With his “En Concert” film and live album coming Oct. 27, Jack Johnson sees his fifth studio album on the horizon as well.
“I think we’re starting to get together a new album right now,” Johnson tells Billboard.com. “Whenever it seems like there’s an album’s worth of stuff around, I kinda just record it. I’ve been recording a lot of stuff on my own…and then all of a sudden the other night I was going through it all, and it seems like there’s an album there again. I feel like there’s a 60-40 chance we’re going to put out an album by next summer and probably tour a little bit again.”
As to what the album will sound like, Johnson won’t hazard a guess until he gets his band members into the studio to bring his demos to life. “When I play I like to kind of crank everything up so it distorts a little bit and…covers up all my mistakes,” he explains. “So right now it’s a pretty rockin’ album, but it’ll probably get toned down a little bit once everybody else comes in.”
Until then Johnson fans will be able to dip into “En Concert,” which was directed by manager and former filmmaking partner Emmett Malloy and shot during Johnson’s 2008 summer tour of Europe. It puts the singer-songwriter on the other side of the lens both on stage and behind the scenes, which he acknowledges is an uncomfortable position although he’s pleased with the way “En Concert” — which features guest appearances by Ben Harper, G. Love, Neil Halstead, Matt Costa and Mason Jennings — turned out.
“I feel like it’s a pretty good balance,” Johnson notes. “I’m always reluctant to give out too much personal information, but at the same time…the songs are personal, and people always want to know a little more, so it’s kind of just deciding what you want people to know. I talked a little bit about a few things in the film, but…the thing I’ve heard so far from people is they wish there was more interview footage in there. But I’m kind of happy there’s not.”
The “En Concert” CD, meanwhile, is not a straight soundtrack but rather a compilation from European and U.S. dates, including a rendition of “Constellations” with Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder from the Bonnaroo Festival. “The songs in (the film) were nice for the movie, but they weren’t necessarily the ones I would’ve picked from the tour for an album,” Johnson says. “So we started going, ‘OK, let’s just pick any songs from Europe, and then I heard this track (‘Country Road’) with Paula Fuga on it from the West Coast on a board tape…and I thought it would be nice to have some of the stuff with Eddie sitting in…so we decided to just kind of pick songs from whenever.”
Johnson will celebrate the release of “En Concert” with a pair of unplugged concerts on Nov. 13-14 at the Hawaii Theater box office Honolulu, accompanied by band member Zach Gill. Proceeds from the concert, like all of Johnson’s touring receipts and the “En Concert” CD and DVD, will go to the Kokua Hawaii Foundation and the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, which provide endowments to Johnson’s favorite environmental charities. Tickets to the concerts go on sale Oct. 27 at the theater box office.