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|AP: Thanks for taking time to answer some questions for us Jonah. I know life lately has been somewhat of a whirlwind as a result of promoting the new album and playing some solo shows. I assume you've had enough exposure at this point to get some initial reactions to the new music and the new record, do you feel like people are digging it?|
Jonah: From people that have heard and loved just about all of the music I've been involved in over the years, all the way to people that have heard hardly anything else I've done and don't even listen to music very much, there's a response to this record that's really simple and deep. That's the feeling I get from the record too, ever since we started writing it, and all the way through recording, playing the songs live, and now finally having it be released.
AP: As an artist who has spent years making music that was usually enjoyed by a not-so-mainstream audience, do you feel that those same fans will be able to open up to the new radio-friendly tunes?
Jonah: It's funny, some people have talked about this record as being 'radio-friendly'. I don't really think it sounds like much that's on the radio, actually. I don't know what it sounds like. It's just songs. I grew up inspired by bands like The Clash and U2 and The Pretenders, and now some of my favorite bands are Green Day, Radiohead, Bjork, um... Anyway, all these bands have had huge mainstream success, and they're so irrefutably themselves, so unique. I aspire to that sort of art-making. If people hear this music that haven't heard anything else of mine, and they come to the shows, and long-time listeners are elitist or exclusive about that, that seems silly to me. We shoudn't get ahead of ourselves, though, the record is just now coming out. I'm curious to see what happens.
AP: I've seen you perform live a countless number of times in the last 4 or 5 years, and I've been to your shows in living rooms, VFW's, community centers, art galleries, etc. It's been quite some time since you've played in large venues like Gratitude has been playing recently, is it difficult to get used to that atmosphere again?
Jonah: No. I've gone back and forth between all sorts of spaces so much that it doesn't amtter anymore, and I love that. I'm bringing the same thing regardless of the venue size. The perception can be very different, and it works best when I don't think about that, and just think about doing what I do for anyone that wants to listen. That said, while all performance is different, there's nothing that will ever touch the level of intimacy that you get singing for a small group of close friends. That's what music is about, the rest is just a variation on that.
AP: I'm in love with the new album.
Jonah: Thanks, me too.
AP: In my opinion you guys have created an album full of radio-friendly tunes without sacrificing musical integrity - a feet which is seldom done nowadays.
Jonah: Thank you. Again, most of my favorite artists have done that, so it's nice to hear.
AP: Is this the album you initially set out to create? Did you have any specific ideas of what you wanted to sound like, or what genre you wanted to fit into?
Jonah: No, we were just excited about these songs, and wanted to show them to people. There's just this feeling I get when an idea comes that feels worth following, and so I follow it. I think I know what you mean about the radio thing now, though. These songs do sound like they could be in a lot of different homes. People that like heavy music, or sad music, or sweet music, regardless of age or gender or race or scene or whatever, this music feels open to them. I sort of think that about everything I've made, but this does seem to have something different to it. I think that's a product of writing with someone that comes from a very different place. or maybe it's just where I am, what came out this time.
AP: You have always been an active member among your "community" of fans via livejournal, myspace, message boards, etc. As a reult, you have always had a very tight-knit, grassroots following of fans. Do you think it will still be possible to maintain this intimacy with your
Gratitude fans if the album is very successful and the fanbase begins to grow rapidly?
Jonah: Definitely. That micro level of communication isn't for everyone. Some people just want to rock and be in the big venue, and some people want to hear the little rehearsal stuff. All of the different levels of participation are fine with me. I will always be turning up somewhere at the last minute and taking donations and singing some, even if I'm rocking the enormo-dome the next day. If it's ever a challenge to keep that sort of thing small and special, that will be a fun challenge, and we will find ways.
AP: You recently dropped the name "Onelinedrawing" for the solo stuff, and are simply going by Jonah Matranga. What was the reasoning behind this?
Jonah: Too many band names, too much confusion. It just felt more simple to play and record under my own name. That way, if a solo show one night ends up being a few Far tunes, some onelinedrawing stuff, a New End song, it doesn't matter what gets played. It's all stuff I've been a part of, that I love. Besides, everyone tells me that all their friends just say, 'You goin to see Jonah tonight?', no matter what band it happens to be. I love that.
AP: What lays ahead for you? Obviously you've got quite a bit of touring to do in support of the Gratitude album, but do you have any plans beyond that?
Jonah: I'm working on a DVD release of some live stuff and a strange art project, that should be out soon. I'm always trying to make the website (jonahmatranga.com) better, and just trying to keep up with all of the ideas that keep me awake at night. It's enough for many lives.
AP: It's been quite some time since the initial release of "Water & Solutions" by Far, but the album was recently re-released with an extra DVD of some live performances. How does it feel to know that people are still interested in the music so many years later? Do you still keep in touch with the members of Far?
Jonah: It's an amazing feeling, and it sort of lets me know I'm on the right track. I'm really happy that the things I've made have lasted, that they weren't for one group of people at one particular time. Whether or not I ever have widespread commercial success, it's already clear that I have, just by doing what I love, had a pretty profound effect on some people's lives. That seems to me what sharing art is about. The live version of Stairway To Heaven just came on in my random mix. I lost my virginity to this record. Pretty fitting that it comes on now, talking about life experience via music and all.
AP: Thanks again for your time Jonah. There are a lot of people who can't wait to see what you come up with next, keep rocking. For more info, check out Jonah's website at www.jonahmatranga.com.
03:14 PM on 03/04/05
Great interview, great man, great songs
03:42 PM on 03/04/05
Gratitude's album is awesome
08:24 PM on 03/04/05
just about my favorite person in the whole world. (good questions by the way)
08:39 PM on 03/04/05
Nice Job, you proved once again why Jonah is King.
10:59 PM on 03/04/05
good interview justin! ... is there anything ure not good at?
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