Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde Starts New Chapter with JP, Fairground Boys

Mark Sullivan
Ohio: While the Pretenders formed in England in 1978, frontwoman Chrissie Hynde hails from Akron. In 2005, the band joined the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (in Cleveland). Fictitious runners-up: the "Glee" cast. Lima's McKinley High School singers own the record for most Hot 100 hits (203) in the chart's history.

Forget the Pretenders. As far as Chrissie Hynde is concerned, JP, Chrissie, & the Fairground Boys is her only musical concern these days.

"I have no interest in working on anything else now but this," Hynde tells about her partnership with Welsh singer and songwriter JP Jones, whom she met in November of 2008 at a party in London and went on to collaborate with on their new album, "Fidelity." "We certainly have enough songs for another album and who knows what else in the future," Hyde continues, "but my main ambition is to take the boys and JP into a studio and record an album of his songs, 'cause he's got the most amazing songs and he's very prolific."

That might take awhile, however, as JP, Chrissie, & the Fairground Boys are looking at a rash of touring. Their North American dates include a stop at the Voodoo Festival in New Orleans on Halloween and then planned European dates in the new year, according to Jones. Hynde adds, "We want to get out there with the boys and keep touring, because I think it's the best band touring North America. They're just amazing to watch and a joy to play with."

Hynde and Jones struck up a musical relationship after their initial meeting, and he began sending her songs while she was on tour with the Pretenders. "I couldn't even remember what he looked like at that point," she says, "but I knew there was something really special about [the songs]." The two then took a pleasure trip to Havana, Cuba, where their unusual personal relationship -- he's 32, she's 59 -- inspired a concept for the 11-song "Fidelity."

"I said to Chrissie, 'If we were the same age, would you have my babies?' And she said, 'Yeah,' " Jones recalls. "But we can't, so we put it all into the songs."

Hynde adds that, "We didn't approach it with any idea. It was just, like, personal conversations between ourselves and they just translated into these songs. We got back from Cuba and demoed them, and I said, 'I don't know about you, man, but this is the best stuff I've ever done.' He said, 'Yeah, me too,' so we just took it from there. No one suggested we write together to write some hits, or that we might be good together. We met and all this happened in the most honest, natural way."

Hynde predicts that Jones will "be doing some songwriting with other people" for his album but is anxious to work on their next collaborative project. Meanwhile, JP, Chrissie & the Fairground Boys are adding to the "Fidelity" material in concert with an unreleased track called "Portabello" and "Christmas Soon," one of the album's three iTunes bonus tracks.