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Interviews  Jester Jonze  by John Lanham
  
lI met Tim through mp3.com a couple of years ago and we have become good friends. Since they put some tunes in the Southern Rock genre I've seen them in the top 40 numerous times and we southern rockers are very grateful. Here is Tim Aker and Jester Jonze.

(SBM) Hi Tim. Can you tell us how you got started in the music business?

(Tim) Well John, where do I start?The band that became Jester Jonze started in my basement around 1978.

I formed it with  a cousin, a half assed bassist, and half assed drunken keyboardist and the local hippy chick drug dealer on vocals. We made a horrible sound but it soon grew into a real band with real musicians. By 1980 we were playing local bars. Some were pretty rough dives. The keyboard player and me wrote a couple of songs, but I hadn’t met THE Guy yet. That happened in 1981 when I met Eddie Jones at a local bar. He and a friend of his were looking for a drummer. Turns out we were looking for two guitarists. I was onstage during break talking to the bands drummer, (I knew their guitarist.) when this dude came running up to me asking if I was a drummer. It was Mike Gregory and standing behind him smiling his ass off was Eddie. We joined up and I soon found out what a hot player Ed was. Mike was so-so but a good front man. He did have a big mouth. We spent the next year paying dues at local dives and such. We branched out to the states around us. Playing Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet tunes, but also AC-DC and Bad Company tunes. We were ragged but right. Some of the guys were better than others. Namely me and Ed. We used to have fun then. We did all the local clubs and even played a disco complete with shiny ball on the ceiling. Our main club was Newbys in Salem Va. The bathroom was always flooding in front of the stage. That’s the main thing I remember about that place. But the people really liked us there. Ed and Mike used to walk out onto the tables in front of the stage when we did Freebird.

It was quite a scene. They never knocked over any beer as far as I Know.           

(SBM) Did they ever get hurt?

(Tim) One night, Ed hopped on a table and landed flat on his ass in Radford Va. . As I was laughing my ass off, I saw he’d gotten back on his feet without missing a note. Lots of wild things like that used to happen when we were a young bar band. I remember one place in Justice West Va. We played in 1982. It was a pretty rough joint. Our singer had managed to talk the local prom queen to spending the day in his motel room drinking and what ever. By show time, he was too drunk to stand onstage and sing so, he SAT onstage and mumbled. Later that night someone pulled a gun on someone and the bar owner closed the place down. But not before they had  a big fight. A real old west chair throwing knock down drag out. We got paid for the whole night so we were happy.

(SBM) What was next in your career?

(Tim) It was around this time Ed asked me about writing some originals. Later that summer, that band broke up. But me and Ed stuck together. That’s when we really began to write.

All thru the 1980’s we wrote and wrote.  Watched trends come and go. But we stayed with the music and sound we’d always loved…. bluesy hard rock and roll. I guess if we had made it when we were the right age as in our 20’s we would have had to be a hair band. But I just couldn’t see myself wearing lipstick and make up and generally looking like a fruit. Plus, my family would have beat my ass of when I came home. But that was what MTV was pushing then. Still, we kept writing bluesy hard rock tunes and hoping for a lucky break.

(SBM) When did you start recording your material?

(Tim) We starting making demo tapes I the late 80’s with the help and backing of a local country band called Cimarron . They very nearly made the big time. In the meantime, Ed joined a top 40 band because he missed playing in front of a crowd. I would set in with them occasionally. But they had a very young lead singer who could do just about anything musically and do it well. His name was Chuck Johnson. He was a REAL front man. Great rough voice, good guitar player and blues harpist. He wanted to play some real rock and roll too, so we had him join us to record some demos. Those demos are part of what makes up the first album “No Foolin.’” We did 4 songs in one day on Cimarron ’s dime. Very little mixing, so if something was a bit out of whack, it stayed that way. We did “Lonely Nights and Empty Bottles,” “Lost In The Melody,” “Power Of The Night” and the one you like “Rode Hard And Put Up Wet.” Chuck on vocals and bass, Ed on guitar and me on drums. Pretty much live in the studio. What you heard in those 4 songs was pretty much us live. Then, we packed it in until fall of 1992 when Me and Ed went in and did “Boy toy.” That was one of those songs that came out fast and angry. And it was one of the fastest we recorded one after we’d written it….2 months. Then, Chuck moved on to a funk band and we lost touch with him. But me and Ed still had songs to do, so we met up with Chuck Crush a local bassist and studio owner. He became our engineer and bass player in 1993 and still is to this day. We did 3 songs in may of that year “Miss Vanity,” “Uptown Lady (In A Low Class Dive,” and “ Bad Times White Lines.” I think “ No Foolin’” is a pretty hot little album. Even though it was made of demos and a period of 3 years. I think it’s a great example of driving hard blues rock with a melody. But it’s so hard to get anyone to buy cd’s these days. They won’t take a chance if the guy singing isn’t groaning like Eddie Vedder. Personally, I get tired of all those bands that sound the same. You’d think the younger folks would too. But, it’s what MTV and radio force feeds them. I really hope the internet and MP3 fulfils the promise I feel it has. But, with free downloading, who wants to pay for anything? Anyway, back to us…..
 (SBM) Yes Please.

(Tim)And then we began to write country tunes. I knew it was a bad omen. But we thought we were getting too old to do rock and this was long before the internet took off, let alone a thing called MP3’s. We thought those demos would stay just that… unheard demos. As the 1990’s went on, and trends changed yet again from grunge to rap, we just felt our time had come and gone. Around 1999 I saw something on TV about this site called Napster and later MP3. I told Ed we should put our demos on a CD and get it out there. And he was hot for the idea too, so, in 2000 Jester Jonze hit the internet with a thud.:)

(SBM) How did the name"Jester Jonze" come about?

(Tim) The name came about because we had been calling the group Joker for Jones and Aker. But there was million of them already. So we thought maybe Jester. But there was a half million of them. I then thought about calling it Jester Jonze in honor of the old Southern bands with names like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Marshall Tucker and so on. Also, it WAS Ed’s last name.

(SBM) What happened after you decided on "Jester Jonze"?

(Tim) Well, we started getting some pretty intense attention by 2001. The logical next step was to revive the band and see if we could still kick out some jams. After 6 years we were a bit rusty, but still had the raw power and the will. So, it didn’t take long. We did 3 tunes for new CD “Strong Medicine” in May of 2001. They were “ Child Of The 70’s,” my anthem about my teen years, “Warm Summer Night” a bit of a departure for us. Not really a riff based song, but very melodic and with a different guitar sound. I love it. It gets a fair amount of local airplay. We also did one of the country tunes we wrote for Cimarron ,”Rocking Steady To The Country.” It’s a big rough but it is what it is. Then we stopped for the birth of Ed’s son and started back in the spring of 2002. We were much tighter this time and had more songs that we knew what to do with. We did 4 rockers “Stardust Woman,”  “Dancing With “The Medicine Man,” “Let Down High,” and an old song we wrote in 1986 called

“Arms Of Rock And Roll.” “Stardust” is from 1992 and other 2 are brand new. I love Stardust Woman.  I think Ed’s lead is great on it. We put a lot of little things in songs that most don’t bother with. But it’s what you don’t hear at first that usually makes the song. We went back in the fall and did an acoustic song about my late brother in law called “Perry’s Song.” I always get chocked up with this one. That boy loved music like no one else and had a lot of faith in us. But he died way too young. But, the song is my tribute to him. At least he’ll be remembered on the net. Something he would have loved. As for this album. I think it has some of our best work. It’s all pretty driving. Some fool French reviewer called “Generic rock”, but he missed the point. It’s anything but that. It’s out hearts and souls everytime. And we aren’t generic sorts of people. Geriatric maybe.:) It’s funny how people here things. I guess that’s how you can explain the popularity of things like Rap. Okay, I know it takes a bit of talent to rhyme in time and all, but don’t insult real musicians and call it music. It’s more like street corner poetry set to whistling noises. Maybe the should start up  poetry station for rap and let Rod Mcquen host it? But it’s an insult to call it music after some poor guy has taken and inanimate object and played it till his fingers bleed to coax a song out of it or beat on the drums till his finger are all blistered.Trying to get a decent sound. It’s just sad. And you know I feel the same as you do about the loss of the southern bands. I don’t know why it had to end so soon. But I guess they weren’t pretty enough for MTV.

(SBM) Yes, screw MTV.

(Tim) Like anyone would have cared. Just bring back my music. And that’s pretty much what me Ed and Chuck are trying to do. Keep the great music form the 70’s alive by  writing new tunes in that vein. Besides, it’s the music I grew up on. I don’t know any better. I just wish we could get some publicity and maybe sell a few of the new CD. There's some good old kicking rock there if people would just take a chance. But, we are just now starting on the third CD and this one will be great. We probably won't get it out before 2004 or 2005. But if the net is still here I can promise you it will be our best work. We have about 5 new songs already that are some of the most tuneful stuff we've ever written. So, please buy or CD's and then you'll all be primed  and ready for the 3rd one.And if you don't I'll just kill myself.:)

You can find Jester Jonze at http://www.mp3.com/jesterjonze

I would like to thank Tim Aker for spilling the beans.

This is John Lanham for SBM.





 

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