Russ and JB talked our way into interviewing the keyboardist of Jamiroquai while we were in Monterrey, Mexico this past February. This was our first interview of anyone famous ever. It was an amazing time!
Here's a link to an online version of the article published in Austin Daze:
Russ: We’re here in Monterrey, Mexico with Matthew Johnson, Keyboardist of Jamiroquai. Do you prefer Matt or Matthew?
Matt: Everyone but my mum calls me Matt.
Russ: Thanks Matt. How’s the tour been going so far?
Matt: Yeah, it’s been great. I mean the high point has been the last gig, I have to say. Mexico City is just off the hook. It’s the best gig I’ve done for years for this band. Very excited. Great crowd!
Russ: Have you played through here before?
Matt: No. I don’t think anyone in the band has been anywhere near here apart from Mexico City.
Russ: ¿Habla español?
Matt: Nnnno…. (laughs).
JC: When we first talked to you, it was great! You are actually the first people that spoke English. We’ve been here for like 2 days.
Matt: Did you come down just for this gig?
Russ: Yeah, pretty much. That and Topo Chico! Here’s another question. Derek (the drummer) has recently posted on Twitter, that you guys are about to record a new album. Can you tell us anything about that?
Matt: There’s not a lot to tell at the moment. We haven’t really done anything particularly. It’s just more the idea that we are going to start doing that. There’s quite a few songs left over from the last album. Whether any will make it on to this one… I bet you at least one or two will make it to the new album.
Russ: What’s the writing process like for Jamiroquai?
Matt: Normally, Jay will sing something; he’s normally got a riff or an idea in his head, and then he’ll get together with, normally, me or Rob (guitar player), and we’ll play that riff, and then we’ll start jamming around, interpreting—Jay can’t play an instrument, so we interpret his ideas harmonically.
Russ: like an arranger?
Matt: I guess so, but then we chip in our own thing as well, so it’s kind of a collaborative effort. The lyrics and melodies are all him.
Russ: Have you ever been to Austin, Texas?
Matt: No (but I could tell he was interested at the prospect in the way he said it)
Russ: Are you guys planning on going through the USA any time soon?
Matt: Well, I’d love to, but there’s no plans. I mean, there was talk of Cochella at one point, you know, but…
Russ: Have you heard of Austin City Limits? Austin is known as the live music capitol of the world.
Matt: Wow, great. I’d love to come back. I’m waiting to come back!
Russ: There’s a lot of Jamiroquai tribute bands out there (I didn’t mention the fact that I play keyboards in one of them). What are your thoughts on that?
Matt: um… i mean, it’s kind of weird… to watch. Obviously, it’s very flattering, especially for some of the songs I’ve written or whatever. It’s surreal, but good.
Russ: On this tour what has been your primary mode of transportation?
Matt: We’ve flown everywhere. We’ve done about 13 flights already.
Russ: The equipment?
Matt: The equipment goes by truck, immediately after the show, but I don’t really know too much about how the gear gets there. I just turn up and its there.
Russ: Who are your greatest influences for keyboards?
Matt: As keyboards, I suppose the 70s Herbie Hancock Headhunters sort of era, and the like. One of my favorite keyboard players is Greg Phillinganes. He’s like an L.A. session player. He’s recently been doing Toto, but he’s played on almost everything. The 80s, like, he was on all the Michael Jackson, and he was part of that “creme de la creme” of the session scene. So he’s one of these people, that he’s kind of an unsung hero, you know, people might not know it, but you’ve definitely heard him. Great sounds, great feel, great playing.
Russ: That kind of goes along with what Jamiroquai does, huh?
Matt: Definitely! I’ve met him a few times, he’s a great guy as well. I met Herbie, lucky enough as well, so those are my influences, I suppose. Especially in the days when they were using the analog gear, because I’m an analog freak, ya know?
Russ: Oh Yeah?
Matt: These days, guys like Herbie, people like that, they all use digital keyboards.
Russ: And you use the Alesis A6?
Russ: And you have other synths up there?
Matt: Yeah. Well, I use a Fender Rhodes; it goes through a Line 6. I’ve got a Nord Wave, which is like an analog modeling kinda thing, but it’s cool because it has sampleability. And I’ve got a Yamaha Motif 8 keyboard as well, which is just a workhorse type thing. That’s it.
Russ: Sweet! Well, one more question, I guess. Who in the band carries the most luggage?
Lovely Tour Manager <Busts out laughing hysterically>
JC: Yeah, haha, that was my question!
Matt: I’d say it’s got be one of the backing singers! Who shall remain nameless, but it’s definitely one of the backing singers.
Russ: I guess we’re about to find out tonight, but what’s the lineup?
Matt: It’s 3 horns, 3 backing singers, and percussion… We have a different percussionist this tour. We don’t have Solá on this tour. Solá is actually doing an act and acting in the West End Theater right now. And then, drums, keyboard, guitar, and singing.
JC: We’re looking forward to it! We don’t want to take too much of your time.
<Matt/Lovely Tour Manager and us say our good byes>
Lovely Tour Manager: Thanks for
<static and grumbling as we leave the room>
Russ: That was fucking Awesome!
<static and grumbling as we pass the guard>