INTERVIEW: California Dreaming with Rick Price and Jack Jones

Following on the back of their recent ARIA Chart success with CALIFORNIA DREAMING – Top 10 on the Albums Chart and No. 1 on the Australian Albums Chart – acclaimed singer-songwriters Rick Price and Jack Jones will embark on a national tour in May 2018 to celebrate this amazing songbook and their vast array of hits from careers spanning three decades. The tour will be concluding in Newcastle at the Civic Theatre on May 27th. Tickets are on sale now.

A tribute to west-coast California sounds of the 60’s & 70’s, the album CALIFORNIA DREAMING has been warmly embraced, fans revelling in the selection of songs from the period from the likes of The Mamas And The Papas, Linda Ronstadt, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Eagles, The Doors, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, The Byrds, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. It was recorded in Nashville at Rick Price’s home studio, with Rick himself helming the production.

Rick Price’s debut album ‘Heaven Knows’ reached Top 5 on the ARIA Charts with Platinum sales, and spawned top ten hits such as ‘Not A Day Goes By’ and the album’s title track, which also secured Price APRA ‘Song Of The Year’ in 1992.  He has released numerous solo albums, including 2015’s ‘Tennessee Sky’, and has received widespread acclaim as a songwriter and record producer.

As frontman for Southern Sons, Jack Jones was responsible for such hits as ‘Heart In Danger’, ‘Always & Ever’ and ‘Hold Me In Your Arms’, the band enjoying multi-platinum sales and chart-topping success.  He has performed with some of the world’s biggest artists, released a successful solo album ‘The Evolution Of Irwin Thomas’ and has recently interpreted the music of The Beatles in various productions.

Fans can look forward to experiencing this immense catalogue of hits from both artists alongside their live interpretation of recent top 10 alba, CALIFORNIA DREAMING, in their May 2018 concert tour. Sydney musicians Jess and Matt will be supporting the tour.

During their press tour, Chris Daniel sat down with the pair to talk about the upcoming tour and why the album holds so much sentimental value.

Chris Daniel: Before we officially get stuck into it, what were you guys up to before this album came out?

Jack Jones: Well how much time do we have?

Rick Price: I’ve been making records, usually I have released a solo album every couple of years and on top of that, producing for other artists. I continued to tour, we both have actually.

CD: Looking through some information last night, a site mentioned that both of you are more George Clooney than Boyband… (It’s important to note that this question was interpreted wrong) So what’s the secret to remaining rock n roll and not heading down that path of a boy band?

RP: Oh I see what you mean now.

JJ: If there is a secret, I don’t know it. It relies on what works for you and remaining honest and authentic about what you’re doing. As you become older you become more comfortable. I think maybe that’s where that comparison comes into it.

I can’t speak for Rick, but when I first joined Southern Sons it was overwhelming because I always wanted to work with music, but as a director in a band or a studio guitarist. I never wanted to be the singer, but I wanted to be in a band with Virgil Donati, which meant that I had to, so I went with it. I spent the first 10 or 15 years of my career growing into my voice, and I’ve really only felt comfortable for the past 10 years really. Songwriting was another thing that came later in life, I never picked up a guitar and thought to myself about being a singer/songwriter. Luckily, having this voice is like having a vehicle that allows me to drive the ability to write.

RP: Its weird, our consciousness holds a bearing on what happens and I have never really thought about a life doing anything else in any other occupation. Because of that, I have always had something to do with music. I just kept making music.

CD: So by sounds of things, your life was going in a certain direction and it switched paths all of a sudden?

JJ: Yeah, I always knew I was going to be in the music business or play music, but it just kind of unfolded a certain way and so I tried to grow into it. Because of that I just embraced it eventually. Initially, it was a terror, those early years were fucking intense. It sounds a bit egotistical, but I never saw myself doing anything else. I thought if I could practice 8-10 hours a day, perhaps I could get good enough…

RP: And find a job in it.

JJ: Exactly, and here I am all these years later still practising and trying to get it right. But hey, now I’m making records with my mate.

CD: Talking about making a record with a mate, what can you tell me about this new record? I listened to it the other night from start to finish…

JJ: Did you recognise any of the songs?

CD: Dad is a massive Eagles fan, so that was my connection with it.

RP: It’s the same thing for Jack and I, he grew up listening to The Mamas and the Papas the same way you probably grew up listening to The Eagles. His mum would play it in the car, and somewhat the same for me. I had a very musical family, who were into the Mamas and the Papas, The Byrds, and all that music as a soundtrack in the background to my life as a kid. The Eagles came into play in my teenage years and that’s how I learnt how to play and sing. I just copied what they did until I had my own understanding of how to express myself. This record is a great nostalgic trip back for both of us.

CD: It’s twelve songs, how many did you have in mind until you narrowed it down?

RP: It would have been about 30 or 40 songs.

CD: How did you narrow it down?

JJ: I think the first thing that whittled it down was the artist because they are all connected somehow through that California dreaming era of music. It soon became clear what songs were an obvious choice, like ‘Old Man’ by Neil Young and ‘Heart of Gold’. Once we started playing them, that cull happened quite fast. We had a huge list, but we knew what we wanted. We aren’t doing hotel California because it would be too cliché. Though we are doing a record full of hits, we’ve made an attempt to pay homage to certain artists, and from that, there are certain places you just don’t go.

RP: It was trial and error, you start playing a song and you immediately get a feeling of whether its going to work or not. We had to whittle it down to our favourite artists and then choose about three or four of their best songs and then whittle it down again to one or possibly two of their songs. We knew California Dreaming was going to be a live show, and there is a limit to how many ballads you can have. You get used to putting a set together that has a balance of tempos, moods and feelings. It’s pleasing for the listener because it has an arc.

JJ: We made the album as a record, so the whole Side A/ Side B, and I don’t want to seem too contrived about it but it does have to have an arc. So when you switch to Side B it isn’t like a punch to the head, it eases you in as if it were a gig.

CD: So I’m assuming there will be the classics from both of your careers that will make it into the set too?

JJ: We will be playing some of our hits together, which I’m really excited for. I’m keen to play some of Rick’s songs.

RP: We have been trying to let people know that those will be a part of our show, and we’re obviously doing the album cover to cover. We have a great band that will be joining us, and we will be revisiting some of the moments from when we toured together in the past.

CD: You have a long history together don’t you?

JJ: Rick and I met in the early 90’s and we started doing some acoustic shows together. It was evident from the moment we met that we were going to collaborate on something like this because it was quite natural. We have a great synergy and it’s been quite relaxed.

RP: We had the gift of not having to rehearse very much, which was a big part of the fun for us. It allowed us to be spontaneous and to improvise.

CD: You’ve wanted to collaborate on this album for quite some time now…

JJ: We wanted to do something because when we first met, we said that we needed to make a record together. Naturally, you go off with your own lives and go back into reality. Rick moved to Nashville, I moved to New York, and then we bumped into each other somewhere along the way and it all came back to us. The timing was just right.

RP: Film directors talk about it all the time that they have had a certain idea for some time, but obviously things happen at the right time.

CD: Obviously your lives took you to places that you could never have comprehended…

JJ: If someone told me that in 2009 I would be spending a lot of time in New York, that would have been overwhelming.

RP: Once you’ve had a few experiences where life takes a few unexpected turns, you realise that its best off not planning too far in advance and not taking those plans too seriously.

CD: Did the American culture have an influence on you?

RP: Massively. In my household there was a lot of Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, the list goes on and on and on. Their music was something that we all love.

CD: With the tour, you have Jess and Matt joining you. Did you handpick them yourselves?

RP: They were suggested to us and yeah we went with it. I recently worked with them and produced their record slated for release in April. We were looking for nice background vocals on our album because it would have been good to have a few backup singers for our show. So it worked out really well.

CD: So they are opening for you and playing alongside you?

JJ: We are working them twice as hard. But they are seriously the best people for the job. I hadn’t really heard much of them before this all unfolded. They are really good. We just have to make sure they’re not too good… that will translate well, usually that sounds better in television interviews.

RP: They are brilliant; we can’t wait for people to hear them. They are overqualified.

CALIFORNIA DREAMING will be at Newcastle’s Civic Theatre on May 27th. Tickets available now.

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