Andrew Jackson Jihad: Google Chatting About Optimism and Hipsterism
Folk punk heroes Andrew Jackson Jihad are one of the most recognizable fixtures in the Valley's independent music scene, and Sean Bonnette, the band's frontman, is one of the most down-to-earth, friendly musicians I've ever met. I've often bumped into Bonnette at local dive bars or kickass shows and he's always been amiable and willing to talk about just about anything. He deals with his fans with a striking humility and reps Arizona with a brotherly-like love, as does bassist Ben Gallaty.
Carolina Nava Photography Sean Bonnette and Ben Gallaty
But Andrew Jackson Jihad doesn't play in the Valley as much as they used to. Part of the reason is that Bonnette divides his time in Lansing, Michigan, with his sweetheart, and part of it's that the band spends a lot of time touring.
That tour winds his way back to the band's hometown this weekend at Crescent Ballroom, where the duo is joined by Future of the Left, Jeff Rosenstock of Bomb the Music Industry, and local video game enthusiasts, Minibosses are also gonna rock you silly.
While driving through Utah, we caught up with Bonnette on GChat (that explains the emoticons, OK?) and GChatted about suicide hotlines, repping the Valley of the Sun, and Jihad's latest album, Knife Man, released last year.
Up On The Sun: First, on behalf of my friend Levi, I want to know what the word you yell at the end of "Big Bird" is.
Sean Bonnette: "I'm walkin' on sunshine." Wait, you mean like at the END end?
Yeah. He said it's either "knife" or "alive."
That's what I thought, but he just wanted to ask. Levi is probably your biggest fan (that I know) and you both have a lot in common. You both seem to have this painfully optimistic viewpoint on life. How would you explain your disposition on life?
<3 B-) ;-) ;-) :-) <3
Is it painful because it's annoying to be around? I would say I am a positive person, but not necessarily an optimist. The glass for me is half empty, but I'm still happy there's liquid in the glass. My default reaction to things going wrong is to find something to laugh about.
I say painful, like you're really struggling to always see the optimistic side. It's not a bad thing. For me, I like to indulge in bitching and complaining, even though I know it's more healthy (is that the right word?) to look at things positively or as you say, laugh about it.
I get a lot of complaining done while laughing. Sometimes the level of how fucked something is the funniest thing in the world, and by laughing about it, you can kill two birds with one stone (complaint and humor).
Nice. You have fans all over the world. Where are some of the most surprising places you've heard your music getting airplay?
I've heard from listeners in Indonesia and Brazil, which is awesome! Hmm... we have listeners in South Africa, and we send lots of mail order to Australia. I really hope we can go to these places one day.
I remember you saying once that you are tired of playing "I Love You." You got some strong hate mail for that song, correct? How do you deal with all the hatred?
We didn't get any hate mail from that. We actually hardly ever get hate mail. Message boards are where all the hate goes these days, it's more public and totally anonymous. I don't read the boards.
Oh, ok. Probably for the best. Do you read much of your press at all or go the Gandhi route, where you don't read negative or positive press?
Nothing good ever comes from reading a review of one's stuff, favorable or not, but I do indulge from time to time.