Part Detroit-Determination and part California-Cool, JTX brought their All-Party, Pop-Parade to Downtown Pensacola as their single “Love in America” is dominating the top of personal playlists, airwaves and satellite radio stations around the world.
Returning to the Vinyl Music Hall stage after recently opening for piano pop-rocker HUGO in March, the men of Skin Wiggin (Buck Pate (vocals/bass), Joe Whisler (guitar), Mark Lang (drums) started the show with their Gulf Breeze rock sound. Check out their video “Crash” which was a viewer favorite on the TV show The Uncharted Zone.
Opening with their hit “Love in America,” JTX made their first performance at Vinyl Music Hall. In a show filled with costume changes and tributes to 80’s pop influences, JTX (JT Harding) and crew (Carey Weaver (drums), Brian Carney (bass), and Joe Doc (guitar) wielded a generous blend of pop that was reinforced with heavy doses of rock, keeping the energy level of the night near clip.
Closing out the show were local favorites, Deadly Fists of Kung Fu. On the trail of the recent announcement that the rock foursome will be the opening act for the reunited, original lineup of Modern English (“I Melt With You”) when the British group invades Vinyl Music Hall in September, the group are well-disciplined in the arts of surprise and detail. Always keeping audiences on their toes, the band (Phread Touchette (bass), Andrew Bennett (drums), Zac Hobbs (vocals/guitar) and Jason Hurt (guitar) will perform as The Exploding Boys, a tribute band dedicated to The Cure. With past tribute performances ranging from Prince and The Cars (DFKF performing as The Cars @ Vinyl Music Hall-oween Party) the band, who are known for their near OCD accurate tribute sets, will assuredly create another must-see night of music.
After their set, JT and the rest of his band (Carey Weaver (drums), Brian Carney (bass), and Joe Doc (guitar) took a few minutes to discuss Madonna, Prince, playing for the troops in Afghanistan, the JTX Experience and more…
TCAS: What about the JTX experience gets you off the most? Is it the playing, the recording, songwriting…you’ve got a lot of songwriting credits.
JTX: Two things for me; playing live for sure, but hearing one of our songs on the radio. It’s a great feeling.
TCAS: Are all of you from Detroit?
TCAS: I know this off the topic, but…Stafford and Calvin Johnson (of the NFL Detroit Lions). Is it going to happen this year?
Joe: No injuries. No injuries.
TCAS: It seems like every year, the Lions have the team, but…
Joe: Don’t land on the shoulder, man. Just don’t land on the shoulder.
Brian: Where still proud of the Tigers though, man. We’re in a pennant race.
TCAS: That’s right. I remember the old Kirk Gibson days…
Brian: Good times in Detroit.
JTX: I made out with his daughter.
JTX: Yeah. Yes. Yes.
TCAS: Kirk Gibson’s daughter?
JTX: My claim to fame.
Brian: I can confirm that.
TCAS: “Like Madonna in 85’”…
TCAS: When did you lose your virginity?
JTX: I’ve only been with three girls my whole life. And what a night it was.
Brian, Joe and some people in the crowd: Oooooooooh!
TCAS: What Madonna era represents where you guys are now? There’s 80’s Madonna…wild and crazy. 90’s Madonna was self-empowerment. Post-Millennium was like…
JTX: Great question. I would say…and it’s not every day that I would compare myself to Madonna, but I would say in the beginning where she was trying to get noticed; “Like a Virgin” wearing a wedding dress on the MTV Awards. Yeah, trust me, the first time I’m on TV, people are going to remember it. I already wore a bra on The Today Show…Youtube it. And those songs were great too. We’re on our way up. We’re trying to get noticed. Bring me a wedding dress!
TCAS: What is the craziest thing you’ve seen at a JTX show?
Joe: (laughs and looks at their vocalist) JT.
Brian: A robot last night. A cardboard robot.
Carey: Machine guns.
JTX: We played in Afghanistan and after we were there for a week. After the songs…they wouldn’t pull the triggers, but everyone would cheer and hold up their guns. And you would see…because they’re never without their machine guns over there.
TCAS: Thank you guys for playing for the troops. My dad’s retired Navy. So, thank you. If you were voted the next President of The United States of America, what would your first action be and how wild would your Inaugural Ball be?
JTX: The Inaugural Ball would be really wild because I could get anyone to play it, I would imagine. Van Halen with David Lee Roth, Prince, Madonna, Prince. My first action would be…
Brian: Ban the designated hitter.
JTX: On the serious tip…
Joe: Whatever you want! You’re the President.
TCAS: Whatever you want.
JTX: Free health care for everybody. (Looking at his band) Fellows? Tough question.
Joe: End the wars.
Brian: Bring the armed forces back home.
JTX: And I want the ingredients for King Dongs.
TCAS: King Dongs or Ding Dongs?
JTX: Same thing. And I want Ron Jeremy to stop making films. (Chuckles all around)
TCAS: He has passed his prime.
TCAS: How many rounds would it take “Love In America” to knock the hell out of “Party in The U.S.A.?”
Joe: Ooh. I think it already has.
JTX: He’s talking about “Party in the U.S.A.” not “Party Like a Rockstar” (rap song by Shop Boyz)
TCAS: Oh, no, no, no. You’ve already knocked that out…
Brian: By Miley Cyrus.
TCAS: Yes, Miley. Everybody loves that song, but I like “Love In America” better.
JTX: How many rounds?
TCAS: Yes. UFC or boxing 12 rounds?
JTX: I gotta say, man. Claude Kelly wrote “Party in the U.S.A.” and he’s got some great melodies, but since that’s kind of a teenager song, we’d probably go a good 10 rounds. We’d come out on top with our cherry, vodka snow-cone, heavy-metalness. That man has great melodies in that song.
TCAS: Would it be a knockout or decision?
JTX: It would probably be a decision. I’ve got my nice hat on tonight. My band says TKO.
TCAS: Do you guys do any karaoke? What do you sing?
JTX: When the drummer does it, it’s Scaryoke. I do “Summer of ‘69” by Bryan Adams.
Joe: Journey. Journey’s good.
JTX: You can sing Journey?
Joe: Scream and grab my balls.
Brian: Do a little “Man-Eater” by Hall & Oats.
(Everyone breaks out into the “Woo Ooh, Here She Comes”)
Carey: A little Johnny Cash.
JTX: Oh yeah! He’s got a low voice. Give me a low voice.
Carey: (lowering his voice and hitting a spot-on impersonation) “A little Johnny Cash.”
TCAS: The Man in Black.
TCAS: Now there is porn star karaoke out in L.A. Where they have the pornstars sing karaoke. Have you guys been to that?
JTX: No, no, but sign me up.
TCAS: How has the music industry changed from an artists’ standpoint and as a fan, as a lover of music?
JTX: Well, both because I used to love…and I miss going to record stores. So as a fan, I miss that. But as an artist, it’s great to know that with one click of a button you can email songs to anyone and they can find you on Facebook, especially as a new artist. And they can look you up on Youtube. Because how would anyone…how would you know we were even here? As a fan I do miss the record stores, but there are some in New York. As an artist, I love that you can get your music out to anybody.
TCAS: What are you listening to now?
JTX: Some of my favorite new songs. I’m a real pop fanatic. I love any song that you can hear one time and just remember. I love “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People. I’m a big Counting Crows fan. I’ve always loved Bruce Springsteen. I saw Prince at Madison Square Garden this past year; it was incredible. I became a big Kenny Chesney fan after he sang my song (“Somewhere With You” which he co-wrote with Shane McAnally)
JTX: What are you listening to, Joe?
Joe: Pop radio. Katy Perry.
JTX: Katy Perry. We love that record.
Brian: I just went to a My Morning Jacket show. It was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. It was incredible.
TCAS: I read the People article about your father (JT’s biological father is actor/comedian/talk show host, Jay Thomas; a fact that JT did not learn until he moved to California to follow his dreams. In 2008 People Magazine featured their extraordinary journey in the
Oliver Jones article, “The Son I Never Knew.”)
TCAS: That blew me away. I did not know that until I read…
JTX: I didn’t either until I met him. (laughs all around) I thought it was Ted Danson. I was bummed out.
TCAS: Is he pretty supportive…
JTX: Yes. 100 percent. We’re kind of like long-lost fraternity brothers. We’re two wild men together.
TCAS: Who parties harder?
JTX: (pauses for a brief moment) He does. He’s been known to enjoy the…herb. But that’s not a secret; he says that on Letterman. But no, it’s great. He’s taught me a lot about the entertainment industry. He couldn’t be more supportive. He has me on his radio station all the time. We went on TV together…Dr. Phil…The Today Show… I acted like a complete fool. It was great.
TCAS: With all of that happening, as an artist, what has been the highlight of all this craziness going on? What has been the thing that makes you go “Wow! This is pretty awesome.”?
JTX: The highlight, honestly right now, there have been a lot of highlights, but seeing Kenny Chesney sing “Somewhere With You” for 80,000 people is good, but that’s someone else singing a song. I think that what’s happening with “Love in America” right now is exciting. It’s in the “Friends With Benefits” (romantic/comedy movie starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis) trailer. It’s going to be used on X-Factor. It’s just kind of bubbling-up for us. We can all kind of feel it. We’re waiting for other people to catch on to it. So, it’s great. It’s right on the edge. It’s exciting. It’s on Sirius XM a lot. We drive around and here it all the time.
Joe: I think it’s crazy…everyday there are two or three new videos of fans filming themselves doing…some of them are pretty creative…
TCAS: I’ve seen some crazy ones too.
Joe: Yeah! It’s incredible that people would go out and spend their time to do something like that for this song.
TCAS: As a lover of music, what has been your highlight as a fan.
JTX: I saw Prince this last Christmas at Madison Square Garden. Two and a half hours, non-stop hits, no nonsense, no long jam solos. It was mind-blowing. It was hit after hit after hit. Are you a fan?
TCAS: Yes, yes, yes.
JTX: Also, I’ve been traveling a lot. I’ve been lucky. I met a lot of people. I met the singer of Third Eye Blind this year, that was a thrill…
TCAS: Stephen Jenkins.
JTX: Totally. I’m a big Counting Crows fan. I met Adam Duritz, I see him walking around New York a bit. I’m trying to think of other things. You’ve got some great questions.
TCAS: Thank you. Would you rather have an Academy Award or the highest grossing film of all time?
JTX: The highest grossing film of all time. Not for the money, but because more people would see it. An Academy Award would be great, but I would like for a lot people to see the movie. Now if I would rather have a Grammy or the biggest selling album of all time…the biggest selling album of all time. Would you rather be Michael Jackson or Men At Work? Hey guys, would you rather win a Grammy or have the biggest selling album of all time?
Joe and Brian: Biggest selling album.
Brian: Well I would think they would go hand-in-hand…
JTX: No, would you rather be Michael Jackson or Debbie Boone? Seriously.
Brian: I gotta think MJ has got a couple Grammys.
(a group of enthusiastic people stop by to say their hellos and thank JT and his band mates for their show)
TCAS: Academy Award, highest grossing film. Third option. Cult status.
JTX: Cult status…
TCAS: Like David Lynch, David Cronenberg…
Joe: So, you’ve got to wait 20 years for that to happen.
TCAS: Bruce Campbell has kind of got it, but you know…
Joe: Yeah and Bruce Campbell’s like 65 now.
Brian: Another Michigan man himself, right there. Bruce Campbell.
JTX: Jay Thomas (JT’s biological father) kind of has cult status (without a pause or even breath) I’ll take the highest grossing film of all time. (JT cracks a smile and laughs with the crowd)
TCAS: Honest answer, I like that. Top 5 albums of all time?
JTX: There’s a lot of them…
Carey: “Joshua Tree” (U2)
TCAS: No particular order…
JTX: “Born in the U.S.A.” Bruce Springsteen, “Purple Rain” Prince. I mentioned Prince a lot. KISS “Alive II”…
Joe: Green Day’s “Dookie” still a great album. Timeless record.
Brian: I got some wild tastes, man. Weezer “Pinkerton”’s great. The first Mars Volta album (De-Loused in the Comatorium)
JTX: George Michael “Faith.”
Joe: “Blood Sugar Sex Magic” the Red Hot Chili Peppers. That’s definitely top 5.
(People in the crowd and passers-by start throwing in their favorites)
JTX: Could be a confusing interview.There’s so many.
TCAS: What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
JTX: Great question. My dad said, “You could do whatever you want to do. Just do it your best.” So I said, “Alright.” And off to Hollywood I went.
TCAS: Along the same line, what is the best advice you could give to someone who wants to be where you are?
Joe: Turn down and stop playing so much.
JTX: Never take a day off. Rehearse on Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve. You got a date on Friday night, that doesn’t matter. You better jam or have a gig, there’s someone else in line that wants to. So, that’s my advice. Kerry?
Kerry: If you ever get into a sticky situation and you get stuck, you pick the best road for yourself and you go with it.
Carey: Basically, trust your instincts. If you think you’re doing too much…you’re doing too much. If it’s not right, it’s not right. Just follow your gut.
Brian: Every morning before my dad would drop us off at school, he would tell my sister and I “Be a leader, not a follower.” I’ve got to pass that on. That was every morning like clockwork. I would be like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah” but now as you’re older, you realize it’s true.
TCAS: One more question…
Brian: No problem, man. We’re having a blast.
TCAS: Thank you, thank you. It’s kind of a serious question now. Peanut butter; crunchy or creamy?
(bassist breaks out in a laugh)
Brian: (immediately answers) Crunchy!
Joe: I started creamy, I evolved to crunchy. So, I don’t know…
TCAS: You have to pick one. You cannot be on the fence.
Joe: I guess today I’m crunchy.
TCAS: Crunchy! It’s not peer pressure is it?
Joe: No, no, not at all. Tomorrow it might be creamy.
Brian: Definitely crunchy with raspberry jelly.
(A chorus of disapproval including shouts of “strawberry jelly”)
Earl Lyon (founder of local punk band Earl’s Killer Squiller): Concord grape!
TCAS: Anything you guys want to add?
JTX: Look up JTX on iTunes and Twitter and Facebook.
-Michael L. Smith