Keeping Up With Colin Jones

He possesses soothing folky style vocals and has the lived-in look of a friendly vagrant who sits on a park bench and philosophizes with passers-by. However, behind this veil of tranquility lurks an angry soul troubled by the ills of society. The 23 year old Virginia based Colin Jones vehemently vents his anger against the establishment with lacerating lyrics that could see him dubbed as being the unofficial opposition to the Government of the United States. A prime example being the melodically blunt ‘Shame On Me’ taken from his debut self released; ‘Most I Could Muster’ EP that tugs at the conscience of the listener for the treatment of tramps by the legal system and society in general. Jones kindly took time out from touring to give us an insight into his thought processes and refresh us with his unassuming thoughts on life, liberty and music.

You are currently based in Virginia, can you describe what the Virginia music scene is like presently and do you feel that you fit into it?

It’s hard to tell, as I’ve only been in Virginia for about six months, and I don’t go out as much as I’d like. Richmond seems to have a strong rock scene, as well as a sort of bluegrass/jazz hybrid going on… but it’s a cool town and on any night you can find just about any music if you look for it. I’m not sure I entirely fit into the ‘scene’ here, but there do seem to be a lot of songwriters around, so maybe we’ll all coalesce.

You have elected to self-release your 'Most I Could Muster' EP that is a mellow, bitter sweet and melodic brand of low key acoustic rock, on your own label Green Garlic Records. Does this give you greater freedom or do you find it is restrictive in that it gives you less time to concentrate on writing songs?

Self-release (no pun intended) is certainly a trade-off, but for me, it is well worth it. It gives me the freedom to do whatever I want creatively… which is hard to find in this industry. The trade-off is the time it takes to operate the business side, but for now it is well worth it, both creatively and financially. I still have plenty of time to write and perform.

Cart before The Horse’, is one of the most damning and daring anti-war songs ever written, what sort of response have you received to this song?

I’m not sure it is an ‘anti-war’ song so much as an ‘anti-detainment’ song, but I wrote it really quickly after being disgusted by the policies of this administration in fighting the ‘war on terror.’ I wrote it about a year after September 11th, well before the war with Iraq (don’t get me started on that). I recorded it in one take the day after I wrote it, and that’s on the album. The response is what one might expect from people… half like it, half are uneasy with it. I’ve had people say that ‘Cart Before the Horse’ is an unfair interpretation of our policies… and it might be a bit over-the-top, but I think it’s pretty damn accurate, unfortunately. I could go on all day about this, but I think it’s in the song.

Despite your latest EP being a mere five tracks long you have been known to play live sets of two hours consisting of original material. Do you have any plans to release a live EP and how would you describe your live sound?

Many people have approached me after shows asking why ‘this’ song or ‘that’ song isn’t on the CD, and I don’t really know what to say. I do have plans to release most of the material I have… eventually. Right now, my live sound is similar to the EP, solo-acoustic (voice, guitar, harmonica). I go on-stage without a set list, just a long list of my songs, and pick the songs spontaneously, feeding off the feel crowd. Every night ends up being different and unique that way.

What are your current musical influences?

I love so much music, it’s hard to say exactly. There’s so much great music out there, but most of it stays well under the radar. I listen to college radio a lot, and it just blows me away how much stuff is out there, and how much is really good. As a musician, it’s intimidating and inspiring at the same time. I couldn’t give you a list without missing somebody, but here are some staples I’ve been listening to a lot recently: Stephen Malkmus/Pavement, The Shins, Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven, Clem Snide, Otis Redding, James McMurtry, Warren Zevon, Rolling Stones, Tom Waits, and Dylan.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

I don’t really have it all planned out yet. Play shows as often as possible, write as much as possible, and peddle my measly CDs. Other than that, it’s up in the air.

Who or what makes you angry (aside from someone firing annoying interview questions at you)?

Oh, so much. Mediocrity, ignorance, hatred, and Wal-Mart to name a few.

Do you find it more pressurising going solo than being in a band? Solo artists like Christopher Ender Carriba have gone out of their way to hide behind a band personna due to the pressure of going solo, do you have any plans to form or join a band in the future?

I perform solo mostly because I don’t know anyone. I was a little nervous at first going out there alone, but it didn't last long. There is so much freedom in being by yourself. I don't have to answer to anyone, onstage or offstage. I think eventually I’ll draft some band-mates, if only out of boredom. It’s more fun playing music with other people, but the logistics of a band get complicated. We'll see. I think I'd like to expand my sound a bit. There is only so far a voice and guitar can go.

Which of your songs are you most proud of writing and why?

I’m always proud of the most recent song. As soon as I write a song, I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written, and everything else I’ve done is shit. And then a few days later, I get sick of that song, and think that everything sucks. And then I write another song, and this time it really is the best thing I’ve ever written… for a few days. There are only a few days a year that I’m proud of anything I write.

If you were not a musician which trade or profession do you think you would be engaged in?

I don’t know. Something creative. I know I could never take a job that requires time in a cubicle. I’d like to write, or take photographs, or make movies. Sometimes it sounds fun to open a bar or coffee-shop or bookstore, and just sit back, relax, and forget about this ridiculous industry of music. But right now I can’t help it; all I want to do is make music.

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