adidas samba golf Jack Johnson interview
Ever since he moved down the road to a solar powered home entirely built from wood salvaged from another house in his rural neighbourhood Jack Johnson has had fewer problems with fans turning up at his front gate.
I? I don know, maybe, shrugs the mellow environmentalist who is so off the grid that the only surfing he truly enjoys involves the world beating waves that pound the shore near his home on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii main island. Still, he been online enough to have heard of one rumour. was one recently that was really funny everybody started texting and calling me, he says, a smile splitting his craggily handsome features. was this crazy thing that came out on the internet a sex scandal! Somebody put out a press release saying Johnson nude photos released! They said they found my camera and they were posting the pictures. But the release was deliberately misleading: the photos were of nude statues. was just a dumb joke, but it was pretty funny, he says.
Rumours of Johnson untimely demise wouldn necessarily be wholly exaggerated. The 38 year old has surfed since childhood, and almost did die when he was 17. Diving from his board to escape a towering wave, he smashed face first into a coral head, broke his skull and his nose, lost his front teeth and had 150 stitches. It was while recuperating that he finessed his guitar playing and started on the path to some 15 million album sales, (with three British Number Ones in a row), a hit single (Better Together), a Brit Award (International Breakthrough Artist 2006), and becoming the king of easy listening, campfire acoustics.
But a sex scandal? It couldn happen to a less likely musician. Johnson relationship with his wife, Kim, is 20 years strong, and he lives for his three children (aged nine and under, two boys, one girl; fiercely private Dad won even reveal their names). He founded a pair of charitable foundations, and donates all of his touring profits to noble causes. Johnson is the most right on, eco minded, sandal wearing, guitar toting campaigner in music. He makes Coldplay Chris Martin look like a fracking petrol head.
Johnson is such a good guy that even his faecal matter doesn smell. And he should know, because he uses it to nourish his garden. don have a sewage line, he says proudly. have an aerating system that basically breaks it all down to grey water. It sits long enough and it decomposes and then every so often you got to have the guy come and pump it out.
three different tanks underground, he explains. pretty neat. It keeps cycling it through to the point where it breaks down enough to use underground we have these little perforated pipes that water the yard. And, he adds, warming to his where there theme, really cool thing we got last year was an electric car. So now, we got the solar panels [on the roof], we can charge the car and don have to use a gas station any more.”
He runs his car off the sun? or less. We have a system that connected to the grid. As we making excess electricity it goes to the grid and the meter goes backwards. We zero out, basically. We had fun doing all that stuff.
Everyone, it seems, helped turn the family home into a paragon of green virtue. One of his elder brothers helped him build the house, having spotted a dwelling nearby that was about to be demolished. we took it apart ourselves, board by board. So almost our whole house is this house that used to be a mile down the street.
Right now, Jack Johnson is a long way from home, geographically and spiritually and meteorologically. He in London, in the beer garden of a busy canalside pub, in a thunderstorm. fine to sit here in the rain, he shrugs as fat raindrops spatter his sandalled feet. He in the UK to promote his new, sixth album, From Here to Now to You. A couple of nights previously he played an intimate show in west London church turned venue The Tabernacle. True to groovily chilled form, the lucky fans in attendance waited for his arrival on stage by sitting cross legged on the floor.
After the shadows darkening his last album, To the Sea written in the wake of the death of his father From Here to Now to You returns to the feel good, gently singalong vibes that have been Johnson stock in trade since his 2001 debut Brushfire Fairytales. There is, for example, one song for each of his children. come from a personal place, although I made sure there nothing there giving out little facts that I don want people to know about my family. But I wanted to focus energy on each of the kids.
So his oldest boy has the song Tape Deck, which reflects the nine year old nascent enthusiasm for the guitar, though it really about the formation of my first band He referring to Limber Chicken, the rock band he formed while at high school in Hawaii, who are not to be confused with Soil, the metal band he formed while studying film and music production in California. I saw him and his cousin jamming, and now and then I saw this little flame starting up in him.
Radiate, meanwhile, is for his middle child. does this thing where he walks around the house and you could be calling his name and he just in his world, where he painting a picture and he walking into it as he painting it and he making these noises whoosh, whoosh,
whoosh. So that song is just about the beautiful energy he radiates.
Finally, You Remind Me of You ( momma made you pretty and your momma made you sweet for my little girl Any songs for Kim? he smiles. the love songs.
This, says Johnson, is another of his missions: to increase the quotient of positivity in the world. McCarthy said that he was trying to add more darkness to the world; he thinks there too much light. And I don agree, he says, agreeably. think we got plenty of darkness. Has he read any McCarthy? yeah! he shoots back. man, that messes you up! We agree that the (spoiler alert!) baby on the spit passage is particularly gruelling. was so gnarly, Johnson winces. other scene that just kills me is when he tells his kid he has this gun and it only got one bullet, and he tells him that if the cannibals get him, he has to put the gun in his mouth
Johnson ordinarily sunny disposition clouds over. whole part, I had to put the book down. I think I punched the book and maybe flipped it off, he says, meaning he angrily showed the inanimate object the middle finger. I like, the Why am I reading this? I was so mad! But then, he smiles, picked it back up. It a meditation. That said, did not want to see the movie.
Jack Johnson performing with Neil Young, in 2008. (Steve Jennings/WireImage)
In terms of his environmental obsessions, Johnson isn afraid to put his money where his mouth is. While on tour, he insists on reusable/refillable water bottle stations at venues and the use of low energy light bulbs, while his team donate to local pressure groups in every town they visit.
But even the most assiduously green international rock star has a sizeable carbon footprint. Johnson, who has come to London with just some guitars, one crew member and a manager, acknowledges this. one point I wasn sure if I wanted even to keep touring. He was prepared to stop performing internationally just to reduce his impact on global warming? little bit, he nods. I wanted to keep my options open. To us, to make the whole thing make sense, there are two things: we can either withdraw from this industry if we feel it too impactful. Or, you can be part of it and try and do little changes to make your part of the industry better.
Is it an effort being a paragon of virtue? it not, it really easy, he insists. hardest part is to talk about it and make sure you expressing it the right way. I not gonna pretend I doing all the work. We have a great crew now that helps out with all of it.
The Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation (ohana means family in Hawaiian) has a board that disburses grants from the pot of the singer touring income. Sums are given to groups active in music, art and environmental education. There is also the Kokua Foundation, which fosters environmental education syllabuses in Hawaiian schools.
All of which, you might say, is too good to be true. Does Johnson mind the mickey taking that lampoons him as the right on rocker? really, he says evenly. maybe for a little while I don get it too much any more. The first years we started to do the [Ohana Foundation], in 2008, I almost felt like I was on the defensive half the people were like, you’re doing this for your image, I get it. So they were trying to find holes in it all the time. But this time around it been great. We been doing it for five years and we not really coming out and making a thing of it. I don feel like I have to explain it as much. And to be honest, it really does make my job easier to explain to my kids it makes it feel a little more worth doing.
All of which raises the question: are the Johnson children on board with his environmentalism? They at least seem to have accepted the household computer rules no screentime in daylight hours and that there will be no PlayStation or Wii console coming through the door any time soon. mean, they have to be a little bit [accepting], he admits. it is what we do at the weekend sometimes. There be a garden the in quotes basically it turning over the gardens at school, pulling out the weeds. And so far, he adds with a grin, not at that age where they rebelling. They still, like, is awesome!
Doing it for the kids: Johnson with his wife Kim, and family. (L Cohen/WireImage)
Maybe in their teenage years the children might start questioning how their life might be if Dad wasn so philanthropic. Johnson accountant recently told him how much money he given away in the past five or so years: $25 million, with two lots of $10 million accruing from his most recent world tours. didn even know I earned that much, he jokes. could have had way better cars and everything.
On top of that, for a decade he and Kim have been part of One Percent for the Planet. The group members donate at least one per cent of their earnings to an approved list of environmental groups. we always donated more than that. And it your gross earnings too. It my wife fault, she the one he tails off.
So, if it hadn been for Kim, he could have been a proper rock star and had a drug habit, a mansion, a helicopter, the works? not gonna say yes, he chuckles.
Still, Jack Johnson is not without his vices. As an obsessive surfer, he does splash out on boards he owns and dozens. And they not the most environmentally friendly things in general they made with foam and resin and they a little bit toxic. But I do splurge on boards.