I get through having a dead-end job. That’s why honesty is important to me because it allows me– once again, it allows me to be me. And I also think we’re in a time when integrity is few and far between, and I don’t think there’s much honesty out there anymore. I don’t. And it saddens me, it pisses me off. And that’s one reason I write the songs I do because…just be yourself. Just go out there and be yourself. Use a different name, maybe, but be yourself.
FB: Do you think that lack of integrity is especially true among aspiring artists or musicians? I just feel like we’re in a time when a lot of musicians would rather seem like something they’re not in order to be popular. Is that kind of the sentiment you’re picking at or is it just a more general sense than that?
BJ: No, that’s exactly what I’m getting at. I think the problem with not just the music industry but also the problem with our society as a whole is a lack of a human element, a lack of an honest element, a lack of integrity. We’re all the same, y’know what I mean? We all get in our car and cry at some point. We all want things that we know we’re probably never going to have. I just…be yourself. I don’t know. I was in a band for a long time. It was crazy and wild, I don’t think I wore a shirt for like 5 years. If it was there we were on it. For me, I feel like I had just gone so long without being myself that I just wanted to be honest. It’s all we’re ever gonna be really, and the truth sucks but…nothing good comes from lies.
FB: I was looking at the cover of the most recent EP you just put out, and the cover, there’s like a pocket knife, it looks like it was whittled into wood. What made you want to do that? Do you think there’s some kind of honesty in that or did you think it just looked cool?
BJ: Maybe? I just thought it looked cool. And that cover, it’s a wood burning and then there’s a pocket knife right there, so that’s a lie right there, sort of a conundrum, but yeah a wood burning and then there’s a pocket knife sitting next to it. I just thought it looked cool and I had no money *laughs* Yeah I was just broke. And that’s another thing, too. If anybody ever wants my record on vinyl, I’m sorry, but you’re gonna have to f---ing pay for it, like I need an investor. I’m not gonna dump 2,500 bucks on a run of 800 vinyl so I’m not gonna do it. If I get to the point where people want that they can email me and be like “Hear hear!” But I’m not gonna start a Gofundme, I’m not gonna do that. I think it’s ridiculous. So until that day comes I will continue to do wood burnings.
FB: Are you planning on releasing a new album soon? Are you doing any writing?
BJ: I’m working on a new EP right now which should be done hopefully before the end of February. And I just wanna play. That’s all I wanna do, I just wanna play. I don’t wanna “make it.” I’d like to be able to afford an apartment and whatnot, normal necessities, playing music, but unfortunately I’m an ass---- and I don’t want to compromise. I’m hard-headed. It’s hard when you’re hard-headed and you want to be honest.