Social Distortion’s Jonny Wickersham talks about debut solo release “Salvation Town”

“Salvation Town” is the debut solo release from Social Distortion guitarist Jonny “Two Bags” Wickersham. Produced by David Kalish the album is an interesting departure from Wickersham’s previous body of work as the album is packed full of acoustical performances. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Jonny recently about the album and what it was like working with Jackson Browne.

Adam Lawton:Can you give us a little background on your new solo album?
Jonny Wickersham: I started recording the album awhile back and it’s probably been 3 years now since we first started working on it. At the time when I started Social Distortion was very busy promoting and touring behind the “Hard Times and Nursery Rhythms” album. I didn’t initially have a lot of time to work on things. When I went in to record the first track it ended up being more than just working on the song but it was a chance for me to work with one of my idols, Pete Thomas who was Elvis Costello’s guy on drums. Once we finally got started things moved along pretty well and the whole experience was just great. I was really inspired by all the people who were willing to work with me on this album.

AL: What do you think was the main reason you waited until now to release a solo album?
JW: My good friend David Kalish who produced the album was always on me about doing a solo record. I kept putting it off because I didn’t think it was something I could do. I had always written songs however I never had any other vehicle to do them other than with the bands that I was in. I would write material and whether it was Mike Ness or the Cadillac Tramps or Duane Peters they would take what they liked from what I had brought in and then add their own parts especially, when it came to lyrics. I had never really learned to sell one of my songs or perform it. There’s a big difference between being in the recording studio and singing a song and being up in front of a crowd and playing. Then those two things are completely different from me sitting in my living room with an acoustic guitar performing for my cat. (Laughs)

AL: Can you tell us about some of the guest performers that appear on the record?
JW: The guest performers were something I didn’t put a lot of thought in to beforehand. Things just sort of happened off the cuff. I was certainly a fan of everyone involved and really worked out on a song to song basis. We did this record differently than what I am used to. I am used to working up songs as a band, demoing them and then going down to the studio to record the tracks. The bass and drums lay down a foundation and then everything else is built on top of that. There is a process to the whole thing. With “Salvation Town” it was much different. We laid down some acoustic guitar to a click track and then usually just Dave and I would go back and add a simple drum beat and bass line. From there we would try and think ahead of what the song could be. We would just have these ideas of about who might be able to add something really cool to the tracks. We ended up getting David Hidalgo from Los Lobos and his two sons David Jr. and Vincent, Gaby Moreno who was just so great and of course Jackson Browne. The song Jackson appears on is one that I have had for quite some time. It started out as straight ahead punk sounding song but with this being a different record I wanted to give it a different style. As we were working on it I said to David that I thought it could be Jackson Browne song. I never thought Jackson would be a possibility but David called me the day after mentioning and said that Jackson was down for it. I couldn’t believe it when a few weeks later Jackson came in to do his parts. Everything happened very organically. Having Jackson Browne and David Lindley on my album is just gnarly! (Laughs)

AL: Was there any point during the three years of working on the album that you got discouraged?
JW: There were so many discouraging times that I can’t even count. I am a stickler and very detail oriented. I am also one of those guys that have to exhaust every possibility so I was driving David crazy with this thing however; I think we balanced each other out perfectly in the studio. I wanted to make a good record that shows where I am at in my life while reflecting my influences. I didn’t want things to be over produced but at the same time I didn’t want it to sound like a demo. There were times where I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. That’s when I would get sketchy. It was all new to me. Fortunately over the years I have learned that you have to let things take their course.

AL: Do you have any plans to tour behind the release?
JW: Yes! As much as possible. We just recently played at South by South West. With the exception of the aweful tragedy that happened outside of the venue where we were playing the show was really great. It was trip being out there front and center. Every night I am always worried about how I am going to sound. (Laughs)

Jonny Kaplan talks about new album “Sparkle and Shine” with the Lazy Stars

Jonny Kaplan is a singer/songwriter who together with his band the Lazy Stars have released a brand new full length album titled “Sparkle and Shine”. The group which has had their music featured on television series such as “House M.D.” and “Grimm” are releasing a new video in the coming weeks and Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Jonny recently about his work on the video and his long time collaboration with Wallflower/Foo Fighter keyboardist Rami Jaffie

Adam Lawton: What was it that made you decide to start performing music?
Jonny Kaplan: I was a huge rock and roll fan when I was growing up so it was something was my fantasy. I grew up in Philadelphia listen to FM rock radio. I was all about bands like Kiss, Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones. My first concert ever was the Rolling Stones on the “Tattoo You” tour.

AL: What can you tell us about your new album “Sparkle and Shine”?
JK: This is my forth album and there has been a lot of time between this record and the last because everything has been pretty much independently. For this new one there was definitely some divine inspiration as a lot of things have happened the last few years. I was in a motorcycle accident along with a bunch of other stuff. Fortunately or unfortunately it’s sort of the bain of existence for songs writers as shitty things make great songs. When I was writing this batch of songs there was a certain amount of vindication as they are pretty deep. After putting out three records prior to this one and touring Europe for the last 7 or 8 years as there were opportunities to play there I decided to shift my focus back to home and get this album out properly an set the playing field for myself here in the States.

AL: How much of an effect did your motorcycle accident have on the creation of this record?
JK: As far as the songwriting goes I was pretty much hold up in a hospital bed for two weeks with 20 broken bones. I have healed up remarkably but at the time I was a mess. I had a lot of time to sit around and I was in a bit of a dark place because I couldn’t do anything. That sort of forced me to write these songs. I think because of the shock of what was happening and not knowing what the future would hold that sort of opened up the flood gates. When it comes to songwriting you can sit down and try and write a song but the good songs sort of write themselves.

AL: Where do you generally start when writing a song, Lyrics or music first?
JK: It all depends. Sometimes there might be a guitar riff that I have been playing with for awhile that turns in to something but for the most part it’s almost like you hear something in your head and that eventually spills out. Some of songs are written in three minutes. Those tend to be the best ones and are always my favorites. You just hear something in your head, you grab a guitar and figure out the chords and there it is. It’s something that I never force.

AL: How do you first get connected with Rami Jaffie?
JK: Years ago I had a country rock band called Hummingbird. We used to play with the Wallflowers all the time so he and I became friends. He and I are like brothers. Rami has played on all of my records and was someone that was very instrumental in getting me to start this new record. He gave me the shove I needed to get going again. Even though he is always busy with the Wallflowers and the Foo Fighters we are roommates so we still have a lot of time to work on songs.

AL: Can you tell us about the video you shot for “When You’re Down” and what made you choose that song?
JK: At the time we were working on a video for Darryl Hannah. A lot of people don’t recognize her as a singer because of her career in acting. While we were getting ready to start work on her video for she had listened to some of the new material I had been working on. The night before we were set to shoot Daryl’s video she called me and said that she wanted to shoot a video for me as well. We ended up out on this crazy horse with our faces painted and we made this video which will be out in the next month or so. The video is low budget and indie to the core but it really turned out great. As for how this song was chosen Daryl actually picked it. It was by accident that this all happened. She really liked that song and I think it is definitely one of the strongest off the album. The vibe was great and things just worked well.

AL: Are there any plans in the works for a tour to support the release?
JK: Well as we speak Rami Jaffie has just informed me that we will be playing South By South West this year. That is amazing! Essentially there has been just so much going on with getting the album released that we haven’t been able to focus on getting a tour rolling just yet. We do have some shows booked like we will be in New York for the CBGB Festival and from there I will be heading to Buenos Aries with Brad Smith from Blind Melon to play for the first time. Things will be starting to unfold here very soon. Myself and the band are chomping at the bit to be out there playing as that is something we want to be doing every night.

DVD Review “The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest: Season 1, Volume 2”

Created by: Doug Wildey
Directed by: Mike Milo
Starring: J. D. Roth, Michael Benyaer, Jesse Douglas, George Segal, Robert Patrick, Frank Welker, Quinton Flynn, Rob Paulsen, Jennifer Hale, John de Lancie
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Distributed by: Warner Archive
Running Time: 286 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

If you are a boy and love cartoons, who doesn’t love Jonny Quest, seriously. It has adventure, action and plenty of thrill, especially for a cartoon. This series is revival of the 1960s Hanna-Barbera Jonny Quest franchise. It aired from 96-97, with only a mere 52 episodes produced. It does not pack the same thrill though that the original series had. This reinvention is more the “high-tech” upgrade of the series.  Fans of the original Hanna-Barbera (like myself) might want to remember this franchise more like the original series, though this is not terrible overall.

This series still contains adventures with Jonny Quest, Hadji Singh, and Jessie Bannon as they follow Dr. Benton Quest and bodyguard Race Bannon to investigate strange phenomena, legends, and mysteries. This is where it differs a little bit, some of the action in this series takes place in the virtual realm of QuestWorld, which is 3D cyberspace land. So the series, takes a leap into CG but falls a little short. The late 90’s were a time in animation, where CGI was trying to make it’s presence known but was still a little premature.

In this volume two of episodes, it contains the next 13 episodes completing the first season…finally. Warner released the first thirteen episodes in volume 1 all the way back in February 2009. So fans had to hold their breath for a long time for this one. Luckily, Warner Archive Collection is great with releasing archive cartoon series but I am not sure how long fans are going to have to wait before the second season of 26 episodes is released.

The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest: Season 1, Volume 2 is now available from Warner Archive at

Synopsis: Team Quest is Back! In this pulse-pounding second volume, The Real Adventures reinvention of the classic animated adventure series Jonny Quest continues. Jonny, scientist father Benton Quest, bodyguard Race Bannon, paranormal pal Hadji and Race’s daughter Jessie, unravel mysteries and uncover strange phenomena while criss-crossing the globe. The scientific secrets of the dazzling virtual reality domain known as Questworld (rendered in CG sequences that broke ground for the era’s TV animation) receive the full Team Quest treatment as well in this 2-Disc Collection of The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, Season One’s second 13-Episodes. Strap in for suspense and thrills! Special Feature: “Journey into Questworld.”