Jon Lindsay interview for 2nd Tangents website, 2011
Jon Lindsay interview
By Daniel Coston
Over the last few years, Jon Lindsay has established himself as a sideman for other musicians, as well as sharing the lead role in two bands (The Young Sons and currently the Catch Fire). Now Jon has stepped out on his own, with the release this month of his first solo album, Escape From Plaza-Midwood. Released by the Chicago-based label Chocolate Lab Records, Escape is an expansive expression of powerpop and rock, with Lindsay’s descriptive lyrics leading you through the ups and downs of everyday life. [Editor's Note: This interview originally appeared in August 2010 on the previous version of this site.]
Tangents: Describe Escape From Plaza-Midwood.
Lindsay: It’s a 15-track record made in 2009 at Sioux Sioux Studios in Charlotte. It came out August 17 on Chocolate Lab Records. All the songs were written by me except “The Launch Codes,” which was co-written by Peter Gray (Benji Hughes/Todd Busch) and myself. I like to think the album is a really good time. A fun pop record with many shades of feeling, that hopefully ranges all over the place. A lot of it is deeply confessional. Some of it is more character portrait or fiction/imagination driven. I would recommend it to moms in Nebraska, as well as my peeps in Williamsburg rocking the skinny jeans.
Tangents: You have been a part of two bands (Young Sons and Catch Fire) in the past few years where you shared the lead role. What led you to make this record on your own?
Lindsay: Even while in those other bands you mentioned, I’ve been a solo artist. So though this album is the first official JL full-length release on a label with full-band solo tours and the whole nine, this is something I’ve been working toward for quite some time now. I would like to mention that regarding The Catch Fire, we have a new powerpop record called Rumor Mill, what will be that band’s official full-length debut, almost completed and it sounds amazing. It is also about 15 tracks. That band is co-fronted by Mike Mitschele (Alternative Champs/Jolene) and myself. Also in that band are John Cates (former Young Sons drummer) and Adam Roth (Bellglide, Laburnum).
Tangents: How and where did you record this record? Who else is on the record and how long did it take to record?
Lindsay: Think I covered most of this, but for how long… about a year. I made it in between doing shows with Benji Hughes, The Young Sons, and the Catch Fire, all of which I was involved in at the time of tracking EFPM. On the personnel, additional peeps include Chris Waldorf, who co-produced it with me and played drums, vibes, some keys and created loops and samples with me. Jonathan Erickson played drums on a track. David Kim played drums on several tracks. Rodney Lanier played steel on “I Take Care of You Now,” Victoria McLaughlin and Chris Johnson played strings, Bryan Osborne played trumpet and Brent Bagwell played clarinet, baritone and tenor sax.
Tangents: How extensively did you demo this record? Did you know what you wanted when you went into the studio, or did some of that evolve during recording?
Lindsay: To be honest, I did zero demos for this record. It was all recorded with very little pre-production. My newest record (that I’m working on now, Summer Wilderness Program, set for early 2011) is the complete opposite. I wrote the whole thing in about three weeks, and we’ve already demoed all the songs prior to even beginning official tracking.
Tangents: How’s the new album coming along?
Lindsay: Going really good. I am so proud of the one we’re making now. EFPM too, big time, but this one is seriously out of control.
Tangents: It sounds like the songs are informed by late 60s, early 70s pop-rock, but filtered through 90s influences such as Elliott Smith and the Posies. True?
Lindsay: That is a fair statement. Hopefully also filtered through my own singular vibe as well, but I am influenced by a lot of those things you mention. As well as the greater culture at large that isn’t musical.
Tangents: Let’s talk about lyrics. Some of the lyrics sound as though they’re autobiographical. How much of them are from your own experiences and how much is from someone else, or imagined?
Lindsay: I will say that even the sketches or character portraits or vignettes or whatever still contain autobiographical sentiments at the line-level here and there. I try to never go full-fiction. Though I often go full play-by-play on the confessional songs. And I think it’s important not to spoil which are which. Word?
Tangents: Do you think that people will see something of themselves and their lives in your lyrics?
Tangents: You’ve put together a touring band to promote Escape. Who’s in the band and how did you find them?
Lindsay: Current lineup is me on vocals, keys and guitar, Kyle Dussault on keys, Chris Waldorf on drums, Grant Funderburk on guitar, and big Mike Mitschele on bass. They were all hiding in my backyard one day, growing weed and it just made sense.
Tangents: Has playing more shows with your own band been influencing the songs you’re currently writing?
Lindsay: Honestly, the songs inform everything that happens live. So kind of the opposite of what you said. I’ve always played a lot of shows as a co-front man, or side player with other artists, and also a lot of solo shows, which I’ve been doing for years and truly love as an art form. Nothing else like just you and a crowd. But the fact that I’m playing all the time now under my own name isn’t really informing the songs, so much as just making me a happier person.
Tangents: A shout-out to your photographer. Who takes your photos?
Lindsay: Always great to give a shout out to Carolyn Clemans, and all the great East Coast photographers I end up working with all the time.
Tangents: How has the scene in Charlotte changed in the past few years? Or has it changed at all?