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Jordan Zevon - Interview

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 24 / 5 / 2008

Jordan Zevon - Interview


The son of Warren Zevon, Jordan Zevon has just released his debut solo album, 'Insides Out'. Anthony Strutt talks to him about both his Dad's musical legacy and the new record.

Jordan Zevon is the son of the cult rock musician, Warren Zevon, who died of cancer in 2003. Jordan began his musical career playing in various groups, including the New Originals, who later evolved into the iMPOSTERS. He has also worked as a press agent for Arista Records and been the producer of several independent films. Jordan sung on his father's last few records and was the co-executive producer on his dying father's much acclaimed final album, 'The Wind', which was released a week before he died and won a posthumous Grammy. He also co-produced the 2004 tribute album, 'Enjoy Every Sandwich: Songs of Warren Zevon' and appeared on it, singing on 'Studebaker', a previously unreleased song of Warren's. Jordan released his debut album, 'Insides Outside' in April on New West Records, whose roster also includes John Hiatt, Kris Kristofferson, Ray Davies, Steve Earle, Drive-By Truckers and Jason Isbell. While Warren's recordings were very much in a classic singer-songwriter's style, Jordan's songs have much more of a 70's new wave and power pop influence. Pennyblackmusic spoke to him about his Dad's musical legacy and 'Insides Out'. PB : You were born in 1969 to Warren Zevon and Marylin "Tule" Livingston, People here know Warren well, but I believe your mother was also a musician and I believe she at least wrote one book about her life with Warren. Is that true ? JZ : Mom was an actress and as much as she wanted to be a singer, well, not so much. She passed away from complications of breast cancer seven months after Dad. The book was written by Dad’s second wife, Crystal, who’s the mother of my sister Ariel. PB : You have been in a number of bands and played various instruments. Is there any isntrument that you prefer over others? JZ : I love piano, but my best friend since high school and co-writer, Jordan Summers, is the keyboard king, so I stick to the guitar and let him tickle the keys. PB : You worked as a press agent for Arista Records. Did you enjoy your time there and who did you look after ? JZ : It was an amazing experience. Jobs in general suck. I recommend avoiding them at all costs, but that one was the best. A great boss and a great staff. It was a truly amazing time. I took B.I.G. to an interview at the MTV beach house and went furniture shopping with Sarah McLachlin. And that’s the tip of the iceberg. Aretha, Puffy, the Grateful Dead, Whitney, the Church, TLC, Monica, Brooks and Dunn, Alan Jackson, Crash Test Dummies. The A&R person at a label is the closest to the artist because they're responsible for the initial signing to the label, but the publicist has a lot of daily interaction with the artist and their management. I worked closely with a lot of amazing people on the business end like Clive Davis, LA Reid, and Terry McBride who heads Nettwerk and is truly a genius at what he does. PB : You have also had your own film company. Does it still exist? JZ : It does, but I’m not involved. I’m just not a movie producer. You can only control so much and movies require hundreds of people to get to the final work and there are too many variables. I never been good at group activities. I am more of a solitaire kind of guy. PB : You played on your Dad's last few albums. Did you play on all of the tracks on each album ? JZ : I only did vocals. My relationship with Dad had very little to do with music. We didn’t sit and play songs together or anything, but he liked my voice. I was his go to David Crosby, so I was happy to come in and lay down the high harmonies. PB : As a musician yourself, did you disagree with any of the working methods that your Dad used ? JZ : I guess the only disagreement I had was that I tried to get some of the musicians I knew to come in and play so he would get away from drum machines and things like that. I think he refused because he saw us as kids. Now 90% of those “kids” are major recording artists. I think he could have gotten more out of the artists that would have worked with him for free, just to work with him. PB : How did 'Enjoy Every Sandwich', the tribute album to your Dad come about ? JZ : It was something that was destined to happen. Even Dad said, “Just don’t do any of this shit while I’m still alive”. You can’t be a performer for as long as he was and not want to leave some sort of legacy behind, so I know that he would have been proud of the posthumous attention. PB : And did the bands on it choose which tracks they covered ? JZ : We had suggestions, but, yes, they were given their choice. PB : How did 'Insides Out', your debut solo album come about ? JZ : I had an EP release that was doing pretty well and getting good feedback so I decided to record some more tracks for a full CD and after sending some copies out Danny Goldberg and Cameron Strang at New West they offered me a deal. PB : Have you released any material of your own before with your various bands? JZ : I recorded quite a bit with the iMPOSTERS, but it was before these amazing websites like CD Baby that give independent artists an opportunity to offer their material to a mass audience, so we mainly sold CDs at shows and to all our friends. PB : Did the name Zevon open any doors at all ? JZ : Of course, but it also opened a Pandora’s box of comparisons. I’ve read several reviews that said it would be unfair to compare my debut album to Dad in his heyday, but then they do anyway. PB : To me, the songs on the album have an English feel and remind me of classic McCartney and Squeeze, while your Dad's music was a lot darker. Do you prefer a more classic rock approach to your music ? JZ : Every generation has their influences. For me it was the 80’s. The English invasion mixed with the 50’s look. Skinny ties and poodle skirts. For Dad it was the old west and the Eagles, Jackson Browne and Linda Rondstat. They embraced that old west feel and country sound .And now, sure enough some of the 80’s sound and style are coming back. They tell you to write about what you know and that’s what I know best, UK new wave. PB : Were you earlier bands more rough and alternative/indie in feel ? JZ : I love indie music. I was thrilled to have one of the original Riot Girrrls, Kim Shattack, sing on 'Studebaker'. I love bands like X, Fear, Minute Men, DK’s, but I just wasn't a true indie. We played Zeppelin, Beatles, U2. I gravitated more towards indie music like Prefab Sprout, Martin Stephenson, Hue and Cry, and the Blue Nile. Music that you had to sit and listen to every word to truly appreciate. I've always swung back and forth of musical extremes depending on my mood. If you put my iPod on shuffle and you'll go from Slayer to Frou Frou. PB : What has been the reaction to your album so far ? JZ : Just as I thought. You either love it or hate it with half the hates because it’s not a Warren Zevon record, but who can do that ? There’s only one Warren Zevon, Joni Mitchell, Bruce Springsteen and the Beatles, but again, this is what happens when your slate isn’t blank. I’m not one to cry like a baby because I’m not being seen just for my work and not as the son of my Warren Zevon. It’s just another element that makes me try harder. PB : Why did you sign to New West Records ? JZ : Because they have a roster of great artists and a realistic approach to the current state of the music business. They don’t have the mentality that every album has to sell a million copies. They work with quality over quantity and they’ve been able to succeed with that philosophy PB : You performed 'Studebaker;, one of your Dad's outtakes, on 'Enjoy Every Sandwich' and also put it on 'Insides Out'. It must be a song you really like. JZ : Not like. Love. I begged him for years to record and release it, but I think he just grew out of it. PB : Is there much of Warren's material unreleased, or has most of it now come out on the recent CD set ? JZ : There’s a Rhino box in the works that feature more of the later material that hasn’t been heard. After that, there’s nothing else planned for the future. PB : Do you have any plans to do a big tour to plug the album? JZ : I’d love to, but tours are expensive. I’m up for anything. I love playing live, so we’ll see what’s to come. PB : Will you now stick to being a musician or you still have other avenues you want to explore ? What are your future plans ? JZ : At the very least music will be the focus. I already have the material for a second record, but I’ve also got some other artists that I’d like to produce. PB : Thank you.

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Jordan Zevon - Interview

Jordan Zevon - Interview

Jordan Zevon - Interview

Jordan Zevon - Interview

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Insides Out (2008)
Excellent debut album from Jordan Zevon, the son of cult artist Warren Zevon, whose music in contrast to his Dad's has a massive and commerical pop sound

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