- Interviews
Jack Ponti

November 1997

Hey Jack!
Are you happy with the end result of Baton Rouge?
Yeah I'm happy. It's Cool.

I think it's better than the other two by a long shot!
Thanks you, I appreciate that.

You seem to have a bigger sound on this album.
Well, it was a little bit different approach.

So how did you approach it?
I actually think we tried to make it a bit earthier. And it was pretty much Kelly and I were left to do what we wanted to do. We kind of had fun with it, rather than being microscopic.

It sounds rawer.
Yeah, definitely that kind of vibe.

And there was no major label distractions?
Yeah it was pretty much doing what we wanted to do, rather than doing what we were told to do.
You have more fun that way.

You have a huge guitar sound on this record.
It was probably because of the studio really. More than anything else. Pretty much the same amps and the same guitars used on 'Baton Rouge', 'Shake Your Soul' and 'Lights Out In The Playground'.
I think the difference in the sound is probably the studio this time around, as much as anything else.
There were less overdubs, so naturally you want to make them bigger.

And Kelly is singing like a demon!
Yeah, Kelly just came in and did it. I had finished the whole thing and Iet Kelly come in and blow over it.

So you pretty much did the one man band thing on it.
To a degree. There were a lot of us doing whatever we do but, doing it without the angle of having somebody busting my balls about mixes and overdubs.

Right! Favourite songs on the record?
Probably Shelter, more than likely.

It's a very moody album.
Yeah, shelter is definitely cool, it's different. It had a different vibe.

I like Shelter, I also like victim of the night, didn't I is my favourite.
Yeah, Didn't I is an old thing I did with Stan Bush a while back.

I noticed a couple of credits to Stan Bush on the album. Were they done a while back?
Yeah, a lot of that was Magnus looking through different songs that we liked, saying why don't you cut these. And it's like okay – cool!

How did you get teemed up with Magnus?
From BMG Sweden, I have done a lot of stuff out there.
Initially they were like – would you make another record? And I am like gee, I don't know, but one thing led to another. Initially I was going to have someone else sing it, and then I was speaking to Kelly, and he said well fuck, I want to do it!
So whenever it's me a Kelly in the same room, its Baton Rouge really.

Is there any chance of this album being released outside Europe? Like the US?
Well yeah, little by little.
If we hadn't been so busy right now, we would have figured out the rest of the territories.

Well people want it, especially in the US.
Well there seems to be this thing going on in the States, between CMC and now Sony signing a shit load of bands. You know they just signed Ratt.

I had heard that.
Yeah, Kalodners' put together this new label Legacy, and is just signing that kind of thing. Which is kinda cool.
If anyone is contacting you on the website, and happen to be female and good looking, you can give them my e-mail address!

Ha ha. Sorry I am not getting photos with my mail!!
Oh, I request photos! And if they are good looking you can let them e-mail me!

Fair enough!! Ha ha

I had done some John Farnham stuff on his last record.

I wrote Little piece Of My Soul.

Good song.
Yeah, between you and me and the wall, I have heard better versions.

It was a little MOR, that album.
I just thought the production was particularly good on the record.
John's a great singer.

Yeah, he is an awesome singer, and he needs someone to come along and play guitars for him.
He needs someone to kick his ass a little. The record sounded too laid back.

Yeah, but that's what the label want of him down here. Songs for the middle aged ect.
The Michael Bolton thing?

I understand he did exceptionally well with it.

He sure did.
I would like to work with him one on one.

There is a few people that would. I talk to people all the time that love him, but he hasn't broken outside Australia.
Give him to me for a week, and there would be some serious shit going on. There are other ways to make it sound cool, without having to use guitars.
Listen to Shelter, you can kind of hear that going on to a degree.

What about some of the other songs on the record. There are a couple with Stan Bush – any chance of working with him again?
We are not the same kind of human beings. He is a nice enough guy and I think he is very talented, but I don't really like to work with anyone that I really don't have fun with.

He strikes me as a very serious guy.
We just come from different worlds. I am a New Jersey street kid, and he's not!
But I had met him through Jonathan Cain and those kind of people and I think he is very talented, but we don't have anything in common.
I haven't seen Stan in ten years or so.

Are some of the songs that old?
No, no. a lot of them are new. Ghost Of You is brand new, Shelter also. Fairly new.
Victim of The Night I had done when I was back in Surgin' – that was way back in 81 or '82.

You also did the Alice song.
The Alice one, yeah. That has always been a favourite of everyone's, and Alice and I were talking about it and we said fuck it, let's do it.

Good version.
Yeah, that's pretty much the way the song went down.
Pretty much how it sounded.

Okay, and what are you working on now?
Oh man, too many things.
You know I have been primarily doing mainly in R&B. that's all I have been doing for 3 or 4 years. But I am working with this band Brownie Mary that will be out on Sire, I have finished that.
Working with Alice on a new record. He starts in around another month.
Working with Nelson on a new thing.

Very cool. How much involved are you with that?
I am very involved with Nelson.

Their last album, the Geffen shelved album was legendary! I can't understand why no one would not release that!
That is a long story. I think it is a great record, but it is a long story.

Is the new one similar to that one, or more in their pop style?
Definitely more like that.
Yeah, I have been with Matt and Gunnar for about 12 years.

Is that right?
There is definitely some interesting things going on. Music I think, is really starting to change a lot.
I am kinda just sitting back waiting to see what happens.

There seems to be a real opening for a style or an artist to come through.
Absolutely, no question about it.
Its definitely time, and I think guitars are going to become hip again.
You are definitely seeing it around here.
Even something like The Wallflowers is indicative of that.
If you were to change the mixes, you would have what we were doing in the 80's, you know. It would be no different, just the mix.

I have been talking to Chip Z'nuff a lot. We might do something. We are kicking around some ideas.

That would be cool!
Yeah, he is part of the old guard, you know.

They are still doing all right on their own.
Yeah, they are doing fine.

You worked with Shark Island, right?

That was a great record.
Yeah, thank you. that was a lot of fun. I enjoyed working with Richard, he was great.

Do you know why Richard disappeared from the scene?
Yeah he is in hiding in California!

He has such a great voice!
Richard doesn't really want to do anything. We have had some conversations, he really doesn't want to do anything.

Did he get burnt on it all?
I think after he did that thing with Tracii Guns, er, whatever the fuck that was called.

Yeah, Contraband. I think after that he had just kind of had it.
And Axel Rose did Richard's whole thing to the bone.
I mean, it would have to be a substantial offer to get Richard to come out of hiding. But I talk to him pretty often.

I saw Shark Island do a club gig in L.A in '92, and man, he is one of the smoothest front men I have ever seen, live or on video!
Yeah, he's a motherfucker!
I am actually kicking around the idea of releasing all unreleased stuff from everything I have done.
Shark Island, Babylon AD, Nelson, Trixter, there is so much of it.

What, all on one record?
Yeah, everything I've done with the bands on one disc, over my career.
We have all of it. Everything from early Bon Jovi thru Merideth Brooks actually.
There is quite a lot. So we are just kicking around the idea of maybe doing that.
I don't think that has ever been done before, that is a cool idea!
Actually I have to get in touch with Derek from Babylon AD, because he doesn't realize there is a R&B version of one of the tracks we had done.

Yeah, it's pretty funny!
The song 'Desperate' has been completely flipped into a R&B Urban track.
I haven't spoken to Derek in years.

You still keep in touch with people?
Well I talk to Matt and Gunnar from nelson everyday, and occasionally I will her from Richard, or Every Mothers Nightmare or Dangerous Toys, but not much else.
I actually tried to get any from all that, when I made the switch to R&B/pop.
I had to clear me head into what I am doing now.
But it seems to be coming me back in again.
Whatever, you know, I am cool with it.
It may be time to look at it again.

You know, part of my crew is from Australia.

Kevin Shirley.

Is that right?
Yeah, I am the one who brought him to the states.

He is going off right now!
Yeah, if you look at the Baton Rouge credits, you will see hi there, because he set up the mix.

He has pulled off three or four pretty big albums in a row, eh?
He just finished the Dream Theater.

I got that.
Yeah, I heard his brilliance when he was doing Baby Animals, you know, I said to him what the fuck are you doing in Australia?
You have to come here to the States.
He did a Doro record with me. Kevin is wonderful. Super-talented.
He is a very dear friend.

It was fun working with Kelly again. I haven't seen him for a few years.
That was cool.

Are you two going to work together again?
Yeah, we'll work together again. Kelly and I were always Baton Rouge.
Whenever we get together it's going to be Baton Rouge.
'Lights Out' was a really fucked up record, really dark. I think this is a little cooler.

I think it's the best album of them all.
Thanks, I appreciate that.
We just did it to have fun with it. We just said fuck it, let's have some fun with it.

Okay Jack, I appreciate your thoughts.
Okay Andrew, keep in touch man, anything you need I am here.

Thanks Jack!