Jack’s wave of suc­cess

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - JAMES WIGNEY

IT’S hard to be­lieve Jack John­son was once a punk rocker. The soft- spo­ken Hawai­ian surfer-turned- singer is best known for his dreamy, acous­tic, folk- pop love songs and laid- back de­meanour, but his first foray into the mu­sic world was in a high- school punkrock cover band whose pri­mary pur­pose was to meet girls.

“I re­mem­ber a friend of my dad who was part of Tom Petty’s road crew say­ing if you pick up a gui­tar there will al­ways be girls around,” John­son said ahead of the re­lease of his sixth stu­dio al­bum, From

Here To Now To You, and a tour of Aus­tralia in De­cem­ber.

“But that didn’t seem to be true be­cause we started play­ing punkrock mu­sic and there didn’t seem to be too many girls.

“We’d prac­tise in the garage and our male friends would come over to lis­ten, or we’d play a party and it was chaos in front of the stage with ev­ery­body slam- danc­ing.”

Af­ter a promis­ing surfer­ing ca­reer was cut short by in­jury, John­son found his niche by turn­ing down the amps and tun­ing into his emo­tions.

John­son cred­its his wife Kim, whom he met at col­lege, for help­ing make that leap.

“She def­i­nitely gave me not only the in­spi­ra­tion to write love songs but she was also a lot smarter and had bet­ter taste than I did,” John­son said.

“She had all th­ese great bands she was turn­ing me on to so I al­ways had some­body I could bounce th­ese songs off as a great first per­son and edi­tor.”

The pair mar­ried in 2000, just as John­son was pre­par­ing to re­lease his first al­bum Brush­fire Fairy­tales, which launched a ca­reer that has recorded com­bined sales of nearly 20 mil­lion, and made him a pop­u­lar live drawcard around the world.

“My sound guy would al­ways joke … ‘ Real smart, Jack, get mar­ried and then be­come a rock star’,” John­son laughed.

John­son is nat­u­rally drawn to writ­ing deeply per­sonal songs about his wife and their three chil­dren – which poses a dilemma as he is equally de­ter­mined to keep them out of the spot­light.

Much of his ma­te­rial comes from con­ver­sa­tions or ex­pe­ri­ences with loved ones and he ad­mits he has had to self- cen­sor when things get a lit­tle too close to home.

More of­ten than not, Kim is his sound­ing board.

“It’s been an ex­er­cise for me,” he said. “There’s al­ways one per­son I have in mind when I write it, but I am not try­ing to write it like a re­al­ity- TV show where I am let­ting some­one in on specifics to my life.

“It’s re­ally that I take those per­sonal mo­ments and I think peo­ple can feel the truth in the songs.

“I keep writ­ing new songs for her [ Kim] and the other ones just dis­ap­pear if I don’t put them out.

“It’s nice to put love out into the world. You hear peo­ple say they use them for their first dance or this or that, and it makes me feel re­ally good to know the song could be spe­cial for some­body.

“I know mu­sic has made me feel a lot of things, great mo­ments and tough mo­ments, so it’s nice to have my mu­sic do that for other peo­ple.”

John­son is about to head out on tour in sup­port of the new al­bum and will re­turn to Aus­tralia in De­cem­ber.

Even though he takes his kids with him on tour, John­son said it was still hard leav­ing his idyl­lic ex­is­tence in Hawaii.

On this tour, as he has done on ev­ery tour since 2008, he will do­nate 100 per cent of the prof­its to char­ity, through his John­son Ohana Char­i­ta­ble Foun­da­tion.

With sim­ple tastes and more than enough to pro­vide for his fam­ily, John­son said the op­por­tu­nity to give back was what mo­ti­vated him to tour.

“We have all th­ese great friends we have met who run non- prof­its in dif­fer­ent places around the world,” he said.

“I get to con­trib­ute and help fund th­ese groups we be­lieve in.

“When we have a younger au­di­ence, they are just look­ing for the way they are go­ing to ap­proach the world a lot of times.

“So when you turn them on to th­ese great groups they are re­ally ex­cited to learn about them and it’s just throw­ing that spot­light I have on some­thing be­sides my­self.”

Jack John­son’s al­bum From Here To Now To You is out now.

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