2017 BET Awards

Jackson Pens 'Bullet-Proof' Tunes For New Album

Joe Jackson says that working in a trio format for his forthcoming album, "Rain," is part of a long-held desire "to see ... how big a sound can you get from the absolute minimum resources, and just ho

Joe Jackson says that working in a trio format for his forthcoming album, "Rain," is part of a long-held desire "to see ... how big a sound can you get from the absolute minimum resources, and just how much can you do with that. It turns out to be quite a lot, actually."

"Rain" features 10 new songs, the oldest of which are "Too Tough" and "Citizen Sane," with Jackson on piano and the original Joe Jackson Band rhythm section of bassist Graham Maby and drummer Dave Houghton. He recorded it in Berlin, where Jackson now resides (with places in London and New York as well), and he tells Billboard.com that the smaller ensemble put more pressure on his songwriting.

"I felt like I had to write songs that are sort of bullet-proof in the sense you could play them with just a piano and they still work," explains Jackson, who recorded one of the "Rain" songs -- the aptly titled "Solo (So Low)" -- himself. "That's just become intriguing to me in the last few years. Working with three people, the arrangements were just as demanding if not moreso than when (he had more players). When you strip things down to, in this case, just three players, I think that space actually makes a bigger sound. I've started to really feel like this is a big band."

Fans will get a chance to hear that on the DVD that accompanies "Rain," which features live footage of the Jackson trio in Europe. He kicks off a tour to support the album on Feb. 27 in Cardiff, Scotland, and comes to North America for a 25-show run on April 1 in Toronto.

Meanwhile, Jackson is also continuing to work on "Stoker," a musical about "Dracula" author Bram Stoker that's being directed by Tony Award winner Judith Dolan and written by her husband, Raymond Hardie.

"It's a very cool piece," Jackson says of the production, which is currently being shopped for financing. "It's very unconventional. I always liked the idea of doing something in theater, but the kinds of things people approached me with in the past always made me cringe. This is really original. I'm very excited about it."