Artist name: The Bones of J.R. Jones
Hometown: Manlius, New York
Latest Album: A Celebration
Personal nicknames (or rejected band names): J.R./ Jonny, Jon Jon.
What’s your favorite memory from being on stage?
My favorite memories are the unexpected ones and I mean that in the most literal sense. Most nights on tour I take the stage exhausted and it takes a song or two for me to fall in rhythm. I remember one night in while on tour in England I took the stage after a 8-hour drive, traveling across three different countries, going through customs and after getting a speeding ticket… my mood was sour, to say the least. The first song I played knocked me over. The crowd knew every word and sang as loud as my guitar was ringing. It turned out to be one of the best shows on that tour. That’s the magic of the stage, for that hour or so… reality disappears.
What other art forms — literature, film, dance, painting, etc. — inform your music?
I think I am most moved and inspired by dancing. I am always in awe of the control and discipline dancers have… something I like to strive for in my music, but feel I never truly achieve because I let my emotions take the song away from me, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but not always where I want to go with my music. The beautiful thing about art is that one discipline often informs and adds to others. I often think about this while watching a dancer and how the music chosen or written for the piece is just as important as the choreography. The same goes for film and the visual arts.
What was the first moment that you knew you wanted to be a musician?
I don’t think I knew it at the time, but I remember listening to Springsteen’s Born in the USA when I was young and feeling so completely invested and overwhelmed by the songs. It struck me deep and resonates with me till this day. The heartbreak, the hurt, the feeling like you are being left behind and the drive for recognition… all the while you are just doing the best you can with the hand you are dealt. Every time I step into a studio that album subconsciously shows up in the strangest ways in my production.
What’s the toughest time you ever had writing a song?
Every song is tough. I mean it, every damn song. I have never been fortunate enough to have a song just flow through me. And truthfully the only reason a song is ever done is because I have to record it, ha ha. I try to tell myself that a recording is a song at that one moment. That a song is a living thing and tomorrow it will change on me again and we will have to find a new balance between each other.
How often do you hide behind a character in a song or use “you” when it’s actually “me”?
Every time. I mean you have to. How else can you make anything feel relatable? You need to live it to a degree. It doesn’t need to be autobiographical, but it does need to be true.
Photo credit: Christian Harder