From DIG'IT French Zine (April 2000)

We've been wanting to ask Jean-Luc Jousse some questions for a while.
Ever heard of him?
Jean-Luc from Jostone Traffic Incorporated ?

A guy who for around 10 years has spent all his time travelling around Europe, Japan and the U.S.A. with the best punk rock and roll bands on earth, from the Raunch Hands to Nashville Pussy via Nine Pound Hammer, New Bomb Turks, Guitar Wolf or Lazy Cow Girls .

I'd already done some groundwork and suggested an interview to Jean-Luc "Jostone". He wasn't against the idea. But he wasn't exactly excited about it either, I must admit ("There's not much to say..."). Modesty, or shyness perhaps....Hectic schedule as well. Each time we met, Jean-Luc was busy babysitting the band he was responsible for (babysitting Corey and Ruyter Pussy - now that's a job!) and he was spending every show behind the sound board, cause the other part of his job is soundman. So, it was difficult to get an hour one on one. So when I got his phone call a few weeks ago asking me if we were still interested in doing the interview, you can be sure we had a bunch of questions ready, and jumped at the chance to get this interview in the bag.
It was also a Dig It good deed for the year 2000 cause this interview provided complementary documentation for Jean-Luc to get a US work permit, which is just about as difficult as seeing a flicker of humanity in Jean de St Josse's eyes. You have to prove, using testimonial letters, that you are an expert in your job and that nobody in the States can do it as well as you can. Thus a little bit of good press can help (and the influence of your favorite zine on the US Department of Labor is well known).

Action !!

Dig It! : How did you become a soundman and tour manager? You were into Rock and Roll before that, I think? I remember the Klepstones...
Kleps, History and MP3's

Jean-Luc : I drove heavy construction vehicles for a drainage business for many years....In the meantime I started to play in bands when I came to live in Orleans in the early eighties. The
Psychedelic Kleps first, then the Klepstones who recorded the Customs song "She'll Always Be Mine" on Battle of the Garages#4 (Vox Records) and 1 original song on the compilation "When the Music is Over"(GMG) and then the Kleps. In 1991 I lost my job and started volunteering help with local organisations like Hollow Product or Phoque Aime All and set up parts of the shows at the small club "l'Impasse" where a couple of good bands played, Jeff Dahl, Devil Dogs, Nine Pound Hammer, Gories, Raunch Hands,....That was the beginning of my career in sound. Around the same time I bought a used Mercedes van and started to tour with the Uptones Bones for Black et Noir records in France and the Raunch Hands for Crypt records in Europe. That was the real beginning. There were also a couple of dates with local bands like the Burning Heads

D. It! : How did you end up working for Crypt Records ?

J-L : Through Cecilia (No Talents), she was the Crypt booking agent for France at the time. My van and I became soundman and tour manager for all of Europe. I was hired by Tim Warren. It was so cool to travel all over Europe, to meet all the people from the Rock and Roll scene, and to be with great bands. At last I was able to be the soundman in nice clubs with rocking bands every day. As for the driving, it wasn't a problem at all since I'd been doing it for fifteen years - and with an average of fifty thousand kilometers travelled per year, I'm on par with Dean Moriarty

D. It! : Were the Crypt bands your kind of music at the time ?

J-L : At the beginning of the eighties I loved all music from garage to the Stooges and Power Pop to early Punk, I was in the Real Kids fan club set up by the magazine Nineteen. By the middle of the eighties the Australian wave faded out, a couple of friends started listening to some hardcore, a little bit later I was listening to the Adolescents, DI, Minor Threat,....but when I discovered the first Nine Pound Hammer, "The Mud the Blood and the Beer" it was like a deliverance, a rock and roll salvation! And the Lazy Cow Girls too! It was the music I wanted to listen to. Later when Tim Warren called me to drive Nine Pound Hammer all over Europe it was like a dream come true. For the Gories and the Blues Explosion it took me a little longer to like it, I'd probably liked the Cramps too much...

D. It! : For you what are the main qualities of a good tour manager/soundman ?

J-L : A good tour manager ?
It's hard to say, you've got to like people - as the lame French T.V. personality Michel Drucker would say - you have to like being on the road, hanging around, the night life, parties but not too much cause sometimes it's hard to get enough rest, especially when you're driving and doing sound. You've got to be resistant and you've got to like Rock and Roll. But when everything's rolling it's really enjoyable. For the rest of my life I'll remember when the Raunch Hands dedicated the Otis Redding
song "Respect" to me at the last show of the tour at Democrazy in Gand - it was very moving. For the soundman, there is the technical aspect since you have to know the basic things in order to use the different P.As. Actually bigger is easier, because the equipment and the people are more professional. There is also the artistic aspect which requires a certain understanding of the bands and their music, an ability to guess what they're expecting, sometimes to give some advice without overdoing it.....

D. It! : What equipment do you use ? How many vans are in your squadron ?

J-L : For sound I use the P.A. in the venues. At the beginning I had a Mercedes, and then I got a brand new Renault in 93. Now the Mercedes has been sold and the Renault is run-down. Initially doing several jobs (doing sound, managing and driving) was a good way to save money, but now we rent the van or the buses.

D. It! : Is it your van we see on the cover of Nine Pound Hammer's live in Groningen ?

J-L : No it's a German van, that photo doesn't come from the same date. The show was great and the sound was really good, much better than on the record, but they used a video camera microphone to record...

D. It! : How do you choose the bands you work with ?

J-L : With the Crypt bands I feel really comfortable, I like the music and the attitude of the people. I work with the same bands even when they switch labels - it's like a family. There were also some bands like Chokebore that I liked as people a little more than musically, and also the Prohibited bands who are great. Now I spend most of my time with Nashville Pussy. Also some blues groups - like RL Burnside ("Mr Bloody MotherFucker") at Le New Morning in Paris in December 99 : " I like Bloody Mary ok but I'd rather have a Bloody Motherfucker" (cheap whiskey with tomato juice).

D. It! : Your best tour memories ?

J-L : Innumerable , all the New Bomb Turks and Nashville Pussy tours, the first tour with the Raunch Hands in Spain, unbelievable! and the Devil Dogs when Steve Baise had to go back to New York due to his father's death and JB from the Burning Heads replaced him for 7 shows, when Steve came back to Frankfurt we brought him some wine from the Loire valley. Before the show Steve opened a bottle to taste it like a real epicurean, and served a glass to everyone around. There was a German he knew from previous tours who drank the glass in one shot and said "I brush my teeth with that piss." Steve physically removed him from the dressing room, it was fun. Recently at the Meadowland near New York I went to see Bruce Springteen with Nashville Pussy and after the show we stayed in Bruce's dressing room for 20 minutes talking about MC5, Wayne Kramer and guitars.

D. It! : The worst tours ?

J-L : Barkmarket, it was the worst tour I've ever done. The drives were insane: we left Austria in the morning, went to Dresden with Chokebore, then drove to Hamburg after the show, dropped off the band and the backline, did the paper work then picked up the Barkmarket soundman in Eindhoven (NL) and went to London for the first show at the Powerhouse, and then drove to Odense in Denmark after the show! Just look at a map....Besides that Dave Sardy the singer guitar player had a swollen head. He is a famous producer (Helmet, Red Hot Chili Peppers) and he bragged about having tried 200 snares for the Red Hots recording cause he had money to blow; it seems he knows more about snares than about music. But his music is good for what it is...

D. It! : The longest tour ?

J-L : The New Bomb Turks "Info Highway revisited tour": 58 shows, half with Teen Generate and a couple with Gaunt. Compared to the big tours it's not that much - sometimes we hear about 1 year tours ......I'm on the road between 6 and 8 months a year.

D. It! : How many tours have you done ?

J-L : About 50 tours all over Western Europe + 15 in the USA including Canada, and 1 in Japan.

D. It! : Your vision of Japan ? What about culture shock ?

J-L : It's an incredible country, very different. We couldn't find our way around there, a guide was necessary. Fortunately for the New Bomb Turks tour the Teen Generate were always there. During a 12 day trip we only had 5 shows so we had time to visit the Elvis and Rolling Stones Museum and some temples, it was really cool; it was party time every night till 6 in the morning. The Japanese like to party a lot too, in the middle of the night you can see drunk people wearing suits ready to go
to work. They work a lot and have very small, expensive flats. The people are polite and honest. For the Helter Skelter show the club was packed , there were around 300 people and the tee-shirts were being sold outside on the sidewalk. The merch booth was set up 2 hours before the show with no one to watch it, and nobody was stressed about it, theft doesn't exist over there. They also show a lot of respect for things that are different. I was surprised to find out that Teen Generate knew French bands from 77 like Gazoline and the Dentistes.

D. It! : What's the news about New Bomb Turks? I heard that Bill is gone ?

J-L : Yes he has been replaced by Sam who played in Gaunt, and there is a new album "Nightmare Scenarios" coming out on Epitaph. They'll tour in April and May 2000 in Europe.

D. It! : What is the story with Mercury and Nashville Pussy ?

J-L : It's over with Mercury. They're kicking a lot of bands out these days - even the guy who signed NP has been fired. TVT records is putting out the second record High As Hell. I'm actually full time worldwide tour manager and soundman for Nashville Pussy in the USA. Cool is the least I can say about them.

D. It! : You have appeared on some records, like this cover of the Pagans "Eyes Of Satans" by the New Bomb Turks (Cd Big Combo on Drop Kick/Corduroy)? And the Hellacopters were on it too....

J-L : The song was recorded in the middle of a tour at the Thomas Skolberg studio in Stockholm for the "At rope's end" sessions. At the end of the 5 days the Hellacopters showed up and Jim said "We need our Viking, French backing vocal section"......

D. It! : Have you ever really fucked up doing the sound during a show ?

J-L : The technicians from the venues were responsible the few times it has happened... But
thankfully most of the time things go well and I generally get compliments.

D. It! : You cross a lot of borders, which are the worst ones ?

J-L : The Norwegian borders are the worst, they must like to see rockers' asses, it happens almost every time. Once the Assdraggers, who as everyone knows are jokers, forgot to hide a little "piece of chocolate" at the Swiss and Austrian border. The dogs found it and - surprise! Once again !! We found ourselves buck naked in the air and stuck at customs for 2 hours. The Austrian customs officers are not very friendly either, they must not like Rock and Roll....

D. It! : The bands you take care of are sometimes on theTV show "Nulle Part Ailleurs" on Canal+, is it easy to get them on ?

J-L : Stephane Saulnier the programmer is a cool guy and has liked this music for years. The first time we met he was managing "Fixed Up" in the early eighties. Whenever he can, he always finds a little place for our bands.

D. It!: What are you listening to the most now ?

J-L : I probably listen to less music than in the past, most often the new releases of the bands we work with, there are still a lot of those, and also some old R&B. At the moment I love the new Neckbones and the Hives.

D. It! : Do you ever take care of French bands ?

J-L : The Dogs is the French band we spend the most time with these days. I have always loved them, they stay the same even though the members have changed around Dominique. They recently played at the new club in Orleans the Astrolabe and it was great, their music is timeless. Also last year we did a "Punk Rock Show de Noel" in France with just French bands: TV Killers, No Talents, Deche Dans Face, Dare Dare Devil, it was really cool. We also work as a booking agent in Europe or France.

D. It! : Can you name the bands you have toured with ?

J-L : Uptown Bones, Things Change, Raunch Hands, Nine Pound Hammer(2x), Brood, Blues Explosion(5x), New Bomb Turks(8x), Red Aunts, Teen Generate, Pungy Sticks, Devil Dogs, Beguiled, Fireworks, Morphine, Goober and the Peas, Purr, Prohibition, Burning Heads, Down By Law(2x), Driven, Chokebore(5x), Lazy Cow Girls, Zeros, Oblivians(3x), Country Teasers(2x), Revelators, Nashville Pussy(15), RL Burnside, Barkmarket, New Bad Things, Gaunt, Assdraggers, Guitar Wolf, Doo Rag, Deche Dans Face,Bell Rays, Hellacopters. Then there are also the tours that Jean Louis and Jean Paul have done for Jostone Traffic: Unsane, Mule, Zeni Geva, Andre Williams, The Delta 72, 20 Miles, Steel Pole Bath Tub, Poster Children.

D. It! : What are your favorite countries ?

J-L : For different reasons there are good and bad things everywhere - even though Spain remains the most rocking country. It 's good to change countries every week. There's always something to discover wherever you go.

D. It! : You are very well situated to have a realistic view of the French rock scene, in terms of the cities and the clubs, how has it evolved since the 90s ?

J-L : Since 90/91 the government has been building up nice, very well equipped clubs in many towns; but the production costs are very high and it makes it difficult to promote rock and roll shows. In Paris it's almost impossible to organise a show with a band that doesn't draw 300 people. And now the bars are not allowed to have shows because of the noise. A band without a label can hardly play shows. But there are still some cool places.

Epilogue: Right after this interview the work permit was granted : " I can work for Johnny Halliday in America now" and we had nothing to do with it, the immigration service had had enough information. So it's been confirmed, Jostone is an expert in his field.