Guitarkadia: A common theme in this album, taking also into account the title, that you have a complicated relationship with time and fate. Would you agree with that assessment?
Jon Herington: Hmmm. I'm not sure. Time is certainly a fascinating subject, and a deep one. The title suggests a few things to me. For instrumentalists, 'Time' is always 'on their hands' in the sense of musical time, and making a rhythmic statement. Rhythm is the primal stuff of music, since it's the only element music cannot exist without. You can have music without harmony or melody but you can't have it without rhythm.
In another sense, the title is ironic, since I'm a very busy guy, and the making of this record had to be squeezed in between a lot of other demands on my time.
And, finally, in the song, it's about how slowly and grimly time can pass when you're down and suffering a loss; it's the opposite feeling of 'time flies when you're having fun.'
G: What inspired you to write this album with those themes?
JH: I'm not so sure that the album has much thematic coherence to it. I was trying to come up with single songs that stood by themselves that would also give me plenty of room to play. That might be more a question for my co-writer on that song, Jim Farmer, who wrote most of the lyrics on that tune. But my guess is that the whole thing was done in a bit of a tongue in cheek way, and is a lot more lighthearted than you suspect.
G: You mentioned in the one sheet that for the first time on your own album you'd decided to "stretch" but not at the expense of the song. Could you expand on that?
JH: From the start I had an intention to feature my guitar playing on this record, and I quickly found out that the music I wrote that seemed to allow me to do that was going to require a different approach to the lyric writing from the approach I was in the habit of taking. Basically, the songs seemed to call for a lighter, funnier, less serious tone, more irony, and a live performance-friendly vibe. But when you do that, you have to be careful that there's some substance there, and that it's not 'fluff.' So we worked hard to find the right balance of all the elements that would give me the blowing room but still have a solid song to support it. We didn't just want the songs to be 'vehicles' for the guitar playing - we wanted them to have a character and an appeal on their own.
G: How was writing & recording of this album different from your previous ones? What's your favorite track on this album, and why?
JH: The writing was different mostly in that I purposely invited a couple of friends to work with me on the lyrics, which I'm sure improved the songs and gave them the right vibe for this different type of record. Plus it was a lot of fun!
It was also different in that we got it done much more quickly. Once we started playing more frequently with my live band (about two years ago) we got excited to write some new music that would work for the live trio, and before we knew it, we had enough material we were playing regularly that it felt like it was time to record.
The recording was done in a fairly typical way. We did basic tracking with the trio for 2 or 3 days, followed by a stage of overdubbing extra guitar, vocal, percussion, and keyboard parts, and then a mixing stage and a mastering stage. A lot of work, interrupted off and on by a lot of touring!
I don't have a favorite track on the album, though there are particular things I like about different songs. I like the guitar solos on Shine Shine Shine, Time On My Hands, and I'll Fix Your Wagon; I like the mood of Running' Out Of Time; I like the lyrics and hybrid 'Bo Diddly-raga' vibe of Sweet Ginny Rose; I like the lyrics and the adventurous quality of I Hear They Shoot Horses.
G: For the gear heads out there, what hardware & software have you used?
JH: I have other stuff, but for this record this is pretty much what I remember using.
Guitars: Gibson custom shop SG Gibson custom shop CS 336 Gibson reissue 1954 Goldtop Les Paul Gibson ES 335 Fender Telecaster Fender Tele-Sonic
Amps: Guytron GT 100 FV Bludotone Bludotone-Drive
Pedals: Robert Keeley Fuzz Head (on Shine Shine Shine only) Ethos Overdrive (direct only)
G: What's next for you?
JH: I'm on the road with the Dukes of September Rhythm Revue for the rest of the summer. In September and October I have about 20 shows to play with The Jon Herington Band around the east coast to promote this new CD, and then the Dukes take me to Hawaii and Japan for a couple of weeks, and after that I'll fly straight to Europe for about a month's worth of work with Madeleine Peyroux. So, you can see how much 'Time On My Hands' I'm likely to have! It makes me wonder where I did find the time to record it! I'm glad I did, though, and I'm looking forward to playing those songs live. I hope you enjoy the record.