Jim Hanft inför skivsläppet den 20 oktober

Jim Hanft släpper ett nytt album den 20 oktober på märket Veranda Records i Stockholm. Inför detta skivsläppet fick jag en möjlighet att få en kort intervju med Jim. Det blev en hel del frågor om gitarrer, musik, musikskapande, kärleken, influenser, Stockholm och Sverige. Så håll till godo kära läsare till vi hörs igen.

Hi Jim, first of all, how old are you?

At what age did you start playing and which was the main reason?
I started playing guitar when I was in middle school around 16 years old.  My older brother had given me a mixtape, made up of Tom Petty, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Live and The Who - it was sort of my first introduction to music. I became obsessed with the mixtape and the songs. I began taping my favorite songs off the radio and learning everything about them. Then one day I somehow had big enough balls to believe that I should write songs. So I begged my Uncle to mail me his old guitar and then 4 years later after trying and trying and trying I finally wrote a song that actually felt like a song. I think it made someone cry or something and from that point on I decided I'd be a songwriter.

As a musician/guitarist and songwriter I´m really interested In your gear. What kind of guitar are you playing? Custom made? strings, pick? Anything else you wouldn´t leave home without?
I currently play a Gibson J-45. Before that it was a Seagull acoustic guitar. (Canadian made guitar - super affordable and crazy reliable.)  I've dropped it probably 20 times and with every crack it sounds better.  Strings, D'addario - EJ16 (almost religiously). Medium picks.  Capo. (I go through phases with capos, been through almost every capo and at sometime or another I get annoyed with the one I'm using so I'll switch to some fancy new one). I play Hohner Harmonicas, just because.

Anyone can tell you´re carry on the American singer/songwriter tradition and that your songs are following the footsteps of the old folk/rock stars. Who would you say is your greatest influence and how does that affect your songwriting? I read an article about you were you were compared with Bob Dylan. Is that a parable that is okay with you?
I love Bob Dylan but I think he's a pretty easy comparison for anyone playing guitar and blowing a harmonica.  I also don't listen to him all that much. I pull very different things from my favorite artists and influences. Here's a few:
Bruce Springsteen - His ability to play a character, make every show the greatest show you've ever seen, his work ethic, and the fact that he's not a total recluse. 
Motown Music - Playing in a Motown cover band in high school led me to appreciate the importance of a hook regardless of the genre or topic of the song. 
Townes Van Zandt - Taught me that a song needs to have balls and to not be afraid of saying something that might scare the shit out of your mom. 
Ryan Adams - How important it is to keep writing and try new things.  He gets shit sometimes for being too prolific (whatever that means) but I think he rules.

When you start writing a song. What is the first thing to come out? Lyrics, harmonies or melodies? Are your song self-percieved or do you get inspiration from somewhere else?
Usually all of this happens at the same time for me. Most writing I do without a guitar in my hands ends up being forceful and too thought out.  However, I'm trying new approaches. "Beware My Love" on the new album for example...I wrote the lyrics on a plane then brought the words to music later on.  I think this song sort of feels different because of that and it's one of my favorites.

I guess you are surrounded by a bunch of musicians when you record. How much influence do they have in the process. Are you a perfectionist with every piece of the song allready made up in your head, or are the musicians free to interpret as they wish?
When we began recording, the songs were done, so very little changed in regards to form, lyrics etc. Of course the vibe or tone of a song might go from being super soft to being a heavier or faster song based on the bands interpretation.  Because we weren't figuring out chords or finishing lyrics in the studio, we were able to have a lot of fun with the arrangements and energies of the songs.  I imagine it's a way that I will always work in the future.   Plus I can't see myself bringing a half baked song into the studio situation. It would get eaten alive.

Your next album Weddings Or Funerals will be released soon. What is it in your own opinion that differ between this album and Backyard Waltz for example? Besides the fact that they are recorded in different places. As I understand it you recorded the EP Burn Me In My Boots in Stockholm. Will any of the songs on that EP appear on Weddings Or Funeral?
All of the songs on the album are brand new.  I think the main difference between Backyard Waltz and Weddings Or Funerals would be working with a producer and recording all the songs during the same session.  My first record was recorded over the span of 6-12 months and I was sort of guessing about how you setup a microphone and how you mix a song. I'd finish writing a song, demo it, then record it for the album.   With the new album the songs were all written and never really demoed beyond a simple one track recording.  We then recorded the album during a 3 week span at Decibel Studios with producer Lasse Marten.  Because of that I think the album is way more cohesive and actually sounds like an album and less like a collection of songs.

You choose to work with Veranda Records in Stockholm. How come? What would you say makes Veranda Records the best choice for you? And what are your impressions of Sweden and the musicscene here?
I was touring the east coast when I met the label folks at a show in New York City.  After the tour I connected with the Lasse Marten (the producer) and we had so much in common in regards to the music we loved and the approach he was thinking about taking with my next album.  I was also really excited about the fact that I owned several records that Lasse had worked on.  After I added all the positives up and threw in the fact that Sweden is such an incredible place to play music it was a no brainer for me!

Run My Love is the first single from Weddings Or Funerals and available on iTunes. But what song was the first one to be written for this album?
Without looking at the dates of demos on my computer I would have to say, "In This Film" and "Family Tree"  I wrote both those songs while I was writing the songs for "Backyard Waltz."  I remember that my bedroom just wasn't big enough to get those songs right.

Are your lyrics self experienced? 
I would say they are self influenced.  Some songs are so honest I may as well have been wearing nothing but tennis socks in the studio.  Others, I get to sing through a character who is usually me as well just dressed up like a pirate or something.  

I guess you´ve played with musicians in America as well as Swedish ones. What would you say differ between them if there is any difference at all?
I think it is totally a case by case basis.  However the real difference is that most Swedish musicians Snus so that's pretty cool. 

You have worked a lot with that wonderful girl Samantha Yonack. Tell me about her. How did you meet? Who is she to you? And what part does she play in your live performances, songwriting and recording?
Samantha and I have been singing together for over three years and she is one of the most important elements to the project in the sound, the live performance and as of late the writing.  On the EP we co-wrote 2 songs and on the new album we co-wrote 3 songs and she is heard throughout the record.  The songs I love to write are usually very personal, so letting someone in on that process is not too easy; however, with Samantha she brings such a non-obrtrusive creativity to the song-writing that only makes it better and different in a way that I couldn't have dreamt of.

A tricky question... if you would get the opportunity to chose any song in history. Wich one would you have wanted to write?
Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen. 

Your songs is very much about love, longing for love or to join free... do you believe in love or is it an overrated feeling
I think anyone who is writing songs believes in love and if they say otherwise they're full of bull honky. 

Were are you on October the 20th?
We will be playing our album release show for "Weddings Or Funerals" in Norway at Cafe Mono.

Anything else you would want to tell the readers at lyckligahundar.net?
Be sure to floss. I know it sounds like I'm joking but I'm serious.  If you don't floss now you'll have to floss later and that'll be when you have gingivitis and it will hurt like hell.  So for real, floss.

Jag säger tack till Jim för hans deltagande och önskar honom lycka till med det nya albumet. Vad passar bättre nu än att avsluta med Superhero tillsammans med Samantha Yonack? 

Läs mer på hans hemsida och Veranda Records

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