The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion: Still Number One (PRESS, AUSTRALIA)

13 January 2011
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion article/interview and show preview for Rosemount Hotel, Perth, Australia (13 January 2011) from


It’s been six years since the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion last toured Australia. But after a year spent reissuing their ‘90s catalogue the legendary dirty shirt rock’n’rollers are back… on the stage at least. MATTHEW HOGAN chats to the manic frontman himself ahead of their show tonight, Thursday, January 13, at The Rosemount.

“In 2010 we reissued the back catalogue, which were all out of print, so we began to play a series of concerts to mark the reissues. We started playing in the spring of 2010 and continued through the summer and the fall. Now here we in 2011 and we’ve just started this tour of New Zealand and Australia.”

With the scene perfectly set, Jon Spencer informs us just what he’s been up to recently. While the Blues Explosion has not been as prolific as they were in the ‘90s, when they brought out no less than six albums and swag of remixes EPs and compilations, they’ve just unleashed seven collections of tunes featuring a whopping 239 tracks in total.

“We did one compilation, the Dirty Shirt Rock’n’Roll compilation, to kick off this reissue series,” Spencer says. “There were six reissues and those were all reissues of proper albums we’d done back in the ‘90s, but all of them were greatly expanded to include a lot of extra material – most of which had never been released before. A couple of years ago, prior to all this, we did have another compilation on In The Red Records of singles that we’d done on that label, that was the Jukebox [Explosion Rockin’ Mid-90s Punkers] compilation.”

Out now through Shout Records, Spencer says the band had their work cut out for them sourcing their old unused material. “The band owns everything, but trying to find it was not the easiest thing,” he says. “It was a big job and we’d spent a long time working on everything – on this reissue project, and locating all of the materials was part of that and then figuring out what was what – because some things weren’t properly labelled. A lot of the stuff I don’t remember because I have trouble recalling specific sessions and dates and information and things like that. It was a big project.

“A good example is for the album Orange; there was a song that we’d totally forgotten about that we recorded in the studio and then just scrapped – we’d never finished it,” he continues. “So we’d discovered a song called Haircut. It was listed on the track sheets for the multi-track reels but I had no memory of what this thing was, nor did anyone else. Not Judah [Bauer] or Russell [Simins] or the engineer that we did the session with. So I took the tape to the studio and first I had to bake it. Some of these analogue tapes, you have to bake in order to be able to play them again. The magnetic tape; these old analogue tapes don’t age very well – they get a bit sticky at the back end of the magnetic tape – it’s gotten sticky over the years so if you just put it in a low oven for a little bit, it dries it out and it can play again fine. So we took this reel tape and baked it and did a mix with this lost song.”

Don’t expect too many of these recently uncovered gems at tonight’s show, as Spencer admits the band’s not playing them. “Well no, we’re not,” he concedes. “Currently we’re playing songs from all the albums, you know. Not just the reissues but also the albums that came after these six albums from the ’90s. So we’ll play songs from the whole band’s history. We’re doing some with new arrangements. We’re also playing some new songs. I think after some new songs, I think with me – I really wanted to play some new stuff so we’ve started to write some new songs.”

While guitarist Bauer has been busy in recent years with Cat Power & The Dirty Delta Blues and drummer Simins has been busy working with Dan The Automator in Men Without Pants, the frontman has been busy with Matt Verta-Ray in Heavy Trash, who played their first Australian show at Devilles Pad just over a year ago (“That’s a crazy venue. Who could forget that place?”). While he’s not promising any new material from JSBX of Heavy Trash, he hints at some new material from his band he’s had for 20 years with his wife, Cristina Martinez, Boss Hog.

“We played last August at the Amphetamine Reptile 25th anniversary,” he says. “This was out in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the United States. It was the last time we’ve played. We’ve played a show here and there over the past couple of years. It’s been nice. It’s funny, I’ve just been emailing today with all the members of Boss Hog – somebody found a YouTube clip of a band covering a Boss Hog song, so we’re all writing to each other about and we’ve started writing to each other, ‘oh we should make another album…’.”