6 Questions With Joan Jett
Joan Jett still loves rock'n'roll, and she'll show her fans just how much this summer when she headlines the Vans Warped tour. The festival dates come in conjunction with the release of "Sinner," theJoan Jett still loves rock'n'roll, and she'll show her fans just how much this summer when she headlines the Vans Warped tour. The festival dates come in conjunction with the release of "Sinner," the first new album from Joan Jett & the Blackhearts in more than 10 years.
"Sinner," on Jett's own Blackheart Records, arrives June 6. The first single is the gender-bending raucous rocker "A.C.D.C.," the video for which which features Carmen Electra.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Blackheart Records, which Jett owns with longtime creative and business partner Kenny Laguna. After affiliations with a number of labels and distributors, Blackheart is now working directly with major retail chains and one-stops for distribution. To commemorate the silver anniversary, all of Jett's albums -- except for those recorded with her seminal, all-female teenage rock band the Runaways -- will be reissued with bonus tracks.
It's been more than a decade since your last album. What took so long?
Oh, boy, I can't speak to all the details, but it had something to do with what Blackheart was going through with Warner Bros. They changed administrations, and the new administration wanted a new record different from the one we'd made, then I think something else happened with the new administration, and we just couldn't seem to get this record out or make any sort of progress ... It's very disheartening as an artist to struggle to make a record and create it and then you get stopped a couple of times. We just threw ourselves into live music and about four years ago or so, we started going through all these songs that had never come out [and] ... finally came up with "Sinner."
The album opens with "Riddles," an overtly political song that samples George Bush. Isn't that a switch for you?
A: This is my first political song. I've [written what] a lot of musicians write about: love, sex, relationships, falling in and falling out and so forth, and that's still very valid. I've wanted to write about political issues and the state of our country, but how do you do that without coming off being preachy? I think a lot of that fear stopped me from even trying.
How did your slot on the Warped tour come about?
The Warped tour likes to get bands that represent where a lot of this music came from, the punk rock, the predecessors, and I guess that's where I fit in with the Runaways ... It's the first time I've done a traveling festival like this where every [act] gives them 30 minutes of hell, right?
Do you feel like radio play is still part of the mix for you?
Absolutely we look to get radio play. I know it's really tough and things have changed a lot since I started out when a lot of the DJs could play things they wanted, which made for really interesting radio and you could have regional hits and things like that, but I guess that's no more.
What's the best advice you can give a new artist?
I would say own your own stuff. That gets tough to do because people get offered money, and they might need it right then, but I think owning your own stuff is really important.
You've always done things your own way. Do you feel that's hurt you at all?
It's hard to say, but I just couldn't be any other way than be myself ... All I can say is, for some reason, women playing rock'n'roll seems threatening. I guess [it] implies owning your own sexuality, and you're in control of it, so I don't know why that's threatening.