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